Category Archives: war of the worlds

Monsters

Monsters ~ When I saw this line of hype in the description of this flick OnDemand, I was intrigued. It read, “Best giant monster movie I’ve seen in years.” I was sold. It’s written and directed by Gareth Edwards, who has been chosen to helm the new American Godzilla movie – so I definitely had to see it.

The story – six years ago a space probe sent to search for alien life crash lands over Mexico. It brought ‘creatures’ and the area was walled off as the “Infected Zone.” Expecting District 9 meets Cloverfield meets Toho’s Monster Island, I happily order it, no matter how high the price.

A magazine photographer is sent to collect the boss’ daughter from Mexico in the Infected Zone. After losing their passports, they have to walk. Yeah, what’s that writing rule about what’s the worst that can happen? Yeah, that’s what happens. They walk home through the Infected Zone.

The two main characters are thankfully not typical horror movie stereotypes, but we get to know them as well as we would such characters – very peripherally. They are still placeholders in the storytelling process, but just different ones. The male lead reminds a lot of a young Adam Baldwin, but that’s neither here nor there. Some of the dialogue is painful, especially most of it falls into the “What are you doing?” and “Where are all the people?” territory.

The cardboardness and predictability of the two leads is what makes the ending so unfulfilling when it comes. I wanted a monster movie with a human story as a backdrop like most traditional kaiju eiga and got was a bad human story with monsters as the backdrop. At least the monsters got one pretty intense love scene. And no, I’m not kidding.

The monsters are rarely seen clearly early on, just in fuzzy pictures and staticky news footage, and later we hear them, but when they do finally show up… hello, pretty scary. They are sorta giant squid meets preying mantis meets Martian war machine with just a bit of Cthulhu thrown into the mix for good measure. The wreckage and destroyed buildings are stunning, as they are not CGI in the traditional sense, but greenscreened in – they are real destroyed buildings from earthquakes, fires, etc., so it looks, and is, very real.

There is not as much commentary on the current US/Mexico immigration problem as one might think from the summary of this flick, but it’s in there. There’s not much, but then again, no one ever says the word ‘apartheid’ in District 9 either and that’s like a brick to the head.

This was a fairly entertaining movie though, for what it is, a little long and I would have loved more monster stuff – but all in all, Monsters did not live up to the hype. Regarding Gareth Edwards’ future with the American Godzilla franchise, I really am at a loss as to what to think. It may well be visually stunning, but I worry about the story… and the love scenes…

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RIP Gene Barry

Actor Gene Barry passed away Wednesday at the age of 90.

He had leading roles in “The Name of the Game,” “Burke’s Law,” “The Adventurer” and of course also played the title role in “Bat Masterson.”

He might also be remembered for his role as Dr. Clayton Forrester in 1953’s classic War of the Worlds, and even had a cameo in the Tom Cruise remake a few years back.

Gene Barry was a talented and loved actor of his age and will be missed.

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Special Report: Journey to Mars

WON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN

A Review of “Special Report: Journey to Mars”

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

I looove stunts like this. I love Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” broadcast and have listened to numerous times. I even like the contemporary version NPR did using traffic reporters from a few years back.

When I ran a video store I took great delight in putting in a tape called Special Bulletin which was produced by NBC in the early 1980s. Special Bulletin told the story in nearly real time with real commercials interspersed of terrorists nuking Charleston, South Carolina. I thought it was a blast that we’d always get a handful of customers glued to the TV monitor thinking it was real.

So this is my kind of thing, that’s why I loved Special Report: Journey to Mars as well. Structured like CNN broadcasts of recent wars and other events we are live witness to the first manned mars landing in the year 2005. Of course they play down the time frame in case someone comes in in the middle and get sucked in.

It’s very easy to get sucked in. The drama is high as we find that the mission has been sabotaged by terrorists who want money spent on problems here on earth rather than the billions it took to get to Mars. The attack is both biological and technological as the mission’s captain is struck down by an infection and the ship’s navigation systems affected by a computer virus.

The effect of a real news broadcast is only ruined by the casting of Judge Reinhold and Alfre Woodard as journalists but otherwise it is an excellent illusion. I wish there were more shows like this. It runs on HBO from time to time. Catch it if you can.