Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
For an epic like War of the Worlds it’s hard to imagine what kind of cover would be appropriate. I like what they did with the large title and image of a death ray flying machine (if that’s that they are called). It’s bold and a throw back to the good old days of movie posters and promotional artwork. It’s not terribly exciting, but it’s true to the era, so that’s acceptable 🙂
- Commentary by actors Ann Robinson & Gene Barry – These two performers are very proud of their involvement with this movie and they are an endless source of stories about what went on behind the scenes, as well as their experiences after the movie was released. I’m glad they took the time and effort to get original performers to talk about this landmark sci-fi flick.
- Commentary By Film Director Joe Dante, Film Historian Bob Burns & Bill Warren Author Of “Keep Watching The Skies” – For a less entertaining but oh-so-informative commentary give Joe, Bill, and Bill a listen. I appreciate that the folks who put together this DVD took the time to get as much commentary as they did.
- The Making Of War Of The Worlds – Interviews with cast and crew of the original movie are priceless if you are a fan of this Hollywood landmark of a movie. The stars mention how it was back in the day as the studio system was going strong. They went to work everyday, just like a normal 9-5, doing their parts, instructing new performers, and doing their promotional duties. It’s a lot different from today’s film scene, so it’s really interesting for anyone who is interested in Hollywood history.
- HG Wells The Father Of Science Fiction Featurette – A brief biography of the author who brought the tale of aliens invading Earth to the world. I would like a longer version, but for this DVD it’s another dip into the history of this classic movie and the history of science fiction as well.
- The Mercury Theatre Present The Original Radio Broadcast – Now this is getting to the meat of things. The original broadcast with Orson Wells is fun to listen to, but you have to get your mind around how it could have caused such panic back in the day. If you listen to the whole thing it’s obvious that it’s all a skit, but then again, I’m jaded by a lifetime of smoke and mirrors through movies, books, and television. I don’t think we can imagine a similar feeling of fear or being convinced this tale is for real. The best we can do is imagine a time when the radio was basically the only form of mass communication, the way people heard the news, the way they got their music, their stories, plays, serial dramas, and more. It would be hard to imagine for people of the time that their beloved radio would play such a trick on them, but it sure did.
- Original Theatrical Trailer – Love it. The spectacle of this movie is hyped up just enough to tease the pre-sci-fi era audiences.
The Movie: 8/10:
Keep in mind this movie is 50+ years old. Yes, over 50 years ago aliens invading the planet with laser beams and a vicious death-to-humans attitude. Not only was the movie made in 1953, the story was written in 1898. We think we have all been so clever in the past couple of decades with all of our stories of outer space and other science fiction topics, but we owe a whole lot to Mr. Wells for his work.
The movie itself is a showcase of where special effects were going in the early 50’s and would continue to go even today. After effects were added by hand, what our computers do for us today they put in frame by frame, and that’s saying something for their devotion to this new craft. The laser attacks may not be up today’s standards for “realism” (as if we know what a real laser attack would look like.) but when you realize that this movie was made only a few short years after WWII, and only a couple of decades after motion pictures started becoming a viable art/entertainment form, it’s really amazing.
The characters are shallow and quite comical by today’s standards, but for the time they fit right in to the theatrical dramatic performances. The dialogue is so funny sometimes you have to remind yourself these people are being attacked by aliens in fear for their life and they are being terrorized. If you get past the different style of acting, the standard for many decades of Hollywood’s glamour period, you can appreciate this movie a bit more.
It’s a timeless story mixed with ambitious special effects and that certain 50’s flare which adds up to some serious entertainment. For anyone who loves movies, I mean, really loves movies beyond the latest new releases and big budget action flicks, it’s a gem. I can’t give it a perfect score, just because I’ve seen other films from the same time period, and even earlier that felt more substantial….but it’s a fantastic effort considering what they had to work with.
Less than $10…why are you still reading this review? I mean, come on. It’s a classic if you love sci-fi. It’s a classic if you love Hollywood history. It’s a class if you are a lover of special effects history. Overall, it’s a great flick, good DVD, at an amazing price. I can’t say much more than that.
Overall Score 8/10