September 22, 2012 (World Premiere at the 3D Film Festival)
United States / Malaysia (English)
Directed by Joe Pearson
Written by David Abramowitz
"War of the Worlds: Goliath" features fan-worthy concepts and some remarkable visuals, but the rest of the film is a smoldering wreck.
A re-imagined past is the setting for Tripod Entertainment's (a Malaysian animation studio) first feature film, "War of the Worlds: Goliath." Yes, it's a loose sequel to the H.G. Wells story: After the turn of the century the Martians have continually attacked our planet and all the armies of the earth have gathered together in New York, naturally, forming the A.R.E.S. We follow Eric, an English commander whose parents were vaporized by a towering tripod (visually similar to the alien tech we saw in Spielberg's adaptation) when he was just a dumb lad. The title means it is our world vs. their's, yet a hubristic nationalism exists among our planet's troops when they need to be as one. No worries though, after a 45-second pep talk from our protagonist everyone from Germany to Korea is ready to march arm-in-arm as against the invaders! The stereotypical foreigners are as offensive as this effortless plotting.
I only enjoyed the film when the characters (and their accents) kept their traps shut and we could watch the human forces assemble. Leeds, New York, and Albuquerque are backdrops for the war, though it's the detailed and steam-powered New York that most impresses. In possibly my favorite moment of the film we observe a crisp full-moon night from the Empire Bay as boats, planes and airships prepare to move out. Exhaust, spotlights, and smoke juxtapose the darkness... It's a beautiful scene. However, the animations for the human characters are bland. If there is one thing all the soldiers of the world have in common it is their preposterously beefy necks. Even Teddy Roosevelt, who is Secretary of War for A.R.E.S., looks like he is auditioning for "The Expendables."
True to their name Tripod Entertainment has a fixation on three-legged vehicles. Besides the hi-tech Martian walkers the humans commandeer massive mechs, fitting for this steam-punk era. A sepia-toned slideshow is the backdrop for the film's opening credits. We see 1899 England intercut with the galactic glimpses of these space invaders. The film's vision is strong from the get-go, but the events that follow deserves no fanfare, rather a Saturday morning spot after a superior cartoon.
The warring in "War of the Worlds" also feels stale. Tripods and mechs zapping each other for minutes at a time isn't very compelling. We get one battle after another. When you think you've seen the last of it Eric announces "It isn't over!" and the blasting continues upon an even bigger adversary. Identical After Effects explosions are repeatedly placed over the animated machinery. I would start to compliment the sound design if the explosions weren't such an assault on my eardrums. I saw this with glasses as part of the 3D Film Festival in Los Angeles. It's fine, but didn't move me either way.
It's really hard to say who this film is for. The plot and dialogue is so elementary and trite that it will bore the adult senses, but with the abundant violence you probably wouldn't want to put it on for your children. The director even said they were going for something "R-rated," but they should have improved their aimed if that was the target. It would seem then that there is no audience for "War of the Worlds: Goliath," which I am predicting will be evident in whatever distribution this movie manages. It's a shame, but this film lacks anything beyond what you see on the surface.