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War of the Worlds

Based on: H.G. Wells novel of the same name
Produced: Urban Myth Films, StudioCanal+, UK/FR Coproduction
Written: Howard Overman

Starring: Gabriel Byrne | Elizabeth McGovern | Lea Drucker | Adel Bencherif | Emilie de Pressac | Natasha Little | Daisy Edgar-Jones | Ty Tennant | Bayo Gbadamosi | Stephen Campbell Moore | Stephane Caillard | Aaron Heffeman

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

The premise for the first season of 8 episodes, set in both the UK (London) and a number of locales in France (Grenoble) focuses on a handful of survivors from an alien attack from space. After picking up a signal from outer space scientists at an observatory in Grenoble, France, let the world know, we are not alone. And not long after briefing the Joint Chiefs of Staff at NATO headquarters, in Belgium, a swarm of incoming objects are detected coming in from deep space, at speed. Not days later, 2000+ large solid-looking metallic spheres hit various cities across the entire planet.

At first nothing seems to happen except, scientists are picking up a strange pulsating UHF signal. It’s when this suddenly reaches ‘fever’ pitch that something akin to an EMP explodes out across the planet killing nearly everyone—except those hidden below ground, or under water, or enclosed in reinforced steel.

Emerging from hiding, small pockets of survivors blink in shock and surprise when they find everyone above ground dead. With little or no time to take in what’s happened, our survivors come up against another terrifying horror: mechanical killer robots akin to alien hunting dogs. Roaming singly, or in packs, these efficient killing machines prowl night and day exterminating the survivors … all except, that is, as we find out, the are saving and taking babies.

What for? That’s the big question.

What you have here, are all the right ingredients for a horrific, down right scary drama that should have viewers sitting on the edge of their seats, chewing their fingernails down to the quick. But, in reality? It’s like watching pain peel off the wall, or grass grow during winter, or, more to the point … it’s dull, boring, tedious, and uninspiring.

Like, where are the damn tripods?

Damn, if I can figure it out, but, for us at least, watching the first five episodes, we’re left wondering exactly what this is all about! Apart from the opening, intriguing, and explosive episode, the next four have dragged like we’re being waterboarded.

We are following a number fo small groups that, even by episode 5, have done little more than move from one place to another avoiding the alien hunting dogs. We are no further on understanding what’s going on, why mechanical attack dogs, other than the obvious, and why are they taking babies (other than what we can surmise and infer) and everyone is taking it so calmly, I’m wondering is the cast were lobotomised at the start of filming.

There is a total lack of connection, emotionally or otherwise, and other than being angry (and who wouldn’t be, aliens have just destroyed humanity) there’s little or no emotion whatsoever. What little there is, does nothing to endear the viewer to the survivors plight, let alone empathise with them. By episode 3 me and mine wanted to bitch-slap half of them and were yelling instructions at the TV, as if that might motive any of them.

The writing, I have to say, is bordering on afternoon soap opera and stilted. And the characters? Well, almost seem bored by it all, rather than overwhelmed or terrified. Throw in the fact the focus in all the episodes (so far) seems to be less about the invasion and alien presence, and more about personal relationships (old and new). And I’m wondering whether (a) it’s worth watching the last 3 episodes—especially given there is to be a season 2—and (b) if I even care about these people and what happens to them.

In the end, the answer is, no. I don’t care. Not even to find out what the aliens are doing with the babies—even though I think I already know the answer. I. Just. Don’t. Care.

Given this show emanates out of StudioCanal, I had high hopes. Sadly, however, I find myself rooting for the mechanical attack dogs to finish the job, rather than the other way around. Ah, well …

Hasta la vista baby!


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