16 Aug

Soul Man Vs. the Martians: War of the World’s 2: The Next Wave

Posted by Tim Fife | Saturday August 16, 2008 | Reviews

War of the WorldsOn a recent vacation I visited a local Blockbuster to find a movie for my then girlfriend’s parents to watch inbetween endless games of Boggle and chasing down copious amounts of Frangelico. Uninterested in Blockbuster’s selection of new releases, my wandering eye for cinematic trash came upon a box cover with a cheaply digitally drawn image, looking similar to the graphics of a scientology book, of an alien ship blowing up something or other. To my surprise, it was a sequel to War of the Worlds; instantly my curiosity level was raised.

I turned over the box cover to see what else this obvious cash-in had to offer, and found a picture of the Soul Man himself C. Thomas Howell, who apparently was not only the star, but the director as well. “But who is that slightly pudgy frog eyed guy standing next to him?” I thought to myself. Oh my god, it’s Kid from Kid ‘n Play! From those awful House Party movies of the nineties! Now my curiosity was definitely peaked and I had to give this one a go.

The movie starts off nice and campy, just how you want it to; a 20 second montage of shots depicting the original Wells story (or, more likely, the Spielberg version) opens the flick and then the story jumps to two years afterwards. The hero of the original story, George Herbert (played by Howell), has been living in a shack in the woods with his prepubescent son, waiting for the day the Martians will return. On his ham radio, George hears the sound of the Martians (which sounds more like an early modem) and leaves his son to go tell the local scientists his discovery.

There George learns things he never knew about the Martians; that people might not have been killed when the Martians zapped them, but rather may have been taken prisoner inside the Tripods. But he also learns a secret even more shocking; the Tripods are not the ships for the aliens, but rather the aliens themselves! And the aliens are transporting the living into their bellies, escasing them in layers of ectoplasmic skin, and sucking out their blood. George returns to his cabin to retrieve his son, but it’s too late, as the boy gets zapped as soon as George arrives.

And that’s when the movie stops being fun really. For the rest of the movie, there is very little evolution in the plot, and George is constantly trying to get beamed up by the Martians in order to find his son again, creating many scenes of needless running around. The scientists find a way to fly jet fighters into outer space and find wormholes to blast themselves to Mars to fight the red planet, and George finds himself on Mars in a giant diorama of Earth the Martians have concocted to view the habits of Earth people. But by now, you’re really not interested in what’s happening; the movie ends and you wonder why you watched this movie instead of watching a better rip off like, say, Escape From the Bronx.

Now this movie has some things going for it; first off it has balls for trying to rewrite a classic Wells novel. Changing the fact that the tripods aren’t ships but aliens is so ridiculously amazing, you’d wonder if Antonio Margheriti didn’t secretly pen this baffler. Certainly some of my favorite movies in the exploitation genre have been rip-offs of other people’s ideas, and it isn’t a surprise the movie was made by Asylum Entertainment, the company that also brought us Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls, a movie based on the story of Indiana Jones. In other words, true exploitation.

And now for the points against the movie; most of the exterior shots of the movie have somewhat decent B-grade CGI for the aliens, but when George enters the aliens, the sets look like ripped up drop cloths with colored lights shown on them. The production quality is that of a rejected Sc-Fi Channel original movie. After the first 20 minutes of build up, the script stops explaining why things are happening, and you kind of wonder why you’re watching all this lame, slow paced action at all. And Christopher “Kid” Reid should never be allowed to act again; clearly put in the movie to have some kind of “urban” appeal, Kid bumbles through every scene contributing little but lame catch phrases and the occasional swear.

Now of course you don’t really expect a sequel to War of the Worlds with such star power to be exactly Spielberg, rather you hope it to have a similar caliber of a cinematic train wreck like a Turkish remake of E.T. I’ve read a few posts online about this movie claiming it’s the worst movie ever, but believe me this is no frolic in the park like Troll 2, it’s more like Snakes on a Train. There is little fun to be found in the movie, and you almost instantly forget you just watched Kid and the Soul Man running away from Martians, and that’s really saying something.

Now there is one thing on here that almost warrants the rental alone; a bonus feature titled “The Magic of C. Thomas Howell.” In it Howell performs street magician tricks for the crew in between takes; at one point he produces popcorn from his I-Phone! If there’s any emotion you feel from this movie, its immense pity for the former teen star, who put so much effort into a movie that isn’t even worth your time.

6 Comments 

  1. August 16, 2008 11:41 am

    Remo D.

    You DID see the FIRST Asylum WAR OF THE WORLDS, right? Starring (but not directed by) C. Thomas Howell? Just as dull, just as cheap, but with some quick nudity and gore for an R rating–and with a brand-new ending that lets US come up with the idea of compromising the Martian’s immune system… sort of throws the whole point out the window, no? Then they actually had the gall to throw jokes into the end credits as if we were playing along with some sort of COMEDY!

  2. August 17, 2008 9:47 am

    Bryan White

    This is pretty much the end of the line for my experiences with The Asylum. I looked forward to this party pack that they sent us because I figured with their reputation, we’d at least get a laugh out of the movies but that turned out to be a pretty tall order. The common thread among our Asylum reviews is that each movie features a lot of people running in terror. Easily half of each movie is spent running or walking to some destination while nothing else happens.

  3. August 17, 2008 4:27 pm

    Tim Fife

    I didn’t know there was a first War of the Worlds put out by Asylum. Knowing that, I kind of want to see it just to compare how shitty the two are. Not really, actually.

  4. August 18, 2008 9:45 am

    Lurple

    I’ve never seen one of the Asylum’s films, but I’ve read quite a few reviews of them here and there and not one of them has ever been positive. That’s putting it mildly.

  5. March 4, 2009 1:36 pm

    Jack

    Sorry, but there’s nothing of such poor quality that the Sci-Fi Channel will reject it – they’re “premiering” this on April 18.

  6. April 19, 2009 7:45 pm

    Kevin T.

    Jack, I watched that on the Sci-Fi channel. The trailer looked really interesting. You’ve got these souped-up fighers made by Earthling’s going X-COM on Martian technology shooting plasma beams. It made me want to watch.

    Than I actually did. The first part of the movie, before the figher launch, was so-so. Not much action, but the technobable was interesting. Then the fighters launched, and that’s whre the disappointment happened.

    You’ve got these fighers flying up into the atmosphere, flying round ships around them, and the flight leader tells them to not engage, though the animation shows them firing anyway. Then you got the scientist frantically working, and somehow, she instantly upgrades the fighters with the technology necessary to get into space. Then the fighters go to the mothership, which you don’t really see at all, before getting sucked into a vortex and being teleported close to Mars. Why the Aliens didn’t just teleport the fighers into a black hole, I’m not sure.

    And then it switches to the boring main-character’s story, where he’s trying to find his son. And I’m thinking, “I didn’t watch this movie to see this.” Running around, crazy people telling them “don’t touch the walls” for no reason, it was like a bad, boring, nonsensical dream. When it finally goes back to the fighters, which was what I was really interested in, they’re idling in space for no reason. They finally go down to Mars, fight a battle and…what? It kept switching back to the boring “I gotta find my son” story, and the figher battle was never resolved, or even mentioned again.

    This constant switching between what could have been an interesting story and a story that’s just stupid was what ruined the movie for me. But I think what was really bad about this movie was the realization that I could have written a better script. I really could have. Me, a 19 year old college student, within three hours, could have come up with a story a lot better than this. And I personally don’t want to watch a movie made by people with talent less than my own.


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