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War of the Worlds - Oh dear...

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Started promisingly , but the last one was self indulgent monologue cack

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3 hours ago, Phil Parker said:

 

As it was, Tom Cruise did it better.

 

 

Stephen Spielberg did it better, Tom Cruise just wandered around with his mouth open and a bit of a pained squint.  So would I, with the wretched Dakota Fanning screeching at me...

 

Best tripods though.

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I've just watched the final episode. Well, the specal effects were impressive, the tripods were good and the creatures were nastily spiderlike but it didn't really work. The way the narrative went back and forth was confusing and it took me a while to realise that I'd seen the end of the last episdode. I think what they were trying to do was to tell the story as it would have been experienced by those affected with all the confusion and uncertainty  that they'd certainly have been left with, not really understanding what had happened and certainly not having a definite "it's all over" moment. Perhaps a bit like how the Black Death or the slave trade would have been experienced by those most affected. 

I don't think it worked but that doesn't mean the BBC was wrong to try, producers and wrters were incompetent, BBC should be replaced by commercial companies etc. and so on.

 

If you want really good television, producers have to take risks and that means there will also be bad television. The alternative is bland middling, undemanding fare that you won't actually turn off (so the advertisers will be happy) but you'll forget the following day and its producers will forget the day after that.

 

I can think of a few other dramas that must have given the producers and commisioners sleepless nights not really knowing if they'd work at all. Sherlock set in modern London could have been awful but was terrific and far bolder than just another Edwardian set adaptation. Giving Dr. Who the full high value film treatment could have been flogging a dead horse but wasn't. On the other side, ITV's casting of Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkiinson) to play Maigret looked very dubious but it worked and I find him totally believable in the role. 

 

IMHO War of the Worlds started promisingly (apart from that train) but in the end didn't really work as an adaptation. If you could have predicted that from the script as several here seem to claim, there's a very highly paid job waiting for you in Los Angeles. 

Edited by Pacific231G
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8 hours ago, Pacific231G said:

I don't think it worked but that doesn't mean the BBC was wrong to try, producers and wrters were incompetent, BBC should be replaced by commercial companies etc. and so on.

 

I think the main problem is that it was unbelievable, even if there was willing and conscious suspension of disbelief.  Setting a dystopian "end of the world" tale in Edwardian England means that us, the viewers, have to reconcile the producers thesis with the fact that the fate of our forebears* was being dramatised in an improbable manner and that we know that it never happened that way.  Instead, many actually died because of the Great War and the Influenza epidemic, with no added Martians, just human folly and a particularly nasty local virus.

 

If the project was to dramatise the book, then the book, its themes and characters should have been respected. If the idea was to examine colonialism, feminism and climate change (etc...) through the lens of Martian Invasion, then it only makes sense to take the story out of its original setting and move it to the present or near future.  Any number of new characters, inversions of plot and outcomes could then be accommodated.

 

Overall, it fell at the first hurdle.  It wasn't entertaining.

 

 

* Depending on our age, anything from grandparents to great(n)-grandparents!

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7 minutes ago, Hroth said:

 

I think the main problem is that it was unbelievable, even if there was willing and conscious suspension of disbelief.  Setting a dystopian "end of the world" tale in Edwardian England means that us, the viewers, have to reconcile the producers thesis with the fact that the fate of our forebears* was being dramatised in an improbable manner and that we know that it never happened that way. 

 

It's best seen as taking place in an alternative reality.

 

One in which H.G. Wells wrote a quite different novel, for instance.

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3 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

 

It's best seen as taking place in an alternative reality.

 

 

Ah, that old chestnut.  Fans:  'oh no, the main characters dead!'  Writers:  'meanwhile, in an alternate universe...'

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In terms of what can be done to change train scenes filmed on a heritage railway into something more appropriate, here is a video of how the Train crash in Ripper Street was achieved..

 

 

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9 hours ago, Pacific231G said:

 

If you want really good television, producers have to take risks and that means there will also be bad television.

 

Valid point. We are often told that US television is soooo much better than ours. That's more likely because we get to cherry pick the best bits to see and don't get all the dross. A bit saying a box of Quality Street is wonderful when all you've eaten are the purple ones and left the horrid strawberry things to someone less fortunate.

 

15 minutes ago, Hroth said:

I think the main problem is that it was unbelievable, even if there was willing and conscious suspension of disbelief.  Setting a dystopian "end of the world" tale in Edwardian England means that us, the viewers, have to reconcile the producers thesis with the fact that the fate of our forebears* was being dramatised in an improbable manner and that we know that it never happened that way. 

 

Which would have been a problem with the original book - the only advantage is you could have had the defence "It's HG Wells wot dun it!"

 

8 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

It's best seen as taking place in an alternative reality.

 

Or perhaps in a different bit of the same reality. During a Martian invasion, there would be lots of stories going on at the same time. If we ignore the second half of the final episode where they changed the ending, you could reasonably suggest that this story was going on at the same time as the HG Wells version.

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22 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

 

One in which H.G. Wells wrote a quite different novel, for instance.

 

Oh well, I tried for humour.

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15 minutes ago, Phil Parker said:

Which would have been a problem with the original book - the only advantage is you could have had the defence "It's HG Wells wot dun it!"

 

The "HG Wells dunnit" defence isn't needed, back then the original WAS set in "the present or near future".

 

Quote

Or perhaps in a different bit of the same reality. During a Martian invasion, there would be lots of stories going on at the same time. If we ignore the second half of the final episode where they changed the ending, you could reasonably suggest that this story was going on at the same time as the HG Wells version

 

Which is fair enough, but then don't use the characters and events of the witnessing of the launch of the capsules on Mars, the landing at Horsell Common, the destruction of Woking (etc...) in later parts of the series, because they're essentially the Wells characters, not someone else experiencing events at the same time as Wells reportage.

 

 

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35 minutes ago, Dr Gerbil-Fritters said:

 

Ah, that old chestnut.  Fans:  'oh no, the main characters dead!'  Writers:  'meanwhile, in an alternate universe...'

 

Annnnnnnnnnnnd we're back to the "Dallas/Bobby in the shower" scenario!

 

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15 hours ago, Phil Parker said:

 

As it was, Tom Cruise did it better.

 

 

Now there's a phrase you don't come across very often, if at all. 

(Discounting his Oompah Loompah performance in Charlie and the chocolate factory!)

 

Mike.

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1 hour ago, Hroth said:

 

If the project was to dramatise the book, then the book, its themes and characters should have been respected.

 

Why? 

 

I can think of countless progs and films "based on", but which go off in a very different direction.

 

Why bother re-making something which has been done before?

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9 minutes ago, Mike Storey said:

 

Why? 

 

I can think of countless progs and films "based on", but which go off in a very different direction.

 

Why bother re-making something which has been done before?

 

Why not?  If it actually presents it as a period drama, rather than a re-imagining as other attempts have done in the past, then it hasn't been "done before".

 

Both the BBC and ITV have done adaptations of books that follow the plot and characterisations without going off at a fantastical tangent.  Dare we mention "Poldark"?  There are all the adaptations of Austen, The Brontes, Dickens, Trollop and so on, where the source material is treated with respect.  Consider the  adaptation of "His Dark Materials", so far a good adaptation, with internal material moved about to explain things to the viewer.  The fact that "His Dark Materials" immediately preceded "War of the Worlds" in the TV schedule only served to point out the failings of WotW.

 

Of course, it helps that HDM has the author to hand.  Perhaps Wells suffers because the adapters don't have to worry about the army of fans for earlier Classic authors hauling them over the coals for taking liberties with their favourites and Wells is a sitting target for those with political axes to grind.

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Discussion of the philosophy of adaptation is all very well but the real issue here is whether or not it is done well.

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I’ve seen some of it on iplayer now and for me, it falls at all possible hurdles other than the quite spectacular (at times) CGI. That said, it’s not unrelated to a good deal of Wells’ later work in certain respects.

 

Wells himself wrote a good deal of speculative social fiction, “Ann Veronica” comes to mind. Most of this is long out of print, for good reason; it’s pretty much unreadable. Much of his prediction is wildly wrong, or descends into self-absorbed, self-righteous Utopianism. The BBC would have embraced him with enthusiasm.

 

There’s good and sufficient reason that his modern reputation stands largely upon a limited number of his early books. 

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Hollywood is renowned for "based on true events" and taking us off in a totally different direction.

 

Nolan's Dunkirk film, captures the tension well but way off the mark for historical accuracy (who has even seen a spitfire shoot down aircraft on empty fuel tanks? and what the hell was he doing over the actual beech itself where naval gunners had orders to shoot down any aircraft that flew there? and so on.....)

The train at the end taking survivors home using 1950s mk1 stock with interiors that actually looked 1950s!

 

The new Midway film, portraying an actual pilot in the Midway battle as a sort of WWII Top gun film Maverick. The real chap was quite reserved and seriously professional. Portraying a book wrong is one thing, but reinventing the entire character of a real world veteran who fought for our freedom is another. We then have 200 knot planes skimming the sea with wing tips (your plane would crash and kill you instantly), planes weaving in and out of Japanese warships (they were spread over a 20 mile radius, the chances of flying over one is remote let alone several) and if the Japanese actually had AA flak like the film, they would have won the war!

 

The last Wonder Woman film has a lot of errors for WWI (how did refugees in 1918 cross no mans land? Why are allies from different nations mixed in the same trench?...) but that at least is based on a geek's originally child's comic book (fun fiction), and the train, though technically post WWI (except the loco which is pre WWI) was pretty well chosen given the operating constraints of modern railways.

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Yes I was looking forward to Midway and the CGI is spectacular . But to me they turned it into a WW2 version of StarWars . Just there for the entertainment and titillation of it .   This was real and many people died in the battle . The CGI just succeeded in trivialising all this .   In some respects the mid 70s Midway was better , although no CGI  and really it reused excerpts from Tora Tora Tora , most memorably the B17 landing on one wheel,  but i think it told the story better minus the love interest of course. 

 

Back  to the War of the Worlds . I think I am correct in saying that there never has been a true adaptation of the book. 

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13 minutes ago, JSpencer said:

Hollywood is renowned for "based on true events" and taking us off in a totally different direction.

 

Nolan's Dunkirk film, captures the tension well but way off the mark for historical accuracy (who has even seen a spitfire shoot down aircraft on empty fuel tanks? and what the hell was he doing over the actual beech itself where naval gunners had orders to shoot down any aircraft that flew there? and so on.....)

The train at the end taking survivors home using 1950s mk1 stock with interiors that actually looked 1950s!

 

The new Midway film, portraying an actual pilot in the Midway battle as a sort of WWII Top gun film Maverick. The real chap was quite reserved and seriously professional. Portraying a book wrong is one thing, but reinventing the entire character of a real world veteran who fought for our freedom is another. We then have 200 knot planes skimming the sea with wing tips (your plane would crash and kill you instantly), planes weaving in and out of Japanese warships (they were spread over a 20 mile radius, the chances of flying over one is remote let alone several) and if the Japanese actually had AA flak like the film, they would have won the war!

 

The last Wonder Woman film has a lot of errors for WWI (how did refugees in 1918 cross no mans land? Why are allies from different nations mixed in the same trench?...) but that at least is based on a geek's originally child's comic book (fun fiction), and the train, though technically post WWI (except the loco which is pre WWI) was pretty well chosen given the operating constraints of modern railways.

 

I blame Shakespeare .... 

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37 minutes ago, JSpencer said:

Hollywood is renowned for "based on true events" and taking us off in a totally different direction.

 

Lets not mention the one where the crew of an American warship captures the Enigma codebooks from the German submarine...

 

39 minutes ago, JSpencer said:

Nolan's Dunkirk film, captures the tension well but way off the mark for historical accuracy (who has even seen a spitfire shoot down aircraft on empty fuel tanks? and what the hell was he doing over the actual beech itself where naval gunners had orders to shoot down any aircraft that flew there? and so on.....)

The train at the end taking survivors home using 1950s mk1 stock with interiors that actually looked 1950s!

 

There were complaints after Dunkirk (the real event, that is) that the RAF were nowhere to be seen.  It turned out that they were intercepting the Luftwaffe at a higher level and as you say, the beach itself was being protected by AA fire working on the principle that anything flying was an enemy aircraft.  If the RAF hadn't done the interception job, it would have been, as our American friends might say, a turkey shoot.

 

At least the Mk1 stock was only a decade or so too young but amazing to report, the Hornby train pack "Return from Dunkirk" (R3302) used a suitable loco and coaches!

 

 

 

 

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33 minutes ago, Legend said:

In some respects the mid 70s Midway was better , although no CGI  and really it reused excerpts from Tora Tora Tora , most memorably the B17 landing on one wheel,  but i think it told the story better minus the love interest of course. 

 Not forgetting the scenes where the technicians [film, but ending up as 'actors' themselves].....filmed during the airfield bombing shots were actually running for their lives, in reality...as things went a bit awry in the special effects department....Plus, that poor devil who lost his shirt in both films whilst manning an AA machine gun?  

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1 hour ago, Hroth said:

 

Consider the  adaptation of "His Dark Materials", so far a good adaptation, with internal material moved about to explain things to the viewer.

 

Not so sure about that.  As a lover of the Pullman books, which I've read several times, I've tried hard to enjoy this series but I can't.  As so often the case, it's the book dumbed down and changed in ways that detract rather than add to something that should be mystical and atmospheric but is somehow anaemic and sadly miscast.  I've given up on it.

 

DT

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42 minutes ago, Legend said:

Yes I was looking forward to Midway and the CGI is spectacular . But to me they turned it into a WW2 version of StarWars . 

 

Back  to the War of the Worlds . I think I am correct in saying that there never has been a true adaptation of the book. 

 

I kept waiting for the death star to appear after the Japanese carriers were sunk.... 

As for War of the Worlds, I think the musical got the closest (well radio aside I suppose). The 50s movie was quite advanced for its time. The Tom cruise version uses a mix of the 50s movie and the book I feel (with the Tom Cruise touch!). I think if the BBC had pivoted between the book and the musical, it might have come off better.

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3 minutes ago, Torper said:

 

Not so sure about that.  As a lover of the Pullman books, which I've read several times, I've tried hard to enjoy this series but I can't.  As so often the case, it's the book dumbed down and changed in ways that detract rather than add to something that should be mystical and atmospheric but is somehow anaemic and sadly miscast.  I've given up on it.

 

DT

 

I've no argument with that, if you appreciate the books, then a TV or film production that has to present them on screen won't always match your understanding of them.  How long did it take you to read the trilogy?  I don't know how far these 8 episodes of just under 1 hour each are going to take us, but I suppose it will only attempt to cover "Northern Lights"  so there's a fair bit of compression, and there also has to be explanatory material for those who are coming to it for the first time.  Mystical and atmospheric don't always work on TV!

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