|War of the Worlds: Goliath|
War of the Worlds: Goliath is an awesome action adventure movie where after humanity got rocked by the first Martian invasion, they got their act together and are now ready for round two.
Plot is pretty straight forward. The best soldiers of all nations have been pulled into an anti-Martian military group called A.R.E.S, given the biggest and baddest weapons humanity has to offer including a bunch of reverse-engineered Martian weapons with the help of Nikola Tesla, who is required to be involved in all steampunk settings as required by law. Actually, the human tripods are extremely cool. Very different in design from the fluid and curvy Martian tripods, the three classes of human models are all human in design and look remarkably real.
|Body of the Achilles-Class human Tripod|
In truth, the amount of effort put into the designs and world building of this movie is phenomenal. The weapons, vehicles, equipment, absolutely everything is well done. I love looking at the concept art and schematics for everything. This is on par with the amount of thought put into Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Except this has less princesses and more death.
The year is 1914 and governments around the world are preparing for the first World War, while A.R.E.S. soldiers and their leader, good ol' Teddy Roosevelt ignore the politics and prepare for a second Martian invasion which seems imminent.
The characters are mostly archetypes. They aren't completely throwaway, but not terribly compelling either. But each of the main characters are given their moments to shine, so there is indeed some sense of anxiety when they are in danger, which is quite often.
During the first major training exercise with their new tripods our heroes come face to face with the first probing force of the second Martian invasion, and it's here that we find out that despite the animation style, this isn't a cheesy Saturday morning cartoon. In fact, one of the best things I can say about this movie is that it feels like real war. People die left and right, but it's not because of them being stupid. The Martians are a genuine threat. Their tripods are bigger, better armored and have vastly greater offensive power than anything humanity has. They shrug off machine gun and rifle fire, and require repeated hits from even heavy cannons and missiles to go down.
Often our heroes survive simply because the Martians didn't target them. At any moment their heat rays might turn toward them, and from there it's just one sickly green ray of dazzling energy to send them into oblivion. This is actually probably the most violent animated movie I've seen since Turok: Son of Stone. You don't just see humans vanish in a puff of smoke when hit with a heat ray. You see them vaporized layer by layer. First the clothing and skin goes, then the muscle, and lastly the skeleton, all reduced to ash in a matter of seconds as they howl in agony. Its sodding violent. This is NOT a kids movie.
The combat isn't highly choreographed is graceful. It feels like real combat, chaotic and confused. Things blowing up all around you, people screaming in pain, but you just keep firing at the enemy and hope that you can kill them before they turn their weapons on you. It really feels like just a roll of the dice if someone lives or dies, even if they are really skilled or in good positions.
Most of the movie is action, with pauses to let us take a breath now and then. Decent pacing and great visuals make it an awesome popcorn movie. But if you want deep intellectual stimulation you'd best look elsewhere. However this movie nails what it wants to do almost perfectly.
It would be a crime not to talk about the animation. It looks like a blend of anime and Saturday morning cartoon styles. The character designs display this best. The faces and especially the eyes are angular and exaggerated. The bodies on the other hand are swollen with muscle and the clothing vacuum sealed around them so that you see every single inch of their physique. This results in an interesting melding of 80's style GI Joe and more streamlined but exaggerated anime, although it definitely leans more towards the former. I find the style overall very interesting, partly because this was actually a Malaysian production. Huh.
Regardless if you're a fan of animation or not, there is no doubt that this animation is top notch. It's magnificently smooth and fluid, and overall matches the setting and tone perfectly. Even if you aren't interested in War of the Worlds, this movie is a visual buffet. Not a cent was wasted in making this look as good as possible. Others more knowledgeable in animation than myself might very well wish to take a look at this if only to analyze it.
It's also fair to mention that although it is very action schlock, there is a definite feeling that it respects the original source material written by HG Wells. The main character is British, and if you've read the book you will notice all sorts of details that are kept in this movie. The look of the aliens is spot on. Their tripods really feel like they are alive like in the book, moving fluidly with tendrils waving about unceasingly like an organism that is rather unsettling.
It is fair to mention that although we never hear the Martians speak or anything like that, I do feel like some of them have a bit of personality and sadism just displayed through their actions. One tripod lets a lone human shoot at it, letting the bullets bounce off harmlessly, just waiting for him to run out of ammunition as if its amused with the futile attempt of doing it harm. It patiently waits for him to run dry and then methodically vaporizes him. You can almost see the Martian inside gloating with this smug sense of superiority.
In the end fight another Tripod kills a soldier as painfully as it can, wrapping the tendrils around his midsection and collapsing his ribcage. It could have simply vaporized him or snapped his neck, but instead took the time to inflict as much pain as it could. To me this really says that the Martians enjoy inflicting pain and see humanity as being far beneath them. This could very well simply be me seeing something that isn't there, but it made me enjoy the flick that much more.
I really do recommend purchasing this. Even if the movie is lukewarm for some of you, the disc set comes with all sorts of bonus material that I was only too happy to look at. Schematics for human and Martian technology, concept art, and even other stories told comic book style that really had some emotional bite to them.
It's well worth a look. You can purchase it here: http://amzn.to/2FgwQak
If you're wondering, I'm not getting paid to pimp this out. I simply believe it's a movie worthy of attention. This never got a theatrical release and is more of an underground movie. It made less than one hundred thousand dollars according to the box office reports, which is a horrible shame for something like this. They put a gigantic amount of effort into this production. I can tell the makers really cared and I want their effort to pay off.