Tuesday, August 05, 2014
The Not-So-Great Martian War
Thanks, BBC America. You have robbed this American of two hours which I shall never see again.
The Great Martian War is a BBC alternate history "documentary" in the style of The History Channel. I saw an advert at the con when I was watching Aliens in my room. I was agog, a-twitter, even, though not a-Tumblr: no ball pit. I prepared to set aside the requisite time Saturday night to wallow in the benison of Auntie Beeb's bounty.
I was instead treated to "We can do H.G.Wells better than Wells, because Doctor Who and Sherlock.".
Before WW1, there is the Martian War, with flea-like giant tripods we dubbed "Herons", smaller tripods with extensible tentacles called "Spiders", and scavenger pillbug-types called "Lice". Oh, England, you and your clever nomenclature!
(Heron with attendant Spider)
WW1 newsreel footage is composited with CG Martian war machines to good effect; the downside is that they utilise a very limited number of SFX shots, and reuse them (often), and flip them, and otherwise cry "We wish we had had a bigger budget!". Interspersed throughout are interviews with survivors from the war, as well as descendants. They did their documentary homework well, with the emotional appeal of men and women who had lived through an interplanetary horror to tell the tale. But pathos cannot carry the day, and in the end, and with the Revelation of the Martians, the tale ends, not with a bang, but a yawn.
The only thing missing to complete the thing was this:
So, if you have two hours spare that you do not mind wasting to bring you that much closer to your demise, then by all means, enjoy this cold oatmeal-fest. Otherwise, play whist, or mumblety-peg, or better, re-read Wells' War of the Worlds. I have the edition illustrated by Edward Gorey!