Please don't spend money on this.
It is neither dumb nor smart enough to be fun, and spends way too much time with its boring human characters.
This is not a great movie, but it is a good one. Pearson sets out to tell the story of the second Martian invasion, with humanity using salvaged Martian technology and advances in their own to defend the world more actively than last time. He sets this against the dawn of what in our world would be the First World War. That serves only as backdrop, though. The incipient conflict in Europe, the problem of Irish home rule, and other issues get forgotten partway through the movie. That's okay. They were distractions, and would have detracted from the main story. This is a war movie, not a political drama. It has all the requisite elements of Japanese, American, and British war movies, all the tropes, all the conflicts, and manages to deliver them without becoming a muddle. We have the heroic yet damaged young officer proving himself and overcoming his past. We have the somewhat inappropriate relationship between comrades in arms. We have explosions, heroics, self-sacrifice, and triumph but at a terrible cost. The story of the initial invasion is told briefly, in the credits, ending with an atomic shadow on a wall in a burning city. Pearson moves straight from there to the action getting rolling, and keeps the pacing fairly tight, letting the audience catch their breath but just barely before throwing in the next assault. The film contains what it says on the tin. There's a lot to be said for that.And hey, any movie with Theodore Roosevelt firing a heavy machine gun while riding atop a walking tank scores points with me.
I am an ardent movie-goer and when someone told me of a USA-Malaysia collaboration of an indie animation film project, I was intrigued. For one thing, I know how difficult it is to get to the point where indie projects DO get made, and that would involve money, time, a lot of passion and tons of support from all directions. For another thing, I am a fellow South-East Asian and I am always looking to help boost signals of the range of artistic talent and wonderful stories that belong to our geographical area.It so happened that I was invited to the special preview at last year's Comic-Con and I cleared my busy hectic SDCC schedule just to make it there.For the budget that it had, "War of the Worlds: Goliath" (WotW:G) was entertaining fare. I went to the premiere being practically realistic and didn't expect to be totally Wow-ed as if I was a cinema audience watching a Pixar movie. But I was surprised at how good "WotW:G" turned out to be.Yes, some parts of the dialogue were stilted but it got a little more fluid about a third into the movie. The movie didn't waste time on too much prose but was centred on lots of action, warfare and those "hey, you are my bro, man" kinda moments. Very "guy" stuff.I had thought the addition of Raja Iskandar Shah would be the typical token-Asian stereotype but then, he also started using a kris in some key fight scenes.. that's when all bets are off ;)The animation was a mix of 2D-3D.. if you are used to watching anime, it is not really distracting. (Again, this is not a Disney production - nor meant to be!) And I loved the futuristic steampunk concept artwork that was applied quite consistently throughout the film. After all the guns and smoke and explosions that marked most of the movie, the beautiful music scoring for "WotW:G" was something that nailed the emotion and heart of the entire story. At least for me.Watching "WotW:G" gave me some hope --- the mix of styles/ mediums and characters showed how various work in films can cross "the East-West divide" in a positive and unique way. Here's to more successful collaborations like these in the future.
I admit the movie didn't quite impress me at the first fifteen minutes from the start: some of the dialogues sounded like the voice actors were rushed before they could warm up properly to the character they were playing as, resulting in horridly cheesy voice acting which was quite a pain to listen to, but the believability of their acting per the character they were portraying seemed to improve as the movie progressed. Certain animated segments in the movie lacked that stellar Disney-like polish, and some people who aren't used to direct-to-DVD quality animation might find the movie's animation style a bit hard to digest.Then I thought, "maybe I'm being too cynical with this movie" so I chose throw that out to the recycle bin for the rest of the screening. It was then I finally got the gist of what the movie wanted to be: a straight to the point, no holds barred animated action movie. It didn't muck around with too much plot and instead went straight to the meat buffet of non-stop gunfires, lasers, and explosions everywhere. In fact, one can very much regard WOTW:G as the animated steampunk equal to Expendables 2, and surely anyone who sat through the first minute of that senseless beefcake parade would forget they were ever cynical, sensible adults the moment they saw Stallone and his motley crew of action movie stereotypes steamrolling the far east countryside with enough chesthairs to knock over a fortress (in which they did). That, I believe, is the kind of attitude one should muster when watching WOTW:G. Paying even a shred of attention towards the overly straightforward storyline and paper-thin character development would be a complete waste of time as it wasn't the movie's main intention or best forte. However, if you did step into the cinema with the fervour of an uptight critic, I could bet it wouldn't take five minutes for you to vacate your seat and scram to the nearest home entertainment store for a copy of Mulholland Drive for the rest of the night! Having made a comparative reference of a really testosterone-driven action movie, there was no doubt WOTW:G is filled with a lot of suitably clichéd gung-ho characters to go with the continually overmentioned massive guns and explosions. You got the heroic Captain America type protagonist, the femme fatale love interest, the wisecracking Irish, and the "I need to be here because I complete the whole ensemble" black guy. I could barely remember any of their names except for the token Malayan character Raja Iskandar Shah. I was glad that Shah wasn't simply thumbtacked onto the movie just to tell every ingrate creatures on earth to be grateful for the country that does half the bulk of animation work. To my surprise, Shah was a very likable support character, the movie's equivalent to Spock: he's wise, educated, and loves his tea. Perhaps (SPOILER) I could also mention his Keris stabby scene upon a hapless Martian would've easily earned the Awe-Inspiring Moment Of The Month Award if there was ever one! Some historical figures portrayed in the movie were also suitably reimagined and empowered with the tenacity of Greek Gods, like the barfighting, machinegunning prowess of A.R.E.S. commander-in-chief Theodore Roosevelt. Last but not least, WOTW:G beautifully fitting musical score warrants a soundtrack CD release in the future.If you could keep your brain in a jar for night, WOTW:G is the animated movie of choice for a bachelor's night out with the rest of your male buddies. It's a spectacle-driven, purely juvenile explosive ride that's not at all taxing for the casual audience with the least of expectations in what they're watching. Don't concern yourself too much with small details. Just distract yourself with the shock and awe that the movie brought to the silver screen.
As a fellow animation director, I understand how difficult it must have been to make this beautiful film on a low budget but Joe pulled it off nicely. Some very innovative camera work and nice direction kept this film on track. The look is very refreshing for an American made feature. It reminded me of some of the great Japanese anime films like Steamboy and Akira. I only wish the character animation could have been done here in the states. I would have loved to work on it. Science fiction fantasy films that are animated are the type of productions we all like to see. It's rare to see one done with such love and attention to detail. Joe is a fine director and did a great job guiding his overseas animators to deliver the best acting possible for this film and they did well.