The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Announcement

Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Sunday, May 13, 2007

War of the Worlds (2005)

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The idea of this film intrigued me. C. Thomas Howell in a DTV adaptation of the H.G. Wells sci-fi classic, how can you go wrong, right? Seeing that it had Jake Busey too made it a no brainer for me, so I caught it the first time I could when it was on the Sci-Fi Channel.

You already know the basics of the plot, so I'll give you the specifics germane to this version. C. Thomas Howell plays an astrophysicist who's supposed to go to DC with his wife and son. He's called away, though, when the aliens come, so his angry wife takes their son and goes without him. On his way to the observatory, all hell breaks loose. Howell now must hike through the death and destruction to make it to DC to see if his family is still alive. He meets a US Army Soldier, then an Australian pastor. With the pastor, he finds himself holed up in a veterinarian's house, and he infects an alien with rabies vaccine. I'm not sure if this creates a domino effect that kills the rest of them, or if they die from other viruses. Either way, he makes it to DC, and at least he gets to live happily ever after.

I'm not sure what to make of this. It's very realistic in the way it depicts people dealing with the near apocalypse conditions. Yet the aliens looked like something out of a 1950s D horror film. I'm not exactly sure what they were going for with that. There were some weird scenes in this too. In one, Howell and the pastor see this dad and his two young kids being held in this green goo. I guess the aliens were doing experiments on them, but all that really happened was they shook really fast. I didn't get it. In another, at the end of the movie, Jake Busey has taken over a battalion in the army, and the soldier Howell met before is with him. I'm not sure why, but Busey shoots him between the eyes, and then in retaliation, Howell kills Busey with a rock to the back of the head. I just didn't see the point.

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Howell is an astrophysicist for some reason. You'd think that would make sense, being an alien invasion movie, but he seems to be an expert immunologist too. Why they didn't just make him that to begin with is beyond me. At no point does his being an astrophysicist play into the plot. At many points does his expertise in immunology play into the plot. So instead of us saying "yeah, as an immunologist, it makes sense that he knows that" we say "why the hell would he know that if he's an astrophysicist?"

This movie seeks to erase an immutable movie truth and replace it with one rooted in reality. The immutable truth is that people with Australian accents are always cool. Just ask Paul Hogan. I've never seen a movie before this one where the dude or chick with an Australian accent wasn't the cat's pajamas. But here, the Australian pastor is extremely annoying. When he dies, it's kind of a guilty pleasure for the viewer.

The truth based on reality that they replace it with is that Howell, going through this extreme trauma, wants some human company. He'll take it wherever he can get it, including from the annoying Australian pastor. It was a cool twist on the old "who doesn't love Australians?" plot device.

Jake Busey is interesting in this. He plays this hilarious Army lieutenant who promotes himself to general in the chaos of the invasion. In one great line, he calls Howell and his soldier buddy "ass clowns". The film could've used more of him. I don't get why actors like this get top billing on a movie's DVD cover, and are only in the film for two scenes. Who is Jake Busey's agent that he can't get any more love than that?

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Howell is amusing in this film, but for different reasons. There's a great scene where he's running, and his form is too silly not to laugh out loud at. There's another at the beginning where this woman tells him her boyfriend is stuck down with the alien ship. For some reason, though about 30 or 40 people are looking on, only Howell and the girlfriend are yelling for the guy. I can only imagine what that scene looked like when it was being shot.

This would be a very funny move if it didn't try to add so much realism. It's hard to make fun of a movie that has a woman crying for her dead kids. As such, I wouldn't buy this, unless you can get it really cheap; I'm talking like a buck or two. It's worth a rental if you've got some buddies that dig bad sci-fi; and you could TiVo it if it's on again. That's probably your best bet: just wait for it to be on again and TiVo it, because this isn't exactly must see material. If you have to wait a year to see it, you'll live.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0449040/

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