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By Brad Cook | June 22, 2005

This was a phenomenal move for The Asylum Home Entertainment.

See, it’s always a twitchy concept, taking an old story and trying to update it. Longtime readers will remember my “Dr. Moreau’s House of Pain” coverage, and the utter lambasting I gave that contemptible piece of cinematic slime.

But now, The Asylum comes along with its rendition of “War of the Worlds.” It’s hard enough to pull off by normal standards, but well-nigh impossible with Spielberg’s version hitting theatres within mere weeks after The Asylum’s version hits video stores next week.

So how does The Asylum play against this stacked deck?

Very well.

So what we have here is the story of aliens who’ve decided that Earth is just a little too annoying for their tastes, and thus send a landing party of several dozen crab-like walkers to blow holy old hell out of earth with heat rays, tailored viruses, flesh-melting outriders, and assorted metal tentacles.

The parallels are what make this particularly interesting. Somehow, they’ve managed to incorporate the concept of a terrorist attack in with the original Wells concept. This kind of timely, up to the minute addition is a welcome innovation, and the kind of thing that elevates something like this from “ripoff” to “homage.”

The walker effects are nothing short of spectacular—easily some of the best stuff The Asylum has ever put out.

The acting is top-notch and the background effects are chilling. The entire concept is both high-intensity and atmospheric at the same time. The combination of all of these factors manages to make me enjoy a direct to video title like I haven’t in months.

And “War of the Worlds” will be slaughtered, unequivocally, when the Spielberg version hits theatres.

Had The Asylum released this two years ago, even one year ago, it would be hailed as an incredible literary adaptation and as a purely brilliant film. Which, frankly, I have to—this really is an incredible literary adaptation and a purely brilliant film. It’s also entertaining, and a solid gift to science fiction buffs everywhere.

But there will be comparisons. Most of them will be unfavorable. There will be cries of “ripoff’ and “knockoff” and any other term you can think of, some involving profanity, and even a few that you can’t think of offhand.

Never mind that The Asylum’s version will hit the public first. Never mind that in many ways “War of the Worlds” is easily one of the best pictures The Asylum has ever put out. Never mind a bit of that because people will talk.

There will be almost no hope for this plucky little contender. It’s a small direct to video title going up against a two hundred million dollar spectacle helmed by an actual living legend of Hollywood, Steven Spielberg. Two hundred million dollars is the largest movie budget in all of history, so saith the IMDB, and that’s enough to bankroll The Asylum’s version two hundred times over.

Two. Hundred. Times. Over.

It’s like Rocky Balboa fighting a bear. Wearing armor. And Rocky’s been given horse tranquilizers.

But that’s okay, because I want to give that poor little bear-fighting boxer a shotgun of his own.

The ending is a little on the chipper-happy side, but given what happened before it, it should be.

The special features include a behind the scenes featurette, a visual effects featurette, deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and trailers for “War of the Worlds,” “Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter’s Cove,” “Alien Abduction,” and “Hide and Creep.”

All in all, The Asylum’s version of “War of the Worlds,” is going to have to compete in the marketplace of public opinion, and there is no way a direct to video like The Asylum could ever possibly compete in a fair fight with the single biggest budget film in all of history.

So let’s make it an UNFAIR fight.

I advise you not to even bother comparing. Get out there, as fast as you can, and SEE THIS MOVIE. Read the book if you’re so inclined, but don’t see the Spielberg version until you see the absolute great gonzo production that this tiny little studio put out on video.

And in an unprecedented move, I recommend The Asylum’s “War of the Worlds” wholly and without reservation, and advise you as strongly as a video store guy can, to watch this movie.

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