H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi novel “War of the Worlds” has become a part of pop culture and entertainment over the decades, in no small part due to Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast that has gone down in infamy for fooling listeners into thinking there was a real invasion occurring. Add to that a high grossing film update of the story starring some guy named Tom Cruise and a scene stealing young lady by the name of Dakota Fanning, and well, the title isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Tripod Studios (yes, named after the Martian form of transport) is throwing their take on the story into the direct to disc market with “War of the Worlds: Goliath,” an animated film executive produced by Kevin Eastman of “TMNT” and “”Heavy Metal” fame. Indeed, when researching this film it was originally a Heavy Metal project, but went independent. Regardless, what has emerged was actually a fun take on the tale. In this alternate history the first attack occurs in 1899 and is shown in a montage with the opening credits. It’s better than it sounds, and was actually what drew me in. Fast forward to 1914 Manhattan. A steampunk-infused Metropolis with a huge military citadel. Welcome to the world of “Goliath.” We’re re-introduced to our hero Capt. Eric Wells (Peter Wingfield), whom we met in the opening as a child.
Wells (no doubt named after H.G.) is a member of the Allied Resistance Earth Squadrons aka A.R.E.S., which was formed after the destruction of the first attack that humanity only survived due to the Martians’ lack of an immunity to Earth’s bacteria. A.R.E.S. was formed to be ready in the event of another invasion. Headed by Scientist Nikola Tesla, who reversed engineered the Martian technology, and Theodore Roosevelt (Jim Byrnes) as Secretary of War, A.R.E.S. has created battle tripods of their own, complete with heat rays. It’s all steam-powered too. An international organization, A.R.E.S. has a diverse crew and they do not disappoint. Wells is British and his crew includes an America, a Canadian, an Irishman, and a Malaysian. He and his crew are given the honor of commanding the first of the new 65-foot Achilles class battle tripod, which he dubs “Goliath.”
The story is pretty straightforward, your standard battle-against-the-odds war story, with just the “War of the Worlds” brand attached. That said, the action is pretty hectic, and when things get climactic there are Michael Bay amounts of explosions. There are some fun characters as well and some that are just there to fill the clichéd roles. Voice acting is well done with Peter Wingfield, Adrian Paul, and Jim Byrnes of “Highlander: The Series” fame playing our Wells, the Irishman Patrick O’Brien, and Theodore Roosevelt, respectively. Animation-wise, the character designs are pretty good, and although the facial detail is more of the simplistic style, the rest is impressive. Backgrounds are actually even more impressive, and the CGI on the tripods is definitely worth watching the film for. All I could think was these things would be very cool to see in live-action.
“War of the Worlds: Goliath” is a really solid piece of work for a fledgling company, and with a known brand to boot. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when it first started, though I was intrigued. It started off a little slow and clumsy, but really gained steam (pun intended) with the battle scenes. If you like alternate history, classic sci-fi, steampunk, or want to see something somewhat original, check out “War of the Worlds: Goliath.”
Joe Pearson (director) / David Abramowitz (screenplay), Joe Pearson (story)
CAST: Beau Billingslea … Abraham Douglas
Jim Byrnes … (voice)
Elizabeth Gracen … (voice)
Adrian Paul … (voice)
James Arnold Taylor … German & Russian Soldiers (voice)
Peter Wingfield … (voice)