By Seth Lukas Hynes
War of the Worlds
Starring Gabriel Byrne and Léa Drucker
War of the Worlds is an eight-part mini-series that reimagines H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi novel in modern-day Europe, and follows several families struggling to regroup after an alien attack.
The mini-series is slow to get going, but tense and compelling once it gets into gear.
The first episode has several dry moments and jarring cuts, and this adaptation suffers from too many characters, which stretches the viewer’s attention.
However, the rest of the episode has an effective escalation of suspense, as trepidation over an alien signal grows into fear of an imminent attack, then erupts into urban chaos as people scramble for cover. The episode concludes with an arresting shot of a silent, devastated world.
Despite its present-day setting, War of the Worlds closely follows the major plot-points of the novel, including the alien crafts being mistaken for meteors, their massacre of mankind, the exodus from London and the protagonist journeying alone to reunite with his wife.
The second episode is bleaker, more focused and better-paced, concentrating on discreet groups for longer. Intrigue, hard choices and desperation develop within each family, and the narrative masterfully builds dread toward the alien forces by presenting them as a little-seen but deadly force.
War of the Worlds is an engaging slow-burn that accurately conveys the spirit of Wells’ novel, and screens on Thursday evenings on SBS.