War of the Worlds: The True Story: Film Review

This found-footage mockumentary adaptation of H.G. Wells' sci-fi classic is mostly impressive for its technical achievements.

Timothy Hines' faux documentary is inspired by both H.G. Wells' classic sci-fi novel and Orson Welles' legendary 1938 radio broadcast.

Director Timothy Hines has gone back to the Wells for War of the Worlds: The True Story, his second attempt at dramatizing the classic science fiction novel by H.G. Wells. Unlike his apparently awful three-hour 2005 direct-to-video effort, this version -- inspired by Orson Welles’ legendary 1938 radio broadcast that panicked the nation -- takes a conceptually adventurous approach to the material. But despite the undeniable technical proficiency on display, it yields diminishing returns.

Presented as a faux documentary, it purports to present a filmed 1965 interview with 86-year-old Bertie Wells (Floyd Reichman), the last survivor of the 1900 war between Mars and Earth. This footage, supposedly unearthed in 2006, is interwoven with a recreation of the epic interplanetary war using a mixture of fake and real archival footage, scenes from old movies as well as Hines’ previous effort, and the sort of dramatic recreations to be found in a typical television docudrama.

The film, whose credits inform us is “based on the 1898 seminal alien invasion memoir,” is certainly an ambitious enterprise. Director/editor Hines weaves the various styles of footage together in expert fashion, creating a relatively seamless effect. He’s also been remarkably faithful to the source material, to the point where all of the dialogue and narration is taken directly from the original novel.

But ultimately the viewer is less consumed by the story than in dispassionately admiring the craftsmanship on display. The dramatic scenes, filmed in sepia tones to blend in with the historical footage, are clumsily staged and acted. And the endless battle sequences blend in together in wearying fashion, making the film seem far longer than its 105 minutes.


Production: Pendragon Pictures.

Cast: Floyd Reichman, Jim Cissell, Jack Clay, Anthony Piana, Susan Goforth, James Lathrop, John Kaufmann, Anthony Piana, Darlene Sellers, Jamie Lynn Sease, W. Bernard Bauman.

Director/editor: Timothy Hines.

Producers: Susan Goforth, Donovan Le.

Composer: Jamie Hall.

Not rated, 105 min.