Why The War Of The Worlds has aged so poorly.

Often regarded as a “classic” of the sci-fi genre, The War Of The Worlds left me disappointed. I think the primary reason for this is how poorly it has aged. Cables are clearly seen holding up the ships throughout the entire movie, and the effects themselves are lacking. I love practical effects, but I like to see them used effectively. When the cylinder falls to Earth it doesn’t hit the ground with a massive thud, it lands with one of the weakest sound effects I have ever heard.  While the effects were groundbreaking for their time, they failed to create any suspense or sense of fear for me as a viewer. The film would have held up much better if they had shown less and left more to the imagination.

As I said before, at the time of this film’s release its effects were groundbreaking. Despite this, the film would have aged much better if more was left to the viewer’s imagination. This compensates for the weak effects and creates real suspense. The shot of the alien running by the window is all the viewer needs to see of the Martians. By showing a brief glimpse of the creature running by the window, the viewer is freaked out and starts creating a terrifying image in their mind. Instead of taking advantage of this “less is more” approach, the film then proceeds to show us a laughable full body shot of one of the least intimidating aliens I’ve ever seen in a film. This creates no fear or suspense, and is a major reason this film looks dated.

Another reason this film doesn’t hold up in my opinion is because of the weak acting. I never genuinely felt that these characters were involved in an alien invasion. This movie features that “ham it up” type of acting. You know what I mean right? When the characters themselves just act and sound like they are in a movie, with no real emphasis on realism. I don’t know if Ann actually screams every five minutes in real life, but I’m pretty sure the rest of the cast received hearing loss after working with her on this film. It’s a shame that her potential was wasted, because I think she could have been an interesting character. Instead, the film makers decided to make her a typical damsel in distress type that has to be led around by her “hero”. The sexism of the 50’s really shines through in this movie.

In conclusion, this movie hasn’t aged well primarily because of the poor effects and the poor acting. Was this movie probably the greatest thing to happen to sci-fi back in the day? Probably so, but that doesn’t mean that it is good by today’s standards. As someone who despises the overuse of CGI in today’s films, I do appreciate the use of practical effects in this movie. However, I think the film and effects would have aged better if the “less is more” approach would have been taken. What do you think? Do you think the movie has aged well?


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