**spoiler alert** Very much a fun adaptation of classic Victorian era sci-fi novels with enough side bits to keep you literarily engaged. If you are a...more**spoiler alert** Very much a fun adaptation of classic Victorian era sci-fi novels with enough side bits to keep you literarily engaged. If you are a fan of those older novels, then you will pick up the references to them, which is part of the fun.
For instance, at one point Jekyll says, "You know he used to be smaller," in reference to Hyde. In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Hyde is a small, ape-like imp rather than the Hulk-like monster we have come, in popular culture, to view him as. Moore's post-modern inclusion of this line also implies that Jekyll's inner demons have been growing. Indeed, each of the League members is a comment on the Victorians and as Jekyll's demons grow, so does the darkness in Moore's Victorian England. The small leap from the end of these stories, like Mina's divorce and the hiding of her vampire's bite, incorporates a post-modern glance at Victorian anxieties: scandal (Mina), sex (Mina, Invisible Man), colonial retaliation (Nemo), "going native" (Allan), opium's deracinating effects (Allan), the ID gone wild (Jekyll, Invisible Man), evolution (or de-evolution) (Hyde).
I subtract two stars for two reasons: It's too short and I wanted to see it expand more and the second reason is Allan Quartermain's awkward backstory in the appendices of the book. Moore's mimic on Victorian writing is downright boring. Even though I enjoyed the inclusion of The Time Machine, it was just not a fun read after the adventurous pages of the League. (less)
I acknowledge that I am one of the few people who actually enjoyed the recent "War of the Worlds" movie. The reason for this has to do more with the o...moreI acknowledge that I am one of the few people who actually enjoyed the recent "War of the Worlds" movie. The reason for this has to do more with the original book than Tom Cruise or Steven Speilburg's tendency to wittle everything, including alien attacks, down to simple family problems. In a lot of ways, "War of the Worlds" (2006) was a close to dead-on adaptation of the original Victorian novel.
Just a few words on why you should like, or if you don't like, respect "War of the Worlds" as a movie:
It avoids alien movie cliches: 1. There are no characters (Presidents, generals, etc.) who tell you what is going on on a global scale--all information is through rumors. 2. You do not see a major city destroyed nor any iconic landmarks. 3. Instead of humanity banding together to defeat a common foe, the characters and others they interact with are left increasingly fragmented and isolated.
That being said, Speilburg's "War of the Worlds" adapts much of the plot line and themes from the original novel. Instead of the 1950s version which pits a united front against the aliens (Cold War adapted), the original Victorian novel has a character travel isolated. Wells' narrater, like Tom Cruise, finds himself on a ferry-crossing, holed up with a panicked priest (who conflated with the artillery-man, provides us with a freaky Tim Robbins. Robbins even shares a few lines with the artillery-man). The ending is much the same, a kind of "Now what?" sense pervades. And of course, Morgan Freeman's opening and closings, are practically word by word from the novel.
The movie is also a great window into some of the novel's most important themes. "War of the Worlds," is a very Post-9/11 movie. There is the dust, the annhilation of things we find familiar, clothing floats from the sky in mimic of office paper...There is a pervading fear of complete and nonsensical annhiliation. Whereas the 1950s adaption pits humanity against an enemy, the updated version worries itself with unknown enemies who spring from the ground. And, Speilburg, not one to be subtle, has Dakota Fanning ask Tom Cruise, "Is it the terrorists?"
That being said, the Victorian novel is a catelogue of Victorian anxieties. This is the age of colonialism, afterall, and suddenly England is beset by a much more powerful force, unexpected, and completely foreign. 'Reverse' colonialism? The aliens take England's resources, kill off its people, and even cover the landscape with alien plant-life.
And perhaps the most over-arching anxiety of all: Darwin. Here we have evolution at its cruelest; then consume us (drinking our blood like in Bram Stoker's Dracula). Just when humanity seems at its lowest, nature kicks in and saves the day. The ending seems anti-climatic now, but you have to remember that H.G. Wells did not have a pop-reference that included Will Smith destroying the mother-ship.
So my point is, "War of the Worlds" is an amazing book and good movie, and one can inform the other.
"This is not a war any more than it's a war between men and ants."