When I first heard about “War of the Worlds: Goliath”–a copy of which our friends at Anderson Digital (no relation) sent out for review–I was actually pretty intrigued. An animated pseudo-sequel to one of the biggest, most imitated and most revamped science fiction properties of the late 1800s and early 1900s could only be described as a big idea, but big ideas have the potential to go pretty spectacularly wrong in short order.
“War of the Worlds: Goliath” takes us to a radically changed Earth, radically changed from what we know because, when the Martians landed back in 1899 before succumbing to Earth bacteria, humanity started putting back together its broken world on the back of reverse engineered Martian technology. That gives humanity access to a lot of new technologies it wouldn’t have had previously, and that’s technology that humanity is going to need as the Martians have come back for round two. Armed with about 15 years’ worth of technological improvements and a newfound immunity to Earth bacteria, the Martians want payback for their first invasion’s failure. But humanity has learned Mars’ lessons well, and now sends its own breed of warrior after the Martians, including the crew of the battle tripod Goliath.
I’ll give you a moment to recover from the sheer implications of an idea like this. Yes, you’re actually going to be watching a steampunk reinterpretation of the future following the first installment of “War of the Worlds,” and that’s both disturbing and exciting at the same time. Throw in the fact that this is actually a production from one of the guys who originally came up with “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”–specifically, Kevin Eastman–and suddenly the whole thing becomes a much bigger idea that it already was. The animation quality here is actually quite impressive, and some of the voice actors will be recognizable like Adrian Paul, Beau Billingsley and Adam Baldwin.
And taking a look at New York as a whole, with its wildly different technology for the era and staggering statuary–one great example is a woman in flowing robes holding a belt-fed machine gun at least twice as large as she is with the title “Vigilance” under it, and the Statue of Liberty had her torch augmented with a big old sword blade–is something of a treat in its own right. The recent release of “Bioshock: Infinite” should help here, as it’s much the same time frame and even some comparable technology.
I’m amazed, frankly, by “War of the Worlds: Goliath.” Impressive animation, a sound storyline–Wells himself might well have done similar had the storyline carried on–and sound pacing are the hallmarks here. About the only complaint I can have here is that the accents are a bit thick in some cases and the Martian air fighters look a bit too much like “Independence Day” fodder for my tastes. There are some minor logic issues–I’ll leave them for you to spot so as not to spoiler–but these are the smallest of complaints, and don’t at all get in the way of a heat-blasting explosive good time.
Special features here include your choice of English, Spanish, Chinese or Bahasa Malaysian subtitles, a commentary track, a making-of featurette, a featurette on the actors involved, a set of other featurettes about specific elements of the movie like the storyboards and some of the stories from “before the war,” and trailers for “Time Warrior,” “Poseidon Rex,” and “War of the Worlds: Goliath.”
“War of the Worlds: Goliath” is likely much better than anyone would ever give it credit for, and a joy to watch. This one’s going to be well worth it for any science fiction fan who likes the modern era, or enjoyed the work of the past as they blend seamlessly together for an amazing look at what might have been.