The War of The Worlds Live on Stage (film, 2009)
A DVD review from Death Ray 17.
TWO AND A HALF STARS
Music hall Martians muscle in on home entertainment.
If you were here last month then you would have read our interview with Jeff Wayne, the creator of (deep breath now) Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds. It’s a brilliant album, a 90 minute retelling of HG Wells’ tale. Wayne took it on stage last year, complete with an a huge band, an electronically resurrected Richard Burton, giant videoscreen, and near life-size Martian tripod. This is the video of that performance.
The show looks awesome, I really want to go and see it. But watching live events at home always feels like you are watching video of a birthday party you weren’t invited to. And it is the wrong way to experience it. The effects are not on a par with a movie. That’s to be expected, this is a stage show, but this format invites to look at it like a film, and that is to its detriment.
Also a negative is the presentation of the event. The usual “live on stage” DVD tricks are used — lots of cross-fades and close-ups of fingers running up and down fretboards. It’s just not as imaginative as the show it represents.
Stick with the album, go see the show. This DVD is no substitute for either.
DVD Extras: If only there were more of these! There’s an interview with Jeff Wayne, and documentaries entitled: Bringing Burton Back, Carrie and the Cannons and Making a Martian Fighting Machine (built in Bristol, not far from Death Ray). It amounts to around 30 minutes in all of fairly interesting stuff – the actor who provides a stand-in for bits of Burton’s face is from the northeast, the tripod is made of steel and polystyrene, Wayne was going to do a stage show in the ’70s, but Burton died. It whets the appetite for a full documentary, but alas no such thing exists.