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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 04.07.14] Malaysia scifi animation

Over the years, "War of the Worlds" has been interpreted for everything from radio to movies but few stories have imagined the aftermath of what would happen if the Martians decided to invade for a second time. Enter director Joe Pearson and writer David Abramowitz (of Highlander fame) who offer exactly that second invasion scenario in War of the Worlds: Goliath.

In an alternate universe, the Martians came to Earth in 1899 decimating much of the planet before being wiped out by bacteria. In the years since the first invasion, Earth has been vigilantly studying and using Martian technology to create weapons to fend off the Martians should they return for a second attack, and as professor Tesla advises the generals and gathered troops of the Allied Resistance Earth Squadrons (A.R.E.S. for short) 15 years after the first invasion: with Mars coming in close proximity of Earth, a second invasion attempt isn't only likely but imminent.

Goliath centers on Eric Wells (Peter Wingfield) and his team of A.R.E.S. fighters as they lead the charge in a giant battle tripod aptly named "Goliath" that is to be the first line of defence against the Martian tripods. As with really great alternate history, Pearson and Abramowitz pepper the movie with all sorts of real life events. Although we never quite see it happen, there's a constant threat of breakout of World War I, a threat that almost becomes reality until the Martians suddenly arrive ahead of schedule. The A.R.E.S. corps are also made up of recognizable individuals, from Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron) to the aforementioned Nikola Tesla, and others who many not have recognizable names but whose situation is familiar. Such is the case with Patrick O'Brien, an IRA member on the brink of stealing weapons from the A.R.E.S. reserves to supply the fight against the English.

All of these touches add a nice layer of sophistication to Goliath but the movie collapses into the same problems that many of its live-action counterparts encounters: endless action sequences. For the most part, the sequences in Goliath are well choreographed and executed but they're also far too long and after the second, repetitive. They certainly look spectacular, in particular the first appearance of the Martians and the steam-powered tripod battle machines and when the two come face to face, the result is impressive, but in the second half, Goliath seems to forget all of the good story points of the first act in favour of endless battle sequences.

Beautifully animated and featuring a talented voice cast including Adrian Paul, Jim Byrnes and Elizabeth Gracen, War of the Worlds: Goliath is an impressive achievement, particularly when one considers this is an independently produced animated feature and though I wish the second half had developed some of the side stories a little further, from the inter character relationships to the events unfolding in the world at large, the bottom line is that the action sequences, though occasionally repetitive, are very impressive and the movie is well worth a look.

War of the Worlds: Goliath is now available on DVD and Blu-ray/Blu-ray 3D combo.

Blu-ray Extras: The release is packed with extras including "Stories before the War," "The movie in story boards," "Meet Our Voice Actors," "The Art of War," the trailer, "The Lovers" and a "Making Of" featurette.

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