Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds – Alive on Stage! The New Generation
The War of the World’s – Alive on Stage! The New Generation is, as the title suggests, an updated version of his famed interpretation of the H.G Wells novel that permanently altered the face of literature. Jeff Wayne’s score emerged in 1978 and has had cult status among fans ever since, due to its elements of progressive rock mixed with string orchestra. The live musical adaptation has itself garnered a number of accolades and has a certain resonance with musical lovers. This is a high definition live film of the phenomenon.
Shot in front of a sell-out audience at the O2 Arena, War of the Worlds boasts groundbreaking multimedia. The partnership between Wayne’s score (that incorporates both a traditional string orchestra and electronic instruments) and the CGI and visual effects is striking.
Liam Neeson stars as the journalist recounting his thoughts after the Martian invasion. His performance is excellent and entirely holographic, with impressively implemented pseudo-interactions with the rest of the cast. The ensemble is comprised mainly of singers from past and present including Marti Pellow, Jason Donavon and Kaiser Chiefs’ Ricky Wilson. It’s irregular casting, but the acting is surprisingly astute and universally well-executed.
The main issue with The War of the Worlds is the lengthy musical numbers. Songs can drag on for a good fifteen minutes, and for a two-hour performance this can grate. Additionally, the editing doesn’t quite feel right for an audience watching this on film. The dramatic cuts between the 100ft CGI Animation Wall and the orchestras disorientate the viewer and, combined with some overlong songs, the film appears as if on a loop; it’s very repetitive and largely directionless. Ultimately the viewer is left with no choice but to accept the lack of variety on offer.
With 45 musicians onstage, there’s no doubt that the music of War of the Worlds is appropriately grand. The main theme is fantastic, but after that the songs lose their momentum (the soundtrack adds up to 110 minutes, while the film itself runs at two hours). Live, it would probably have been amazing, but as a cinematic release it fails to engage.
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