Paramount Home Entertainment have delivered a must-have purchase for any serious cinema lover, a double bill of The War of the Worlds (1953) on 4K accompanied by When Worlds Collide on Blu-ray. Both movies, produced by George Pal are superb examples of the genre so we’ll take a good look at both, first The War of the Worlds.
Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry) and Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson) are among the humans intrigued when a meteor-like object crashes to Earth but its occupants are definitely not friendly. The assault on Earth is underway, and the Martian machines hovering swan-shaped vehicles of destruction are both beautiful and terrifying as they cut a relentless path of annihilation.
Apocalyptic and deep, The War of the Worlds is simply one of the finest Sci-Fi movies ever made. Originally released way back in 1953, it takes the H.G. Wells novel, updates it and adds a true touch of Red Menace to it. Packed with scenes of devastation and panic it highlights man’s fight for survival from an unknown and powerful enemy. The Martian ship design are iconic as is the sound their heat ray makes as they make their way destroying everything in their path.
The transfer is incredible, the Technicolor image is solid throughout with colours vibrant free from any sort of over saturation or bleed. The remixed soundtrack is smart, using the rears to great effect without losing any of the memorable dialogue.
Extras wise this disc is packed and the first one you need to check out is the charming commentary from Barry and Robinson which is worth the price of this set alone. Filled with warmth and class these two deliver plenty of trivia and memories until it becomes like listening to two friends. The other commentary is from film director Joe Dante, Film Historian Bob Burns, and Bill Warren author of “Keep Watching The Skies” which is far more technical but just as much fun as the other track.
The disc also has a few docs from the archives the first being The Sky is Falling: Making The War of the Worlds. This is a half an hour celebration of the movie which has some wonderful anecdotes included as well as Ray Harryhausen’s proposed animation. Interviewing H.G. Wells: The Father of Science Fiction is a ten-minute celebration of the author’s works. Also here is the legendary Mercury Theatre on the Air radio performance of The War of the Worlds which became one of the most notorious pieces of radio drama ever. It still packs a dramatic punch thanks to superb direction from Orson Wells. The Extras section concludes with the wonderful Theatrical Trailer.
When Worlds Collide
When Worlds Collide is a disaster movie which is as bombastic and over-the-top as you’d want it to be. Directed by Rudolph Maté it’s a serious and thoughtful movie that’s as apocalyptic as you’d want your sci-fi to be.
When two planetoids are discovered to be hurtling directly at Earth, scientists (Larry Keating and Richard Derr) must quickly construct a 'Space Ark' which will take 40 lucky people - chosen by lottery - to a new, Earth-like planet.
This slow burner is for those who like their movies with brains as well as thrills. From the in-your-face title sequence to the straight-faced script delivery, this is prime 1950’s sci-fi. Richard Derr who plays Pilot David Randall, the man trusted with passing the destruction of Earth info to the right sources is solid throughout as the dashing, womanising hero. Barbara Rush as Joyce, one of the scientist’s daughters, is given more to do than just question the proceedings and scream, she’s a woman with brains and her own agenda, something rare for women in 1950s sci-fi. Its also a wonderful snapshot of the time; everyone smokes, newspaper sellers shout-out the headlines in the street and all men wear hats. Its these sort of things that make it such a pleasure to watch plus the charming miniature effects add to the nostalgia.
The transfer for this is slightly softer than the 4K of The War of the Worlds but way above the DVD I have of this movie. Colours are bold with forgivable amounts of grain. The sound remains sharp and clear even during the noisier moments.
This is an amazing package and great value for money as it also comes with 8 photo cards, 5 art cards, 2 magnets and opens up to reveal a 3D cut out of the main feature.
War of the Worlds (1953) is available now on 4K Ultra HD, accompanied by When Worlds Collide on Blu-ray in one double feature package.