Spielberg's War of the Worlds feels epic in scope. It has amazing scenes like a train that's on fire speeding toward some unknown destination while people gawk at the horror of it all. It shows planes falling out of the sky, people blown to ashes, and huge tripod spaceships raining terror down upon the human race. The human race is so impossibly outmatched that any conflict between us and the invaders is similar to a grasshopper attacking a tank. That story never ends well, but it's also something that commands a lot of money to do (I'd imagine), which is probably (in part) why the Epix streaming service has opted for low key storytelling similar in vein to The Walking Dead. In the Epix streaming service version, they don't even have to worry about excessive makeup and prosthetics to make people look like zombies. So there's that too.
But does it work? I kinda/sorta like it, but I'm not quite sold on it as something that I'll continue to watch. I think I need to absorb a few more episodes before I can tell you that. What I can tell you is that deciding to present the alien invasion as an apocalyptic event, staging it in Europe, and using subtitles in long stretches because the actors are talking in French...does appear different. But it also feels made on the cheap, as the alien invaders used an invisible pulse to kill all humans who were not either 1) underground, 2) under water, or 3) encased in metal. So like more than half the world's population instantly died, but they just had the actors lie down on the ground. There's no "ash" effect like you see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and there's no expensive C.G.I. like Spielberg might use. And because the people were just "turned off" there's no makeup needed either. People can just lie down and look like they're napping.
By the end of the second episode, there was an introduction to something that actually seemed otherworldly: a dog or canine made of metal that you only see in glimpses that basically chases down survivors and butchers them. These are obviously servants of the invaders. So that adds a scary tension to the show, which I like. And the show does play effectively on the anxieties of a post-apocalyptic world in which the survivors embrace the epitome of selfishness. But how quickly this happens is surprising. Almost immediately after the "Big Death," the survivors are already treating each other pretty much like garbage.
Because I like big epic alien movies, I do hope that the show eventually gives us something like this...something that brings a kind of awe to it that you never get from many post-apocalyptic tales, because these kinds of stories are generally comprised of "one small band of people on a deserted road looking at the wreckage of a once vibrant world." This is exactly how this series is right now. And this is also why I feel like what I want is "never gonna happen." Most of that "epic" stuff that I crave in stories like this is the shock and awe that happens during the initial invasion, which is pretty much handled with a whimper. The "survivors" of the silent but deadly brain wave that kills off the majority of the population are probably just going to be pushed into hiding and to the point of extinction by the aliens before the "virus" trope is played and the aliens all die out because they have no immunities to Earth's diseases.
So...yeah, I'm basically looking at watching a series where there's going to be no real or impressive C.G.I. and where everything is going to be "makeup lite." Being filmed on location in Europe and keeping the story on a very personal level with no name actors is just money in the bank for the streaming service. And they don't have to pay money for a lot of extras because in this story, Earth is mostly dead now.
I guess we'll see what happens and whether the showrunner can win me over with cheap but effective storytelling. At least the acting (so far) is decent. Maybe I don't notice bad acting because I'm busy reading subtitles? I'm going to keep watching, and I'll try to keep you apprised of the situation as it evolves.