The above review is more positive than what you can expect from me, which I’ve decided to provide with bullets.
- I took the time to read the book after my first listen. It took less time to read than to listen ( Okay – I did a lot of scanning – so I got through it in under an hour). I didn’t like the book, so I didn’t like the audio adaptation, but they are very close to one another. I thought the whole thing was quite dated, and at times, hard to follow. There are change of scenes in the audio version that often confused me. This was especially so when the story skipped from Herbert in the country-side to a naval battle near London, and frequently when the scene shifted from Herbert to Edward ( see below).
- This is a radio dramatization of a science fiction work that relies heavily on sound effects to depict explosions, rushing water, fires crackling, machinery, buildings collapsing, weapons, horses running, etc. This couldn’t have been easy to achieve, but because of it, I found listening difficult, especially as the characters are often talking over the sound effects and it wasn’t easy to figure out what every sound was supposed to represent. I wonder whether some of the sound effects were used while they were speaking or were put in afterwards.
- Because the characters are witnessing horrific and dangerous events, and are often in the path of danger, there is a sort of Into the Storm vibe, with a lot of yelling ( Run! Hide! Quiet! Look!) as well as moaning and sounds of pain. Of all the main characters, Herbert ( Armitage) seems to have the most injuries, poor guy.
- This adaption changed the story slightly by giving a larger role to the protagonist’s wife. In this version, Herbert Wells ( HG himself, played by Richard Armitage) is the narrator and a character who witnesses a lot of whats happening in the countryside and paints some transitions to the other set of main characters) In the original, he drops his wife off at a cousin’s and she never resurfaces. In this version, Amy ( Lucy Briggs-Owen) is with Herbert throughout his travels. She is often the more practical, less hysterical of the two, and has an equal task in determining their course of action. She also has a pretty good sense of humor and a no-nonsense approach to their predicament. So, good for the writer for giving a female a more equal role)
- Another change from the original is the parallel story of Herbert’s brother, Edward (Christopher Weeks), who is in London at the time of the invasion. He hooks up with a youngish married woman, Agatha (Helen Goldwyn) and her dying mother- in-law. In the original, Agatha is with her sister-in-law. In the original, they come upon one another when Edward intervenes to save Agatha from brutes who are trying to steal her horse and cart to escape. In this version, Agatha and her mother-in-law are trying to escape in a hot air balloon. Without giving anything away, this story change has some odd and dark differences, aside from the hot air balloon. Like Amy, Agatha is a strong, reliable, and feisty partner/eyewitness to Edward as they observe the scary, violent invasion and try to survive. So, again, kudus to the adaptor, Nicholas Briggs.
- Richard Armitage fans might be particular amused by the scene where he and Amy have to submerge themselves under water for longish periods in order to evade a deadly Martian weapon. His gasps, and coughs, and the sound of them trying to talk under water, are a hoot. Luckily for him, he didn’t go near anything closer than a water bottle while working.
- For Richard Armitage fans who like him best when he’s doing period pieces, they should be mightily pleased by the Victorian, formal speech patterns in this work, and when he’s not screaming, or groaning, his baritone voice, especially in narration, should be familiar and welcome.
- I know these people were going through a hellish experience, but I thought it was still over dramatic for my taste. I imagine this is necessary, though, when one is only listening.
- I suppose this will be much better received by H.G Wells or Sci Fans, and by those who like radio plays. I think what will make this special for most – the sound effects- is what I liked least – but there’s really no way around them, considering the story.
- I was a bit disappointed when I compared the star quality of the cast to that of Richard Armitage. Except for Lucy Briggs-Owen (Doc Martin), most of the other actors have few to no credits, or have been in only B-type films with an occasional TV appearance. So, once again, I ask myself, Richard Armitage – why? Unless he feels some kinship with Big Finish, which gave him some work during his Robin Hood days.
With all the audio work Richard Armitage is producing, I’m beginning to wonder if he doesn’t want to be seen much.