Released on December 23rd with no fanfare, publicity, or even an IMDB page, War of the Worlds: Annihilation is the latest “Tubi Original”. Like their first original film Swim, this was made for them by The Asylum, which should make their fans happy. I’ve found their films to be hit or miss, usually miss and the way this was quietly dumped in the middle of the holiday season didn’t do anything to make me hopeful about what I was about to watch.
A massive group of meteorites, which for some reason the characters keep calling asteroids, fall from the sky all over the globe releasing a strange toxic smoke. The military, led by General Skuller (William Baldwin, Minutes to Midnight, Backdraft) assumes it’s an alien attack and is looking for a fight. Cyber ops specialist Ashlaya Wellish (Arie Thompson, Doctor Death, 4 Horsemen: Apocalypse) however sees several flaws in that theory but is, of course, ignored.
Meanwhile, her husband Jutta (Michael Marcel, Atlantic Rim: Resurrection, Alien Convergence) is being sent out on patrol and their son Lucas (Kennedy Porter) is locked down at school, trying to make the building safe from whatever this substance is.
Writer Conor Dowling and director Maximilian Elfeldt (Dracula: The Original Living Vampire, Apocalypse of Ice) establish War of the Worlds: Annihilation’s basic scenario and then throw everything they can think of at us. Giant tentacles, robots and looters all quickly come into play. Throw in a prepper named Tiago (Noel G, 7 Deadly Sins, Dragged Across Concrete) and Patlin (Rashod Freelove, Women of Heart Baptist Church) a doctor who barely survived the attack on his hospital and you have plenty of activity even if it only loosely holds together as a plot.
Unlike most of The Asylum’s films, War of the Worlds: Annihilation has a long running time, an hour and fifty-three minutes to be precise. This means that since it won’t have the budget to be a non-stop effects show, it needs all the plot it can get to stay interesting. What we get is a series of encounters that leave our main characters alive while everyone they meet gets killed. Eventually, Ashlaya and company end up back with Skuller and what’s left of his command while Patlin rescues a female alien named Gwen (Emree Franklin, Last Seen in Idaho) which ends up taking the plot in a direction that resembles Independence Day crossed with Beyond Skyline and the Occupation films.
As I mentioned, we don’t get many of them, but the effects that we do get in War of the Worlds: Annihilation are surprisingly good for an Asylum film. The CGI for the various alien craft and giant mecha-like robots is for the most part convincing. The things that don’t work, such as fire and explosions, are kept to a minimum. The same could be said for the plot I suppose, it’s patchy and derivative, but it sticks to what works. It also stays serious and avoids the winks and nods that turn up in other Asylum films like Meteor Moon and The Devil’s Triangle.
While a bit long, War of the Worlds: Annihilation is an enjoyable film, especially for free. I’m at a loss as to why it was unceremoniously dumped like it was. I didn’t see any press announcements, they didn’t even cut a trailer or make an IMDB page for it. But if you can see it, give it a watch, it’s certainly a worthwhile alternative to all the sappy Christmas films.
War of the Worlds: Annihilation is available on Tubi. I’m sure it will eventually turn up on other services in areas where Tubi isn’t available.