It’s often quite typical for a mockumentary to just detail a single little project or some kind of investigation using the found footage format to make the most of a small budget and hopefully to give chills and thrills for its audience, however The Great Martian War goes a step beyond to rewrite human history with a War of the Worlds fashioned World War.
The team has model their creative documentary with the flare of the (Sky) History Channel and goes as far to have the logo in the corner and a lot of the formatting looks quite genuine although it is lost halfway through the movie for some random effects that I’ve never personally seen any type of TV documentary but maybe this is artistic flare? It does hold up to the high standard of a professional job and it doesn’t go out of its way to explain certain details in the same way that a normal history show would expected it’s audience to have a grounding knowledge around the subject which is quite a clever stance.
Being based on a fictional battle set between the years of 1913 and 1917 as the title suggests, sets it up to happen before the first World War and therefore no Hitler, which is great, and there is a general upbeat feeling that as we all club together to fight aliens we come together more as a humans sharing one planet.
Narrated by the confident purposeful tones of Mark Strong the story starts with one particular Native Canadian soldier who plays a pivotal part in the role in defeating the enemy, and before you panic but I’m giving away the end it’s only clear that we won the war as it’s been told in the now however there is a cunning twist at the end which opens all sorts of potential theories.
As the story progresses through museums and curators, tutors and expercets traverse historical sites, it soon gets to the action and Slee manages to craft genuine period footage with some clever augmentations and there is a very engrossing story about how the world got together to beat and evil race of aliens in giant machines who like to harvest dead bodies for unknown reasons! I feel that the tripod design of the aliens is a little clumsy as we all know that story. At least the Mutant Chronicles (2008) managed to come up with a new alien design, I would like to think that it’s not too hard?
For the most part, and on the surface it does feel quite right however it does become overbearing some of the acting is a little overdone and loses its authenticity and begins to look like a commercial where “everyday” people talk to you in condescending tones, if feels as if the movie struggles while trying to hammer home it’s message.
In reflection the film is very comprehensive and stylized just right for that perfect historical setting rather than falling into the whole steampunk abyss. There’s tons of energy when The Great Martian War is describing the fate the failures, successes and trials of the most important battle in history, you can really get in the mood with the people who are talking and celebrate those crucial moments. There’s a lot to commended about choosing a Native Canadian as a focal point and hero rather than just the typical American or British soldier and that brave step to think outside of the box for its inspirations it’s definitely fun to watch.
R: Mutant Chronicles (2008)
L: Alien War Films
5s: Mark Strong