Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of 'The War of the Worlds': Live on Stage (2006)

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Released 30-Jul-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-The Tour 2006 - A Journal
Featurette-An Interview With Jeff Wayne
Featurette-Bringing Burton Back
Featurette-Making a Martian Fighting Machine
Featurette-Carrie and the Cannons
Featurette-Sculpting the Richard Burton Head
Featurette-Rehearsing "Thunder Child"
Featurette-Rehearsing "Forever Autumn"
Featurette-Mars Comes To Wembley
Interviews-Crew-Jeff Wayne in Conversation with Russell Watson
Featurette-Animating the Martian Machines
Featurette-The Tour 2006
Interviews-Cast
Booklet
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 110:10
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:54) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Mallet
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jeff Wayne
Tara Blaise
Richard Burton
Justin Hayward
Alexis James
Lewis McLeod
Chris Thompson
Russell Watson
Anna-Marie Wayne
Jerry Wayne
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual
RPI $35.95 Music Jeff Wayne
Fred Letailleur
Craig Crane


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles French
German
Dutch
Portuguese
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Visionary music producer Jeff Wayne first unleashed his musical interpretation of HG Wells' War of the Worlds in 1976. Much like Wells' original radio play, it was like nothing else around at the time. Blending moody electronic music and state of the art studio effects with the more traditional orchestral style of most earlier musicals, Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds managed to connect with both the popular audience as well as the traditional musical audience. Despite this unbridled success, Wayne was unable to assemble a live interpretation for about 30 years. The technology of the day and the availability of the cast were the main culprits until the death of narrator Richard Burton, whose deep tones were the backbone of the recording, seemed to be the nail in the coffin of a stage version. At least until 2006, when Jeff Wayne came out of hibernation, devised a way to approximate Burton's presence and roped in a new cast for one of the more spectacular stage shows the world has seen.

    The 2006 stage show does an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the original recording, both sonically and visually. This recording features the original British cast, which includes Justin Hayward (of Moody Blues fame) and noted tenor Russell Watson. As well as being the most famous of the cast, these two manage the best performances of the show. Watson's performance is truly the highlight of the whole show. Jeff Wayne himself conducts the performance, though he looks a little more like a creepy uncle dancing awkwardly at a wedding than a traditional conductor - still, you can't fault the results.

    The show is visually quite spectacular. As well as backing CGI, there is a ten metre high Martian tripod, a giant talking Richard Burton head and numerous other props and pyrotechnics. The editing of the recording is occasionally a little frustrating as it features many quick cuts that don't let you get a good look at everything going on, although frequently this is because so much is happening on stage and the director has opted to try to cover everything even when it means nothing is covered well enough.

    Fans of the original recording will certainly enjoy this production of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds. This recorded version has nowhere near the impact of the show seen live, but that only serves as a testament to the power of the show as this recorded version is great.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is sharp. There is no noticeable grain or low level noise visible. There is a very good level of shadow detail in the many dark areas of the stage.

    The colours are quite bold and natural. The performance uses a lot of coloured stage lights and video components, all of which have been captured surprisingly cleanly and without any noticeable colour bleeding.

    It seems highly likely that this performance was shot using digital video. There are no visible film artefacts, nor MPEG compression related artefacts visible.

    A variety of non-English subtitles are provided on the disc.

    This is a RSDL disc. The layer break occurs at 48:54, in-between the two acts of the show and at such a point that it would not be a distraction even if it was a noticeable change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is an English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kbps), English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) and a 5.1 DTS (1536 Kbps) soundtrack available. Each sounds very clear and features a wide dynamic range.

    The dialogue and singing generally appears well synchronised, although a few of the wide shots of the stage are a little imperfect (though these shots are typically to draw your attention to something else happening on stage, so it's not really an issue).

    The music is spectacular. Jeff Wayne's musical in all its unique electro-rock glory. Each of the soundtracks, though particularly the DTS track, does an excellent job presenting the music.

    The surrounds are put to good use by both the music and effects. The goal of the surround mix seems to be to provide the feeling that you are in the middle of the live audience and it does a pretty good job. The subwoofer gets a reasonable workout, mostly from the bottom end of the orchestra and electric bass.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are a plethora of extras spread across this two disc set.

Main Menu Audio and Animation

    There are some great animations between the various menus, all themed upon the cover art for the original album. Each menu features a different clip of the soundtrack. Though the complex animations look great when viewed through a DVD player, the menu animations wreak havoc with Power DVD on a PC and led to display problems.

An Interview With Jeff Wayne Featurette (5:19)

    A brief interview that covers the production of the original album and bringing the stage show together.

Bringing Burton Back Featurette (9:34)

     A brief featurette that discusses the importance of Richard Burton's presence in the show and the technical challenges of bringing him back on stage using CGI. This featurette follows the development of several models of both the CGI used and the head shaped prop it was projected onto.

Making a Martian Fighting Machine Featurette (3:59)

    A brief featurette on the development on the on-stage giant Martian tripod.

Carrie and the Cannons Featurette (2:27)

    A brief featurette on the development of the background video for the show. The background animations comprise a combination of live players and CGI, in a similar vein to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which makes for a moderately interesting Making Of clip.

The Tour 2006 - A Journal Featurette (59:12)

    A comprehensive production journal featurette. This journal runs from the initial planning stages through to band rehearsals, prop development and finally the tour itself. A generally heavily prompted Jeff Wayne discusses the history of his musical as well as the stage production during this rather fluffy production featurette.

Sculpting the Richard Burton Head Featurette (2:13)

    A brief featurette that shows how the giant prop that the Richard Burton animation was projected onto was constructed. This is a very practical featurette, practically a "how-to" for any budding Styrofoam sculptors out there.

Rehearsing "Thunder Child" Featurette (9:01)

    This overlong featurette, complete with disclaimers about how we shouldn't judge the performance here as it is only a rehearsal, provides a fly-on-the-wall look at the musicians and performer rehearsing Thunder Child. Nothing beyond a dull studio rehearsal is here.

Rehearsing "Forever Autumn" Featurette (8:07)

    This rehearsal featurette is a bit more interesting than that for Thunder Child as it features a bit more discussion on what is and isn't working in the performance.

Mars Comes To Wembley Featurette (5:41)

    A look at what it took to convert Wembley stadium into a giant War of the Worlds concert arena and the special equipment it took to reach the whole stadium with this extraordinarily complex show. After opening with plenty of fun time-lapse footage of the set assembly, this featurette gives a good technical overview of the production.

Jeff Wayne in Conversation with Russell Watson Featurette (11:13)

    Russell Watson grills Jeff Wayne about the original studio production of the musical, particularly Richard Burton's involvement. This interview is left-over footage from an interview contained in The Tour 2006 - A Journal.

Animating the Martian Machines Featurette (3:20)

    A brief featurette about developing the CGI used to animate the Martian Machines and a little modernisation of the models used for the tripods.

The Tour 2006 Featurette (9:54)

    A mish-mash of left over footage form the The Tour 2006 - A Journal taken from the time the production was on tour.

Interviews with the Cast (11:42)

    A random edit of two interviews, one with Russell Watson and one with Alexis James and Chris Thompson, both about their love of the musical and their involvement in the production.

Collector's Booklet

    A 12 page glossy booklet with additional production information and plenty of glossy images form the show.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc is not currently available in Region 1. An identical version is available in Region 2.

Summary

    A fantastic live interpretation of a classic musical, captured quite well on DVD.

    The video and audio are excellent. The extras are well produced and plentiful.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Monday, September 24, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Questionable video review - REPLY POSTED
DTS audio is only 768kbps not 1.5mb - Pendergast (Why not take a look at my bio, you might think it stinks.) REPLY POSTED
I thought it was great - Alfred Smith REPLY POSTED
CGI Animation -