I was so disappointed by this, although I had tried to warn myself not to get my hopes up.
The principal sin commmitted by this latest version of Wyndam's classic tale is that it is not in any way plausible. Plausibility is the one thing that made the original book so compelling - indeed, I would argue that its essential plausibility is what has elevated it to the status of classic literature. It's about an ordinary man forced to deal with extraordinary circumstances. It's a love story and a story of survival - there are no heroes trying to save the world, no insane bad guys trying to take the world over.
In this new adaptation, all this is sacrificed in order to make a pathetic travesty of a Hollywood disaster movie for the small screen. The main protagonist's central objective (to survive, to find his soul-mate, to make a family) is replaced with the wearisome mission to SAVE THE WORLD, and because of this a host of tedious antagonists are thrown in his way, for example an adversarial father figure (a familiar staple in so many US story-lines), an insane nun with a personal retinue of meat-head bodyguards, and a big bad baddie in the shape of Eddie Izzard. The world's population do not witness an amazing comet then go to bed only to wake up blind the next morning, but all get dazzled enmasse in a split second, leading to instant pandemonium and panic. Even the top half of Big Ben falls off in sympathy.
As well as the plausibility issues (for example, Izzard's character sets up base in London, at 10 Downing Street no less, whereas in the book Wyndam is careful to ensure the action shifts away from the capital as soon as possible, due to the fact that the city turns into an open sewer in a matter of days), there is simply no tension or atmosphere. Consider the opening - the book starts with a man with bandages over his eyes waking up in a hospital bed and trying to work out why the hell no-one has come to unbandage him. It's a wonderfully creepy opening and as he finally works out what is going on, so do we the reader. The 1980's TV adaptation did this brilliantly, devoting most of the first episode to having John Duttine alone in a hospital room, scared out of his wits).
In this new version however everything is done relentlessly in the third person - we the audience see the disaster happening first, then just watch the main character reacting to it. The first act is rushed, botched, lacking thrills.
Then the plot goes completely off the rails and gets polluted by all kinds of grafted on garbage, all seemingly designed to cater for an imaginary audience of utter morons who need plane crashes, meglomaniacal psychopaths, turbulent father-son conflicts and, at the end, far-fetched twists involving black magic in order to not switch channels.
To all this add the fact that pretty much all the actors turn in dreadful performances and you really do have a recipe for disaster. Whoever concocted this dire travesty should be ashamed of themselves, and this DVD should be studiously boycotted by anyone with even a modicum of respect for John Wyndham.