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Passable - but not for the Wyndham purists
on 29 July 2010
If you've read the book, you must avoid this hopelessly inferior re-boot. It's clumsy in the extreme and is full of unnecessary re-writes.
However, if you've no real knowledge of the story, or don't fancy the book, this is a decent enough TV drama BASED on the book with a "modern" twist to the outstanding 1950s story. Reading the reviews here, it's hard to disagree with those appalled by the way Wyndham's vision has been warped with a US TV audience in mind. The final scenes in particular are laughable.
But getting there is actually quite an enjoyable ride. Unlike some others, I thought Eddie Izzard did a good job as Torrance, who's role is given much greater prominence than in the book. His unpleasant character has a quietly sociopathic, detached demeanour which Izzard does justice to, albeit without any real menace. I have no idea why he had to survive a plane crash in order to be introduced. Part of me wonders if the crash was simply a strand of the eco-frenzy agenda behind this version of the story. But it's ridiculous to suggest he could away from a central London plane crash by locking himself in the toilet and surrounding himself with inflated life jackets. The plane careers into Big Ben on its way down. Izzard emerges, blackened and frazzled, looking like he's survived a cartoon blast.
Other random thoughts:
Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox are criminally under-used but both are superb.
The CGI is passable (not outstanding but then this has TV budgetbut the triffids are certainly not the plants that Wyndham envisaged. Here, the roots are essentially tentacles that drag the victim toward the carnivorous beast to be quickly devoured. A perfectly neat idea but in the book the triffids killed with a sting to the eye then spent several days feasting on the rotting flesh of the victim. Obviously the TV execs didn't fancy something that plodding so "sexed up" the plants.
There are some very good scenes. The one in the food warehouse springs to mind. The one where Joely Richardson battles triffids after her escape from Downing Street (!!) is another good one. Her overall performance is less noteworthy.
Basically, to enjoy this mindless adaptation, you have to open your head, remove your brain and insert a bucket of popcorn in its place. Suspend disbelief - all of it - and enjoy the apocolyptic ride, ignoring the glaring plot holes. Better still, get hold of the BBC series from the early 80s and revel in how a drama series SHOULD be made. You may wince at the effects but there is more tension in one 25 minute episode of that version than in three hours of this one.