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Review: Premise defeats 'War of the Worlds: Goliath'

"War of the Worlds: Goliath" sets its 3-D animation against an alternate reality — one in which a Martian invasion at the beginning of World War I forces Earthlings of all nationalities to form a united front. The 3-D notwithstanding, the film reeks of low-budget Michael Bay reimagined as 1980s Japanese TV anime.

As if the premise isn't absurd enough, the film goes on to lump discourses on colonial India, the Irish struggle and Nazi Germany with its space-invasion narrative. The pastiche may pad out the paper-thin plot, but it ultimately renders the film nonsensical.

Writer David Abramowitz substitutes ethnic stereotypes for exposition in much of his screenplay. The voice actors, featuring Adrian Paul, butcher ethnic accents. The film has less character development than "Pokémon: The First Movie." At least Pikachu was adorable.

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Japanese science fiction often subliminally grapples with the atomic bombings' aftermath and serves as a cautionary tale on the human cost of technology. Without this heart and soul, "War of the Worlds: Goliath" is just a few cereal commercials shy of a pointless cartoon marathon — violent, messily drawn and lifelessly dragging.

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"War of the Worlds: Goliath."

MPAA rating: PG-13 for fantasy war violence, some of it disturbing.

Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.

Playing: At the AMC Burbank Town Center 8.

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