Saturday, May 30, 2009

Movie Review: War Of The Worlds (2005)


In all honesty, when this remake was first announced, I really thought it would be much more of a train wreck than it actually is.

Granted, silliness wins over horror and Cruise is never anything less than punchable, but during this film there is genuine excitement at times.

Spoilers follow.

The initial reveal of the alien craft is well done (if a little too reminiscent of Independence Day) and the decision to bury the tripods benefits from never being explained; presumably the aliens awaited the rise of a species they could harvest for the weed's benefit, but there is no point on the family's journey where they would know this so we're not either.

There's also a, by now clich├ęd use of Morgan Freeman as the narrator at the start and end - laughing all the way to the bank since there's no reason it couldn't just use anyone - even Burton's voice from Jeff Wayne's musical version must be cheaper than an A-List Hollywood actor!

Spielberg always has a screwed up family if he can, and he's to be applauded here for following through with his premise and making Cruise's character an utterly atrocious father, selfish, dim, petty and impatient.

However, the film shortcuts on a couple of vital points.

First his son is clearly killed in a gigantic explosion and resurrected in time for an emotional ending without any explanation (not even a flashback of him hiding in a hole or something?) which reduces credibility from that thread of the tale.

Second, while this globe spanning conflict goes on, destroying cities, killing thousands, Cruise's wife and her parents just sit about at her mum and dads - apparently unmolested and with no structural damage caused to the building at all.

It's as if they all just sat about and had a cup of tea while waiting for the kids to arrive.

SO with these things undermining the film at the end, it's hard to be satisfied with the good things, like the panicky attempt to catch the ferry or the manic presence of Tim Robbins as a delusional ex cop (and his eventual fate is incredibly brave storytelling), leaving you remembering the films faults rather than its strengths. It's not a patch on the original - but that could be the motto of this blog, couldn't it?

'til next time, folks.


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