Sunday, October 14, 2012

War of the Worlds (2005)

I've never read H.G. Wells' book, but I've seen the movie from the 1950s. I thought the original movie was pretty cool.  Dated, but cool. So now we have this ultra big budget Spielberg/Cruise collaboration version. The two liked working together so much while making Minority Report that they decided to make this film when their schedules suddenly cleared this past fall. So they had 7 months to whip together an FX heavy alien invasion epic. Could it be done?!

The plot is simple-- aliens from (supposedly) Mars invade Earth and attempt to wipe out the population so they can re-colonize it as they see fit. The humans aren't too happy with that plan and fight back.

Spielberg not only delivers some horrific and thrilling action scenes, but he creates some great character drama here as well thanks to the script by David Koepp. Tom Cruise, despite his recent crazed public appearances (but I loved the one where the reporter squirted him in the face with water), turns in a great performance as the immature Ray Ferrier, who over the course of the film grows up into the parent he should be (just wait until you see the look on his face when he realizes what that dust that is covering him really is). The cherubic and very talented Dakota Fanning plays another 'older than her years' little girl as Ray's daughter and pulls it off without the slightest hint of effort. Justin Chatwin, Ray's son Robbie, gives a believable performance as well as the angry child who hates his father for abandoning them.
But what about the aliens, you say? These are some bad ass mofo-ing martians! Their cremation beams that turn humans into dust are pulled off with stunning effect and their virtual indestructibility is frightening when you see reactions reflected in the character's faces.

Another cool detail was that even though we get some great action scenes over the course of the film (the initial appearance of the martians and the ferry scene), a lot of the really big ones are not exactly shown. They take place behind a giant hill that is out of sight of the characters, or miles away so that the characters can barely see what's happening. It helps to draw you in and identify with the characters. The film is also a little disturbing. Seeing these alien tripods scooping up humans, draining them of their blood and then spewing out their fluids in a grotesque shower onto the countryside is creepy. Plus a scene involving a mass murder and a river is frightening as well.
I do however have some problems. The Robbie character makes a decision that I didn't agree with, and the character's ultimate fate is lame. 3/4 of the way through the film Tim Robbins shows up as a crazed underground militant who takes in Ray's family during a massacre. He gets old pretty quick and he disappears from the movie just as quickly as he was introduced. I also have a beef with the typical Spielbergian clichés, like the kid with father issues and the ultra happy sappy ending. It reeked of cheese.

Still, the film is awesome. Filled with interesting characters, flawless CGI, tension up the wazoo and amazing action, War of the Worlds is definitely worth your time and money.

4 out of 5

*written 7/1/05

No comments:

Post a Comment