War of the Worlds
War of the Worlds. I`m glad I saw it in the theater, but I got beefs. I got beefs like Hebrew National.
The Dark Crystal mates with Rand-McNally
It started out perfectly tight and solid and here’s Spielberg showing you exactly what he wants you to see and making you feel exactly how he wants you to feel, and he’s ratcheting up the suspense and making me jump and gasp like a little girl (but not like a ten-year-old girl — get to that later). Almost everything up to Tom Cruise breaking down in the diner is totally hang ten; everything after that kinda comes apart.
Be cool — I think I just saw Mimi Rogers…
Now that I think of it, it seems like all my complaints are with the writing, not the directing, which makes sense, because it’s hard to think of a director as in command of an audience as Spielberg. And, unlike James Cameron, I don’t hate him.
But I got beefs.
- Alien invasion as family drama has been done — and done better — in Signs. See, in Signs people had things like “character arcs” and “characteristics.” The six-year-old girl wasn’t screaming and crying the whole time (still getting to that later). In fairness, I realize what I like the best in these apocalypse movies is how things go from normal to all fubar, and that was 90% of Signs and 15% of this one.
- The creature design for the aliens was not happenin`. Maybe the point is that they’re not physically intimidating, but I wanted something a little more H. R. Giger and a little less baby-faced Grays with a head ridge. Maybe that’s just me.
- Dakota Fanning’s character (believe her name was “Rachel” — it was, like, every other line of dialogue) is *ten*. Yet Tom Cruise carries her the whole damn movie.
Dad, I`m totally ten. You can put me down.
This might not bother me except 1) kids too old to be carried getting carried is one of my dad’s pet peeves, so I tend to be on high alert for it, and 2) she cries and panics and flips out like a much younger kid as well. I know she’s Dakota Fanning and a better bet to have in your movie than looking for someone younger, but *sheesh.* Did anybody pick you up and carry you when you were ten? Hell, when you were *six*? Would you throw a screaming and crying fit out of fear?
Honey, stop upstaging me.
Compare this character to ten-year-old Joseph Mazzello from Jurassic Park. Yeah. Think about that.
I would have liked to have at least seen her get tougher as the movie goes on. Maybe contribute to solving one problem. But no.
- The aliens` EMPs take out all the cars. Fine. The mechanic-on-the-corner replaces the solenoids on Tom Cruise’s car to get it going again. Fine. I don’t remember no stinking physics, but wouldn’t the solenoids on the mechanic’s shelf *also* be ruined? Or if the alien EMP only takes out those solenoids with current running through them, wouldn’t it spare those vehicles that weren’t running at the time of the EMP? Yet it looks like Tom Cruise has the only working car in the world.
Heh heh heh… EXCEPT a totally unnecessary expository news van, which shows up later with all its equipment in perfect working order. How did that happen? Why isn’t Tom Cruise’s first question “how is your van still working?”I worry too much.
- The aliens buried the “tripods” — a who-o-ole lot of them — long enough ago that there’s no human memory (presumably before the age of people — exposition journalist offers “a million years”) and whatever microbe kills them off hasn’t evolved yet. Apparently the aliens knew they would eventually want earth, yet this was somehow a less attractive time to invade than right now. Maybe this was an over-population allegory, I dunno, but it’s hard for me to believe that aliens would rather take over the world *now* rather than a million years ago when the whole place was pristine and there were lots of nice big slow animals running around. But maybe they were too busy burying spaceships impossibly deep in the ground to worry about that kind of stuff. Plan your work and work your plan.
- Furthermore, when it comes to aliens using humans for their own diabolical purposes, I tend to like the “present an attractive front and extend promises of friendship” strategy of V. I would have preferred these warfaring aliens treat us like pests to exterminate (the way they do in the first half, which is inconsistent with later revelations.)
- What defeats the aliens has nothing to do with the protagonists. It’s irrelevant, even. Sure, that’s the deal with the original story, and it’s a cool idea that our gross people germs kill them off, just like all the fun diseases European colonists brought when they came to share the western hemisphere in peace and harmony with its natives.
Everyone takes a break from crying to enjoy the production design
But it has stone cold nothing to do with anything, and it’s not foreshadowed. I would have liked there to have been at least a bug going around, one cough, one mention of germs, *anything.* Maybe Dakota Fanning could have had the flu, and that would help explain her helplessness. Maybe she could even sneeze in proximity to an alien, which could have added a new element to…
- …the totally mimeographed Jurassic-Park-kitchen scene. Remember that scene? In Jurassic Park? Where the two kids silently move around a kitchen to avoid the raptors that are searching for them? Now imagine it’s in a basement. And paced much more slowly. And not ramping up to the climax. There you go.
- While we’re here, everything with Tim Robbins could have been cut.
Alarmed by Tim’s wifebeater, Dakota spikes the camera
There was no point to it, except for Tom Cruise’s character to prove he’s no better than the aliens by killing a man for his resources. Lame.
- Oh, man, how could I forget this one — when the alien invasion comes, remind be to be in Boston! Count this among the dubious messages of this movie: rich people not only live, but emerge from their unscathed homes wearing unscathed cardigans! Yay for money!