War Of The Worlds


Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

War Of The Worlds
"The film lacks a defining moment, or set piece, and is void of a climax. You could say that CGI is all it's about and you'd pretty much be right."

Ever seen a movie where Tom Cruise gets swallowed up by a giant red anus and is promptly shat back out again?

In the past few years we've had quite a few "end of the world" movies. Call it weird timing that this coincided with a lunatic becoming the most powerful man in the world. Maybe subconsciously we know the planet is doomed, that human beings are the worst thing that ever happened and that in real life aliens would stay well away.

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Come on, think about it! There's probably Star Trek stuff happening out there and we're left out 'cause, well, let's face it, Earth is the ghetto of the galaxy. The real aliens are probably laughing at us. "They're still using religion and money," is probably a common slander amongst them.

But not the aliens - no longer Martians; Tim Burton ruined their reputation - in War Of The Worlds. They have different plans. They want to wipe us out (to build alien golf courses and condos) with their lasers and ray guns. Basically, speeding up what we're already doing to each other. And they ain't short of hardware.

Cross ID4 with Signs and add a little bit of Dawn Of The Dead (2004) and you pretty much have War Of The Worlds. It's the best movie it could be. But it could never amount to much. The awe and excitement from ID4 is all in there, but the scope ain't. Instead, much like Signs, it's told from the narrowed point of view of an ordinary family.

Tom Cruise is a bad dad, who has custody of his kids the day the aliens come. He runs away with his precocious daughter and moody teenage son - doesn't Hollywood know how to do any other kind of teenager? - and runs some more and then again a bit more and... erm... that's it.

The film lacks a defining moment, or set piece, and is void of a climax. You could say that CGI is all it's about and you'd pretty much be right.

With so many, many summer movies relying on computer wizardry to bring you whatever far-fetched imagery the story requires, one becomes quite numb and it takes a helluva lot to impress. War Of The Worlds nearly makes it, but there is no standout iconic moment. Spielberg seems to be quoting himself too often. The Tripods can easily be likened to the T-Rexes in Jurassic Park. The tentacle scene is just like the spider scene in Minority Report. An alien ship opening up to reveal the jelly creatures inside, we've already seen in Close Encounters and E.T.

Plus there are pretty ridiculous plot holes. We are told that the Tripods have been here on Earth for thousands of years before people. So why didn't the aliens just show up then? Why wait all that time only to go through the hassle of wiping us out?

Nothing much of H G Well's novel is respected. It's all about America (as pretty much every film is). It's set in modern times and only a couple of character names remain, but they are nothing like the originals. Even Jeff Wayne's musical had a chilling four-note theme that still manages to strike fear into one's mood and remind us of how scary the image of the Tripods could be. John Williams' score here is drowned out in the never-ending sound effects and booming bass. And Tim Robbins is kind of wasted, as his brief character just doesn't have much point. Even if the aliens were to get him, it would prove that Spielberg wasn't afraid to show extras dying. But, like I have said, this is an American movie, a HOLLYWOOD movie. No one good looking dies, happy-endings all round and humans always win - in this case, by default.

Wells wrote how futile and insignificant mankind is, while Spielberg promotes its importance and cuts off all sense of devastation and intensity by giving us an ending that reeks even worse than the Kylie and Jason wedding episode of Neighbours.

If this doesn't phase you, then go right ahead and see it, kiddies.

Reviewed on: 08 Jul 2005
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Earth is under attack and survival at a premium as giant alien robots gather for Armageddon.
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Read more War Of The Worlds reviews:

John Gallagher *****
Angus Wolfe Murray ****1/2
The Exile ***1/2

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Josh Friedman, David Koepp

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Tim Robbins, Miranda Otto, David Alan Basche

Year: 2005

Runtime: 116 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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