War of the Worlds – From IPOD to Tripod attacks

war of the worlds

I’ve never walked out of a movie hall after a Spielberg flick like this, so untouched. Coming from H.G.Wells novel of the same name, War of the Worlds fails to impress because of it’s loose knitted screenplay and the influence of numerous movies that have stemmed over the years on alien attack. Considered to be the Mother of Alien Attack fiction, this HG Wells book is best read with its context in place than to be seen. Spielberg fails to impress, leaving a die-hard fan think, whether summer blockbusters are made just for seizing the box-office.

We have this husky voice-over of Morgan Freeman, quoting first few lines from the book and after that the camera briefly pans over the post-9/11 skyline hinting us on the social/political metaphors, the movie is set to deliver. When the aliens [not essentially our favored Martians] attack through the tripods [not IPODs], buried under the earth’s crust some million years back, the day on earth is July 4th. As the world slowly succumbs to the alien invasion, a father tries to save his kids from the terror and in the process fights for the survival of human race. All this and more masterfully told by Spielberg from one man’s point of view, just as the original story of HG Wells.

Instead of the thrilling dialogues and clichéd super-hero characters of the Independence Day types, War of the Worlds feature a rather unassuming divorced dad who runs from/after the alien creatures to save his kids. In the process of saving his family, he emerges as an unsung hero by making on-the-fly moral decisions, at times of catastrophe. Ever alien attack movie, including this, doesn’t even outline the reason for their attack, leaving the audience to ponder. As the dock worker, Ray Ferrier [Tom Cruise] tries to ‘baby sit’ his teenage kids over the weekend, he has the slightest clue of what terror is. Even as he looks up to the sky, he is puzzled by the weird movement of leaves moving to the eye of a storm. When he witnesses, the tripods plunging from the earth and breaking buildings with a practiced ease, he knows his kids are in danger. And as the tripods send rays of light to just evaporate people, leaving their clothes flying in air, he knows they are under attack.

With the grey dust on his coats and panic stricken people running on streets, Spielberg subtly reminds of the 9/11 attacks and the makes a statement on how men on earth, wage wars-of-survival at times like these. There are no worlds involved here. Just a single family’s witnessing of the Armageddon and its aftermath is misnamed as War of the Worlds. We see the blood sucking tripods and the creepy creatures called aliens walking into a house to inspect it and how a young girl kid watches it with open jaws. This long sequence has Spielberg’s brilliance except that I wished he never showed the aliens on screen like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 – A Space Odyssey. The family also gets into trouble because an unruly mob attacks them. This is one silent yet powerful sequence displaying the mental attitude of a panic-driven mob.

While there are sensational episodes all over, the movie as a whole fails to impress. The sweet ending framed for the summer blockbuster is a true let down. While I was largely excited by major part of the movie, it fails to deliver in the end. It’s an intelligent move for Spielberg to stick with one man’s point of view in the movie and that by itself should be able to grip the audience. It’s the screenplay that doesn’t allow the audience to cuddle up with the movie. It’s detached at various fronts, especially due to the characterization of Tom Cruise. Also logical errors prevent from getting related to the story.

Tom Cruise is missing while Dakota Fanning as his daughter is impressive. But the impressive of all is the Justin Chatwin as Robbie, a teenaged rebellious son of Tom Cruise. Not to forget the impressive short note of Tim Robbins as the man with the gun. The special effects are as brilliant as any other Spielberg flick and one reason why the movie has to be watched in a big screen. Vivid images of the dead bodies seeping through water, a speeding-burning train, blood sucking of the tripods and ofcouse the human sucked by laser with their clothes flying on air, show the doomsday without any pretensions. John Williams scores the music just like every other Spielberg film and this one has some extraordinary BGMs with a classical tone. This movie is one good example of what digital film-making is capable of. Yet another long timer with Spielberg, Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography scintillates just like Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan.

Though the movie is set to be a summer blockbuster and money spinner at box-office, this isn’t the best of Spielberg. While I am sure, I could identify Spielberg in his next coming films, hugely missing him in this one, will be a long-running nightmare for me. Again, I’ve never walked out of a movie hall after a Spielberg flick like this, so untouched.

20 thoughts on “War of the Worlds – From IPOD to Tripod attacks

  1. I agree. A very underwhelming effort by Spielburg. The ending was weak, special effects didnt blow me away and throughout the movie I felt myself twisting and turning in my seat save for a few moments. The pace of the action waxes and wanes. Spielburg fails in maintaining a tight grip over the audience. Also, the outcome in most of the scenes are predictable.
    Blew 30 bucks for tickets/popcorn. Could have watched Minority Report again at home.

  2. offtopic, did you guys get chennai to work on google earth? i only tried inside USA, couldn’t get to work chennai

  3. Whoops ! I was so much waiting for this movie to be released in India. Nyways, will surely watch it..

    as Vijay says, Spielberg and Cruise rocked in Minority Report. Next up is Indiana Jones 4.

  4. Lazygeek, I would request you and other bloggers who get a lot of hits to blog about TIS if they get a chance. It would be nice if you could dedicate one day’s blog just on this and little else. It would help spread the word quickly amongst those who surf the net and are’nt aware of this yet. You can even post your thoughts/reviews after you listen to TIS, but I believe this release event itself is worth a blog and the right time to do would be now, before piracy creeps in and mp3s start leaking out on the net.

    The event I heard, is also being telecased on SS music channel some time. Kamal, Rajni etc. have attended the function and from one person’s account Kamal it seems had given a terrific speech at the function

  5. Lazy, perhaps the reason you felt so untouched was because the film wasn’t meant to be touching. It is not some sort of dramatic epic along the lines of Saving Private Ryan, nor is it an emotional masterpiece like Schindler’s List or for that matter ET. Also, I don’t know whether you have, but for those of us who have read the novel, the ending is actually very much similar to the novel; Spielberg doesn’t change things around. In fact almost the whole thing is very similar to the novel. For people who have read the novel, its actually a very satisfying conclusion.

    You must commend Spielberg for incorporating aspects of the social strata in to WOW, there is enough about parenting, divorce, religion, terrorism that makes this film far better than most blockbusters. As you have also said, the photography is top class and the film doesn’t sink to any cliched levels. There are no major landmarks blown up. Spielberg in my opinion has walked a tightrope of keeping the film extremely personal and simultaneously extremely grand in its scale. I liked it a lot.

  6. I for one read the novel only when Spielberg announced the movie and found it to be hugely interesting. though i have read some of hg wells before, this was the first time I actually relaxed to enjoy the pace of it.

    And i have to say the ending, especially the last five minutes didn’t just stand up to what the movie was. i love that i wasn’t cliched but it had logical issues and some long sequences which made people move about in theatre, even on the first day.

  7. And on a serious note, reading about the review you gave on Dakota Fanning, looks like this is the second big-name actor that she outshines in a movie,with the first being Robert DeNiro in “Hide and Seek”.. so what say you? shall we watch? or ignore?

  8. same as you we almost walked out of it , no logic at all in minority report it makes us to think whr did spiel go wrong so we can prove wrong , but in this movie all the places he is wrong , like no idea how his son came back in the last scene and like indian movie heroes family doesnt get killed at all ………anyway independence day is far far far bettere than this movie .its ccombination of signs independence day and more more

  9. The seen where Tom Cruise is driving and the camera rotates around the car for 10 minutes to complete the scene is one of the best cinematographic efforts i have seen.

  10. I agree with Lazy Geek; saw it today, and you can read my one paragraph review if interested.

    So anyway, what brings the Lazy geek to Belleview?

  11. I agree that the ending wasn’t impressive. But what could Spielberg do? H.G. Wells’ novel says that the aliens were not immune to the common cold virus and died, so Spielberg had to stick to that ending. However, the ending was too abrupt and he could have handled it better.

    Yet another alien movie .. I wonder if the Americans will ever tire of this alien crap.

  12. Magesh, as you had asked for I’, posting your comment here.

    From Magesh[www.watdoiright.blogspot.com] –

    hey lazy! am commenting here for the first time… but been readin here for long now! needed to comment ‘cos jus today i saw WoW and came out with the same feelings as ur’s.it was Spielberg stuff alright but not wrenching enuf, as u ssaid again!

    anyways… one more reason i wanted to comment now is abt the talk abt TIS, i wen to the release function in Chennai and got some 50 snaps of it all…. i mean whatever i cud clock from the distacne i was sitting. tell me if u’r interested! someone mentioned Kamal’s speech, but i found Bharathi Raja’s more interesting, though Kamal was as usual good! ex – he said ‘even if i was a nobody, i wud hav been standing outside this hall seeing it all from the screen kept outside’. clever quip!

  13. I totally disagree with your review, Mr. Geek. You repeatedly claim that the film “failed to impress” and “failed to deliver.” But you don’t really explain why that is the case. Maybe it’s you dude, maybe it’s you. And, by the way, your grammar and spelling are atrocious. I just thought you should know that.
    Cheers,
    Chancaca!

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