War of The Worlds (2005)
Dir: Steven Spielberg
Release: Wide release.
H.G. Wells’ story is once again brought to life on the big screen in a bigger, louder, and longer version than the 1953 version.
An alien race has been watching the progression of man kind on Earth from our very beginning. They have finally decided that we must be exterminated as a race and activate long buried ships located all over the planet in strange lightening storms. Once the machines are brought to life, they blow everything up killing everyone before they use them for fertilizer to grow strange vegetation. We follow Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) and his two children Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and Robbie (Justin Chatwin) as they try to make it to Boston where the children’s mother is.
This film almost seems as though they convened a focus group that tried to find the elements that a summer blockbuster hit would have to have, and then tried to incorporate them back into the story. There is everything from family tension, explosions, aliens, space ships, bad weather, chase scenes, slight social commentary and even a sinking boat. Though I have to say that I think Spielberg’s inclusion of the sinking boat was really a fuck you to James Cameron and his way of saying, “see… I can sink a boat too.”
I also feel that Tom Cruise is far too famous of an actor to play a simple dockworker from Jersey and I really found his presence in the film to be quite distracting. As far as acting goes, Fanning seriously blew Cruise out of the water, thus proving that Spielberg still possesses what is possibly his greatest talent, directing children.
I really appreciate the time that Spielberg took to let us spend some good time with each of the characters; I only wish that there could have been a little more variety to the scenes. It felt as though every time they were in some sort of situation they had to get out of, it was the same. Also, because he took his time for most of the film, the ending was a bit rushed. It was almost as if he realized that the film was already nearing two hours and that he had to just end it.
However, all that being said, I actually did enjoy it. I think that it is a great summer film that while not substantial, provides an entertaining way to sit in air conditioning for a couple of hours.