Rated PG-13 for frightening sequences of sci-fi violence and disturbing images
Directed By: Steven Spielburg
Written By: Josh Friedman and David Koepp
Staring: Tom Cruise, Tim Robbins, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwan, and Miranda Otto
That is so weird. The wind is blowing *toward* the storm. -Ray Ferrier
Aliens have come to destroy earth, but this time they have come out from the center of our own planet, waiting idly by, bidding their time until the moment was right to destroy us all. They are destroying everything and everyone in their path and covering the planet in their own fertilizer erasing any evidence of our existence. A father and his two children suffering from the pain of a messy divorce are forced to ban together and try to survive.
As far as terrifying alien films go, War Of The Worlds began in a tremendous state of fear. It overwhelmed the screen with amazing graphics, a shocking, yet well known story; a strong lead actor, and an unforgivable nemesis that seemed unstoppable. Daily life gone terribly awry by a shocking event like a giant alien tripod is undoubtedly a pretty wild concept, but in it’s beginning stages War Of The Worlds implemented real life terror and shock with the human desire for survival perfectly.
Steven Spielburg took a very dark and depressing turn for this alien film, making life and survival seem all together hopeless. When the Ferrier’s are in their car, at the bridge, the chaos and fear is truly palpable. Though giant tripods haven’t taken over the world, yet; I imagine the way the human reaction interpreted by Spielburg would not be a long shot by any means.
This film had a lot of quality and excellent pacing until the moment when Ray Ferrier’s son proclaims the need to join the army and fight the aliens even though he’s witnessed an unimaginable amount of destruction that the human race was ill equipped to counter. The unrealistic act of leaving his terrified sister and father in that moment is so far fetched that suspension of disbelief is not an option. From that point on the film continues in a downward spiral that is unforgivable and relentless in it’s shameful creation. The entire act with Tim Robbins helping Rachael and Ray by hiding them in his basement completely offsets the pacing and turns the film into a completely different movie. Suddenly it’s about the violence and desperation of human nature rather than a pretty intense alien flick. The character Oglivy, played by Robbins had absolutely no place in the story, and was the biggest disappointment of the entire film.
The extremely anti-climatic ending that was tied all too neatly up in a giant pretty bow that only furthered insulting movie goers intelligence. I respect that Spielburg felt an obligation to the original films ending, but when it was this lazily created, it literally felt like an ending made simply because no one was smart enough to think any further. So the ending was alien poop, but what happened with the character’s is simply inexcusable. There is no doubt a huge part of the first forty-five minutes of this film being as engaging as it was is due to the extraordinary performance of Tom Cruise. His fear and desperation were what carried the film to that point, and even after it turned into a despicable atrocity, he was the main reason to continue watching, because his performance was that good. I enjoy Dakota Fanning’s performances in general but when she was abducted there were moments of pure Carrie Hiehn face way too often. The scream of terror and a dead pan face behind it became utterly annoying. She is a much better actress than this particular performance showed her to be.
When I think of the excitement the beginning of this movie gave I truly feel compelled to offer it a re-watch, but I know this is only because I have some hope or desire that it will end differently. War Of The Worlds is one of the biggest disappointments I have ever been subject to viewing. I have seldom ever been so excited and engaged with a movie and then had the last thirty minutes be so completely opposite of where it’s conception was. It seemed like two different films lumped together under one title with the only thing in common being aliens. War Of The Worlds should have been retitled: “Sniffle, sniffle………hahahahaha we already got your money!”