Monday, August 01, 2005

Illegal Aliens


War of the Worlds
2005, USA
Steven Spielberg
35mm

First of all, if you’re disappointed by the ending of this film, you’re an idiot. You don’t have to like it, just don’t be disappointed. Instead, be surprised. Be surprised that they didn’t change the ending of the H.G. Wells novel by having Tom Cruise destroy the alien mothership by piloting an experimental aircraft that only he has the skills to fly ever since washing out of the Air Force for punching a superior officer, alongside sassy black comic relief in the form of either Chris Tucker or that guy from The Hughleys. Be surprised that at no point does Cruise linger on an aircraft carrier as the fate of the world hangs in the balance for one last kiss with his beautiful yet tough as nails CO, played by any one of a myriad of ex-teen TV stars making the leap to the big screen, all grown up and ready to display cleavage via a partially unzipped flight suit. Forget surprised, and thank whatever god you pray to that no one has an attitude so bad that they’re the only ones who can save the day. I’ll admit, I, too, find the film’s final moments, when the invading alien hordes are defeated by microbes, a little deflating and anti-climactic, as if you got two hours into Sophie’s Choice only to discover that Meryl Streep’s final decision was selecting between reading the novelization of Revenge of the Sith or waiting for the movie to come out, but the original ending is integral to the story. The point of the book, and now the film, is that despite all humanity’s developments in terms of weaponry, warfare, and American hero wisecracking, our destruction at the hands of superior forces comes rapidly and unstoppably, highlighting our insignificance in a universal sense. And yet, said superior forces are just as easily felled by something that we ourselves considered insignificant, allowing the film to make the dual point of both never overestimating your own strength or underestimating the strength of others. Pretty deep for a fellow who alternates movies about somber historical tragedies with movies about big things eating little things. Spielberg has made some very powerful and meaningful dramas, such as Amistad, Saving Private Ryan, and The Color Purple, and some exciting fantasy films, like ET and Schindler’s List, but this film doesn’t compare with his finer works in either genre, despite its focus on both special effects and character development. Personally, I wouldn’t mind it so much if he combined the two styles. Yes, I understand that the Holocaust was a terrible black mark on humanity and should never be trivialized, but if a lifetime of historical study has taught me anything, it’s that Hitler was into some crazy shit, like underwater zombies and monkey brain transplants, and I think few would disagree if I said that the Auschwitz scenes in Schindler's List would have been even more shocking had man’s inhumanity to man been coupled with giant spiders with radioactive fire-breath. I’m not going to say that, however, as that would be a parole violation. The film’s ending aside, War of the Worlds is not a particularly good film. It’s not terrible, in the way that Rob Cohen movies make me want to murder a house full of McGill exchange students just so someone will make a TV movie of my life that’ll be better than The Fast and The Furious, but it’s certainly not good. Tom Cruise is surprisingly competent in his performance of an interestingly written character, a fairly bad father stuck with his kids when the Earth is attacked, but the film never really gets going. Good special effects don’t inject any excitement into the film, and a lengthy interlude with Tim Robbins hamming his way through a bad Vietnam War Section 8 discharge attempt doesn’t help liven things up. And, as you might expect, things certainly don’t pick up once microbes start killing the aliens. Incidentally, I’m not sorry at all for spoiling the ending for those of you who haven’t seen the film, because if you don’t know the ending of the novel, you’re either massively ignorant, or have just barely reached the level of literacy necessary to get all the way through The Da Vinci Code without relying too heavily on a thesaurus. Either way, I’m educating you to the point when you can impress the teenage girlfriend you picked up at the video arcade with your background in literature. As usual, I have only your best interests at heart.



In other news, I’ve been linked to by another blog, officially doubling my readership. And the best part is, she’s Mexican, which leads to a lot of inappropriate jokes about the alien invasion described above. That’s right, kids, I no longer appeal solely to guys I met in high school and white militia members living in Idaho. And my mother will be very pleased that people are finally starting to judge me based on my work, rather than how many militantly right wing mailing lists I belong to. Check out neonightmare here, for a taste of brief but often poetic snippets of bloggerdom, only spicier, because there’s some Spanish.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Je Suis said...

Spot on about WOTW. The only for-real bad thing in this movie (aside from the director forcing a large under-developed child to wear a garish and unconvincing genuine-Tim-Robbins-facsimile suit) was having TC point out a clearly last-legs alien machine to a clearly myopic soldier so that the troops could COMPLETELY AND CLEARLY AND UNNECCESSARILY destroy said machine. Why? So Mister Cruise can have a hand in destroying the aliens? What a hero, bringing down the dying! Or did Spielberg have some extra ammo lying around and thought, "Hey, blanks can't really kill anything anyways. I know! Let's kill something that's already dying, then!" Now, if that doesn't make sense in this comment, how is it ever going to make sense in the movie? Oh, Steve, you should have filmed that part in black and white.

3:27 AM  
Blogger Sean said...

yeah, right on. still, i LOVED the first section of the movie, from when Tom went running out to see what was going on, through to just before the son-daughter go-fight-NO,-STAY! "crisis" on the hill. when the tripod got up and out of nowhere started zapping, holy fuck.

loved the blowy realism of it, its brutality. the shot when the camera dollies back and you see the crashed plane and the devastated suburbs: wow.

4:45 AM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

I do find it interesting that Cruise's one heroic action, aside from saving 50% of his children, is pointing things out while running away, a recurring theme in the film. Also, the words "brutality" and "Spielberg" go together like "Hitler" and "daisy-chain", not only are they inappropriate, they don't even really make sense in the same sentence.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous THE FOOLISH FOP said...

OH...DAKOTA...OH...DAKOTA.

11:07 AM  

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