Thursday, July 14, 2005

War of the Worlds

Year: 2005
Dir: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: John Friedman, David Koepp

Stars: TOM CRUISE, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Miranda Otto, Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman (narrator).

Spielberg is a master craftsman, there is no denying it. However, after viewing his latest allegorical or metaphorical whatever-you-wanna-call-it adaptation, of HG Well's classic book, I was left with a subtle feeling of emptiness. Is this what he promised?

Originally I gave War of the Worlds a 7/10 rating. Although it does improve with a second viewing, I can raise that to only 7 and a quarter, for the sheer eye expanding visual that it is. I wanted a lot of heart and soul from this, but got more blood and guts than I care for.

Dakota Fanning (Rachel Ferrier) is undoubtedly the star here, giving us a frighteningly true-to-life performance. Getting to film most of her scenes in the morning gave her a slight advantage. Tom Cruise (Ray Ferrier) on the other hand, proved yet again he's got more going for him than white teeth and scientology. Although we knew this all along.

Tim Robbins (Harlan Ogilvy) hammed it up to perfection. I would say he’s well cast, others have criticized his extreme portrayal. All round the performances are pretty good, even from relative big screen new comer Justin Chatwin (Robbie Ferrier), and the SFX are out of this world. But I guess the fault really lies with the story itself.

How do you tell it with a contemporary edge that will render predictability invisible, and still get your message across? Spielberg chose 9/11 imagery and the breakdown of the family. He mashed it all up with 20th century sci-fi and cultivated a slick neo-horror. For 21st century film making I expected something better.

It's worth viewing War of the Worlds just to see that first breathtaking hour. Unfortunately, this is one of the few movies with a final act so out-of-step with intelligence that it undermines all that has gone before. If Spielberg had only changed that ending.

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