War of the Worlds (2005)
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Review Date: June 27, 2005
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: David Koepp
Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Colin Wilson
Tom Cruise as Ray
Dakota Fanning as Rachel
Justin Chatwin as Robbie
A really bad father gets his son and daughter for the weekend and decides to crash in bed before taking them on as his chore. When he wakes up, he notices an odd lightning storm in his backyard. Checking it out a little closer, he notices that it isn’t an odd lightning storm after all, but rather, an alien invasion of our planet! For the next two hours, we follow this threesome as they attempt to survive this massive attack. PS: Tom Cruise loves Katie Holmes.
Steven. Spielberg. Is. A. Great. Filmmaker. I used to love this guy as a kid, you know, he made a couple of cool flicks a la JAWS, E.T., RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK…a few others. Then, he grew up…well, sort of. Over the past few years, he’s delivered a more mature, different side of himself, with movies that kick ass in the darker vein a la SAVING PRIVATE DAMON, A.I., MINORITY REPORT and now, WAR OF THE WORLDS and wow…it’s yet another triumph in an amazing career of outstanding motion pictures. I mean, is there any other person in show-business with a greater filmography track record than Mr. Spielberg? Yeah okay…maybe Tom Cruise, right? Well, he stars in this movie and despite his very odd monologues and “love for Katies” in public of late, he comes through in character, once again, as a regular ol’ dad, who as the aliens invade, and the end of the world nears, gets his shit in gear, and recognizes some of the errors in his ways, the love for his family and all that fun stuff. Together, Cruise and Spielberg have created one great summer movie, as well as an amazing science-fiction adventure, packed with action a-plenty, highly impressive special effects, plenty of cool tripod alien ships and aliens, but also a lighter side, including a couple of choice laughs (“Like what…Europe?”) and a believable bond between the lead family, that starts off like many families in the world, but is infinitely changed by the tragic happenings around them. Yes, just like many of Spielberg’s previous films, this movie’s got a heart and that’s what takes it to that other level, such that you are further invested in the characters, and actually give a rat’s about whether or not they are zapped into oblivion.

That said, it’s to note that ultimately this is a very dark, creepy, thrilling and all-around science-fiction adventure that, unlike its teaser marketing campaign, does not hold back in terms of its visuals with plenty of “flying saucers”, aliens and zapping of human animals sprinkled throughout its plotline. The film contains at least 3-4 masterful sequences in which all hell is breaking loose, and you attempt not to blink as you don’t want to miss one of the extra-terrestrials blasting some asshole away. My favorite had to be the one in which some of the mechanism behind the tripods is revealed, or any of the wide shots of the bedlam occurring about town. Wow…you just look up in awe. Sure, there were a few points in the story during which I just had to roll my eyes up a little and allow the suspension of disbelief to wash itself all over me (They’re driving the car through a highway filled with stalled vehicles and they get through, no problem? Also…the “mirror scene”…c’mon!), but there really weren’t too many of those points, and in the end, I allowed the fact that it was a friggin’ movie about an alien invasion, to keep my concentration centered on the bigger picture, which between and you…looked awesome! One thing I cannot forgive, however, is one plot point that seems to indicate something pretty bad happening to someone pretty important, but this something, as per most Spielberg vehicles, ultimately turns out to be untrue. Again, I have to say…it’s a movie about an alien invasion…I don’t think the audience would mind if ONE FRIGGIN’ important person disappears here! I mean…c’mon man! Granted, most moviegoers will surely appreciate the heartfelt moment, but not me…I would have preferred to have experienced a greater death, but alas, I’m just some jerk writing movie reviews for a living, so just move on to the next paragraph.

Those small twinges of negativity aside, the film kicked my ass from its sharp opening, to its character development, to its quick pace, stupendous special effects, dark imagery and realistic environment. It had everything you’d look for in a summer blockbuster and more. My dad was recently quoted as saying that this film was gonna “suck” because of the glut of publicity behind it over the past month or so, but my dad appears to have been wrong in this case, as the film comes through gangbusters, tossing aliens, deaths, tripods, red stuff, Cruise in form, Fanning playing adorable and Spielberg at his best all over the big screen, and daring us not to like. Well…me likey. Me likey a lot.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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