Eve Of The War

War Of The Worlds Review
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Author:  eveofthewar [ Wed Jun 29, 2005 9:19 am ]
Post subject:  War Of The Worlds Review


Opens June 29, 2005

Rated PG-13

Starring Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by David Koepp
Based on the novel by H.G. Wells
Studio: Paramount/Dreamworks

Review by John C. Snider © 2005

The War is back!

It's been over half a century since the entertainment-industrial complex last adapted H.G. Wells' monumental classic The War of the Worlds (WotW for short), but they seem to be making up for lost time this year. Two small studios are issuing straight-to-DVD efforts, and composer Jeff Wayne has been busy preparing a re-issue of his perennially popular "Musical Version" - but all these are just yapping fox terriers biting at the heels of the unstoppable behemoth that is Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds.

Tom Cruise is Ray Ferrier, a divorced New Jersey dockworker who cares more about his vintage 'Stang than he does about his two children: 10-year-old Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and surly, 18-ish Robbie (Justin Chatwin). Mom and ex-wife Mary Ann (Miranda Otto) feels like she's leaving the kids in a disaster area when she drops them off at Ray's unkempt house for a weekend visit - but she has no idea how literal her premonition will become. Within hours, Ray and family become refugees fleeing in terror from alien tripods bent on nothing less than the total destruction of human civilization. But how far will Ray go to protect his family? Can he go far enough?

[Spoiler Alert]

The biggest surprise in Spielberg's treatment of WotW is in how closely he follows Wells' original template: The tripods. The heat ray. The vampire-like aliens. The "hero" trapped in a crushed house with a raving maniac. The red weed. The surprise ending, in which mankind is saved by an unexpected ally. There's even book-ending voiceover narration with Morgan Freeman reading near-verbatim the opening and closing lines of the novel. The broad strokes are all there, but it's the details wherein Spielberg's genius dwells. The aliens (who look like second cousins to Farscape's Pilot) are never referred to as Martians - and the teaser "They're already here" hints at one of the film's minor surprises. Of course, there are no kids and no ex-wife in Wells' story, but without them Cruise's Ferrier would have far less depth, and would not have been presented with as much motivation to act. A few of the details are scrambled around (Tim Robbins puts in a hilariously creepy performance, playing a nut-job who's a fusion of three characters from the original novel, and Spielberg's explanation for the "red weed" is a bit too "B-movie"), but fans of the 1898 classic will recognize far more in this 2005 reinvention than they did in the 1953 George Pal extravaganza. (I might mention two interesting homages found here: Spielberg pulls the story from its English setting and places it in New Jersey, much as Orson Welles did in his infamous 1938 radio drama, and look for Gene Barry and Ann Robinson - who played the leads in the 1953 film - in non-speaking cameos as Mary Ann's elderly parents!)

Not since Jaws has Spielberg so masterfully played upon the fears of his audience; but whereas Jaws dealt more in dread, in the fear of a generally known entity (the shark), WotW plunges us into the animal terror of mob panic, of unexplainable, unstoppable Armageddon raining down around your ears (the scenes of carnage aren't as visceral as they were in Saving Private Ryan, but they're pretty gut-churning for a PG-13 flick). The unfolding moment that introduces the first tripod is indescribable, and when the heat ray begins its grim work - turning fleeing victims into instant ash - well, you'll be on the edge of your seat. After this first brush with death, Cruise returns in shock to his house, covered in crematory dust, and when the kids ask him what happened the audience realizes just how dumbfounding the task of a quick explanation would be.

As in the Wells original, there's a happy reunion following the climax's deus ex machina. Critics who say the end is corny are the same ones who bitch about "the movie being different from the book." In this case, Spielberg cuts it about as close as he can and still retain a high level of cinematic believability.

Cruise turns in an excellent performance as Ray, and little Dakota Fanning continues to prove that she is head-and-shoulders the best child actor in the business today.

Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds is the must-see movie of the summer. Batman Begins was cool, but appeals to a limited audience. Revenge of the Sith, while interesting, just emphasizes how much Lucas has regressed as a writer/director. With WotW, Spielberg has shown the harping pundits who were convinced he'd deliver a sugar-sweet, ultra-Hollywoodized atrocity that it's possible to update a science fiction classic without watering it down, and that the core story of WotW can still speak to us in the post-9/11 environment.

Seeing the tripods blow up New Jersey reminds me of the joke about the tornado that ripped through an Alabama trailer park and caused a million dollars worth of improvements!

Our Rating: A

Thanks to Ron

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Wed Jun 29, 2005 7:55 pm ]
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A good review but I think there will be some comments about the 'Jeff Wayne has been busy preparing a re-issue of his perennially popular "Musical Version" - but all these are just yapping fox terriers biting at the heels of the unstoppable behemoth' and it sounds as if the aliens do die of the common cold bug. :-k

Author:  Loz [ Wed Jun 29, 2005 9:39 pm ]
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I hope they do die of bacterial infection. But I sense hints that it is something simmilar but not the same. Perhaps pollutents in the air that poison them or cause allergic reactions that kill them. Something that wasn't presernt on Earth when they first sewed their seeds underground. As I said in another post just something as simple as pollen particles floating around. Or something along the lines of insect bights.

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Wed Jun 29, 2005 11:07 pm ]
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We've screwed up the ozone layer, and they all die of sun stroke :a103: :lol:

Author:  KD8AFH [ Thu Jun 30, 2005 1:43 am ]
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I caught the early showing of WOTW at 10:45 AM EST. My son and I went and was surprised to see a lot of people in the theatre at that time.

The movie is a wonderful mixture of the original H.G. Wells concept along with the 1953 version and a bit of the 1938 Orsen Well's broadcast.

I give it a B+. I expected a bit more of an ending and Dakota Fanning's constant screaming was a bit too much. Cruise did a good job. Special effects were great and I suspect that Speilberg used some ideas from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

There were some frightening aspects that I would love to discuss as soon as more here see the movie.

Remember when General Mann (1953) said, "As soon as they start moving, no more news comes from that area."

There was a similar line in this movie - "As soon as the Tripods start moving, no more news comes from that area."

That's all I'll say for now - don't want to spoil it.


Author:  Yuri2356 [ Thu Jun 30, 2005 3:30 am ]
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I loved one of the more subtle bits of the basement scene, where you see one of the Aliens toying arround with a bycicle, hinting that they arren't familiar with the wheel.

Quite amusing.

Author:  KD8AFH [ Thu Jun 30, 2005 3:53 am ]
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Yuri2356 wrote:

I loved one of the more subtle bits of the basement scene, where you see one of the Aliens toying arround with a bycicle, hinting that they arren't familiar with the wheel.

Quite amusing.

Yes, that was good. Remember that H.G. Well's said ( in his book) the martians didn't appear to use wheels.

Author:  david johnson [ Thu Jun 30, 2005 8:47 am ]
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when i read a critic review that was down on the movie i knew it would a good show! and it was really good.
there was only one scene that i 'doubted', but i liked it anyway.
neat lines from both the welles radio broadcast & the george pal movie floated in & out for fun as did a few sceneic nods to pal.
go see it, i will not 'spoil' it for you, other than say that tension is a tool which helps propel the story.


Author:  tomcruise's shoe [ Thu Jun 30, 2005 2:02 pm ]
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O.K. Just got back from movie, over here in the U.K. its was great, Speilberg's use of sound effects really had an effect on the audience, people were squirming around everywhere! my only "beef" with the film is that the aliens will look very familiar..ID4 anyone? and the ending, as a couple of people have said already was, well, flat, and very Speilberg-esque. You'll now what I mean when you all see it.! but definately go see! but get there early, my cinema was packed at 11.00am!

Author:  Yuri2356 [ Thu Jun 30, 2005 2:18 pm ]
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The Aliens in this were supposed to look sort of like their tripods, giving the idea that they modles the machines after themselves. (Like a 'Mech') That, and their arms are copied from the 1953 George Pal Martian.

Author:  tomcruise's shoe [ Thu Jun 30, 2005 2:35 pm ]
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Yeah, but I really hoped they would look so completely different, you know, like when "Alien" came out, nobody was expecting that. I really did feel the looked liked too much like ID4 aliens, with an extra leg and a bit hunched up. And how come Ray's exwife's house was completely untouched?, they looked like they were ready to go to dinner!

Author:  Optichris [ Thu Jun 30, 2005 9:31 pm ]
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I just got back from this movie, and really am curious as to what some people DIDNT like about it? I didnt see any scientology stuff in there, just a fast paced, unique take on the WotW story. I loved it, and thought it was a great popcorn flick. Sure, the aliens themselves were a bit cheesy looking, but the tripods, scenery, etc. were just so amazing (The scene where the first tripod rose from the ground and started blasting, as well as the overview shot of several tripods picking people up out of the water were incredible.) I'd give it 3 1/2 stars out of 4...Only real complaint I had was that after Ogilvy came into the picture, the movie did seem to slow down a bit, but I thouroughly enjoyed the flick and will definitely see it again!

Author:  Martian Myster The New Ma [ Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:06 pm ]
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I've just got back from seeing the film and all I can say is wow. The tripod raising from the ground was terrifying. It really was an amazing film, It didnt feel like it was on for 2hrs. I think the ending could of been better but it really doesnt spoil the film. There is a lot of homage to the 53 version and you can see how it follows the book.

I wanna see it again, this has to be the first film Ive ever seen that really frightened me, not sure if it that is cause the album scared me to death when I was a kid, but you could really feel the panic and adrenalin all in one go.

it gets a 9.5 out of 10 from me, would have been a 10 if the ending was a little longer and a bit different. I think the DVD will come packed with many extras......

Enjoy I did :)

Even my Girlie loved it and said the beginning was scary. Im shocked this got a 12A. Should be a 15 atleast.

Author:  Loz [ Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:10 pm ]
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I was all waiting to go and see it tonight but my bird got back late from the Gym and that was that. Tomorrow then.

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Fri Jul 01, 2005 12:31 am ]
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This is a real bugger, I can't go and see it tonight (friday) and not on Saturday either (going out for a meal with family). It's going to be Sunday at least before I see it :a010:

Author:  MFM [ Fri Jul 01, 2005 4:17 am ]
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Tis worth the wait!

And you could always read my sneak peek...it's pretty much the first 20 minutes summed up...but...I'd advice against it...I don't have to say it contains spoilers...but...considering that it's the first 20 mins...it's a given...

But...ya...It'll be worth the wait :)

Author:  eveofthewar [ Sun Jul 03, 2005 4:27 pm ]
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I just been and seen it with my gf!

Was great to finally see it :alien:

I will write a review next week. In summary, I don't think it's a Spielberg classic that people will talk about for years, but the movie is great and I can't wait to watch it again on DVD! A real rollercoaster of an action movie and the tripods..... WOW!

Author:  Loz [ Sun Jul 03, 2005 6:43 pm ]
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What do you believe to be Speilberg classics Lee?

Author:  eveofthewar [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 9:29 am ]
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Loz wrote:
What do you believe to be Speilberg classics Lee?

Jaws, E.T., Minority Report, Indy, Duel

What you reckon Loz?

Author:  oever532 [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 11:44 am ]
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Don't forget Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Author:  Loz [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 12:32 pm ]
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Great films Lee. Didn't like the third Indy one though. Close Encounters was great too. And he produced Poltergiest which is a wonderful film.
Saving Private Ryan and Shindler's list are also seminal movies.
Jurrasic Park is great but Lost World was pretty much a stinker with some good bits here and there.

Author:  oever532 [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 12:40 pm ]
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My favorite Spielberg Movies are Raiders of the Lost Ark (Indiana Jones), Jaws, Jurassic Park

Author:  Ullah_la [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 12:51 pm ]
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Watched it last night with my girlie she loved it, I loved it, certain sections I feel were a little too far fetched but a great film, the only thing that p*ssed me off was the end, to me it felt like a rush to wrap it up and vey cheesy, will I buy it on DVD hell yeah, as far as im concerned, one down Mr Wayne to go, god why do I have to wait so long for the CGI version. 8/10 Good effort. =D>

Author:  Lonesome Crow [ Mon Jul 04, 2005 11:30 pm ]
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The end, to me it felt like a rush to wrap it up

You are not the first to comment on the end, But that is very much like the book. The main character is wandering through London and sees and hears dead and dying FM. I'm not having a go at you but if Spielberg had done it differently then I would understand your disappointment, this is one part of the film that stuck closely to the book.
And yes I agree with you, a great film :D

Author:  Xuxa the White [ Tue Jul 05, 2005 4:02 am ]
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How did the war end? Was it by nukes, a natural pathogen, a man-made pathogen or a 'puter virus?

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