Wednesday, August 03, 2005

War of the Worlds review

I went to see War of The Worlds last night in VO at the cinema in Antibes. VO is is good since you can pay attention to the french subtitles and ponder on why certain phrases have been translated so bizarrely given the spoken english.

NB If you haven't seen it this review contains spoilers.
Overall a watchable movie but with some very big plot holes and a the most unlikely happy ending i've seen in a long time. It had more plot holes than Star wars revenge of the Sith which is saying a lot - however like star wars 3 it managed to end up ok overall despite the plot holes-though it would have been a much better film if they had been filled in.

The beginning works well, despite Tom Cruise looking like a very unlikely dock worker. Once he gets out of the container lifting machine he looks better - and i presume this dock-side machine was intended to remind us the 'Ray' has mastery over machines so that the heroics with the tripods makes some sort of sense.

Generally the beginning of the film works- the dysfunctional family dynamics is well played and the immediate afternmath of the alien's attack is shocking and 'real'.
There were a few random charcters who seemed to be thrown in for no apparent reason since this film focusses mainly on Ray, Robbie and Rachel and there is no rapport with the other characters -they are just cannon fodder.

The special effects are really excellent and Spielberg uses a lot of typical Speilberg tricks which work well at heightening the tension for the most part -though it starts to fizzle out after the basement scene which was too much like a generic suspense film.
The scene in the basement with Tim Robbins started fine and was doing well till the aliens did too much searching around - using mechanincal eyes on the ends of tentacles and then in a reconnaisance group for no apparent reason apart from giving us a look at 'Them'. They were pretty implausable looking aliens [were they really hopping on a single foot? ] and this was probably point where the movie slid downhill. Up till the basement scene the film was very good with quite a few quibbles but they weren't overwhelming the film.

The Rachel character should have been gagged for most of the film as all she did was scream and scream some more - the girl is good actress but it would have been more true to the Ray character to abandon this liability asap.
In the end the characters had not changed or done anything character building apart from Rays brief heroics. It would have been interesting to see what the sullen son was getting up to, since he managed to survive unscathed despite heading towards the aliens and apparently in the wrong way for Boston.
Both children were over the top brats and really did not reflect well on their mother- then again since she allowed peanuts in the house -its likely that her surface gloss was shallow. She was pretty rude so obviously the children were a reflection of that.

Strange things in the film:
Ray knows more about engines than professional mechanics, yet has an apparently long term dismantled engine project on his table and gives no reasons for his suggestion and yet they follow his advice

Peanut butter is not usually found in the house of a person allergic to peanuts due to anaphylaxis risk

Children, especially teenagers, generally know where the fridge is in their own house and yet they stand around helplessly looking at a collection of sauces.

why did Rachel not have braces if her step father was so well off. - she seems really old to be without them, given her weird teeth.

Vinaigrette seems an odd thing to have if a person only eats take out food and is disgusted by hummous and heath food.

Everyone has an identical American flag

Random electric devices work - video cameras , a single car that mechanical genius Ray diagnoses correctly and later a van belonging to a news team and of course hundreds of military vehicles which are somehow immune.

Some aliens zap humans to dust and others collect them individually for no real reason.

Refuges walk in a beautiful coordinated pattern over the hills.

Despite the exit from the city being at breakneck speed there is time for a missing people board to be set up

Only two guns in civilian hands when the battle for the car occurs - this seems odd

Why does a plane fall out of the sky after all electronic equipment has been blasted- surely the plane wouldn't have taken off in the first place?

Aliens are under the ground for centuries without being noticed- i'm presuming the millions of years suggestion was an uninformed character's exageration since it seems unlikely that the alien equipment would still work due to all the movements in the earth's crust.

Aliens want to use humans as fertiliser but like to look at snapshots in a basement for no apparent reason.

Harlan intends to shoot a bunch of aliens with one shotgun shell in what would have been a suicide mission and yet talks about being the resistance and not wanting to die.

Ray kills Harlan for making too much noise and yet gets his daughter to sing without seeing any porblem with this.He has no apparent remorse or need to do much soul searching beforehand.

The camera end of a tentacle is hacked off and the house is not incinerated by the aliens.

The people freed from the alien egg baskets land miraculously close to Boston.

Ray is the only obsevant member of humanity.

Ray carries a pre teen for hours using his arms of steel.

Posh parts of Boston are too nice to be affected by alien attack.

Boston people are immaculate in times of civil strife apart from wearing slightly uncocodinated cardigans

People can run towards aliens in a death or glory bid and yet turn up at the end without a scratch and no explanation for this miracle.

Aliens spend millions of years planning an attack but don't consider they might not be immune to bacteria

All in all its worth seeing at the cinema for the effects and the first 2/3rds of the film but everyone last night seemed surprised by the very sudden but lame ending -which was so abrupt and silly that it seemed as if a reel of film had been missed by the projectionist.



UberKuh said...

But... but... Scientology! Great review.

The Mad Perseid said...

That's a great review. A couple points, though:

1) The reason some equipment was still functioning is that EMP only knocks out active electronics, or so I've heard.

2) The ending of the movie is consistent with the original, more than a century old story. Well, the part about the bacteria, at any rate. Nothing was written about bratty kids or bitchy ex-wives and their current meal-tickets.

Of course, my question was if the aliens were alread in Boston, why was the ex-wife and her family still in the house? That was one of many questions. LOL!

Alison Ashwell said...

I should have mentioned that i'd read a lot of HG Wells as a teenager so although I knew the original ending i hadn't expected it here since so many 'based on' stories get twisted.

Plus, making the aliens long term planners made this ending very strange = especially when the aliens getting diseased was so close to Ray blowing one up in the movie- it almost seemed like a knock on effect due to the grenades Ray used.

Rudicus said...

I thought WotW was pretty much crap, personally. Everything you said was right on in terms of the problem - but my other question which was obvious is why bury all these things for that long? If they are going to come back, why not come back with the new stuff. It would be like burying a bunch of chariots and brinze age swords and then coming back later and diggin gthem up to fight with even though you have tanks and assault rifles.

The other thing is why not attack when the countries were less defensible? I would much rather attack 18th Century Earth than 21st century earth.

Lastly - since Tom and his kids had nothing whatsoever to do with anything and their only contribution to the plot was to have someone human (albeit an annoying human and his equally annoying kids)to look at - it ended up a pretty flat.

Sky High was a much better movie.

Alison Ashwell said...

Excellent points about the chariots and swords and also about attacking a lower technology time.

Sky High looks like a good film going by the trailer- it always takes ages for them to arrive here.