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War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds


Title - War of the Worlds
My Admission - $4.50
One Line Review - This One’s About Family, Not Aliens.


Review – Based on the classic H.G. Wells novel, Steven Speilberg does this modern remake without much flair.  It’s more about a single family’s relationship and survival, than it is about aliens destroying the world.  It’s a better family drama than it is a sci-fi epic.

Tom Cruise plays a divorced father of two who gets his kids for the weekend.  The three obviously have a strained relationship and Cruise plays a father whose not much interested in bridging the reach between.  This family dynamic is by far the most compelling aspect of War of the Worlds and would’ve made a far better film had there not been some silly world-ending catastrophe thrown in to drive their desire.  Cruise gives an acceptional performance and could’ve been looking at an Oscar nod had this been a true family drama.

However, there are those pesky aliens and they are the least interesting things in the film.  The tri-pods are very cool; very retro and their design is reminiscent of the 1950’s version of this film.  The aliens themselves look like leftovers from Independence Day and just didn’t float my boat.

The primal fear created by Orson Wells during his radio broadcast of War of the Worlds in the late 1930’s seems nonexistent in the film.  An angry mob rears it’s head during a brief stint at about the middle of the film and that’s as scary as the film ever gets.  Many of the film’s fearful moments happen off camera, which adds a nice touch but it’s just not a scary film.  It’s a frightening scenario but it’s never really sold to me.

Yet, I admire the fact that we never really get to see the world-over destruction.  It’s so opposite of films like The Day After Tomorrow or Independence Day in that it tracks the struggle of one family, completely cut off from the rest of the world.  It keeps the film lovingly intimate and that seems to shrink the impact one would expect from a War of the Worlds to just a family skirmish.  One in which evil space aliens act as the catalyst for reconciliation.


Movie Information

Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for frightening sequences of sci-fi violence and disturbing images.
Starring:  Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Miranda Otto, Justin Chatwin, Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman
Director: Steven Spielberg
Producers:  Colin Wilson, Kathleen Kennedy
Screenwriter: Josh Friedman, David Koepp
Cinematographer:  Janusz Kaminski
Composer: John Williams
Executive Producer: Paula Wagner
Running Time: 1 hr. 57 min.
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Turn Down The Lights, Turn Up The Sound.

Matthew Gilbert © 1999-2015 All Rights Reserved

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