johnlink ranks WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005)

This continues my Sci-Fi kick. I started with some medical tech of the future in REPO MEN, moved to clone wars with THE ISLAND, and am here now with classic alien invasion with Spielberg’s WAR OF THE WORLDS. I remember liking this when I saw it in theaters, but also hearing a bit of a backlash to it.

I watched WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005) on 7.8.11. It was my second viewing of the film, and first since its release in theaters. TRAILER HERE

This is a film which tries to take a mega idea and turn it into a micro script. It is akin to its predecessor SIGNS that way, except that it takes the well known WAR OF THE WORLDS motif and applies it to a single family hoping to survive.

It has its place in the grand scheme of Spielberg works. Spielberg characters are famous for their daddy issues, and this puts a Dad with those issues centrally present. Tom Cruise, playing said Dad, has to try and earn the love of his two kids over through the course of this film. As much as the question is ‘Can they survive?’ an equally concentrated second question is ‘Can he win them back?’

Dakota Fanning, who I think is a tremendous actress, screams a lot. Not that a ten year old wouldn’t scream a lot (as Liz pointed out) at these things happening, but there feels like a scream a minute. It is very one-note for both a director and actress who traditionally do much more nuanced work.

I understand the  hesitation to embrace this film. At just under two hours, it feels as though it has only enough meat to be more at the hour forty mark. Not that I have any issue with a film taking its time at all. But sometimes it focuses so much on the minutia that it leaves the big picture too far in the rear view mirror. On the other hand, I see very clearly where this film falls in Spielberg’s career. He has done the big event film like JURASSIC PARK and the small quiet film like TERMINAL. This attempts to use his cache as a big picture director, and narrow the scope to a single family. It is successful in its quest, save perhaps for the fact that he can’t get too far from the big picture to not put a too convenient button on the climax (though part of this is due to his loyalty to the source material).

Though considered a classic, I am not a huge fan of the original 50s film. I just have a bevy of titles I prefer when it comes to paranoia science fiction in the cold war era. So I like Spielberg’s remake over that version, despite the fact that many film historians would be appalled by such a statement.





~ by johnlink00 on July 12, 2011.

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