Wednesday, June 29, 2005

"War Of The Worlds" (Click for the official website)

I don't know about you, but I really look forward to movies from a handful of directors. Steven Spielberg is very high on that short-list and, as of today, his latest feature is a redux of the 1953 sci-fi thriller "War Of The Worlds."

Tom Cruise ("Risky Business"; "Minority Report") stars as Ray Ferrier, divorced-father with two children, a teenage boy, with a bit of an attitude, and a daughter still very much in the single-digits. Justin Chatwin ("Taken" TV) is the teenager, Robbie, and Dakota Fanning ("The Cat In The Hat") is Rachel.

The film opens with Cruise, as Ray Ferrier, a longshorman in New York City, getting home late, as usual, to find his ex-wife and her new beau waiting to drop-off the two children. That's where the story takes it's turn.

A very strange lightening storm strikes and, shortly after, all hell breaks loose.

It turns out that these bad guys (they never say from where they hail) have had their ships buried here for a very, very long time. Now they are using powerful lightening blasts to get their personnel in them. They rise up from deep below in a special effects bonanza.

And... they are ticked-off. Really ticked-off.

Daddy-Ray must protect kids from, as he observes, extermination. We don't know why they want us dead, but they do and it is made very clear that they are fully capable of carrying out their plan. However, there is something that they did not expect to find.

Overall, I liked the movie. It has lots and lots of tension. You know something is about to happen. Lots of action and some truly frightening, as in not for the squemish, depictions of mass death. If the movie lacks a little something it is in it's story and the story is a simple one. A single-dad trying to protect himself, and his children, one of which has a bit of an epiphany at a key point in the story. I thought that side-story was kind of cool.

The film's best "acting" may come from Tim Robbins ("Mystic River"; "The Shawshank Redemption") as Ogilvy. Cruise and company meet him, hiding in a basement, trying to stay alive. He sums it up by saying that it is no more a war than humans against maggots, or something like that.

Lot's of Spielbergian signatures. Camera angles, shadows, etc. John Williams ("E.T."; "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind") does the score and is up to his usual high standard.
It is not Steven Spielberg's best work, but I'll take any Spielberg movie over most anyone else's any day. I enjoyed it and was glad that I saw it on the big screen.

Rated PG-13 for violence and scenes of mass death. NOT for young children.


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