Wednesday, September 11, 2013

War of the Worlds (2005): 9/11's not so subtle metaphor!

The Other Films Classic
War of the Worlds (2005)
dir: Steven Spielberg

THUD! Did you hear that? THUD THUD!! OW! That hurt? What was that? 

That was the anvil hitting you across the head in the form of Spielberg's latest blunt object, War of the Worlds. A message movie where he tries to cram every single little bit of message as he can into one movie. Here's a list of messages:

1) The World Trade Center Bombings was horrible.
2) War is horrible.
3) If you can escape your father's clutches, you can survive a giant explosion without injury.
4) If you can trust your kids, they will be safe.
5) Charleton Heston is a great inspiration to psychos everywhere.
6) John Williams is as subtle Steven Spielberg.
7) Boston has extremely strong windows!
8) Video cameras can survive EMPs, especially in the service of "cool" camera shots.

Before I go bitching about the movie much more, I should state two things. I rather enjoyed myself through half the movie, and that will be coming up later. And, I have a bias against Spielberg, so this isn't an unbiased review.

Yes, my friends, War of the Worlds was Spielberg's 9/11 movie as a metaphor. When giant alien machines unearth themselves, they wreak havoc on Jersey, NYC, and various other places around the world. Of course, Tom Cruise, the movie's heroine, is a self-centered, divorced, father who is charge of his two kids, a 10-year-old know-it-all girl, Brilliance, and a 15-year-old surly boy, Sulk. Well, Brilliance and Sulk aren't really their names, but they'll do for now.

Tom's ex-wife has gone with Tim to visit her parents up in Boston, and felt that Brill and Sulk should stay in Jersey with their father. Tom, however, doesn't have food in the house, and doesn't have much time for the kids until they're under attack, at which point he starts becoming a protective Father Knows Best, who doesn't trust his kids to make a decision of their own if they tried.

Meanwhile, the Aliens land and use their machines to exterminate the human race, namely because they're...envious? Ah well, it doesn't matter as the initial and final explanation are all short, and to some throw-away point. Why? It doesn't matter because this is Spielberg's WTC movie!

Yes, folks, as soon as the Aliens attack, we see people taking pictures of the machines, getting vaporized, and other sorts of awesome effects laden imagery. It is in the initial attack scenes (save the usage of the fucking video camera not 20 seconds after the EMP happened), that Spielberg almost shines. He mixes his obvious imagery with a semi-knowledge of B-movies to achieve fun and exciting imagery mach 2.0. And, then, it all starts to go haywire.

Tom and his kids steal a van (which was recently repaired with a new solenoid), and go through many journeys to get to Boston so the family could be together. 

There aren't any real impressive scenes, and some are so stubbornly blindingly bad that I have to go through them. Tom and his kids reach their mother's Jersey home, where they hide in the basement during an attack. The aliens are about ready to blow more shit up with Tom and the kids are in the cellar. Sulk then pulls Tom and Brilliance into a lower cellar...which still has windows! The windows in the main cellar burst out with a huge explosion, but the windows on the side of the house are relatively undamaged, and the cellar is pitch black while the flames are all around. OK, then.

People are posting signs looking for their loved ones *THUD*, just like on 9/11. Except...everybody is leaving their home! How will they be contacting you? If you see my daughter, Please call my non-working cell phone/land line/mail me. *roll eyes* Ah well, we needed to be hit on the head.

Sulk decides he wants to be all he can be and joint he army to fight back. Tom leaves Brilliance by a tree to go chasing after Sulk and bring him along. As Tom and Sulk argue over whether Sulk is a man or not, Brilliance starts getting almost abducted by a helpful crazy couple. Tom sees Brilliance get almost taken, but still has the time for a long-ass good-bye, farewell, you're-a-man-now, scene. And, then, Sulk blows up, as obviated by the big explosion.

Tom and Brilliance go through a forest, which didn't look too destroyed, but clothes start falling from the sky. From where? I dunno, as there were no people to explode. Then, Tom Cruise made his potatoes into a forest and said, "This means something."

Charelton Tim Robbins makes a cameo as silly crazy person who wants to fight back. He is cleaning his gun in a motion that strongly looks like jacking somebody off during one of the heartwrenching scenes. I think it was heartwrenching. I was too busy laughing my ass off through it. Seriously, I was in tears I was laughing so hard. And, then, as the laughing fit from the jacking off motion dies down, Tom sings Deuce Coupe to Brilliance, with much owed to Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend's Wedding. My sides hurt after that.

At this point, we really start doing stuff just so the camera could look cool. Charleton Tim and Tom start running through CharletonTim's basement frenetically, removing blocks from the window so the camera could look through, then replacing the blocks. And, the dumbest aliens in the galaxy use their camera to go searching for the inhabitants of this domicile, and are foiled by a mirror. We think that the aliens are a bit narcissistic and watched their camera in the mirror. As if mirrors weren't invented by that race.

Soon, the cute ewoksaliens come exploring around the basement, and playing with things,

Tom eventually arrives in Boston with the kid, after he exploded an alien (bad pie), where all the windows are still intact. Even in buildings with much destruction by passed out alien machines, the windows were still in tact. However, it is all a dream because Sulk didn't really die, but Tim, not CharletonTim, did. Or at least he wasn't shown much because it is all about Tom and his ex-wife and their kids, including not-burnt-up Sulk and Brilliance. In a quick 10 second wrap-up by Morgan Freeman, we find out that the aliens were killed by single-celled organisms, viruses or bacteria of some sort. Way to go Morgan! (Didn't the narration remind you of the narration to BASEketball by CHARLETON HESTON!!)

So, other than the initial destruction, and a couple of the other scenes, the movie is pretty Spielbergian. And, very Spielberg from 25 years ago. Without the total and utter destruction, the movie would have sucked. 

BTW, The Aliens were made of people

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