War of the Worlds review- I finally saw this blockbuster last night. I had originally passed on it because of the hype machine and mixed reviews. War of the Worlds had plenty of suspense, paranoia, great special effects, a good performance by Tom Cruise, but I have to question the limitations of the first person point of view by director Steven Spielberg. There was so much more I wanted to know about the aliens (there’s no proof they are even Martians).
This was a “realistic” alien invasion- it was in NY and they went for the 9/11 feel. There was no backstory- it’s main focus seemed to be on the family of a divorced man and his two kids.
War of the Worlds is an engrossing sci-fi blockbuster, but it left so many questions open and the ending is awfully abrupt. I’m usually not the type of person at the movie theater to ask stupid questions, but after War of the Worlds ended, I asked my wife, “So what killed the aliens?” You see, with so many interpretations of H.G. Wells’ classic 1898 novel, I assumed nothing, and was looking for hints. There really weren’t any obvious hints during the movie to set up “germs”. I realize the movie is 1st person, and Tom Cruise’s character Ray had no access to the scientific community, but all we have to go on is Morgan Freeman’s ambiguous statements about microorganisms.
There’s never really an explanation for the red vines or anything, really. Again, I guess Spielberg wanted a different take than ID4, but with no potential for a sequel, I felt kinda ripped off.
A movie has to be judged by what happens onscreen, not what the producer or screenwriter says on a DVD bonus disk. The ending made sense only if you read the book, or if you follow Speilberg’s rule of having the movie through Ray’s eyes (i.e., he doesn’t know anything). The explanation could have been handled through a TV bulletin or from his family. Better yet, the way the aliens died could have been totally different from the book. It’s interesting that the “no explanation needed” has been used in War of the Worlds, Cloverfield, Star Trek, and a few other modern movies. It’s like the powers-that-be want to have it both ways (leave things mysterious on-screen, but talk about them freely during an interview).
There are tons of questions that Spielberg forces you to ask. I did a search and read some possible explainations. Most explanations are taken from the original book, which is a stretch since this is an Earth Zero film adaptation of H.G. Wells.
With all of my nitpicks, you may think I didn’t like War of the Worlds, but I liked it a lot. It’s just that with such an A-List actor like Cruise, an A-List director like Steven Spielberg, a huge budget, and great source material that it should have been THE sci-fi movie. Cloverfield was a better 1st person POV monster movie.
All of this being said, this movie was great- fear was the #1 emotion invoked, kind of like Signs. There were some scary jump-out-of-your seat scenes, and I was glued to the screen.