Monday, July 11, 2005

Movie Review: War of the Worlds

The long-awaited War of the Worlds hit our cinema screens this month. Directed by Steven Spielberg and led by the big name of Tom Cruise, it bursts onto the screen with the awesome special effects we have come to expect of contemporary movies but with an ultimately disappointing plot finale. Morgan Freeman, in an icy voiceover, begins the film by almost directly quoting the beginning of the original H G Wells' novel:
No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own.... An intellect vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded our planet with envious eyes.
The invasion of earth by tripod fighting machines is played out from the point of view of Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) and his two children, Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and Robbie (Justin Chatwin), who he is looking after for the weekend. Ray is a less-than-perfect father. Robbie is a beligerent teenager who obviously doesn't get on with Dad. And Rachel is a very aware and knowing little girl who responds with natural awe and terror to the events going on around her. The relationships between Ray and his kids is played out on the canvas of the invasion but is never developed with any depth. Watching the movie is a visceral experience. Spielberg knows how to make a "big" movie and the destruction wrought by the machines as they relentlessly consume everything before them seems very realistic and evokes a deep sense of dread. The sub-plots with the family dynamics are ok but ultimately comes to an unbelievable end that seems inconsistent with the events leading up to it. War of the Worlds is a fast-paced, action-packed, intense thriller which works on that level. Don't expect much more than that, though. My Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5) Best Review 'Working in the spirit of his predecessors but with the kind of uncanny special effects they could barely dream of, Spielberg has come up with an impressive production that is disturbing in the way only provocative science fiction can be.' - Kenneth Turan/Los Angeles Times Worst Review 'Extravagant in movie terms but stingy in emotional ones, it embodies all of Spielberg's bad impulses and almost none of his good ones: It's a grand display of how well he knows how to work us over, and yet the desperation with which he tries to get to us is repulsive.' - Stephanie Zacharek/ Related Links


  1. Ray was utterly selfish, letting his friends die, committing murder. Didn't his behavior offend your Christian values?

  2. On a number of occasions, particularly in the beginning, Ray tried to save his mechanic and others but they refused his help. Don't you think the situation was complex with lots of moral dilemmas the choices of which may all of been problematic?