This new War of the Worlds has given us a fairly faithful retelling of the classic H.G. Wells novel – if you know how the novel ends (or how the 1953 film ends), then you know how the Martian invaders get beat by the house in the end – but what it’s really about is how we now have a whole new understanding of how small we are in the face of big horrifying things. Moreover, the events of 9/11 have changed the way we view tragedy, and War of the Worlds constantly reminds us of that.
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The Movie Review
Ray Ferrier, a hardworking dockworker from New Jersey, is no perfect husband or dad. Still, he makes an effort to drop his kids Robbie and Rachel along with his ex-wife Mary Ann over to his house every weekend. But a bigger problem arises when a bunch of technologically-advanced alien species leaves a trail of destruction on a completely defenseless Earth.
As he tries to reconcile with Mary Ann and his estranged children, Ray must now find a way to protect his family in the midst of this alien invasion. However, can a single man outrun a swarm of intelligent, merciless intergalactic monsters?
With E.T.’s Steven Spielberg as the director, as well as Jurassic Park’s David Koepp and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ Josh Friedman as the screenwriters, War of the Worlds is set to be an amazing film.
Hollywood is no stranger to alien invasion movies either, and they could’ve easily done this adaptation a la Independence Day-style. But instead of heavily focusing on action stunts and dramatic explosions, this version of War of the Worlds is incredibly dark and realistic, where everyone is scared for their lives and would reach desperate lengths to survive.
It’s rare that a huge production movie wants to be taken as a serious emotional experience, and Paramount even went as far as to hide the aliens from the trailer.
The visuals in this are horrifying but strangely beautiful, and the special effects were of high quality. There are scenes of dead bodies floating on a river, burning trees, a ferry casually dumping people and cars, and a mob waiting at a railroad crossing as a burning train passes through. And what better to complement those sceneries other than John Williams’ rousing musical score?
Despite its good intentions, there are a lot of ways this movie failed. Starting with the biggest problem: despite being played by A-list actors, the characters were extremely unlikable. This only shows how much an actor’s performance heavily relies on good writing, and the script never gave a chance for any of the protagonists to shine.
Considering that Steven Spielberg has successfully directed child stars on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and A.I. Artificial Intelligence, both Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin were so annoying to watch. For a movie that’s supposed to be emotionally riveting and dark, the last thing it needs are hysterically screaming, crying bratty children.
Another thing I disliked were the plot holes. One example is how the aliens, who are supposedly intelligent and technologically-advanced, were simply fooled by a mirror. They also happen to have thousands of war machines buried under the Earth’s surface aeons ago, implying that archaeologists are bad at their jobs, and the aliens’ intentions for invading the planet are never discussed.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, War of the Worlds is nothing more than a popcorn flick, and it’s not a satisfying one. The suspenseful buildup on the first half led to a disappointing, slow-paced second half, and by the time the aliens are introduced, they aren’t as scary. Everyone involved has done better movies, which is such a shame because War of the World is close to being one of the greatest science-fiction movies ever made.