"War of the Worlds"
Directed by Steven Spielberg.
Written by Josh Friedman and David Koepp. Based on the novel
by H.G. Wells.
Starring Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin and Tim Robbins.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 6/30/05
I respect Tom Cruise because he generally
makes movies that don't suck. However, with the Steven
Spielberg update of "War of the Worlds", I have to admit that this
is the least fulfilling of Cruise's movies I can remember since
maybe "Far and Away." (Sure, I didn't love
or "Eyes Wide
Shut", but at least they were ambitious.)
The thing about the "War of the Worlds"
remake is that it doesn't suck, as you would expect. Cruise
plays Ray Ferrier, docks worker extraordinaire and divorced father
of two. Ray starts the day late for his meeting with his
ex-wife (Miranda Otto) and his two kids, Robbie (Justin Chatwin) and
Rachel (Dakota Fanning), as Ray takes custody for a long
weekend...unfortunately for everyone involved, aliens decide to
attack on this fateful day, ruining vacation plans worldwide and
demolishing damn near the entire North American landscape.
Spielberg doesn't waste much time letting
stuff get all blow'd up; from the word go he blows up nearly the
entire production with real explosions and CGI, and this--mixed with
some suspenseful moments prior to building detonations and
laser-beam attacks--makes for somewhat solid summer-watching fare.
As we watch Ray take in all that is going on around him, unable to
comprehend it but certainly using it as a motivator to hop a ride
and skip town, Spielberg is working that ol' Spielberg magic.
But, as the film wears on and Ray--with his
two kids in tow--makes his way from New York City to Boston, you
realize just how fluffy this movie is. It reminded me a ton of
"Jurassic Park 2", with its mindless fun, PG-13 violence and a
sprinkle of laughs like that scene near the end of "JP2" where you
see Japanese businessmen running from the sight of manic dinosaurs.
"War of the Worlds" doesn't seem to be striving for much beyond
giving us Cruise doing his best Running Man impression, jogging from
place to place as we watch the entire house/truck/city
block/ferry/street blow up just as he escapes the scene. There
isn't much story (at least, in the film; I can't speak for the H.G.
Wells novel that I STILL haven't read) here, so dialogue is trim and
breaks between explosions are brief. Tim Robbins does show up
as the resident crazy guy, and he's good while he's around;
otherwise, there is no support to speak of, since most of the extras
are vaporized and Ray's kids don't have much to say (although, as
usual, Fanning was excellent; this go-round, all she did was scream
a lot, but she does that so well!).
And, "War of the Worlds" has "one of those"
endings, the kind of ending that had people in my theater just up in
arms over how quickly it came to a resolution. Frankly, I
thought it sucked.
I got the feeling from the trailer that this
film would be just okay, and the final product yielded the same
result. Again, the special effects are theater-worthy, so I
think $6 or $7 is plenty to pay for this one...but, I was hoping for
something with more feeling or even something that made me think a
little more, but instead I found myself thinking about how quickly I
could get myself out of the theater.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard