Monday, 14 June 2010

"You And Me? I Don't Think We're On The Same Page"

The One Where You All Realise War Of The Worlds Is Vastly Underrated

I've always "liked" War Of The Worlds. I always thought it was full of cool ideas. The Tripods being here all along, and "them" "riding the lightning down to earth", to pilot them. I thought Cruise was excellent. Bit of a dick, not a good Father - not by choice, but by not knowing/being allowed to try. Dakota Fanning was at her peak. I liked the fact that, as spectacular as it all was, the camera was shoulder mounted most of the time. When the army go over the hill, and launch a counter attack, the camera doesn't follow. It was a fresh approach.

Well, I don't remember the last time I saw War. It certainly wasn't on a 50" Plasma, in 7.1. And that might have changed things. This Blu transfer highlights how good the effects are. The whole film has a sense of realism, amongst the other wordly goings on. Some of the imagery works so well, in a post 9/11 world.

The initial cloud. The Plane crash. The gunfight over the only working car. The quiet, before the train, zooms past on fire.   The three Tripods appearing over the hill, as everyone clambers for the ferry.

The initial "birth" of the Tripod is a great set piece. The acting elevates it, by making it seem real. Cruise, dumbstruck, with a childish grin. When it attacks, we cut to a camcorder. It's 9/11. People run, and are evaporated. Cruise, with trademark run, is on a theme park ride. It's pure Spielberg. The lasers darting in between him, and instead, blitzing everyone else. He's covered in what looks like debris. It's human flesh, actually. Disintegrated. Spielberg is still jet black.

Following A.I, and Minority Report, this rounds off an unofficially trilogy. They are all Spielberg being more mature, than we have been used too. The set pieces are still there, and I'd understand anyone saying this moves from one, to another - but this is not your standard blockbuster.

Tim Robbins is potentially a paedophile - and for his ten minute cameo, the tension between him and Cruise is taut. Cruise wakes to find Fanning being "groomed" on the stairs. There is no time to discuss it. When Spielberg pays homage to The Abyss (another HUGELY underrated sci-fi), with the sentient, Cruise and Robbins battle for the shotgun. Then, we realise the red fungus is actually human blood. Robbins freaks, and starts making too much noise. Cruise blindfolds Fanning, closes the door, and fights to the death with Robbins. Not as Ethan Hunt, but as a Father.

There's not too much else the film can do after that. This isn't Hollywood in the sense that Ray will just move on. He sits on the stairs, knowing he'll be haunted by this encounter. He's lost his Son. He's killed a man.

People criticize the final third, and that's fair enough. We never get to see the army fightback. It never needs to happen. As a result, people feel cheated. With what has gone before, we have no right. The point, has always been an intimate family film, crossed with a £200M budget. It ends the way all films like this do. The end scene, with an army plus javelins (MW2 kind, not sports kind), suggest what could have been... I'd argue we got the better deal.

Plus Morgan Freeman narrates us out. Re-uniting him with his little mate from Shawshank. Now, surely all you Sheep, LOVE that??

Best Teaser Trailer since this one, for me...

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