Thursday, June 30, 2005

Movie Review: War of the Worlds

WotW is not necessarily a bad movie, it's just not a great movie, and with all the buzz surrounding it I was expecting a lot more.

Despite a promising beginning that does a good job setting up the main characters, as well as getting the action started, the middle and end of the picture fall pretty flat. When you look back at the movie in it's entirety you are stuck wondering, what was the point. This is one of those odd action movies where the heroics of the main character does little to affect the outcome. The story would have had essentially the same ending if Cruise had decided to just stay at home and drink beer instead of running around the North East US with his two kids. Being based on the H.G. Wells story, that actual ending was set, but because of that it was up to Spielberg to really develop these characters, something which never quite happens.

There is also an abundance of what I consider nuisance scenes. You know the type, where one character knows something but for some reason refuses to share that knowledge when trying to convince others to do what s/he wants. I always find those scenes annoying, and WotW has far too many of them for my liking. I also had some trouble with the fact that from scene to scene the power blackouts are either present or not. I'd have no problem with that as such except for the fact that the story was written to make them central to creating the limited tension in this movie. I couldn't help but keep asking myself why is it only the electrical things they want at a particular moment (like cars for example) are affected in this scene, while all others appear to be working perfectly.

On the acting front, Cruise puts in a pretty solid effort but almost everyone else is wasted. Dakota Fanning in particular spends most of her time either screaming, crying or sleeping, none of which requires the talents of one of today's most accomplished child stars. The there's Justin Chatwin's rebellious son routine which didn't take long to really get on my nerves. At one point I was expecting Cruise to punch him just to stop his whining (personally I think the movie would have been the better for it). And the less said about Tim Robins part, the better. I don't really want to blame the actors though because it appears pretty obvious that the roles were just so badly written that no matter how much talent was thrown into the mix, the end results was not going to be any different.

Visually, WotW is definitely summer blockbuster material. The alien ships look great and the effects are top shelf but looks cannot save this film from the weak story and blaring inconsistencies.

2.75 out of 5


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