If there is two things that are over-played, It's disaster films and remakes. I lost count long ago how many times I've seen Earth destroyed. It's a boring fashion for Hollywood directors to squeeze their itchy CGI finger. Armageddon, The Core, The Day After Tomorrow, Cloverfield, Independence Day, etc, etc. I could fill a novel with the title's and a brief synopsis of every disaster film. Finally, yet crudely, a film takes the worst of both film spectrum's, and brought forth a beautiful piece from an ugly cocoon. I never though I'd say this during the millenia, but Bravo Mr. Spielberg.
Based on a myriad of various related works (I.E: Novel, Shorts, Radio Plays, Television Shows), Spielberg has crafted the bastard child of the series but somehow stands above the rest. His apocalyptic vision has even succeeded into making me fear the unknown and that is most likely what he was aiming for. Tom Cruise is an All-American construction worker who loves Baseball cause he is American. Don't worry, his cliche's don't stick long. Soon he's stuck with his two kids as he attempts to fit in and play the father figure.
His "punk rebel" kid steals his car while moping and listening to his mp3 player. I hate this generation's youth, eve more, I hate this generation's youth captured on film. These senile directors love to exaggerate their every action and making them seem like scum who eventually breaks into a polished, disciplined gentleman. His daughter is a screaming girl who has to have a handicap to slow down their adventure; as if trying to stay alive in the midst of an alien invasion wasn't enough of an obstacle.
Many reasons why this version of War of the Worlds is looked down upon is the family drama. I admit, I hate Dakota Fanning and I hate these kids and all the bullshit morals. In fact, I wanted Tom Cruise to punch his Ex-Wife in the face on several occasions. I can see him roundhouse kicking his daughter in the face, this being a prelude to that wonderful scene in The Wicker Man. (Remake) More remakes need extreme misogyny.
One thing that sticks out of this film is the actual chaos depicted. When the streets crack, people are curious. When things get worse, people go ballistic. People push and shove their way home. All the meanwhile, a menacing tripod unearths itself from the earth to create violence and a whole new "Red" planet to harvest their vegetation. It's easy to see the social commentary implanted within the film as it illustrates various Cannibal Holocaust quotes within the 21st Century. Moral of the Story: Men become monsters when pushed to the edge.
No film is complete without the subtlety of a nice suburb, and of course, it's only right to show man's safest zone being completely under attack and ravaged. A crashed plane? C'mon Spielberg. That's a bit much. With any post-9/11 disaster film, you're going to hear the word "terrorists" once, and oh boy, will you groan. These scenes of worldwide destruction are simply breathtaking. Spielberg exploits the death of billions of humans and man made creations for the "ooh's and ahh's" of his viewers. What a fine specimen of humanity! Although, I'm not complaining.
The fine detail that went into the actual sets, such as the rubble, is flawless. Each individual rock, pebble, piece of metal, or debris seems as if that is where it fits or blasted to. This film is patriotic horror at it's finest. While the attacks are happening else where, we really don't care. When we see our flags burning and our beer being blown up, it pulls a tear duct into a rage fit. Rural citizen Tim Robbins accepts Tom Cruise into his home for shelter, only to be murdered by the city fellow for trying to dig a hole. While insanity is never a good thing, I still see Cruise as being an unjustified midget. I guess anarchy brings out the best in citizens.
The aliens of the film come in two forms. The fleshy version and the tripod vehicular husk that lurches all around with its powder beam. The fleshy creatures are curious individuals who resemble the ID4 aliens and enjoy participate in the cliche "Hiding behind an object only to have the enemy lean really close to it, smelling." (For an example on this, recall The Fellowship of the Rings, in which the Ring Wraiths did the exact same move.) The tripods are a wonderful invention of Spielberg's staff's part. These are menacing titans of unstoppable power.
The acting from Cruise's side is frankly amazing. His role as an alien-killing American is very contradictory to his Scientologist beliefs. I wonder if Xenu is frowning from space right now. You really can't doubt the Scientology-forced views considering the role of Ray was written for Cruise. Much of his insanity can be clearly foreshadowed in the blissful insanity erupting from his eyes during his heartfelt reunion with his douche son.
This film marks many things in modern cinema. For one, the beginning of Spielberg's rise to the top and ironically, also his downfall. Spielberg doesn't cross my radar anymore. Jaws was a triumph and with a few exceptions, everything else is horrible. This is a powerful and almost traumatizing view at a ravaged United States of America narrated by none other than Morgan Freeman. This comes highly recommended for any fan of science-fiction or horror.