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War of the Worlds '05

Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Films and Television' started by JamesBatista, Jan 4, 2006.

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  1. JamesBatista

    JamesBatista Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jul 13, 2005
    Few movies as of late have drawn such polarized reactions as Steven Spielberg's 2005 reworking of H.G. Wells' alien-invasion classic. Supporters think that it's one of the most viscerally gripping experiences commited to film in a long time, while detractors argue that it has a very weak ending, not much in the way of actual storytelling/development and unlikeable leads.

    I fall in the former. Seeing the film opening night was an amazing experience, and I don't think anything will ever replicate it, at least not soon. I've become very jaded with Hollywood and it's constant stream of garbage, making me think that nothing could ever again excite me in the rawest form--and then comes along something like WotW. My heart was racing all the way, something a film hasn't done to me in a very long time.

    Seeing the film on DVD(Without a home theatre setup), much of the initial shock wears off. Unfortunately, it also makes me realize that the film itself is quite flawed, and that it's detractors bring up good points... but I nonetheless think it is a fine piece of heartracing cinema.

    Now, what do you think?
  2. Everton

    Everton Force Ghost star 10

    Jul 18, 2003



    I think that Spielberg's War of the Worlds is an absolute disgrace. This story is not, not NOT War of the Worlds; it is simply another alien invasion movie. Nothing more than that. It is not what Wells wrote.


    'The War of the Worlds' is all about arrogance.

    Wells wanted to communicate the idea that the British Empire was an arrogant *.*.*.*, and so, in his story, became the Martians. They saw us as no better than the British saw slaves, insignifcant, worthless. But when it came to the crunch, the Martians, in their magnificant arrogance and superiority, neglected to consider the planets most basic defence system.

    The Earth, exterior to human efforts, defended itself.

    Invasions don't always go to plan. Even something that looks so very obvious in retrospect (germs... terrorists in Iraq), can be ignored in preparation.


    'The War of the Worlds' needs its aliens to be from Mars, because then they have an identity, and can have a character, have been considering us from a safe but ominous distance (much like the British Empire), they've been watching, and want to 'improve' planet Earth. We can believe they are arrogant. Mars can do this, because it is Mars, Earth's eternal neighbour. It's not going anywhere.

    Spielbergo's aliens are anonymous, and so we don't care, we don't see them as anything at all really. Just aliens - who are a bit stupid.

    The problem with teh film is the build up is so utterly lacking in the original point of the story, and frankly, any sense at all (unlike the book) the modern setting, the lack of Mars and so on... that the one bit Spielbergo did keep from the book (the germtastic ending) doesn't actually work as it should. It seems tacked on and pointless, whereas it should be an absolutely joyous revelation. Instead, it's brushed aside so teh CRUISE can become a good Daddy again.


    Spielberg was going on about how the story is forever relevant, and how it fits in with today's fear of Islamic Terrorists and their worldwide operations. He argues that the aliens in Wells' story are a good match for Bin Laden & Co. This is completely wrong. Speilberg makes the aliens operate like 'sleeper cells' in that their machines have been there for a long long time just waiting to strike. Again, this is so very, very wrong. In Wells' story, the aliens have been watching the Earth develop and have taken a shine to it, they want to improve it in the same way (as I've already said) as the British Empire wanted to 'improve' their African colonies. In Spielberg's version, the aliens have some sort of amazing foresight that allows them to bury their machines many many years in advance of their intented invasion. How peculiar. Indeed, what's even more peculiar is that if the aliens really wanted the planet, why not take it for themselves when they buried their machines in the ground? Basically, all this stacks up to mean Spielberg has no friggin' clue. Either that, or he's bastardising a great an iconic story to appeal to an undemanding and vunerable audience... which is disgraceful.

    So we've got these aliens who are from nowhere, and so carry no unique threat, we have their plan being about as stupid as they come, (because let's face it, if they buried they machines in the ground how did they not already know about the Earth's 'friendly' bacteria. Goodness knows.


    I could go on, but I need to go out. I'm gonna come back and continue laying into this abomination of a film later on.
  3. JediTrilobite

    JediTrilobite Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Nov 17, 1999
    I enjoyed most of it. It looked cool, the story was a decent update, but then we get a sappy ending. That annoyed me a bit.
  4. jedi_john_33

    jedi_john_33 Jedi Master star 7

    Sep 26, 2003
    I found it a good perspective based on Wells' book.

    Ideas can be used Everton, it doesn't have to conform to the book exactly.
    It was a different take on the main idea of Wells' book. While you say the aliens represent the British Empire in Wells' meaning, it doesn't mean it can't have another. It is popular to mix fiction with a message you want to convey, but what's wrong with taking a good idea and just having a story that doesn't worry about that?
  5. Everton

    Everton Force Ghost star 10

    Jul 18, 2003
    No, it doesn't mean it can't have another meaning. However that meaning does (IMO) have to fit with the original intentions of the story. The idea of an arrogant society trying to 'bring order and betterment' to a 'lesser' society has to be present and correct. The idea that their arrogance destroys them has to be present and correct. The idea that these two worlds are neighbours has to be present and correct. Otherwise your not telling the story of The War of the Worlds, you're telling the story of 'Alien Invasion Flick #45643'.
  6. obi_webb

    obi_webb Jedi Master star 4

    Aug 4, 2005
    i'm not familiar with the book, or with the orignal movie, so i could just take the new movie for what it was. i enjoyed it tremendously and think that tom cruise gave a good performance that was overlooked because of all the hoopla with him and katie.
    were there plot holes? sure. but if you try to pick apart any summer blockbuster movie i'm sure you could find many plot holes in most of them. i just try to sit back and enjoy, and with war of the worlds, i did.
    in addition, there is one point about the plot holes i'd like to discuss. this movie takes place entirely from the perspective of tom cruise's character and his family. they are just another family among many others in the same situation. there only goal is to survive. they don't want to find out WHY the aliens are here. they don't care HOW they got there. chances are they never will know the answers to these questions. they just want to survive. this movie is a story of their survival.
    i think that is the story spielberg wanted to tell, and i think he did a good job of it.
  7. Lord-Wiz

    Lord-Wiz Jedi Padawan star 4

    May 20, 2005
    i totally agree with everton, and couldn't have put it better myself, but at the same time i really enjoyed the movie. perhaps spielberg was wrong and shouldn't have called it "war of the worlds" because the only similarities between well's version and this were the red weed, the cellar scene (at a stretch) and the ending (the bacteria defeating the invaders). they are two different entities IMO, and spielberg murdered well's idea.

    if there was a bit of effort put into it and spielberg created victorian england (not too hard to do, look at last samurai which recreated japan way back when) and faithfully stuck to the original, it would have been one of the best films in the history of films. instead it got bastardised by spielberg "cherrypicking" his ideas.

    saying that though the film is a great film, except for the ending which was quite ridiculous. the world is being destroyed and cruise's character's ex-wife appears on the doorstep in her nightie? come on, give me a break!! her whole street was untouched!!
  8. Andalite-Bandit

    Andalite-Bandit Jedi Padawan star 6

    Apr 25, 2005
    I thought the movie was entertaining and I enjoyed it when I saw it in theaters this summer.

    As for the Mars thing, that never concerned me. Mars may have made sense back when Wells wrote War of the Worlds, but it would not make sense in a modern setting for an advanced civilization to be coming from Mars.
  9. malkieD2

    malkieD2 Ex-Manager and RSA star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jun 7, 2002
    I hated every second of it.

    Everton is absolutely 100% spot-on in his discription. It completely and utterly missed the point of the original and shouldn't have been allowed to be called "War of the Worlds".
  10. Ace_Venom

    Ace_Venom Jedi Youngling star 3

    Sep 22, 2002

    That and I also didn't like the fact that Tom Cruise was in it. The only movie he's made in the last ten years that's impressed me has been The Last Samurai. Spielberg can't be faulted for wanting to make a fascinating tale, but the way Wells presents WOTW is fascinating enough. If you really want to update something for the modern age, take a look at what Peter Jackson did for Lord of the Rings.
  11. Tyranus_the_Hutt

    Tyranus_the_Hutt Jedi Padawan star 4

    Nov 14, 2004
    "War of the Worlds" is director Steven Spielberg?s weakest film in nearly a decade ? it?s easily his most underwhelming and marginally-realized popular entertainment since the curiously uninspired, "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" in 1997. Regardless of their ultimate artistic value, all Spielberg pictures are "must-see" events; he is one of the most skilled popular moviemakers in the history of cinema, and even his less remarkable efforts ("The Sugarland Express"; "1941"; "Empire of the Sun"; "Always"; etc.) demand to be seen, if only to observe a supremely gifted filmmaker working at but a fraction of his capability. In that sense, "War of the Worlds" is certainly an item of interest ? and indeed, it is not without its qualities ? but for the director of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "E.T.," and "Jaws," it is not a particularly noteworthy addition to his "mainstream" filmography.

    The first act of the movie is handled with a certain degree of efficiency, as we meet most of the central characters through the obligatory introduction scenes; Spielberg and his actors, led by Tom Cruise, manage to convey this expositional passage with a modicum of wit so that the isolated moments are not awkward or lumbering, and the characters' larger familial situation is elucidated with deftness and ease. It is commonplace for these sorts of "science-fiction/disaster" films to juxtapose a relatively contained interpersonal drama against an epic, large-scale narrative; Spielberg once again taps the internal conflict within the family unit to impart his picture with a sense of immediate human interest and humanity. At this point, "War of the Worlds" is specific and absorbing; Spielberg?s attention to character and detail makes the material unfold in a fluid, seemingly organic fashion. He carefully builds a malaise beneath the family drama that occupies the foreground; this will pay off later in the film when the extreme nature of the imposed external conflict serves to amplify and expose the less obvious problems between the central characters.

    If the picture?s opening passages are well-crafted, the subsequent ones are not ? at least not consistently enough; once the alien tripods finally emerge from underneath the ground, "War of the Worlds" turns into a clunky, episodic action picture containing fleeting moments of beauty combined with awkward and cumbersome action set pieces. It is somewhat ironic that the scenes in which the estranged family members are drawn together represent the point at which the film itself begins to come apart. Nevertheless, some of the segments which comprise the picture?s second act are entertaining and inventive, as when Cruise and his daughter, played by the ubiquitous Dakota Fanning, try to avoid detection while hiding in a cellar belonging to a character played by Tim Robbins; other scenes, such as the engagement between the military and the lumbering tripods, is derivative and clunky. The film?s last act is not only implausible, but perfunctory; scenes end abruptly as Spielberg tries desperately to tie up plot strands in a frenzied and unsatisfactory manner.

    I mentioned the episodic nature of "War of the Worlds." Godard once said that the only way to criticize a film is to make another film. It is interesting then, that Spielberg himself made a second (quite different) movie in 2005 that in comparison, serves to illuminate some of the deficiencies of his earlier effort. "Munich," an infinitely thoughtful and supremely accomplished thriller, while different in terms of tonality, content, and so forth, was also comprised of several episodes, yet in that film Spielberg managed to realize and configure his material so that each segment felt integral to the whole; scenes unfolded in a seamless and fluid manner as the director successfully exploited the material?s underlying possibilities while maintaining both perspective and narrative cohesion. In contrast and on its own, "War of the Worlds" is a mess.

    'The War of the Worlds' needs its aliens to be from Mars, because then the
  12. Everton

    Everton Force Ghost star 10

    Jul 18, 2003
    Yes. And this is so very sad. Teh WotWs is such an iconic and splendid thing that it does not deserve such treatment.

    EDIT: Your points about the very structure of the film are great and not something that I would bring to the discussion. I am more concerned with the fundamental lack of respect for Wells' ideas and motivation.
  13. ROTS_Obi1

    ROTS_Obi1 Jedi Master star 4

    Mar 16, 2005
    This isn't your ordinary Alien movie. It has emotion, and it is intense. It is pure Spielberg.
  14. jayplate

    jayplate Jedi Youngling

    Jan 3, 2006
    yes it may be Spielberg. but its certainly not war of the worlds as it should be
  15. Liesl

    Liesl Jedi Master star 4

    May 31, 2005
    I never saw it, but my sister did. She came home laughing.
  16. Tyranus_the_Hutt

    Tyranus_the_Hutt Jedi Padawan star 4

    Nov 14, 2004
    Yes. And this is so very sad. Teh WotWs is such an iconic and splendid thing that it does not deserve such treatment.

    I don?t think it?s sad ? there have always been viscerally-entertaining escapist entertainments to some degree, and in different forms (more so in the last forty years due in part to the advent of technology in combination with various other socio-political developments). Regardless, Spielberg?s film could have worked as a dumbed-down popcorn movie, but it does not; movies do not necessarily need an "internal logic" or coherence to be efficient as a singular entity ? there are other factors which contribute to a film?s success or lack thereof. It is also important to remember Pauline Kael?s observation that "the movies are so rarely great art that if we can?t appreciate great trash, there is little reason for us to go." Just as it isn?t necessary for every film to be conventionally 'entertaining,' it is not required that every film be artful, poetic and/or intelligent; I try to assess films based on what they are trying to accomplish, and whether or not they are successful in delivering on their intentions. Clearly, "War of the Worlds" is not meant to be the sort of film that inspires a great deal of intellectually-stimulating discussion, and although Spielberg is a filmmaker who is quite capable of infusing a popular action picture with emotional and intellectual resonance ("Minority Report," for example), he decided instead to realize WOTW as a more or less straightforward science-fiction/disaster epic that contains a number of obvious contemporary overtones. While it would be more challenging (both for Spielberg and for the viewer) if "War of the Worlds" had managed to encompass both complexity and intelligence, it obviously doesn't have those sorts of aspirations ? although it is disappointing to see that the material on which WOTW is based was not exploited to the full extent of its possibilities, I had to try and accept the movie on its own terms; that it does not work on its intended level is another matter, and I have detailed my feelings regarding the film?s shortcomings in my previous post.

    EDIT: Your points about the very structure of the film are great and not something that I would bring to the discussion.

    Thanks very much, Everton.:)

    I am more concerned with the fundamental lack of respect for Wells' ideas and motivation.

    I have the suspicion ? and mind you, it?s only a suspicion ? that Spielberg does in fact possess a great deal of respect for the source material; that respect may not extend to some of the issues that you mention, or if it does, it is made evident in a slightly different capacity. However, altering components of Wells? original story is not an intrinsically problematic idea. Yes, as you have indicated, there are several plot holes in Spielberg and screenwriters Josh Friedman and David Koepp?s re-working of the material, but this is after all a science-fiction thriller that requires an enormous suspension of disbelief to begin with; there are movies of this sort that contain even more internal continuity and logistic errors, and yet I have been able to enjoy some of them despite their story problems. This connects with what I was attempting to suggest earlier, which is that if a picture works on an immediate, visceral level ? in other words, if it gets to you ? then some of the loose ends, etc., become more or less irrelevant. That is not to say that their presence would be ignored, just that dependent upon the context and tone of the material, they may or may not impede on a viewer?s enjoyment of said movie. "War of the Worlds" does not work (which is not to say that it is a bad film ? it isn?t), and so the aforementioned flaws become increasingly more evident, which serves only to undermine the impact of the film, drawing us away from its narrative, and into a realm of abstract theorizing.

    This isn't your ordinary Alien movie. It has emotion, and it is intense. It is pure Spielberg.

    I enjoyed parts
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