Saturday, August 06, 2005

War of the Worlds

A couple hundred people gathered in a movie theatre tonight to see a film at the bottom of their list. War of the Worlds has been out for, what, three weeks now? We ran out of other films to see, and we know it'll be gone soon. And none of us will be renting or buying the DVD, we're that sure it's going to be disappointing.

Tom Cruise didn't help the cause, what with his jumping on couches, giving out psychiatric advice, his face splashed on every magaine. He looked like a fool, a fool we don't like any more, and none of us in that theatre is a Cruise fan any more, which is why we waited so long.

However, we were all shocked. WofW grabs you by the lapel and pulls you into a whirlpool of terror and excitement for a full two hours. While the film takes about 15 minutes to explain the situation and characters in the beginning, no explanation is needed when we're assaulted by machines of unknown origin. This is what "terrorism" is all about.

Ray is a 40's-ish man without family or care. He makes a good living on the docks of New York, but obviously has nothing to show for it but a souped-up Mustang and spare parts lying around in the living room. We catch up with him one weekend when he's taking his teenaged son and grade school daughter because Mom is getting ready to give birth to a new child in her new family. It's evident from the first moment Ray greets his kids that he doesn't know them, can't connect with them, and that they have no respect for him. The next several hours in their three lives change everything.

But nothing changes easily. Ray probably undergoes the most change as his comfortable world is whipped out from under him, literally, when the streets erupt with massive tentacled machines. At that point, any intelligent father would figure that his job, and only job, is to protect his kids from harm, and that he needs a plan to do just that. It takes Ray quite a few minutes of stumbling into places he shouldn't be to figure this out. It takes longer than that to figure out who his kids are, that they have a voice and need to not only know what's going on but need to figure into his plans regarding this new danger. And we're along for this journey.

The most touching scene, the first that shows Ray's change, is when he has to let his son go. His son wants to fight the monsters, and all Ray can think of is, I can't let him go. He finally does, but holds on as long as possible to his son's waist, then his legs, then his feet. It's quite moving.

Those of us familiar with the original War of the Worlds know that we will never find out much about the invading crew, why they're really here and how they function. Spielberg actually gives us more than the original movie did so many years ago. In addition, we're delighted to see Gene Barry in one of the last scenes; Gene, of course, starred in the original in 1953.

We know that with Spielberg at the helm we're going to get a story laced with brilliant special effects. We didn't know what Cruise would bring to the party, if anything. What I didn't expect is that I would feel the earth move every time Spielberg wished it. I and every person in that theatre was along for that thrill-a-minute ride, feeling every bump, looking cautiously around every corner, reaching for our loved ones. And Tom Cruise helped us feel his emotions. We might be shaking our heads at his stupidity but we're all wondering, what would we do under the same terrible circumstances?

Thumb's up for War of the Worlds.


At 11:18 PM, Blogger maquina said...

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