Friday, July 01, 2005

War of the Whys

My first War of the Worlds inspired question had to do with the audience size itself....

** "On the second day the latest Speilberg blockbuster opens, in the theater smack in the middle of Universal Studios citywalk which is over-run with tourists, why are there only five other people in this five hundred seat theater? Hmmmmm," thought I, "poor Tom and Stephen."

The rest of my questions started flowing with the credits....

** "Why open the movie with a few frames that give away the ending? Are people that stupid not to notice? is it good for a director to think people might be that stupid?" (Why not do it more cleverly - like open on someone sneezing?)

** "Why does Ray's son hate him? Cause I, as an audience member would like to know before I decide to make Ray my hero."

** "Why are we spot-lighting this guy Ray, anyway? Except for being way too handsome, he seems to have lots of nothing as a screen character." (A suspicion borne out by the rest of the film. Note from Aristotle and Flannery: Good characters are BETTER THAN REAL people. They have to be AT LEAST as good as real people, but to be entertaining, they need to be smarter, cleverer, ingeniuser, deeper, intriguinger, resourcefuller, better-er....By the end of the film, I had to conclude that Ray hasn't survived because of his skill and brains, but just because he's lucky. Just try and build an action figure empire on THAT foundation...)

** "Why, in fifty thousand years, haven't we ever accidentally unearthed and of the thousands of tripod machines that are as big as Seattle's space needle?" (You think some oil driller somewhere would have accidentally hit titanium once or twice?)

** "Why didn't the aliens just settle the planet back 50,000 years ago, before we became as plentiful as "maggots" needing to be exterminated? (Seems like a waste of resources...Unless they like putting people in wood-chippers.)

** "Why do the aliens switch from exploding people into wood-chipping them? (The special effects people on the movie want to know...)

** "Why do military bazookas not work on alien tripods until the end of the movie?"

** "Why doesn't the ACLU arrest Speilberg for being blatantly pro-Christian? (I mean, nobody in the WHOLE movie breathes the smallest prayer while the human race is being systematically exterminated. So, I figured, the filmmakers must be saying that all the Christians must NOT be getting exterminated. That is, the aliens are only killing the unbelievers who don't pray -- the Christians must have put lamb blood or something on their lintels off screen. Anyway, I think that must be pretty offensive to the ungodly...)

** "Why would anyone with a brain flee from a metropolitan area under attack to another in a cataclysmic end times scenario? (Note to my parents and friends: When the aliens come, I will be looking for a remote cave somewhere in the high desert. Not going to Boston.)

** "Why haven't the aliens developed any heat-seeking technology to locate warm bodies in buildings? They've, you know, conquered the space time continuum, but they don't have heat seeking radar?" (Note to aliens: Call the 1980's.)

** "Why would space-time contiuum conquering geniuses, who have been studying us for "millions of years" not thought of micro-organisms? (Note to aliens: Call the aliens from Signs. They didn't realize they had a Wicked Witch problem until they had attacked a planet 70% water....except dew doesn't bother them... H.G. Wells avoided this problem by not implying that the aliens had hidden research machines on the planet for millenia...)

** "Why is it heroic for Tom Cruise to kill a man driven insane with fear?" (Answer: IT AIN'T! The moment is not self-defense. It's panic. And the main character should have paid a price for it. But no, he actually kind of "grows up" after the murder.)

And the biggest WHY of all....

*** "Why can't Spielberg make a movie lately that is about anything? (Note to young filmmakers: Suffering is directly proportional to your ability to have something meaningful to say to people. People who live like gods for forty years, kinda lose their edge, I'm thinkin'....)

Pass this War of the Worlds for the original. (Note to Self: They won't listen to you. But they'll wish after they did....)

22 comments:

TJIC said...

Unearthed any of the machines

So the machines are underground?

So the aliens come from below, not above?

Thanks for ruining what could have been a fun suprise.

:(

Key point in movie reviews: don't provide spoilers, at least not with out warning the audience.

Seriously, giving spoilers really stinks.

Thom Parham said...

I agree with you 100%. "War of the Worlds" is the least amount of fun I’ve had at the movies in awhile.

Let me start by divulging I am generally not a fan of remakes. I have fond childhood memories of being captivated by the original “War of the Worlds." Aside from special effects that were state-of-the-art in 1953, that film holds up extremely well. Sure, it’s rooted in Cold War paranoia, but the historical context enhances the dramatic tension. On the contrary, heavy-handed references to terrorism and the Iraq War in the update seem arbitrary and forced.

Moreover, it’s distressing that Spielberg & Co. choose to focus on interpersonal conflicts within our group of alleged heroes, rather than on people who band together to fend off the invaders.

In order, here are my other major criticisms of the new version.

1) Rather than a plot, there is a series of barely-connected episodes.

2) Character development is non-existent. The filmmakers introduce characters only to kill them minutes later. For their deaths to resonate, the audience must be allowed to care about them first.

3) There is no point. Nada. Zip. The film is merely a 117-minute, theme park ride.

Alien invasion stories have long been a staple in the science fiction genre. Recent films ranging from “The Abyss” to “Mars Attacks,” prove there is often an audience for aliens. ABC, CBS, and NBC hope this trend will succeed on television, too, with “Invasion,” “Threshold,” and “Surface” on their respective fall schedules.

Although “Independence Day” was a big hit 9 summers ago, I’m not a big fan. But the film has undeniable charms. Face it, those giant spaceships hovering over world landmarks were, dare I say, “Sweet!” And I love M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs.” It’s far from a perfect film, but the man knows how to construct a scene, build tension, balance two inherently tricky storylines, and make you care about the characters. Plus, it’s about something.

Then, there’s the 2005 “War of the Worlds,” which pales in comparison to either of these.

I am truly concerned that the great filmmakers of yesteryear--Spielberg, Scorsese, Lucas, Coppola--seem to have lost their friggin’ minds. (I won’t even discuss Tom Cruise’s spectacularly bizarre behavior of recent.) Yet, mainstream reviewers seem to be oblivious to the fact that the Emperor is butt naked, and this is a bad film.

Philothea Rose said...

Thanks for the good laugh. Wasn't planning on seeing it in theaters anyway, but now I'm convinced. Besides, I have found Tom Cruise to be way to irritating lately to withstand another 2 hours of him.

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