Monday, July 20, 2009

War of the Worlds - July 2005

Tom Cruise has been everywhere lately, even on the radar of those of us who intentionally avoid the infliction of the self-serving Hollywood publicity machines. It begs the question: Is Cruise behaving as he is because he is a self-important narcissist or is it a publicity stunt? The evidence now points to publicity stunt, as "War of the Worlds," directed by Steven Spielberg, is terrible.

I’ve read the H.G. Wells novel several times, listened to the Mercury Theater broadcast of 1938, seen the 1953 Gene Barry movie and even heard the 1978 musical interpretation by Jeff Wayne, narrated by Richard Burton. Each left me with a sense of awe and wonder. With the Cruise/Spielberg version, I was just wondering why on earth I was watching it.

I hate to knock a Steven Spielberg movie, but it simply didn’t have the Spielberg magic. The story starts out strong, although you’re distracted by thoughts of how much of a doofus Cruise is in real life. Just when you begin to accept his character, the story devolves into a basic “good guys running from the bad guys” premise. Then you start to notice the technical flaws, including a minivan that runs for days without needing gas or the fact that the aliens start by zapping all the people they can find, but later painstakingly collect every human around. Not to mention that Spielberg made the aliens as cute as puppies. The movie just misfires.

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