Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #198 War of the Worlds

In Uncategorized on May 12, 2011 at 9:36 PM

Movie #198 War of the Worlds 

(2005, US, d. Steven Spielberg)

I remember as a kid wanting to see this film so bad. I was on vacation in India when it released and I grew more and more obsessed every day that went by without me seeing it. Though I don’t think watching it now reaps as many benefits as it did in the past, I still am one of those people who attest that this film is still quite excellent. In the way he usually does, Spielberg crafts a wonderful visual tale about Ray Ferrier (played by Tom Cruise) and his two children who happen to be in his care the day aliens begin to attack Earth. And as he usually does, Spielberg manages to make such a grand feature, concerning events on such an epic scale, into a genuine small piece – just about a few people. Though at times it feels like a lesson in parenting, for the most part, he directs Cruise in this to play a character we haven’t seen from him before: a truly faulty father. He manages to get the audience’s sympathy, let us trust Ray, but at the same time always believe that what Ray is doing is a very wrong move. Beginning with the electrifying opening (narrated to perfection as usual by the ominous voice of Mr. Morgan Freeman), Spielberg and director of photography Janusz Kaminski are able to put on screen unforgettable images. You can also sense the strong 9/11 sentiments here. In the film, we are not watching groups of people fight back against the aliens; rather, everyone seems intent on living and only fighting for their lives. I take the film to be a call to action (though the naive actions of Robbie could have been writer David Koepp’s way of saying it wasn’t) against inaction and against waiting for the government or the military to do their part. The ending of this film, of course, is where everyone seems to dismiss it. Though I believe it is one of Spielberg’s worst endings, if not worst, it is a rare instance where I’m able to forgive him.

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