Splices are a series of short reaction posts done immediately following the film. They’re an elaboration of the twitter reactions that I often do after watching a film and are similarly off-the-cuff and kneejerk in nature. They’re included here to hopefully spur discussion and provide some insight into the immediate impact of the viewing experience.
Some quick thoughts on Spielberg’s WAR OF THE WORLDS. I think the most glaringly obvious problem is that the movie is simply miscast. I think that’s intentional, doing something different with Cruise, but he’s unable to shake the movie star persona enough to sell the miscasting.
The thing that works, though, is this idea of someone entirely on the periphery of such a cataclysmic event. I feel that’s a direct response to 9/11, and much of the early imagery of people ducking behind cars and buildings evokes that. Spielberg, like many people, was left on the sidelines wondering just what he could possibly hope to accomplish in the face of such horrors. At heart, I think that’s the metaphor that drives the movie. Not the action or the struggle against it, but the onlookers caught up in it without a clue.
Some things that work particularly well: the raining clothes from the sky, the enormous bellow-horn of the monsters, the portrayal of people as generally decent but quick to panic and turn ugly in crisis situations, Miranda Otto who is lovely in any part no matter how small or thankless, Dakota Fanning as a child unable to cope with the real world but whose struggles make her better equipped than most to roll with this new world, the understated action pieces, the preservation of the final resolution of the novel.
Some things that really don’t work: Tom Cruise’s son Goku who is the shittiest kid, Tim Robbins, Tim Robbins, Tim Robbins, that really obviously-a-set terraformed farm set after they get out of Tim Robbins’ basement, the eyeball-robot thing that was done better in Minority Report, the really cop out ending with Tom Cruise’s son Goku, the almost throwaway explanation for the death of the aliens.
Anyway, that’s too many words for a movie that maybe doesn’t deserve it. I don’t know. I really like parts of that movie but it doesn’t click properly.