Saturday, August 22, 2009

Why the War of the Worlds Remake Sucked

Spoiler: Giant robots attack the Earth, everyone dies.


This is a four year old movie that I saw once and never thought about again, because it was cool, but kinda meh. Until the end, and then it sucked. But it's Spielberg, you say! Yes, I say. Which is why I was so disappointed. Anyway, it's on ABC right now, and just thinking about the last forty seconds of the movie (about 7 hours away, at this point in the film's progression) kinda pissed me off.

So, why did Steven Spielgberg's War of the Worlds suck? You can talk about his daddy issues taking over the story like they always do, you can talk about the questionable strength of the 'our superior immune systems beat their bajillion light year into the future technology by letting the piddly remnants of our race outlast their killing spree'. But in truth, Spielberg's WotW suckness can be pinpointed on a single detail that for me was like a kick to the face after what could have been a passable film.

The snot-nose teenage son survives. He turns his back on his family, run over a hill into heavy napalm blasts, where everyone is being destroyed by giant killer robots from space, he disappears for half the movie...

And then walks up the street at the end kinda dirty lookin', but otherwise like it was no big deal. Fuck that. Talk about taking all the bite out of your work. Are you serious, Steven? So after all that crap, about Tom Cruise finally stepping into the role of father and taking care of his children, the kid that says 'fuck off' and runs headfirst into an explosive warzone, he's fine. Survived it on his own. Way to completely undermine any point you could have possibly been trying to make, as well as diminish any loss the viewer could have connected to directly. Their whole family survives and is together again to rebuild both humanity and their family anew.


Oh, here comes the scene. Where after watching probably ten thousand people in a matter of seven hours get brutally massacred, instead of running the hell away with his dad, he decides to... join the military, which is totally ineffectual against its enemy and commit suicide?

"I need to be here, I need to see this, you need to let me go." So... a part of father hood is letting go of your children when they've become adults?

Fine. Tom Cruise lets him go. That's fine for Tom Cruise's character. But no way in hell did that little punk survive the giant fireball of aliens that came over that ridge if the US Military didn't.

Fail, Steven. Fail.


Coop said...

I think you are in large part right - IMO - but the movie had other problems as well.

I understood what Spielberg as doing. He was telling the WotW story from the family perspective instead of the military perspective (or more like the book than the original movie). That's cool, however from this perspective an alien invasion is basically a disaster movie. A disaster movie from a family's perspective. A movie like:

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, parts of DEEP IMPACT and ID4, SIGNS, etc. In other words this genre was tired of this perspective by the time the movie came around. There was literally nothing new under the sun.

Aside: I've always knows this about movies, but something is starting to stick out more and more like a sore thumb; and that is the film texture or quality. The first thing I noticed about WotW (I watched for the first time last week) was its film quality - that film graininess that we the viewer associate with real like. The careful lighting and color correction that reflect virtually no impressionistic qualities.

I thought about this because the same night I watched WotW, I watched THE PUNISHER:WARZONE. And I was amazing at how The Punisher movie looked like a made-for-tv movie. The lighting, colors, etc were jarring in its contrast to a movie like WotW. And not in a way like LOTR or THE DARK KNIGHT where the film texture and color adjustments are to form an impressionistic quality.

It can't be budget - small budget films like LET THE RIGHT ONE IN are able to apply gratuitous color filters to the film in post to give it the effect that is desired... obviously Spielberg can do so.... but why not a movie like WARZONE? It's easier to take a movie seriously that gives some emphasis on stylistic quality. I understand that WARZONE was trying to walk the line between real-world dark and comic-dark, but why leave the film print to look like DAYS OF OUR LIVES?

I'm becoming a fan of digital video in film making and would much rather see that treatment than that which is given movies like WARZONE.

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