Tuesday, September 09, 2008

REVIEW: War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds

Year: 2005
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Miranda Otto, Tim Robbins
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

War of the Worlds is one of those movies that I have been waiting to get my hands on. I haven't seen the film when it hit theaters in the summer of 05 because I was mostly on vacation and wanted to spend some time with my family. While I was relaxing with the folks, the film continued to become a success making an estimated $592 million worldwide at the box office. Than the DVD release came a couple months after and to my surprise, I still didn't watch it. Its been something that I have been wanting to watch, but always forgetting. So the other day at work, a couple of my co-workers were talking about Tom Cruise and one of them mentioned this film. Since my shift was almost over and the fact that this film was still circling my head at the time, I decided to finally go check it out.

Plot Outline:
Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) is a dock worker who has custody of his daughter Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and his son Robbie (Justin Chatwin) for the weekend. He's not the world's best dad since he cautiously focuses on his work more than others, but that is put on the bench when aliens come and invade Earth. They have come to both destroy and harvest human beings.

The story is based on the novel "The War of the Worlds" by H.G. Wells and is essentially a remake of the 1953 film version with the same name. Having not read the popular novel or seeing the 1953 film version, I cant compare if the new one follows those versions. I found the story for the film to be somewhat of a mixed bag. The movie opens very nicely and the first hour of the film is really interesting, but the second half just doesn't keep up. It concludes in a way that also leaves you with some un-answered questions that really tend to bother the viewer. I also felt that the film had some scenes that either could have been shorter or just simply cut from the final film. A good example of this is the basement scene in which we meet the character Harlan Ogilvy played by Tim Robbins. I'm not sure if this scene was in the book or the previous film version, but I felt it was alittle too long and deviated from the story. With this said, I still found the film to be really entertaining. We get many CGI scenes involving the aliens and these all look super cool. Theirs also a ton of shots that are wonderfully directed by Spielberg with the train scene being one of them. I also enjoyed the characters and some of their actions in the film.

The cast of War of the Worlds is pretty good. Tom Cruise plays as the main character of the film, Ray Ferrier. He does a good job in his role and his character doesn't act as cocky as I would have believed. Hes just acting like any other person would if they were in the same situation as his character. Dakota Fanning plays as Rachel Ferrier and shes also pretty good in her role. I know alot of people complained that her character constantly screamed during the movie, but I didn't find it to be much of an issue. I thought she gave a good performance that nicely made her character effective in the movie. Justin Chatwin plays as Robbie and he too does a pretty good job in his role. His character does make some stupid decisions that I thought were kind of weird, but I still enjoyed his presence in this film. We also have Miranda Otto playing as Mary Ann. Her role is rather very short and shes hardly in the film alot so I cant really comment on her role.

The visual look of War of the Worlds is simply fantastic. The film's budget was well over $130 million and damn was it put to good use. The film has some great looking special effects that still manage to look outstanding even in today's world. The CGI is nicely done and animates pretty well. This is also somewhat of a problem since it makes the film look like its just full of CGI shots rather than a good story. The movie does contain some film grain here and their, but I think this is just for effects rather than the disc. Colors are pretty gritty and somewhat bright at the same time. It makes the film seem alittle more real. Detail is surprisingly strong and satisfying. I wasn't expecting much in terms of detail since we have alot of CGI shots, but I was proven wrong. Close up shots show a good amount of detail. This is definitely a title I would love to see in high definition.

The soundtrack for the film is great. Composer John Williams who also composed some of Spielberg's other films such as E.T. and Jurassic Park scores this film. He does a wonderful job composing the music for War of the Worlds and I thought it felt just right for this film. Its engaging and very effective. Sure its not as grand and powerful like the ones he made for some of his previous films, but I thought it fit the mood of the film nicely. War of the Worlds features some stunning bass work. This is a very action packed film with alot of things either blowing up or getting smashed. Dynamics are loud and spread out very evenly. This is definitely reference material and something to demo off your speakers.

War of the Worlds is a pretty good film that I enjoyed to some extent. I think the films plot started off very interesting and kept me amazed half way through even though it didn't deliver during the second half. I thought their were too many questions that needed answering and some scenes that could have been shorter that really brought the film down. The cast was pretty good with most of them doing a reasonable job in their roles. I thought the film featured some stunning special effects and I enjoyed the films visual look. I also enjoyed the score that John Williams composed and thought the film had some strong bass work that definitely rocked. I think this film is worth checking out if your interested in any SCI-FI movies or movies with alien invasions. Its got problems, but its generally enjoyable for the most part.

Grade: C+


micky said...

good review as always farzan. i thought this movie sucked even though there was some parts that were cool. do agree that the effects are awesome

movie-cafe said...

great review Farzan. I love this film based on the special effects, acting, music score, and the intriguing plot. But.... I really really hate the ending. So, for me it just 7/10 scores coz the ending really ruins all the good parts from the film.

Stace said...

cruise is terrible actor

Marcy said...

Farzan, I agree with you on many of the points you made. Like many, I thought the technical aspects of the film were awesome, but some of the scenes could have been edited down.

I thought they spent way too much time with the Robbins character and the character (and his basement) got boring pretty quickly. Also, several of the scenes in the film felt like a duller version of Jurassic Park.

I also wished the father-son relationship between Cruise and Chatwin was explored more deeply.