Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

War Of The Worlds
Why do they remake classics?

Usually I would cynically believe that it was for the money, however this movie was directed by Steven Spielberg, who obviously doesn’t need any.

The story is about…yeah, I think you know.

This version certainly has a lovely start. Spielberg spends a good 20 minutes establishing what normal everyday life is like for his principle character, and I do mean normal. Even the lighting looks natural.

A bit lightened up, but backlit all the same.
And that, I guage, was intended to be the film’s hook.

After all, in the last decade the great spectacle of an alien invasion has really been done to death, so there’s really not much new that CGI can offer us now. To find a new take on such a familiar story, it seemed that this movie was aiming to make the whole thing actually look real.

So this film goes to a lot of trouble to tell its story through the eyes of just one man, yet at the same time, it unfortunately shows a great deal else through the eyes of a movie.

The opening shot, for example, is a great majestic sweeping shot of our hero filmed from a helicopter – exactly the sort of perspective that most of us are not used to seeing things from.

Then aliens slowly and unstoppably force their way into our world, something that could be quite disturbing, if we were seeing it from our usual head-height point-of-view. Instead of which it all looks like a movie - because that's the only place I've ever seen big spectacular CGI effects.

Yes, that’s my main gripe with this film – that my expectations of Spielberg were too high! (a bit like the camera-angles) :)

To that end, losing the music would have helped too.

(Incidentally, this is the same problem that I had with The Passion Of The Christ - that it was so cinematic. Had it been in black and white, silent and told in chronological order without all the slow-motion, then it would have looked far less fabricated. My review is here.)

Following the lead character also resulted in my repeatedly thinking “What the heck is he doing that for? Why isn’t he turning back from all these people? Surely he must know that they all want his vehicle?”

Sadly, he thinks like a poorly motivated movie character, just not thinking things through, something I’m disappointed to see more and more of these days. Why on Earth do films spend so much money on everything except the script? How much would it cost to pay one objective proof-reader?

But I’m griping, the film’s real flaw comes at the end, when (obviously) we win, but we are never clearly told how. What we do get is a narrator (you read that right – a narrator) who makes a throwaway explanation so quick that I missed it. It's as if they presume that all already know it from the original...

Spielberg is a great director, one of the best, but here he followed others and became wallpapery. Engrossing while it was on, but not a film that I’ll take away to relive in my mind.

”What did he give us?  SIX AND A HALF??!?”
6½ out of 10.


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