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Customer Review

43 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS is how you make an invasion from space movie, January 4, 2006
This review is from: War of the Worlds (DVD)
This is a really, really good movie. No, it's not a literal depiction of the H.G. Wells novel, but they never said it was going to be. It's sort of an "Inspired by" version. The basic elements of Wells' tale are here, placed into our time and world. To do that there have to be some changes.

This has both advantges and disadvantages. The latter include that we know already how the story has to end (although apparently some reviewers have never read the book, judging by their comments), but if you're good enough, you can still create suspense and maintain interest throughout the whole picture. Spielberg and Cruise are good enough. To draw a parallel, in the TV show "Smallville", we Know he's going to grow up to be Superman. We Know he's not going to end up with Lana. We Knew the friendship with Luthor couldn't last. Still, they made the journey itself interesting. Same thing here, in spades.

People have to understand this in order to review the movie fairly. Certain things about anyone doing the War of the Worlds just have to be there. Aliens; We're losing; An everyman who doesn't solve the situation, just survives it; TRIPODS! The 1953 version (which I enjoyed) didn't have them because the FX technology of the time didn't permit them to make them realistically. With what we can do now, any version that didn't have them would be unacceptable; Germs. Accept it, folks. The Titanic sinks at the end. Like it or not, Custer dies. Bruce Wayne is Batman. No one recognizes it's Superman behind Clark Kent's glasses. In Wells' story, we are saved by germs. Spielberg doesn't get to change that and still call it War of the Worlds.

One clever thing that was done here was that everything was seen from the Earthlings' point of view. There was no attempt to explain why the aliens came ("They need our land/resources/women, etc. so they can relocate from their dying world/save their dying planet/breed and save their dying race, etc..."). We have no idea why they're here, and It Doesn't Matter. They're just here, slaughtering everyone in sight. Apparently they need the planet itself becuase they don't just nuke Earth from space and they do start their version of terraforming. However, none of the characters in the movie know why this is happening, and again, It Doesn't Matter. The movie says to us, "Give us that it's happening, and we'll play fair with you in the context of Wells' basic plot". Some might argue that the "biological" ending wouldn't really happen (our bacteria might not recognize the aliens as food), but that's how Wells' ended it and any other ending would be a cheat.

Tom Cruise gives a brauva performance. Despite whether you like or dislike him personally, the man can act. This movie wasn't the only demonstration of that, just the best. He's totally believable in his characterization, performance and evolution, and at the point where it appears he's going to sacrifice himself, it's completely credible. It's not in there just to make the star look heroic, it makes total sense, given what's happening and what he expects the immediate future to be. He never gives up. Not a "Die Hard" type of never-gives-up, just a that's the way it has to be kind of never-gives-up.

Although I think it would have been more bittersweet and better at the end if Robbie hadn't been found, I can accept it, especially since Ray's relationship with his ex-wife doesn't magically turn into bliss as would a typical Hollywood ending. No, we don't find out what happens to the characters next. At the final scene, the movie is definitely over, as it should be. No tidy wrapping up. This is where the story we are being told ends.

After suffering through that total waste of time called "Signs", all I can say is that someone should tie M. Night Shyamalan to a chair and show him this film until he understands that THIS is how you make an invasion from space movie.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 8, 2013 11:45:53 AM PDT
I really like this movie too. It's one of the more "authentic" performances by Cruise IMO. Great review!

Posted on Jun 25, 2013 9:11:28 AM PDT
Greenstone says:

Well done! Most balanced movie review that I've read in a long time.

TL Farley,
When Now Becomes Too Late
Distant Reaches

Posted on Feb 28, 2015 9:48:11 PM PST
peter krug says:
I agree; SIGNS is grossly overrated. (Aliens can't handle they come to EARTH?!) Anyway, this film is vastly superior.
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