War of the Worlds (2005)

Diversity, Civil Unrest, War…everything escalates into a certain level! So what’s next? Extermination of the human race!

War of the Worlds

DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Pictures in association with Amblin Entertainment and Cruise/Wagner Productions present…

From the novel of the same title by “The Father of Science Fiction” who gave us amazing mind-boggling stories like “The Island of Dr. Moreau”, “The The Time Machine and the Invisible Man”!

A remake from the original film in 1953 that tells the tale of invading aliens out to conquer the planet. I believe it’s already being redundant; there are so many films that tackle the same genre with a more distinguished output! Still, I won’t deny the fact that these stories have given the populace the questions: what if? You can now see how imagination and instinct can bring forth ambiguities that fascinate the mind or even the fear of such a catastrophe if it were to happen!

I watched this film because of three simple things: 1. The Director 2. The Actor and 3. Aliens Invading! To be honest, I was not taken aback by the story maybe it was just how they took it from another point of view but after 6 years and seeing it again on the small screen, I was able to take it a bit more passive and conclusive.

Director Steven Spielberg (Minority Report) gives another tandem work with the superstar, a second in their career. Definitely among the best in the business! Excellent insight on the film’s foundation even making the aliens and where they come from as unique as possible to capture the audiences’ imagination! To add, he was able to come up with a clear take on pre-production and knows what’s needed for his crew to be done first hand. Giving an impressive help from ILM as part of your team is a great achievement!

To start with, to make it more efficient pre-visualization was actually recommended to Steven by a good friend, fellow Director George Lucas in which gives further leverage on the film before it’s actually being shot on camera. The idea comes in where story boards are made into CGI first to let the Director see what’s going to happen. Pre-Vis Supervisor Dan Gregoire helped make it happen, it was a great concept since it gives perception to actually improve a certain set, placements, casts involvement, camera angles and to insert the specifics like CGI and visual effects to further understand and provide the best takes before even props are being made!

Writer Josh Friedman together with David Koepp had explained very rationally that this film has been an imprint already and that certain aspects from previous films should be taken out like camera men, Generals planning in a board room, skyline’s burning and so on! I do agree with his idea seeing it in a different perspective would be adequate to let the story tell itself without over emphasizing on mass chaos alone but with uncertainties that is crucial not for the thousands affected but in the eyes on the intended family… and of course from the reluctant protagonist!

Tom Cruise (Mission Impossible) plays head of a dysfunctional family Ray Ferrier, a blue collar worker at the docks; he will soon realize the enormity of his problems not through the incoming onslaught but a rather more internal helplessness! From his inadequacies and shortcomings will come inner strength and provide redemption for his 2 kids…

To see its take on a family trying to survive together and putting aside their differences gives it additional weight. Although, I can’t help but think that this is again an impeccable timing for Tom to be in the forefront (which is his forte)! At least he was not a super spy, a samurai or an ace pilot but rather a father who needs to make sure that his son and daughter are safe in his arms in these dire times!

Dakota Fanning (The Runaways) is hysterical Rachel, the hyper, squeamish but a smarter child in my opinion of the two! She has shown innate acting which makes her cut above the rest. Always had moments of panicking but was still able to have better compassion for her Dad and brother in spite of experiencing traumatic events during the course of their journey!

Justin Chatwin (Dragon Ball Z) is the headstrong Robbie, he wants to be free and be independent. He seldomly showed affection more so respect for his Dad, calling him Ray so many times! He’s still young, a juvenile who just needs the attention let alone at least reciprocate his love for him for all his failures in the family. To add more drama, Robbie deals with his anger and wants to bare handle the tripods as they call them; I really don’t know if it was self-indulgence for patriotism or plain stupidity! (Hey, Son Goku is here, piece of cake right?!?!)

Tim Robbins (Green Lantern) plays Harlan Ogilvy who provides shelter for the father and daughter. To think this part was just to extend the plot of the distraught family. I don’t know but Tim is getting lousier in every film he makes. I miss the days when’s doing suspense thrillers like Arlington Road the powerful Shawshank Redemption and his Award Winning performance in Mystic River! I wish he was given a more probable character…well maybe there’s not much to hold on to for the fact that all are being annihilated!

Awesome cameo from the original film’s cast, the late Gene Barry and Ann Robinson! Of course need we not forget Morgan Freeman’s foreboding words of doom rectified by our right to be survivors of our own planet…our right, our destiny!

The new take on the alien’s designs was well thought of, how they moved, fluid, creeping and instinctive. Creature designs was taken cared of by ILM Design Specialist Ryan Church partnered with Ice Blink Studios own Concept Designer Doug Chiang, impressive indeed! Notable guys who have worked with Steven for quite a few years was Pablo Helman and Dennis Muren both Visual Effects Supervisors working specific coverage from the actual sets and ILM studios, they did their part on making every scene well crafted and believable to the senses.

The fight scenes on the hill were weakly choreographed you just see explosions left and right and nothing was given significance to add insult, people were actually climbing the side of the warzone. As the story progresses, you noticed that the aliens were obliterating people and at the same time harvesting them, so what’s really the point here? We won’t know their intentions right! Another downside was the ending; it was lack lustred let alone abysmal! It had a deeper meaning and intent; it was so sudden albeit gratifying having a deus ex machina to end the species in one clear sweep!

It was a compelling film overall! I like a first person shooter tactic, trying to survive the terrains of enemy territory with Ray as our eyes! Some misplaced sequences that can be repaired for the lack of argument. Spread thin screenplay that merely focused on one family which made it more downplayed.

Classic stories like these can be a double edge sword since you base it from an original script and take it apart a piece at a time to make it more susceptible to a new generation of fans and audiences. It could still be unorthodox, boring or it can be made into something more capacitated which is not hard to do since the available technology today has been apparent in its disposal! (ok fine, with the minds like Steven and Tom what more can you ask for?)

We hold on to our sanctity, with compassion, perseverance and with the human spirit! Bounded by morals and yet in the instant of danger, it’s switched into a visceral obsession to survive without any regard for others. It is our nature to wage war but what’s going to be complexing and inconvenient is to think that it’s not our own kind who’s going to cease life from us but from something that is not far from the truth…that we are not alone!

In parting, I leave you the Author’s own words:

“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative. “ – H. G. Wells

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