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Rated PG-13; running time of 2 hours
Written by: David Koepp
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins, Miranda Otto, Justin Chatwin, David Alan Basche, James DuMont, Yul Vazquez, Rick Gonzalez, and Daniel Franzese
WARNING - SPOILERS BELOW.
In the industrial and working class part Bayonne, New Jersey lives
Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise), a man who lives by and for himself. He mouths
off to his boss, admits to being a jerk to women and is a reluctant
father. After telling his boss he can't work late, he speeds off in his
rebuilt muscle car and pulls in to his driveway 30 minutes late to meet
his kids. His ex-wife (Miranda Otto) is remarried and pregnant and it
appears that she is much better off. But rather than through that in his
face, she just accepts Ray for what he is and reluctantly leaves their
precious children with him - with no food in the house and bedrooms in
disarray, but you know - that's Ray for you.
His children aren't as forgiving. 16 year-old son Robbie (Justin
Chatwin) would just as soon kick his ass and 10 year-old daughter Rachel
(Dakota Fanning), like her mother, tolerates him, but goes weary of
being the adult in the relationship.
After a argument with Robbie, ray childishly locks himself in his
room, leaving the kids to fend for themselves. He wakes up to Rachel
having ordered out and Robbie gone, having taken his car without
permission. He sets off to find Robbie, well his car, only to go
outside and witness an amazing electrical storm. He grabs Rachel to
stand outside with him a check out. Rachel, knows that something isn't
quite normal and begs to go inside. Sure enough this lightening is
really weird, but as fast as it came in, it's gone.
Ray once again set outside to look for Robbie only to discover that
indeed the lightening was abnormal and inside of 5 minutes he sees first
hand that New Jersey has been invaded. By what he doesn't know. He just
wants to get out of there and get the kids to their mother.
They make it to mom's house, but she and her husband aren't there,
they went to Boston, before the chaos hit. Now Ray must learn to place
his children first and try to make it to Boston and hope that Boston is
still standing. He has to stop being so selfish for the very sake of his
life and the lives of his children. What about the rest of humanity?
Will they survive? They don't seem to be doing so well.
Can Ray and the kids put the past behind them long enough to stay alive?
Can Ray grow up fast enough to be the man and the father he should have
been in the first place?
Whew! I'm still stunned and almost speechless - in a good way. First
of all, the action is almost non-stop from minute 16 until almost the
very end. Everything happens very fast quickly and I was on the edge of
my seat the entire time.
Spielberg's War of the Worlds pays homage to the 1953 movie
and is more in line with that rather than the book as I remember it, but
it does have more elements of the book in it than anything previous. But
it is heavily ladened with some classic Spielberg traits - long shots
that end in almost extreme close-ups, sweeping and overbearing
orchestration, children that are wise beyond their years and his typical
parent/child conflicts. To fully enjoy this movie, you have to realize
that. I might even suggest you rent the first one before you can check
this out. You also have to give way for natural human responses. There
are some situations in this movie where you believe you would react
differently and this causes you to be critical of the characters, but
understand the chaos begins happening inside of 10 minutes. 10 minutes
and your world is disappearing around you.
And yes, I'm sick of Tom Cruise being on the news and in the papers
(FREE KATIE), but get ready to see him some more. Props when props are
due. He really is believable as a reluctant dad and macho jerk. I just
wanted to take Ray and shake the living daylights out of him. I still
want to do that Tom, actually. But that's another story. Anyway, even
though he was such an ass, I felt like my survival depended on his
survival. I needed him to grow up and get his crap together and save his
family. And on a personal level, this is the 3rd time in a row that Mr.
Cruise has impressed the heck out of me on screen. Really. Maybe he
really can act (she says with a wink and a smile).
Little Dakota Fanning reminds me of a Jodie Foster, the child. She
is what we call an Old person's child. A youngster that is so mature
that it's scary. She's an old soul. She carries this movie as much as
Cruise does. She too has to keep her wits about her too. She's 10, what
would you do as an adult faced with the same situation? Yet she manages
to keep it together for the most part and when she mentally checks out,
I don't blame her. You are right there with her. In fact, I mumbled to
myself "I know, baby." Because I knew Rachel had just had enough and
Dakota made you understand that.
I've already pointed out some of the flaws, but I think what really
annoyed me was Robbie. I do not understand why he had this unquenchable
need to try to get himself killed every time we turned around. Honestly,
if my child had put me the position, I think I would have knocked him
out and dragged his behind along with me - if I didn't kill him myself.
That is just one of the many reasons that made me want to take care of
Robbie for the sake of the picture. And it was a much better picture
when Cruise and Fanning were on screen together.
And let me state that if I ever meet Spielberg, I'm going to kiss
him. He is my Director. His movies have shaped my movie
experiences since I snuck in the theater at the age of 5 to watch
Jaws with the "Big" kids. This man is a brilliant story teller
and he has a way with kids that is unparalleled.
This has to be seen on the big screen. Get a baby-sitter and go out
on a date. A word of caution, though this is PG-13 and I think it is
pretty close to an R. Younger kids will most likely be scared out of
An unending heart -pounding; adrenalin pumping; sweaty
palms inducing ride . It's what summer movies should be like.
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Copyright Kamal "The Diva" Larsuel-Ulbricht, 2005
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