With my review of Munich drawing some attention, I thought I should re-publish my War of the Worlds review (which was written in that dark pre-blog era). I guess what I’m trying to say at the end of my Munich review is that Spielberg is not interested in Israel’s conflicts as much as he is interested in telling us that he thinks the way the USA is handling its dispute with “world terror” is not exactly to his liking.
I don't remember the last time I reviewed a film, but I can't let War of the Worlds just pass by: It's the first science fiction book I've ever read back at 4th grade, and I still remember Tirtsa (the primary school librarian) telling me I shouldn't borrow it because it's an adults' book and I wouldn't understand it. Plus the fact that at least in Australia reviewers were prevented from publishing their reviews until the film goes out, so I stand a chance of being the first to hit the press.
So what's new in the familiar story of aliens invading 19th century England? Not much other than the move to 21st century New York and the transition between Richard Burton to Tom Cruise. Tim Robbins also does a very good short round in what turns out to be a surprisingly loyal adaptation of the original book. It's a very intense, definitely not for kids realistic telling of the crumbling of society in the face of a force-majour (excuse spelling).
Still, watching the film, one can't escape thinking of many loopholes in the new version. Without giving away too much, the aliens' background story seems to have more loopholes in it than your average Bible story; one needs a lot of faith to accept it. And then there's the fighting between humans and aliens: A Shin Gimel could have come up with better tactics than what the American Army came up with.
However, it doesn't take too long into the film to realize that the film has nothing to do with an alien invasion of the earth; Spielberg is only interested in that as I am interested in Australian Rules Football (that is, mildly interested, but in general couldn't care less). The film is one big metaphor for the USA in the post September 11 era, and that's pretty much the only thing that matters. There are so many clues thrown about it is not funny, and eventually you realize this film is just one big road trip from New York to Boston. Spielberg wants to take America back to where it was before those planes took off and make it focus on the important things in life. And that is why I am willing to forgive him for taking us from old London to contemporary New York.
Which leaves me with pretty much one complaint about this very fine film: The ending sucks.
Written on 3/7/2005