AUTOMOBILES, ALIENS, AND STEVEN SPIELBERG
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Wed, Jun 29, 2005
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
AUTOMOBILES, ALIENS, AND STEVEN SPIELBERG
By JOHN GRAFMAN
Now you might not notice (as it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle), Steven Spielberg is really a car guy. In "Minority Report" Steven treats us to his vision of the Lexus of the future. "Used Cars" as the name implies, is engulfed in the sleazy world of car sales. "Back to the Future" is today what most people think of when the word DeLorean is mentioned. Mr. Spielberg knows what we like, because deep down under he's one of us.
War of the Worlds is one of a few movies recently that can live up to the hype. This film is the pinnacle of the long and lustrous career of not only Steven Spielberg, but also that of Tom Cruise. While the story itself is incredible, the acting by all of the talent keeps this from being hard to choke down at all. As the action propels this movie from start to finish like a run-away train, we don't have a moment to contemplate any hick-ups in the plot.
The story is anything but new, however, the cast and crew use the latest in film making magic to pull off an experience that is more than just memorable. The current trend to wait for the DVD or cable showing might be broken here. I don't care what you have at home in the way of a home theater, sixty inches doesn't measure up to sixty feet. To enjoy this and get a true-to-life sense of the fantastic alien machines and the mesmerizing devastation they cause, only a big screen can capture the impact. With many of the shots either in dark or dimly lit situations, the radiance a movie theater screen provides is another good reason to get out of the house. Certainly, many a good home audio system can produce some earth-shaking, wall-pounding sound. During "War of the Worlds" the sound was rattling us to our core. I don't think my neighbors would be all too appreciative if I tried to capture that same level of sound at my house (unless I invite them over).
Tom Cruise, in the lead role of Ray Ferrier, is just a regular guy going through another non-descript day, when his life and everyone else's is turned upside down. Right from the get-go, I like the character - and for good reason. Ray drives a clean 1960's Mustang and has a 302 disassembled on the kitchen table (and no food in the fridge).
Justin Chatwin plays Ray's son, Robbie. Justin does an admirable job next to Cruise. While his part doesn't require a standout among the other parts in the film, he comes off credible and real - just another kid waiting to get his driver's license.
Rachel, Ray's daughter, is an impressive role, played by Hollywood's latest fav, Dakota Fanning. Her credibility is key to making believers out of us. Don't let her youth fool you; she is an actress in the complete sense of the word. The hellish havoc, as seen threw her eyes, is expressed so strongly that it is hard not to become deeply emotionally involved with her character.
Industrial Light and Magic, ILM, is Spielberg's ace in the hole every time. The talent of their special visual effects and animation crew in Marin County do as they always have done - suspend disbelief. For nearly two and a half hours, we are glued to the flickering images passing before us like SUV drivers are to gasoline pumps. Without their contribution, this movie just would never make it. Let's face it, they have the aliens-from-another-world thing down to a science.
One of the stranger images in this movie is a lowly, aging Chrysler minivan taking on the role of a hero. Somehow, most will find Tom Cruise as the hero, but it's only because he has a better PR department and a talent agent.
War of the Worlds is not for the meek. I am surprised this is rated PG-13 and not R. The movie is more than a bit chilling while watching it and it makes for some interesting nightmares later.
Spielberg does a masterful job reinterpreting the classic H.G. Wells tale, with all the trimmings. We are exposed to everything from vaporized populations to entire cities being reduced to ruble. Good old Steve knew what is most horrific to us fellow car guys. The site of thousands of people endless walking mile upon mile, unable to restart their disabled cars, is just too terrifying.
The aliens could do what they want with me, I simply couldn't live in a world without wheels.
For more information go to www.waroftheworlds.com
War Of The Worlds (PG-13)
Ray: Tom Cruise Rachel: Dakota Fanning Mary Ann: Miranda Otto Robbie: Justin Chatwin Harlan Ogilvy: Tim Robbins
Director: Steven Spielberg Screenplay: Josh Friedman and David Koepp Based on novel by: H.G. Wells Producer: Kathleen Kennedy and Colin Wilson Executive Producer: Paula Wagner