War Of The Worlds (12A)

Written by H.G. Wells, Screenplay by Josh Friedman, David Koepp
Directed by Steven Spielberg

Reviewed by Adam Ford

As if this movie wasn't getting enough publicity, Tom Cruise's ridiculously convenient engagement to Batman Begins star Katie Holmes had the effect of doubling the media attention. I got round to thinking about PE lessons from 1992, where I and the rest of my class were forced to do ballet to Jeff Wayne's 1970s musical version. The dancing made me hate the record, but I checked-out the book anyway and was very impressed. That is until I got to the end and realised that plot holes the size of planets ran throughout the story.

Fast forward to 2005, and pretty much the same thing happened with the new 'blockbuster' remake. I was held in thrall for the first 90 minutes or so. I mean it's almost all action, but that action is so intensely violent that you can‘t help but get swept along. And talk about atmospheric! It’s the biggest cliche in the Giant Compendium of Cliches, but I really did feel like I was there.

Then I remembered just how bad the finale was going to be, and I squirmed and shuddered through the remaining half an hour.

If you don't know, Ray (Tom Cruise) is just an ordinary guy who is looking after the kids for the weekend while his pregnant estranged wife goes off with her new man to do whatever people do in such situations. Everything is predictably dysfunctional until cataclysmic electrical storms and enormous explosions rock the neighbourhood. This being 2005, everyone's first thought is that terrorists might be behind it somehow. But then these giant tripod things start zapping everyone with their laser beams, and Ray realises must protect his family and play his part in saving mankind.

Wells intended his tale to be an attack on Britain's Victorian empire-building, and it's all too easy to spot parallels with the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan today. Maybe some will gain an appreciation of what turns people into refugees through watching War Of The Worlds. Maybe some will get an idea what it is really like to have your 'freedoms' and 'way of life' systematically destroyed. Maybe some will empathise with those who have seen their families killed and try to fight back against the murderous invaders. Maybe.

Anyway, enough of the politics. The important thing is that the ending sucks, but Wells was still a better writer than I am a ballet dancer.

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