Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Wells Farrago

In Stephen Spielberg's film adaptation of H G Wells' War Of The Worlds (2005), the human race is threatened by some weird looking creatures and their gigantic farting tripod contraptions. So who you gonna call? Paparrazi-bashing Chris Martin would have got Dead Kenny's vote, but as he's presumably AWOL singing his plinkety-plonkety pish at a music festival somewhere else, it's left to Tom Cruise to prove he's not such a bad dad after all by bringing his daughter (precocious moppet Dakota Fanning) home to safety while the world war to end all world wars goes off around them.

War Of The Worlds is for the most parts a pretty intense, scary and thrilling film, similar at times in feel to Jurassic Park although this time Spielberg is less successful in making us feel too deeply for the participants (there's only the most basic effort at character arcs for Cruise and his family). Having said that, Spielberg is almost unique amongst today's big-budget action directors in that he does at least have some rudimentary grasp on building up suspense to give optimum impact to the special effects set-pieces, and he's also not afraid to maintain a serious, tense atmosphere by keeping the glib one-liners to a minimum (aside from a few jokes about Americans' insular attitudes towards Europe).

The result is a flawed but gripping film, compelling as you watch but not one that's likely to stay with you for too long afterwards. It's no Minority Report, that's for sure.