Saturday, December 03, 2005

War of the Worlds

Okay, we finally got around to renting and watching Spielberg's "War of the Worlds" last night. Those of you who participated in the book club experiment might agree that this version got closer to the rather dismal spirit of the original book than did the 1953 George Pal version, and it even included quite a bit of material that was recognizably transposed from the original book and not in Pal's movie. (In fairness, though, this movie also contained quite a few note-for-note cops of things from Pal's movie that were not in the original book.) But...

But alien war machines that have been buried in the Earth for a million years, and not one of them has ever been found by an oil exploration team or revealed by an earthquake or glacier? A "heat ray" that instantly blasts humans into dust but doesn't harm their clothes? Okay, so it was a cool visual effect, but there are so many things in this movie that don't pass the "That makes no sense whatsoever" test, and most of them lie in the areas where Spielberg "improved" the story. (Oh, yes: and as Gollumer noted, Cruise's character is psychologically shattered by the massacre he has just witnessed -- but a quick splash of cold water in the face in the bathroom, and he's back in command again!)

I rented; I watched; I'll return the DVD to Blockbuster with no desire to add this one to the permanent collection. What are your thoughts?