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War of the Worlds movie review by Roger Ebert
Sun Times ^ | Jun 28, 2005 | Roger Ebert

Posted on 07/20/2005 3:12:54 AM PDT by FraudFactor.com

Article published: Jun 28, 2005

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050628/REVIEWS/50606007/1023

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050628/REVIEWS/50606007/1023&template=printart

War of the Worlds
Creaking Havoc

Release Date: 2005

Ebert Rating: **   

By Roger Ebert / Jun 29, 2005


"War of the Worlds" is a big, clunky movie containing some sensational sights but lacking the zest and joyous energy we expect from Steven Spielberg. It proceeds with the lead-footed deliberation of its 1950s predecessors to give us an alien invasion that is malevolent, destructive and, from the alien point of view, pointless. They've "been planning this for a million years" and have gone to a lot of trouble to invade Earth for no apparent reason and with a seriously flawed strategy. What happened to the sense of wonder Spielberg celebrated in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," and the dazzling imagination of "Minority Report"?

The movie adopts the prudent formula of viewing a catastrophe through the eyes of a few foreground characters. When you compare it with a movie like "The Day After Tomorrow," which depicted the global consequences of cosmic events, it lacks dimension: Martians have journeyed millions of miles to attack a crane operator and his neighbors (and if they're not Martians, they journeyed a lot farther). The hero, Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise), does the sort of running and hiding and desperate defending of his children that goes with the territory, and at one point even dives into what looks like certain death to rescue his daughter.

There's a survivalist named Ogilvy (Tim Robbins) who has quick insights into surviving: "The ones that didn't flatline are the ones who kept their eyes open." And there are the usual crowds of terrified citizens looking up at ominous threats looming above them. But despite the movie's $135 million budget, it seems curiously rudimentary in its action.

The problem may be with the alien invasion itself. It is not very interesting. We learn that countless years ago, invaders presumably but not necessarily from Mars buried huge machines all over the Earth. Now they activate them with lightning bolts, each one containing an alien (in what form, it is hard to say). With the aliens at the controls, these machines crash up out of the Earth, stand on three towering but spindly legs and begin to zap the planet with death rays. Later, their tentacles suck our blood and fill steel baskets with our writhing bodies.

To what purpose? Why zap what you later want to harvest? Why harvest humans? And, for that matter, why balance these towering machines on ill-designed supports? If evolution has taught us anything, it is that limbs of living things, from men to dinosaurs to spiders to centipedes, tend to come in numbers divisible by two. Three legs are inherently not stable, as the movie demonstrates when one leg of a giant tripod is damaged, and it falls helplessly to the ground.

The tripods are indeed faithful to the original illustrations for H.G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds, and to the machines described in the historic 1938 Orson Welles radio broadcast. But the book and radio program depended on our imaginations to make them believable, and the movie came at a time of lower expectations in special effects. You look at Spielberg's machines and you don't get much worked up, because you're seeing not alien menace but clumsy retro design. Perhaps it would have been a good idea to set the movie in 1898, at the time of Wells' novel, when the tripods represented a state-of-the-art alien invasion.

There are some wonderful f/x moments, but they mostly don't involve the pods. A scene where Ray wanders through the remains of an airplane crash is somber and impressive, and there is an unforgettable image of a train, every coach on fire, roaring through a station. Such scenes seem to come from a kind of reality different from that of the tripods.

Does it make the aliens scarier that their motives are never spelled out? I don't expect them to issue a press release announcing their plans for world domination, but I wish their presence reflected some kind of intelligent purpose. The alien ship in "Close Encounters" visited for no other reason, apparently, than to demonstrate that life existed elsewhere, could visit us, and was intriguingly unlike us while still sharing such universal qualities as the perception of tone. Those aliens wanted to say hello. The alien machines in "War of the Worlds" seem designed for heavy lifting in an industry that needs to modernize its equipment and techniques. (The actual living alien being we finally glimpse is an anticlimax, a batlike, bug-eyed monster, confirming the wisdom of Kubrick and Clarke in deliberately showing no aliens in "2001").

The human characters are disappointingly one-dimensional. Cruise's character is given a smidgen of humanity (he's an immature, divorced hotshot who has custody of the kids for the weekend) and then he wanders out with his neighbors to witness strange portents in the sky, and the movie becomes a story about grabbing and running and ducking and hiding and trying to fight back.

There are scenes in which poor Dakota Fanning, as his daughter, has to be lost or menaced, and then scenes in which she is found or saved, all with much desperate shouting. A scene where an alien tentacle explores a ruined basement where they're hiding is a mirror of a better scene in "Jurassic Park" where characters hide from a curious raptor.

The thing is, we never believe the tripods and their invasion are practical. How did these vast metal machines lie undetected for so long beneath the streets of a city honeycombed with subway tunnels, sewers, water and power lines, and foundations? And why didn't a civilization with the physical science to build and deploy the tripods a million years ago not do a little more research about conditions on the planet before sending its invasion force? It's a war of the worlds, all right -- but at a molecular, not a planetary level.

All of this is just a way of leading up to the gut reaction I had all through the film: I do not like the tripods. I do not like the way they look, the way they are employed, the way they attack, the way they are vulnerable or the reasons they are here. A planet that harbors intelligent and subtle ideas for science fiction movies is invaded in this film by an ungainly Erector set.

Cast & Credits

Ray Ferrier: Tom Cruise
Rachel: Dakota Fanning
Mary Ann: Miranda Otto
Robbie: Justin Chatwin
Harlan Ogilvy: Tim Robbins

Paramount Pictures presents a film directed by Steven Spielberg. Written by Josh Friedman and David Koepp. Based on the novel by H.G. Wells. Running time: 118 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for frightening sequences of sci-fi violence and disturbing images).


copyright 2004, rogerebert.com



TOPICS: TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: antibush; anticonservative; antimilitary; antiwar; davidkoepp; hollywood; larryelder; left; leftist; movie; moviereview; moviesucked; propaganda; review; rogerebert; screenwriter; socialistdemocrats; waroftheworlds

Excellent movie review by Roger Ebert

Here is an excellent critique of the War of the Worlds movie by Roger Ebert, pointing out some of the many flaws and the lack of quality in the movie. This review is analytical and insightful. However, it does not cover all the flaws, probably because there are too many flaws to cover in a single reasonable length review.



War of the Worlds or Snore of the Worlds movie?


War of the Worlds or Snore of the Worlds movie?



1 posted on 07/20/2005 3:12:57 AM PDT by FraudFactor.com
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To: FraudFactor.com

I wish I could have my 10 bucks back.


2 posted on 07/20/2005 3:26:09 AM PDT by mowowie
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To: FraudFactor.com

Warning to anyone considering seeing it: save your money. See Batman Begins if you must go the movies this summer.


3 posted on 07/20/2005 3:42:32 AM PDT by ClaudiusI
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To: FraudFactor.com

Hollywood is a trash factory. Most of the films being produced are sequels and remakes. The rest are exercises in special effects.

Narnia may be the only redeeming movie of the year, and it is still 5 month away.


4 posted on 07/20/2005 3:43:30 AM PDT by kidd
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To: FraudFactor.com

Ebert is very good when he stays out of politics.


5 posted on 07/20/2005 3:45:34 AM PDT by Rodney King (No, we can't all just get along.)
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To: FraudFactor.com

I liked it. The special effects are great. Batman Begins is a much better movie but I don't regret going to see War of the Worlds.


6 posted on 07/20/2005 3:48:18 AM PDT by killjoy (Real Men Love Bush)
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To: FraudFactor.com
not having seen it....here goes. First, War of the Worlds was remade around 8 years ago. It was called Independence Day and the aliens were killed with a virus (albeit a computer virus)

second. Mr. Ebert may be a good movie reviewer, but knows little about physics. A tripod is a very stable platform. a four legged platform always has the tendency to wobble about on 3 legs unless the surface and the legs are perfect level and a perfectly length. A tripod always has all legs on the ground.

All that being said, it seems this one is a bust and I will wait for the video.
7 posted on 07/20/2005 3:53:53 AM PDT by Vaquero (I am a red stater trapped in the body of a blue state.)
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To: ClaudiusI

And the Fantastic Four!


8 posted on 07/20/2005 3:56:11 AM PDT by 7thson (I think it takes a big dog to weigh a hundred pounds!)
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To: FraudFactor.com

Guess I'm in the minority this time cause I loved it, so much so I saw it twice. Batman flick was the boring one to me; needed a bit more action for my taste.


9 posted on 07/20/2005 4:02:42 AM PDT by KillTime (Western Civilization herself breathes a sigh of relief as President Bush wins 4 more years.)
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To: KillTime

What was it that you "loved" about the film?

Seriously, just curious...was it the effects? The story? The actors or one or a few of them, as in, a performance or the performances? The direction? Editing? Or some combination of some/all of those?

As I said, just asking, as in, I'm curious as to your enthusiasm. I haven't seen the film and have decided to withhold box office dollars and wait for the DVD, but after reading so many critical/annoyed/disappointed comments from those who have seen the film (similar to what Ebert writes), I'm curious about the few who are enthusiastic. "Love" response indicates more than enthusiasm.

I read that the Marines enacted military scenes in the film, and based upon that, I'd nearly gone to see it...but...


10 posted on 07/20/2005 4:23:48 AM PDT by BIRDS
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To: BIRDS
Yes, the effects were outstanding, story was a nice update from the origional book (but nothing beats the book, as usual). Dispite Cruise's recent rantings, in the movie he is an outstanding actor and I didn't think once of his rantings, etc. The little girl actor is also outstanding. It is a blockbuster that needs to be seen on a big screen to appreciate it, from the awesomely loud lighting storm that initiates the Invasion, to the cracking of the streets and the rising of the first Tripod, to the blasting of the folks....and the effect of the bridge as it...well, it is just very cool effects throughout the whole movie. The movie starts running almost right away and it doesn't let up until the end. Even the scene that takes place in a farmhouse basement has high tension throughout.

The editing of the car sceen as it speeds away from the exploding city: freaking fantastic. I still don't know how they did it. The camera constantly pans around the van as well and in and out of it as it speeds around stalled cars, etc. Excellent editing, to give you one example.

Those who say this is boring, etc...man, they are on a whole different wavelength from me this time. Each time I saw it, people were clapping at the end.

Save your money if you want, but for my money it was well worth it. Spielberg did this one well. Had a few illogical flaws, but didn't distract. 5 Stars? Prob not, but close; it is great entertainment both visual and storyline.
11 posted on 07/20/2005 5:06:22 AM PDT by KillTime (Western Civilization herself breathes a sigh of relief as President Bush wins 4 more years.)
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To: KillTime

Interesting...thanks...

I was not among those offput or even amused by Cruise's whatevers, whenevers, so that wasn't even (remotely) a reason for my not having seen TWOTW in theatres (I actually didn't find Cruise's sofa dance as strange as many other than it indicated a certain uncouth attitude about other people's furniture, but, otherwise...a non issue to my view as to his personal views, etc.).

I, also, find Cruse a great performer -- so I enjoy his films, for the most part, if not consistently.

My hesitations and outright objections to the idea of TWOTW was that it's a remake of a great film. I love the original film and found the whole modernization/remake/"new vision" thing offputting about a great film, great as it is in the original.

About the big screen, I'm someone who gets far more from a DVD than I do from theatre viewing, primarily because I see and hear/experience far more details about a film from DVD (great screen, excellent sound system so I'm happy with the DVD experience), plus I can advance, rewind and view as many times as I want while theatres are often a problem due to people chattering, coughing, heads in front, all that...even the finer theatres have a sound system that makes for headaches afterward so I just altogether am far more happy when I can view films on DVD.

But, I'll buy this DVD, and enjoyed your take on the film. Like I said, I enjoy Cruise as performer and although I have a mixed-reaction to some of Spielberg's films, I think his "Artificial Intelligence (AI)" was outstanding...while the TV series, "Taken" left me completely cold, as have some of his other films and television series (something far too insincere in his camera work, can't quite define it beyond writing here that he manages to capture his own insincerity about literary issues on film and it's uncomfortable for my view, in that it discourages empathising with what's on film). "AI" supplanted that for the most part and so I hope that "TWOTW" might, also...


12 posted on 07/20/2005 5:44:28 AM PDT by BIRDS
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To: FraudFactor.com
Frankly Ebert is a terrible reviewer. I hate pretty much everything he recommends. I go with Roepper. There isn’t much he likes, so when he chooses something I go for it. I rather liked War of the Worlds. Maybe it wasn’t the way I would have done it, but it was a fairly decent movie. I could use less character development and more action, but that’s just me.
13 posted on 07/20/2005 11:07:58 AM PDT by Sam Gamgee
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To: KillTime

The more I thought about WOW, the more I really liked it. Independence Day is basically popcorn crowd fair. WOW is just a wee bit more intelligent and well made. Haven’t seen Batman Begins. I actually liked F4, though most reviewers do not.


14 posted on 07/20/2005 11:11:16 AM PDT by Sam Gamgee
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To: KillTime
The movie really kept to the spirit of the book that it was all action right from the get go. The book cannot be beaten I agree, but I remember the character in the book would finally find a place to stop and rest, and then wouldn’t you know it, another one of these damn walking pods appear. That was well captured in the movie. I didn’t care much for the idea that the machines were always there. That didn’t add up. Also the movie could have explained WHY the aliens came. The book has a great but grim ending where the main character comes across dogs eating the carcass of one of the aliens. I would have liked to see that in the movie.
15 posted on 07/20/2005 11:16:15 AM PDT by Sam Gamgee
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To: mowowie
"I wish I could have my 10 bucks back."

I felt the same way. War of the Worlds was not worth the money or the time to watch it. In addition, the theater subjected us to a full twenty minutes of paid commercial advertisements after the official movie start time.

Only you got off easy. I wish I could have my 20 bucks back. I paid for two tickets.

I found an interesting viewpoint column about Steven Speilberg's infatuation with communist dictator and mass murderer Fidel Castro. It was published in the November 26, 2004 issue (Volume 6 Issue 17) of the Las Vegas Tribune, and is located at:

http://www.lasvegastribune.com/20041126/viewpoints2.html

Also, Steven Spielberg's political contributions reflect his romance with Marxism. He donated $799,373 to Democrats, only $4,000 to Republicans, and $20,750 for special interests between 1984 and 2004.

Steven Spielberg made many donations to extreme socialist Democrats including Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), Barbara Boxer (CA), and others.

This information can be found at:

http://www.newsmeat.com/billionaire_political_donations/Steven_Spielberg.php


Ditto for Tom Cruise's political contributions.

Tom Cruise donated $39,000 to Democrats and nothing to Republicans between 1990 and 2003.

Tom Cruise made the following donations to extreme socialist Democrats:

$10,000 to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY)
$2,000 to Senator Barbara Boxer (CA)
$1,000 to Senator Tom Daschle (SD)
$500 to Senator John Kerry (MA)

and the balance to other Democrat candidates and committees.

This information can be found at:
http://newsmeat.com/celebrity_political_donations/Tom_Cruise.php

16 posted on 07/20/2005 2:48:29 PM PDT by FraudFactor.com (Support redistricting reform to end gerrymandering and achieve more honest and responsive government)
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To: Sam Gamgee
I thought War of the Worlds did not have enough military battle scenes, and spent too much time on the less expensive footage containing interpersonal dialog, driving in a car, and hiding in a building or basement.

I thought the Terminator and Lord of the Rings movies were superior chase movies.

Also, War of the Worlds never even explained who the aliens were or why they were attacking the earth - were they supposed to be Martians as in the original story?

There were many logical holes and contradictions in this remake of war of the worlds.

17 posted on 07/20/2005 2:57:24 PM PDT by FraudFactor.com (Support redistricting reform to end gerrymandering and achieve more honest and responsive government)
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To: kidd

Well said!


18 posted on 07/20/2005 2:58:38 PM PDT by FraudFactor.com (Support redistricting reform to end gerrymandering and achieve more honest and responsive government)
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To: kidd
"Hollywood is a trash factory. Most of the films being produced are sequels and remakes. The rest are exercises in special effects."

Well said!

Hollywood produces lots of trash movies with a few real gems (e.g., the Lord of the Rings movies) in the mix as their business model for financial success.

We need to be smart and selective consumers.

19 posted on 07/20/2005 3:03:37 PM PDT by FraudFactor.com (Support redistricting reform to end gerrymandering and achieve more honest and responsive government)
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To: Vaquero
"Mr. Ebert may be a good movie reviewer, but knows little about physics. A tripod is a very stable platform. a four legged platform always has the tendency to wobble about on 3 legs unless the surface and the legs are perfect level and a perfectly length. A tripod always has all legs on the ground."

A tripod with rigid fixed length legs is stable in the static condition as in the case of a three-legged stool, but not necessarily in the dynamic condition as in locomotion.

When analyzing three versus four (or more) legs for stability, it is necessary to differentiate between the static and dynamic conditions, and whether the legs are of fixed length and rigid geometric configuration as with a stool, or effectively of variable length and geometric configuration through the use of joints.

With only three legs, at least one leg must be off the ground at a time to move, leaving at most two legs in contact with the ground. This leads to instability unless there is some effective balancing mechanism (i.e., sensors, a means of balancing by shifting the weight distribution, and a control loop).

In nature, legs come in pairs or even numbers, due to bilateral symmetry.

20 posted on 07/20/2005 3:16:18 PM PDT by FraudFactor.com (Support redistricting reform to end gerrymandering and achieve more honest and responsive government)
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To: FraudFactor.com

The only movie I plan to see this summer is "March of the Penguins." No overpaid whiny Hollywood actors in that one.


21 posted on 07/20/2005 3:18:22 PM PDT by dfwgator
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