DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
May Contain Spoilers!
H.G. Well’s War Of The Worlds was never done as well as when George Pal made his iconic 1953 classic. The idea of Spielberg having a go just seemed to be too sumptuous but the result was somewhat different. Instead of opting for a straight forward adaptation, we’re given a post 9/11 look at how such an invasion might look, whilst retaining some of the key element’s from the source, such as the Tripods.
We view the ‘war of the worlds’ through the eyes of a semi-dead beat dad, Tom Cruise and his two children as they make their way to Boston to reunite with their mother. The view is personal and therefore more disturbing than the flashy and flamboyant take of films such as the unofficial remake, Independence Day and the Pal original. The downside is that we are subjected to series of blinkered vignettes which upset the flow of the story at times, and the scenes with Tim Robbin’s ‘nut job’, effective though they are, seem to be as important to the film as Leonardo DeCaprio’s handcuffing to a pipe in Titanic; both make decent enough filler, but neither bring anything substantial to the film.
But scenes of Cruise running for his life as people are being turned to dust around him in one of the most obvious 9/11 reference’s in the film, as well as the moment that they are car jacked by a rampaging mob are much more effective and along with the constant scenes of clothes drifting in the sky, another 9/11 reference, make this film into an eerie portrait of war.
Spielberg is a master of suspense, tension and thrills but his pacing can suffer as a result of taking too much time building a scene or tone. This was the problem with Saving Private Ryan, a film with some of cinema’s most spectacular and detailed war scenes up until that time, but fragmented by out-of-place schmaltz and long, poignant pauses. This is similar but the problem here is that even the action scenes are too slow, but far from poor of ineffective.
I like this film but nowhere near as much as I want too. This is a poor adaptation of the original novel and the Americanised George Pal version, but if he had only renamed it and not tried to draw of the lucrative Well’s title, this would be judged on its own rather than the lore which preceded it. But as it stands, it’s not bad, miss-paced and too fractured but some moments are classic and serve as reminder as to just how good he can be.