Feeds

ET turns nasty

War of the Worlds

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Film review War of the Worlds is really a disaster movie in the garb of a science fiction blockbuster. Steven Spielberg's contemporary reimagining of the H.G. Wells classic puts one family's fight for survival in centre frame as the Earth is menaced by alien tripod fighting machines.

Tom Cruise plays Ray Ferrier, an immature divorced father of rebellious teenage son Robbie and 10 year-old daughter Rachel (Dakota Fanning). Cruise is a talented actor but fails to convince as a New Jersey dock worker, and less than perfect father, trying to stay one step ahead of the mayhem around him and link up with his estranged wife. Watching Cruise on this film is like watching a slight bloke trying to lift a huge weight and you yearn for a more muscular actor (a young Ernest Borgnine, perhaps?) to fill his shoes. Tim Robbins, always a thoughtful actor, is also miscast as Ogilvy, a cellar-dwelling survivalist the family encounter whose interest in Fanning we fear may be less than wholesome.

Unlike most conventional disaster movies the cast is small. Spielberg's real interest is in creating a sense of foreboding and fear of unimaginable horror exploding into the world which contrasts with the cheerful upbeat tone of thematically similar Independence Day. The triumph of War of the Worlds is its careful use of special effects to put this vision on the screen. It's genuinely scary even if it's not vintage Spielberg.

ET is back and this time he has a really, really bad attitude but the last act of the film falls away towards a flat ending. It's their machines - not the invaders - that leave the cinema goer hiding behind their popcorn and when we finally get to see the aliens inside it's a bit of a let down. Perhaps more time in pre-production might have corrected this defect? The film was originally scheduled for a 2007 release and was only pushed forward when a gap appeared in Cruise and Spielberg's mutual diaries.

Troops feature prominently in the film even though we don't get to know them individually. The film makes constant references to 9/11, at one point Cruise emerges from his children's home to a scene of devastation surrounded by the wreckage of a crashed airplane. As people are vapourised by aliens, Robbie Ferrier demands to know if this is the work of "terrorists".

In the same way that the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers grappled with McCarthyite concerns about "reds under the bed" we have a film that deals with the preoccupations of our day - the War on Terror. Expect a logical plot and you'll be disappointed but those happy to watch to engrossing, technically accomplished "B-movie" will find much to enjoy. ®

Related stories

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Romanian villagers flee disco-dancing aliens
Free broadband access: Spielberg shows how (oops)
HP goes to Hollywood

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
WRISTJOB LOVE BONANZA: justWatch sex app promises blind date hookups
Mankind shuffles into the future, five fingers at a time
Every billionaire needs a PANZER TANK, right? STOP THERE, Paul Allen
Angry Microsoftie hauls auctioneers to court over stalled Pzkw. IV 'deal'
Apple's Mr Havisham: Tim Cook says dead Steve Jobs' office has remained untouched
'I literally think about him every day' says biz baron's old friend
Cops apologise for leaving EXPLOSIVES in suitcase at airport
'Canine training exercise' SNAFU sees woman take home booming baggage
Oi, London thief. We KNOW what you're doing - our PRECRIME system warned us
Aye, shipmate, it be just like that Minority Report
Flaming drone batteries ground commercial flight before takeoff
Passenger had Something To Declare, instead fiddled while plane burned
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.