Sunday, July 10, 2005

War of the Worlds: What *I* remember.

*Spoiler Warning! This review contains spoilers, and will spoil your viewing of War of the Worlds. Seriously, it will completely ruin it. Even if you’ve already seen the movie, it will spoil it retroactively. That’s how bad it is.*

War of the Worlds, like many great movies, began with twenty minutes of previews. This was followed by a commercial for Coca-Cola, a notice to keep your cell phones turned off and your seats in their upright and locked position, and finally a cameo by the And Now for Your Feature Presentation Man.

The actual movie started out with showing cells dividing in the midst of a deep, swirling, voiceover. If you listened closely, you could hear the whir of the filmstrip and Mr. Skillestad warning you to take good notes; there will be a quiz on mitosis and miosis on Friday.

The world, and the characters that populated it, were being watched, the voiceover ominously warned. This was a classic Speilburgian touch: a wink at the audience, who, for the last 30 seconds had indeed been watching the world and the characters that populated it.

Most summer blockbusters have a hair-raising action sequence within the first five minutes, and the War of the Worlds is no different. The audience watches breathlessly as Tom Cruise (Tom Cruise) deftly maneuvers a boxcar onto a train from his crane. This is an important scene, as it showcases Tom’s crane maneuvering ability, a trait which come in handy in the crane-maneuvering finale at the end.

Unfortunately, Tom Cruise has more problems than a low-paying job without dental benefits. He is divorced, is house is a mess, there’s nothing in the refrigerator, and his e-meter’s running on empty. To make matters worse his two kids are staying with him for the weekend. His daughter (Katie Holmes) is a typical girl in the sense that she always freaks out over little things like buildings collapsing, and people being vaporized, and hundreds of bodies drifting pass in the rivers, and when somebody jumps out behind her and yells, “Ooogidyboogidy boo!” And his son, Napoleon Dynamite (Hayden Christenson) is just as bad. Always listening to Emo music on his Ipod and complaining about his Dad.

Nothing short of an Alien Attack could heal the rift between them. Fortunately, an attack is just what the aliens have been planning!

Like most aliens, they decide to operate through the device of ominous foreshadowing. A freakin’ freak lightning storm freaks the freaks out. Tom Cruise sings to his daughter, reminding her to remember a few of her favorite things. The only things she can think of are Gogurt and Sparkle paint.

Finally, the storm quells, and Tom and his friends go to investigate a mysterious smoking crater. Fortunately, the action doesn’t take place in Spokane, where big smoking craters are a common occurrence on most Spokane roads.

Suddenly, a massive metal Martian machine blasts through the asphalt. “ET’s back!” It said, “And this time, I have free long distance service through Verizon!”

“Curse you, Verizon! I knew you would be the end of us!” the crowd says, before the Aliens begin ‘sploding everything, like good aliens should. Highlights include:

-We never really find out why the aliens are attacking Earth, but it becomes pretty obvious: They are angry at the unilateral way that the United States recklessly invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq. If we’d never made them angry with our cowboy actions, they would have stayed buried.

-Turns out that the Aliens had been buried beneath the ground for millions of years, and in the process of digging water mains, construction workers even found a few, but threw them away because OSHA regulations forbid examination of alien artifacts, under section C, part 56-7.

-The aliens also used their zapper ability to ruin all electronic devices, including TV’s, iPods, gameboys, joy buzzers, and cars. Fortunately, Tom Cruise, being the blue collar guy that he is, knows the problem. “Prob’ly a warped camshaft,” Cruise tells his mechanic, “You might need to unclog the discarbanotor or cleaning the corrugation gaskets.”

“Thanks, Tom!” the mechanic says,

“I’ll get vaporized later!” He adds in another subtle bit of foreshadowing.

-Tom steals a car, runs a red light, and makes SEVERAL lane violations. Unfortunately, they run into a group of Raiders fans…

The aliens just interrupted their football game… and they are P… Oed.

-Tom’s daughter tries to blow up the aliens brains through high-pitched screaming. The aliens are able to match it out with a low bassoon foghorn blast, which sounds like either robot flatulence, or the sounds of an angry walrus as recorded on a YakPak.

-I know! Let’s all pack ourselves into a boat like sardines! Where there’s no way out! And lets not wear life jackets, or even water wings! Nothing bad can possibly happen.

-The aliens, monsters that they are, blow up a Thrift Store, causing hundreds of T-shirts to rain down. The ones with pink-tags are half-price on Tuesdays.

-Naturally, the military is tasked with the charge of preventing panic in the streets. “Nothing to see here folks. Just line up, single file, to be vaporized in an orderly fashion. Aliens? What aliens? Oh, thosssse. Those are just uh… Weather Balloons, haven’t you heard?”

-The military does try to attack the Aliens, foolishly. C’mon military! Haven’t you seen, Mothra! You can’t fight these guys! You need to use radiation to make a BIGGER monster to have a mano-e-martian showdown. There’s a procedure, a process, for these things, you know.

-Eventually, Tom’s son decides that since his dad is like being a total jerk, and won’t let him do ANYTHING, he’s going to pack up his bags and just go hang out with the aliens. This worries Tom, as it should any parent. First, they start hanging out with Aliens, then they start experimenting with probing. Next thing you know, they’ve stolen a Tripod and are joyriding (or joywalking) it to Vegas, vaporizing random cars along the way. Then they start becoming interested in Scientology. That’s where it becomes really bad.

-They run across a crazy character with a shaky grip on reality and wacky political beliefs. He’s played by Tim Robbins,

-Robbins has a plan to deal with the aliens. He’ll leave a trail of Reeses Pieces on the floor to his basement. Then when the unsuspecting alien comes through the door… he’ll whack ‘em on the head with a shovel! Teehee!

-Remember that suspenseful scene in Jurassic Park, where the raptors follow the kids around the kitchen, and they sneak around and try to not be seen? Spielberg, wanting to be known for creating new cinemographic art as opposed to simply rehashing what’s already been done, has absolutely nothing like it in War of the Worlds.

-Remember that scene in Independence Day, where they can’t seem to destroy the aliens, but then that one guy figures out that you can blow them up from INSIDE the ship? Spielberg, wanting to be known for creating new cinemographic art as opposed to simply rehashing what’s already been done, has absolutely nothing like it in War of the Worlds.

-Remember that scene in Shawshank Redemption, where Tim Robbins decides he’s going to dig his way out to safety? Spielberg, wanting to be known for creating new cinemographic art as opposed to simply rehashing what’s already been done, has absolutely nothing like it in War of the Worlds.

-Remember that scene in Toy Story, where they are trapped in that machine with all those other guys, and the claw comes up to take Buzz away, but Woody tries to stop it by pulling him down and away from the claw? Spielberg, wanting to be known for creating new cinemographic art as opposed to simply rehashing what’s already been done, has absolutely nothing like it in War of the Worlds.

-Remember that scene in Star Wars, where after the final scene in the movie, the credits roll? SPIELBURG TOTALLY RIPS THAT OFF!