Browsing Tag
steven spielberg

Warning: The following review contains spoilers.

I’ll just come right out and say it. With all the hype, hoopla, and press surrounding War of the Worlds, you would think it would be a better movie. Instead we are left with and E.T. meets Independence Day mash-up that is so poorly written even the “star power” of Tom Cruise can’t save it from being just another summer movie.

In fact, any marketing material that claims this film is an epic summer movie is clearly talking about Batman Begins. Even with the huge numbers put up opening day and this past holiday weekend, War of the Worlds is no where near the quality of film I was expecting. You’d think the team up between Cruise and Spielberg would generate the film to end all films, but by the time the credits starting to roll, I just wanted this movie to end.

You develop a love/hate relationship with Worlds, mainly because you want to like it so much, and the parts you turn your brain off and just watch the wanton destruction of the human race, you do like it. What inevitably happens is the destruction only makes up about 25% of the film leaving the other 75% to focus on the 2D characters so honed in on their cliché molds that nothing really stands out until the Rainbow Happy-time Care Bear Ending that makes you immediately want to lick the goo stuck to the theater floor in the hopes you might pass out.

War sees Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) inherit his two kids for the weekend while his ex-wife and her new beau race off to Boston to meet her parents. Like every single dad, Ray has no food in his house, his son hates him, his daughter is spoiled, and he rebuilds engines in his kitchen. Can you see the excitement building already?

When a freak storm causes lightening to strike one particular spot dozens of times, everything electronic shuts down as alien “Tripods” spring to life, having been hidden beneath the streets of New York, and every other major city across the globe. But these aliens aren’t the Reese’s Pieces eating, finger healing kind we’ve come to expect from Spielberg, no, these aliens want us dead, and they zap us with laser beams and harvest our bodily fluids as fertilizer.


Then the movie ends, just like that. You don’t even see it coming. It’s so abrupt and so sudden that Tom and I looked at each other like, “That was it? That’s how they’re going to end this?” It isn’t that the way they ended it was bad, it was the execution that really felt as though there was a third grade contest to write it, and this is what won.

The fact that you feel absolutely nothing for the characters is only a side-point to the overall disappointment. Cruise portrays Ferrier adequately, knowing that he doesn’t have a lot to work with, but Dakota Fanning’s Rachael and Justin Chatwin’s Robbie are so underwritten and paint-by-the-numbers that the déjà vu of, “I’ve seen this character 100 times before,” really starts to set in five minutes after they’re introduced.

Also, the primary focus of the film is Ray trying to get his kids to their mother in Boston, but why? It makes no real sense that he would brave big, busy cities filled with canon fodder instead of hiding out in the countryside and waiting to see what happens. In a moment of brilliance Ray actually does this only to meet one of the most insane characters I’ve seen all year in Tim Robbins’ Ogilvy. The relationship between Ogilvy and Ferrier tries to display the social underpinnings of humans under stress. This part succeeds, although it limps along until the act’s defining moment.

Spielberg’s direction is adequate to collect a paycheck, but there isn’t the magic and cinematography we saw in E.T. or Saving Private Ryan. Instead we get another by-the-book performance mainly used by the distributors to market the film.

I’m really not trying to be overtly harsh on the film, and maybe I’m making a point that Hollywood really can’t expect us to continue to go to the movies when they continue to release half-assed product such as this. There was so much potential here that it all feels wasted for the short term goal of making money rather than art. When the studios finally figure out that we wouldn’t mind a good movie (like Batman Begins) in the summer rather than this standard schlock, we’ll either be watching TV, or, better, listening to Orson Well’s radio broadcast and letting our imagination do the work.

To everyone associated with this film: try harder next time.

Minority Report features two of Hollywood’s biggest stars looking to grasp back on to the greatness they once held. Steven Spielberg is looking to make up for the horrible A.I. Artificial Intelligence (I don’t care what you all think, it sucked) and Tom Cruise is looking to make up for the god-awful Cameron Crowe soaked Vanilla Sky that stunk up the box office during the holiday season. Luckily for both of them, Minority Report (although having little to do with the actual title) is one of the greatest movies of the year, and while it may never break records like Spider-Man, it is sure to become a classic in it’s own right.

The story of MR is very well developed, and the plot is a fresh blast in the face from the cookie-cutter plot points (and holes) used in a lot of the movies this summer. Tom Cruise is Detective John Anderton, head of Washington D.C.’s Precrime division which can catch murderers and prevent their crime from even happening using the skills of three “people” called the Pre-Cogs. When Anderton is accused of a murder on a man he has never met, he goes on the run and tries to seek his Minority Report which could prove his innocence.

This movie is a  special effects laden broadcast of the greatest proportions. From the cops on jetpacks to the awesome cars of the future, everything about this movie screams style and cinematic eye-candy. Spielberg does a wonderful job bringing the year 2054 to life in a way that could be taken as fact. During the movie Greg Elliott leaned over to me and whispered, “I can totally see this in fifty years.” While I whole-heartily agree with our resident short-person, there are some far-fetched points we may never see in our lifetimes.

Cruise does an excellent job as John Anderton, his character lost his son six years ago, just before the institution of Precrime, and has dedicated his life to the enforcement of the laws to keep what happen to his son from ever happening to anyone again. He is a drug addict, addicted to his work, and is so engrossed that it costs him his wife and a happy life together after the death of their son. Many parallels have been drawn to Johnny Depp’s character in From Hell, but the solving of the crime isn’t necessarily Anderton’s undoing.

Spielberg’s direction shows that the man has the pills to do another sci-fi movie after the A.I. fiasco. Camera angles are very cinematic in nature and bring out the different aspects of the movie very well. From the wide angle shots of the ships dropping cops, to the slightly humorous shots of Anderton having some delicious food from the refrigerator, that is something they won’t show you in the trailers.

All in all, I really, really enjoyed Minority Report, it may not be the biggest blockbuster of the season, but opening up against stiff competition in the way of Disney’s Lilo & Stitch it holds it’s own very well. While the movie’s only shortfall is a very weak, weak ending, it does manage to keep you entertained for it’s two-and-a-half-hour runtime. Go see Minority Report, you won’t be sorry.