340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Wars don't have happy endings.

The decision to remake Wells' classic (read: foundational, genre-defining and timeless) novel was both long overdue and fraught with the potential for disaster. Spielberg's bag of tricks is limited, but he usually knows how to execute them with a flourish and while he's never been credited with much originality, he does tend to infuse classic forms with a certain vigour (Raiders, Hook, Saving Private Ryan, etc.).

His take on War Of The Worlds is ambitious: Spielberg wants to convey both the monstrous scale of the threat (and ensuing devastation), and the individual struggle of one particular family. Balancing the 'macro' and 'micro' stories is tricky and we thought Spielberg acquitted himself very well. I cared enough about the family to want to keep watching their exploits but I never lost sight of the massive scale of the destruction surrounding them.

Most surprising, though, was how frightening the movie was. As robustly muscular as the special effects are, it's the moments of powerful, visceral tension embedded in the film that provide the sinews. Good stuff.

Naturally, Speilberg fucks the dog in the last scene. In pretty much exactly the same spirit as A.I., War of the Worlds seems commit itself to a powerful, punishingly dramatic conclusion but then, right before going over the edge into the Canyon of Compelling Fiction, it pivots and jetées back to the safety of maudlin, implausibly optimistic sentimental claptrap. What a fucking letdown.


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