Alternate Option
Thoughts from me.
Friday, July 08, 2005 11:32 am
War of the Worlds is not a comedy
War of the Worlds could not commit the first worst sin: “the trailer reveals the whole story”, since it is really a remake. And Independence Day from 9 years ago still lives on in DVD.

However, it does largely commit the 2nd worst sin: “the best parts of the movie are already in the trailers”.

I think Tom Cruise was the very definition of a Hollywood male star—oozing charisma for years on and off the screen since Top Gun. And his movies usually delivers some blockbuster entertainment. Despite the fact that most of his roles are derivatives of the “generic Tom Cruise character”, he fits that role like Arnie fits into the Terminator.

However, like Harrison Ford before him, the variations on the same character have worn out. In WOTW, he is simply Tom Cruise the generic action movie male lead. The start of the movie establishes his macho with a few seconds of crane driving with a joystick, a few seconds of male banter, and then fewer seconds of muscle car driving. After which he switches to a few minutes of caring but useless father role. And then the movie starts.

Unfortunately, even with the destruction of an entire world, the movie turns out to be another vanity project for Cruise. Obviously everything centres around him—he appears in just about every frame. His son and daughter are present simply there to be confronted/comforted by the Cruise-man. Focusing on 2–3 people worked in a movie like Titanic. But at least that movie spent its 3 hours on more than just the survival of 2–3 people. And Leonardo DiCaprio was not shown to be semi-heroic enough to slow the ship sinking.

The movie itself does little better. The script is stilted, and characters move drudgingly between (Cruise-laden) action set pieces. Some bits of action looked quite unique at times. And the special effects were few, but well done and effective.

While I think the choice to emphasise the heroic Cruise-man was a flaw, it was exacerbated by his extra-cinematic activities. With his larger-than-life shenanigans, it was hard to see the movie character as anything but “a TC character”. And usually serious action or scenes generated laughs from the audience. One scene where TC sings a lullaby was particularly painful.

I went into this movie thinking, “Let’s get this movie out of the way. Next please”. I suspect so did the film makers. The result: 5–10 years from now, when people think of alien-invasion movies, Will Smith’s will come to mind; rather than Tom Cruise’s.

[posted with ecto]

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