Script: David Koepp, Josh Friedman
Cast: Dakota Fannin, James Marsters, Justin Chatwin, Tim Robbins, Tom Cruise
Rated : 6 Stars
You know the way you go to see a film that you’ve heard is crap, you have these really low expectations so the film turns out to be quite good. Well, not in this case. I thought it was going to be crap, and was I ever right?
The start isn’t too bad. We see Tom “Brain Lesion” Cruise as a fairly crap parent. He’s not a bad Dad, he just isn’t good. He’s also an asshole, so you are sitting there waiting for him to “grow and learn” through the destruction of life as we know it.
The effects are great, the lightning, the tripods, the whole film looks really good. And Dakota Fanning is utterly believable as a slightly precocious child. And she reacts pretty much like you’d expect a child to react, crying out for her “Mommy”.
Plus the initial fears that it is the “terrorists” who have attacked. All great touches.
Still didn’t like the film though.
The audience never has to worry about any of the characters dying. Yes there is destruction, death and violence left right and centre, but those are all mere background figures. People we never knew and don’t care about. By focusing so much on Cruise and his kids I think the audience knows that nothing really bad is going to happen to any of them.
And so despite all the aliens, the blood, the violence, there isn’t really any tension.
And then there is the problem with the internal logic of the film. I have read the book, but don’t remember much of it it was so long ago, so I don’t really care if this problem was inherited from there. These aliens are supposed to have been planning this for years, hundreds or thousands of years. If it was just the planet they wanted why didn’t they take it way back then? When there was no resistance?
This may be answered by saying that the wanted the blood and guts they spewed around, so we’ll let that one go.
But Question two relates to this; if they’ve known about Earth, and lusted after it for so long, and are so technologically advanced why didn’t they even consider wearing gasmasks? Or developing something to help immunize themselves from all earth’s little microbes?
And how were people able to use their phones to take photos of the machines when the lightning fried Cruise’s phone?
And that ending.
All the world is in upheaval, destruction everywhere, yet somehow this little street in Boston is totally untouched. Not only that but Cruise’s entire family (ex-family) survive, with barely a scratch.
I could go on listing things that made me go “hmmmm” (in a bad way). Like the now useless cars all stopped on the streets, yet handily pulled in a little so that Cruise could drive by. Like being able to use a mirror to hide from the aliens. And you know that scene in the basket? Why didn’t all the other folks help the fella who got sucked up before Cruise? Why the sudden desire to help?