War of the Worlds

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War of the Worlds
Review (7.5/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

In the much anticipated summer blockbuster War of the Worlds, Tom Cruise stars as Ray Ferrier, a New York docks worker and an unreliable divorced father, who has just been saddled with the task of taking care of his two children, Robbie (Justin Chatwin) and Rachel (Dakota Fanning), for the weekend. Taking care of the children for the weekend doesn't seem like too big of a task if it weren't for the fact that his son hates him, his daughter eats hummus and it just so happens that same weekend the planet has come under attack by an army of unrelenting aliens. So what begins as a peaceful weekend in New York City turns out to be a man and his two children running for their lives and eventually, walking to Boston.

War of the Worlds is the first appearance in months by Tom Cruise where we don't have to hear him profess his love for Katie Holmes, jump around on couches, call people "glib" and ridicule Ritalin. Did that make War of the Worlds a better movie? I would say so but despite not having to see the new and not-so-improved Tom Cruise, War of the Worlds treats us to a pretty damn impressive movie. Once that lightening starts striking New York City, the roads starts cracking and aliens start popping out of nowhere and anihilating everything in site, War of the Worlds becomes a pretty intense and very impressive movie. I have to say, there's a pretty solid 90 minute run where the audience is pretty much on the edge of their seats hanging on every move that anyone makes and that was damn fun. Yes, there are several inconsistencies and head-scratching moments throughout the movie. Like maybe Mr. Spielberg can explain why every electronic device in the city died yet there was still some dude running around with a camcorder. Or maybe he can explain why aliens were popping out of the ground and people were actually standing around and watching. I don't know about you but once that ground starting cracking, I would have been running faster than a Ben Johnson on steroids. But maybe that's just me. Or how about a highway that was littered with stalled cars and fleeing people and yet there was a rather convenient and perfectly clear path for Mr. Cruise and the kids to drive their way to almost safety. And then there's the ending, which I can guarantee is going to piss more that one movie-goer off. Spielberg ruined a perfect chance to actually take a gamble in a movie for the first time since he killed off Quint in Jaw in 1975 but to be quite honest, he blew it. It pissed me off. It pissed my buddies off. But it really didn't piss me off enough to trash this movie. To have a movie this intense from beginning to the almost end is really something else. You don't get movies like this too often.

As for the rest of the movie, the acting was tolerable, the character development decent for this type of sci-fi movie and the special effects were of Spielbergian proportions. Yeah, that's right, I said Spielbergian and if it's not a word, well, it should be.

Overall, although War of the Worlds does have its flaws including a rather rushed and perhaps not-so-clear ending and in my mind, one major, major flaw at the end of the movie, it is still one hell of a ride and a must-see in a summer that has had an impressive number of must-sees. Not the best movie of the summer but definitely worth the price of admission once and perhaps even twice. Let's just hope Cruise's couch-jumping antics didn't ruin the chances of that happening.

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