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Mr. Breathmask, August 5, 2011
Posted August 7, 2011
Cowboys And Aliens
Here's my War of the Worlds (2005) review, pasted from the Review forum with an added spoiler tag:
I have always really enjoyed this film, but for some reason watching it recently it really resonated with me. I think it is absolutely one of Spielberg's best, up there with CMIYC, Minority Report, the Indy sequels, SPR, etc.
What struck me most was how creatively and uniquely Spielberg shot and staged his scenes. The film flows incredibly well, with each scene seeming to lead naturally into the next. I wouldn't know how to divide this film into acts, it's like it's all just one really engaging scene. The camera movements are really impressive, he's got some great shots. One of my favorites is the scene in Ogilvy's basement, when the camera pans past the mechanical eye and pauses on the axe for a split second, and before we can even fully realize that the axe is being emphasized we see Ogilvy's hand unlatch it. Another great shot is the one panning in and out of the van as Cruise drives his family out of the city. And the video camera capturing the massacre in New York. And the hand that reaches down and grabs Cruise's gun, right before we hear a loud gun shot....
The lighting and cinematography are magnificent. The scene in the basement when all the weird colors are flashing is petrifying. I think that scene perfectly represents the confusion and inability to get a figurative "bird's eye view" of the character's situation that the characters feel throughout. And how Robbie is the one who ultimately makes the decisions for the whole family....
Spielberg masterfully develops the two key relationships between his two kids. You really feel bad for the kids in the beginning, then for Ray when he really starts trying to be a good dad. The two big blowups between Cruise and Robbie are great (when Robbie tries to join the military). And anybody who says Spielberg can't do without the schmaltz should watch this film, because he shows a lot of restraint. (A lot of this has to do with JW's music during the
reunion scene at the end.
The acting is great, as always in a Spielberg film. The look on Cruise's face when he was telling Fanning that he wasn't familiar with her lullabies was heartbreaking. Sometimes with Cruise it can be hard to distinguish his character from film to film based on his performance alone, but Ray is a completely different person than John Anderton. And everybody else is great too.
Oddly enough, I thought the worst part of the film was the music. When I first got the OST, I thought it was boring. I have come to appreciate it A LOT more since then as a standalone listening experience, and 90% of it works incredibly well in the film. But there's just too much. The mechanical eye basement scene, for example, was one that really needed no music. This is one of the rare instances where I think JW mitigated the film's impact. That said, it does wonders in some key scenes. When Cruise sees the plane crash, "The Ferry Scene", "Escape from the City," and, of course, "The Reunion." One of my favorite musical moments are the string hits while Cruise and Ogilvy wrestle with the rifle...just amazing.
Overall, this has got to be one of Spielberg's most underrated films. I found every second of it to be engaging on multiple levels.
Wow, there's a lot that you love about it. I only like the moment in the beginning of the movie when Cruise is fascinated by the strange dark clouds that are gathering above the city. That's it. Overall, I would say that War Of The Worlds feels very much like a Shyamalan film. The topic, the style of the movie, the cold, unnatural relationship between parent and kids, the naiveness, the sombre mood, the same kind of stillness ... Up there with Spielberg's best? That's a bold statement.
I see the similarities with Shyamalan, but I think it's pretty different overall (and not just because Spielberg is better at executing what approaches both filmmakers utilize). For one, WotW seems much more gritty and realistic compared to Shyamalan's restrained surrealism, especially in script and acting (oddly, in cinematography it is reversed). When Shyamalan wants to show a strained relationship, he uses silence. When Spielberg does, he uses dialougue that the characters use to (usually unsuccessfully) mask the tension. The latter is, in my experience, much more realistic. That's not a dig at either filmmaker - I think both results are intentional, and both work (at least in most of Shyamalan's films). But I prefer Spielberg's approach.
Up there with Spielberg's best? That's a bold statement.
Yup, and I stand by it! I think it proudly contributes to Spielberg's filmography, even though it is inferior to his classics (E.T., Raiders, etc.). It's on the second tier, the "almost good enough to vie for the title of best Spielberg film ever" tier. But even that distinction is probably more a matter of personal bias and nostalgia than anything else.
It's a good and very underrated film.
My biggest beef is that Tom Cruise is supposed by be a crane operator, which just does not ring true somehow...
It's a good and very underrated film. My biggest beef is that Tom Cruise is supposed by be a crane operator, which just does not ring true somehow...
My main problem with Tom Cruise is that in nearly every film he invariably is Tom Cruise.
He's brilliant at that though. No one is a better Tom Cruise then him.
It's a good and very underrated film. My biggest beef is that Tom Cruise is supposed by be a crane operator, which just does not ring true somehow...My main problem with Tom Cruise is that in nearly every film he invariably is Tom Cruise.
I disagree. He felt very much to me like a dad who, as the film progresses, becomes increasingly tortured by his kids' distance from him. I've never seen that from Cruise.
Yes It's Tom Cruise being frightened for the well being of his kids.
Indy, you were the one who thought Minority Report had a very dark ending, right?
Indeed he is. But he is not someone like Gary Oldman who disappears inside a role. He is too much a Tom Cruise to do that.
It's a good and very underrated film. My biggest beef is that Tom Cruise is supposed by be a crane operator, which just does not ring true somehow...My main problem with Tom Cruise is that in nearly every film he invariably is Tom Cruise.I disagree. He felt very much to me like a dad who, as the film progresses, becomes increasingly tortured by his kids' distance from him. I've never seen that from Cruise.
As Stefan said he does not feel like a dock worker but yes he is a bit more compelling in WotW than in some of his films.
No, I thought it was an optimistic ending, but it isn't anywhere close to the "happily ever after" ending that most people give it credit for. It's much more grey than it is black or white. But I was the one who made a big fuss about it.
My main problem is that it takes the viewer for a mug.
Incredible opening, though.
Oh yeah, all that family interaction stuff is completely believable...
Going to watch Super 8 this afternoon. There's been ZERO hype or promotion here; there's no buzz at all about it; mainstream cinema goers don't even know what it is. At the multiplex we're seeing it it doesn't even have top billing - it's only just come out this weekend...
I wonder why this broadly appealing, highly rated movie has been sent out to die over here. Bizarre.
There were like 10 people at the showing I attended.
Yes, Spielberg is more gritty, I suppose, but neither are realistic, IMO. Both directors love a similar style of heightened drama. (See the tone of basement scene in War Of The Worlds when Cruise is going to take care of the man behind closed doors - if they showed that clip on TV and I didn't know what it was, I could've sworn it was Shyamalan)
Gotta agree with you on that Shyamalan point you made earlier, Alex.
Such a sweet little animated film. Loved it.
A very misunderstood film. It's not a horror, but a satire.
Karol - who might see Tree of Life today
Well, it's a modern horror B-movie and very much aware of itself. Shyamalan tried the make one too with The Happening but it didn't turn out so well, IMO.
Alex - seemingly trying to link every post to Shyamalan today
Well, it's a modern horror B-movie and very well aware of itself. Shyamalan tried the make one too with The Happening but it didn't turn out so well, IMO.Alex - seemingly trying to link every post to Shyamalan today
Well, it's a modern horror B-movie and very well aware of itself. Shyamalan tried the make one too with The Happening but it didn't turn out so well, IMO.
Yes the trees were truly scary, swaying in the wind like that. The unseen enemy in the wind, poisoning our minds with madness. DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNN. I am sure it all looked fantastic on paper.
I can't fathom how they let this guy direct such abysmal things and throw away money but Hollywood is a strange place.
How?Alex - seemingly trying to link every post to Shyamalan today
They're showing it this week in one local small cinema. The fact that it is literally 7 minutes walk from my house makes it even more tempting.
How?Alex - seemingly trying to link every post to Shyamalan todayThey're showing it this week in one local small cinema. The fact that it is literally 7 minutes walk from my house makes it even more tempting.Karol
why not drive,
my theatre is about that or just a bit further but its already 97 and will be 107 in an hour or two, yuck.
The Pixar Story (available on Netflix streaming, one of the good things on there, for us Yanks who have Netflix).
Excellent and even moving documentary on one of the most incredible Hollywood stories since Disney.
Good and honest, but lazily paced (poorly edited) and not really all that satisfying. Spielbergian my arse. The seams which tie the plot together are too contrived to the point that the little conveniences show up as the poorly concealed necessities they are. The main kid was far and away the movie's highlight and saving grace, he turned in a genuinely touching performance.
*** / *****
So far the Europeans seem to be less impressed then the Americans.
The film is essentially a hodge-podge of the stuff you've seen for years now. Why on earth would anyone think of it as a great film is beyond me.
The Tree of Life.
Absolutely mesmerizing. I was dreading this film, to be honest. Afraid of it being pretentious and pompous in the attempts to say something relevant and profound. The trailer was wonderful, but that can be misleading. I'm happy to say it turned out to be very engrossing and wonderful experience. Impressionistic and subtle. I's say this is very close to what Stanley Kubrick tried to accomplish in 2001: The Space Odyssey, but from a more naturalistic tone poem perspective, quite typical for Terrence Malick.
Voice-overs didn't bother me at all. Often whispered, this time they seem more like a part of the sound design rather than to narrate things. I wasn't sure about these things in The New World or The Thin Red Line where, I thought, they weren't necessary. But here they work beautifully, completely integrated into the film. The use of music is very good too, as expected. There is very little of Alexandre Desplat in here. Which is probably a good thing for it is probably the least striking material to be found in the film. I like his contributions (and the album too), but there is something almost too shy about it.
It is one of the most gorgeously looking film I've ever seen. Every frame of it is an absolute beauty. It plays a lot with light and makes everything feel like a dream. In its drama portions parts, the film is almost entirely concentrated on faces, which seem very life-like and rich in emotions. Even if you won't like the film, the visual glamour will definitely make up for it. You can trust me on that. Emmanuel Lubezki delivers big time. I also need to mention the decision to bring Doug Trumbull from his retirement and bringing back some old school effects to the table. There is a bit of CGI as well, but it looks rather good. Overall if you were longing for some visuals that recall the greats of the 70's, then look no further.
The performances are great all around too. Altough, they are more a part of the whole experience that the director orchestrates, rather than driven by any plot and/or logic. The kids are great in particular. Surprising, if you consider the fact this is their first feature film. Brad Pitt gives one of the strongest performances in his career and not for a second I thought of him as Brad Pitt. Jessica Chastain looks absolutely gorgeous.
The funniest thing about The Tree of Life is that I can't be bothered to try and discuss its themes and implications. And I have no desire to. Partially because some of the stuff, if spoken aloud, would sound pretentious. And partially because it is about anything but analysis. Same with 2001 or Blade Runner. These kinds of films are very simple actually, of you think about it. They're not at all about their scripts/stories/characters/concepts. Their mastery lies in weaving all of the elements into an experience. And what is a film as a medium, if not an experience. They convey mood rather than tell a story.
This is a first time this year I had a really good time at the movies. I'm grateful. Didn't expect that coming.
P.S. Of course 12 people or so left 40 minutes into the film, so I guess this is already a rule of sorts.
how sad for you.
Looking forward to it, Croc.
Back on the subject of Super 8, and I must say I don't get all the fuss made here about the score. Yeah it's nice and perfectly serviceable, but it's nothing special. Just because it doesn't sound like an RC production doesn't automatically elevate it to greatness. The best thing I can say about it is it's inoffensive.
I am now officially a fan of his.
If you like the trailer, Quint, then it is pretty much exactly what the film is like. The music is in there too.
I finally watched Deathly Hallows Part 1. To quote Joker from Dark Knight, it was so BORING. I had to finish it today after falling asleep in the first 40 minutes yesterday. It did improve as it progressed. It was like Harry Potter crossed with an art house film.
The cinema was less than half full. Only released here this weekend. Dreadful turnout, and it really is a shame because the film is deserving of a visit to the pictures - considering the shite people seem perfectly willing to see normally.
I blame Paramount for failing to cough up a marketing budget of more than ten quid.
It was like Harry Potter crossed with an art house film.
You don't watch a lot of art house, right?
As for SUPER 8, after reading the last comments i'm somehow relieved that i am not feeling more like an ass - not more than usually i mean - for thinking it wasn't neither worth the time to shoot it nor the child actors it got.
So far the Europeans seem to be less impressed then the Americans.The cinema was less than half full. Only released here this weekend. Dreadful turnout, and it really is a shame because the film is deserving of a visit to the pictures.
The cinema was less than half full. Only released here this weekend. Dreadful turnout, and it really is a shame because the film is deserving of a visit to the pictures.
Wait, didn't you just say it sucked?
Read my amended post
And no, I didn't. I gave it 3/5.
Read my amended post And no, I didn't. I gave it 3/5.
You're all pawns.
You don't do middle ground?
Ha, I had to drive half an hour to an Art House theater to see it. None of the commercial theaters around here dare show it. Nobody walked out when I saw it.
I don't necessarily think the majority of the Super 8's fans consider it a GREAT film per se, but it is a refreshing one.
Like I said, it's certainly honest and well meaning, but I'd heard it harked back to the glory days of Spielberg; and does it buggery. If that was Abrams' intention then he's a nothing but a pretender.
I agree that Super 8 is rather refreshing - in as far as it's refreshingly uncynical. I guess maybe that's what people meant when they compared it with classic Spielberg.
Yeah, these are my sentiments too. There is nothing "wrong" with the movie as such.
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