Sunday, July 17, 2005

War of the Worlds

note: this actually was over a week ago but this cute little baby distracted me and I forgot to post this.

Brent took me to the movies last night. It's always an interesting cultural experience to go to an actual theater. The theater in Hamilton is packed full of teeny-boppers displaying bellybuttons, tight ass jeans and attitude. They glare at you like you're invading their personal playground, which I guess we are. At nearly 30, we're as old fogey as you get.

So, the movie was actually pretty good. I have to say, it was by far the most faithful movie rendition of any sci-fi book I've ever read. If all science fiction movies were done that faithfully, maybe the majority of them wouldn't suck like they almost always do. But even better, the changes that were made to the script were generally good ones. Instead of a fussy British academic narrating the tale of his mostly solitary adventure, we have a New Jersey deadbeat dad attempting to return his kids to the safety of his ex-wife's parents' place in Boston. It worked, I think. They changed the aliens a bit, too; although they did portray them as dependent on mechanism, which is faithful to the book, they gave them fully developed bodies rather than simply being brains operating the machinery. This I feel neutral about. Other than that, the structure of the story remains intact, even the ending. I am especially happy about this, as I'm sure it would have been very tempting to play up the interstellar war thing and have America defeat the brainy bastards with our indomitable spirit and powerful weaponry. But, like the book, there's no "war" in War of the Worlds. Right as it looks like humanity has come upon its certain doom, the aliens mysteriously start to croak and the invasion falls apart. Earth's bacteria prove fatal to the alien invaders and, through no merit or effort of its own, humanity is saved from annihilation by the ecosystem.

One thing I found curious was that Tim Robbins' character carried over none of the religious hysteria displayed by the original character in the book. It would have been, I think, a very effective platform from which to make a statement on religious apocalypticism, and I am unsure why this road wasn't taken. It certainly would have added interest to the character and provided an opportunity for thought-provoking dialogue. As it is, Robbins is just a garden-variety kook, perhaps with a hint of incipient pedophilia setting in (there's a disturbing conversation between Robbins' character and Cruise's character's daughter). But, maybe that's just my preoccupation with all things theological kicking in again...I forget that I'm not normal.

So, that's it. Not a full review, certainly, but hopefully enough that those of you who, like me, have seen way too many bad movies made out of really wonderful science fiction novels and short stories will find it in you to hope once again that perhaps this time, it will be good. This time, I think, you'll find a movie worth watching.


Anonymous said...

But you told me how it ends. Why would I watch it now? I'm smiling but I refuse to use those stupid "emoticons."

JTB said...

God bless you for taking a stand against the Emoticons. That's the real War of the Worlds here if you ask me. Stupid smileys taking over! Blah!

And hey, you should know how it ends's a classic!!!