War of the Worlds (PG-13)
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The movie opens and closes with Morgan Freeman narrating opening and closing passages from H.G. Wells's novel of the same name. So... it's nice to have some familiar stuff, because precious little in between those narrations will be familiar. I don't think I've ever actually read the book, though I've heard radio adaptations of it before (one by L.A. Theatre Works, as well as the 1938 Orson Welles version, which I presume we've all heard at some point, yes?). Anyway, I've nothing against the movie at all. As a disaster movie, it's pretty damn good, in my opinion. As science fiction... eh, not so much. I mean, it's fine and all, but there's not much to think about, here, it's all pretty visceral. Originally I included my review under "science fiction," but I decided to move it to "action/adventure." If I ever see it again, I might reconsider, but I don't expect to do so.
It follows a divorced man named Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise), whose ex-wife and her new husband drop off Ray's teenaged son Robbie and 10-year-old daughter Rachel (Dakota Fanning) for the weekend or whatever. Things are somewhat awkward between Ray and his kids, especially with Robbie. But soon enough, there's a freakish lightning storm, and everything electrical stops working. Then gigantic tripods come up out of the ground and start shooting lasers all over the place. Lots of death and destruction. Everyone starts panicking, naturally enough. Ray finds a working vehicle, and takes his kids off in attempt to reach their mother and stepfather in Boston. And stuff happens along the way. Tons and tons and tons more death and destruction and panicking people. Eventually Robbie goes off on his own, and Ray and Rachel end up taking shelter with a guy named Harlan Ogilvy, a few of whose lines are clearly inspired by one of the characters in the novel.
Well, aside from giving characters names, and having a family make a journey (instead of a solitary man), and adding tons of special effects, and having the aliens not be from Mars, specifically (no telling where they're from, in this movie), and of course being set in the present day, um... I don't think that much has changed. Except for all the, you know, details. So it should come as no surprise to anyone how the invasion is ultimately thwarted. I dunno, there's probably not much point to the movie, really, other than making the studio and actors a bunch of money. Still, I thought it was fairly cool.