Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The War of the Worlds

Well, it certainly wasn't E.T. (Which is a good thing). What I mean by this is that War was a profoundly intense movie. It was about as realistic as it is possible for an alien movie to be, in that you get the uneasy feeling in your stomach while watching the movie that if there was an alien invasion of Earth, this is basically what it would look like. Assuming the aliens were able to get themselves and their weapons all the way here across space, and were hostile, we would be slaughtered like cattle at a charnel house. As one of the characters says, "This is no more a war than we would have a war with maggots." I think that's about right.

The downside of this feeling is that it makes the movie not an entirely pleasant experience. In fact, I know of some people who actually walked out on the movie because of how disturbing it is. I sympathize with this feeling, especially given the similarities between the action in the movie and the terrorist attacks on this country and the recent ones on London. Still, I didn't find similar enough to make sitting through it an unpleasant experience.

One of my favorite parts of the movie was Morgan Freeman's narration at the beginning and end of the movie. It kind of set the story up as a grim fairy tale, or like The Grinch gone horribly wrong. The acting in the movie was top notch as well, with the possible exception of Tim Robbins. Dakota Fanning is a phenomenal young actress, and I thought Tom Cruise, nee Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, despite his recent insanity, did a solid job not being too much himself.

One last aspect I wanted to address, partially inspired by this post from Ann Althouse, is the political. I don't see this movie as particularly right- or left-wing. Some have commented that Tom Cruise's son in the movie is right-wing because of his desire to charge in and fight. I see what they're saying, but I don't entirely agree. On a personal level, I was the type who wanted to go fight the terrorists wherever they were after September 11. For various reasons, I did not, but I can see where the kid would want to fight. On the other hand, he should also have known that he had a duty to help his sister, especially when he did not entirely trust his father to take care of her. A loyalty to family is something also valued by those on the right, leading to a conflict between priorities.

Ultimately, I think his choosing duty over emotion would have been something more in line with the way the right sees the world, but because of the complications in his motivations I really think that you can't pin a political label on what's going on in the movie. To me, it's more about people's differing reactions to an attack like this, about how they would react and grow (or in the case of Tim Robbins' character, who is more of a right-wing caricature than the son, go nuts). The point is that if you don't try to map your political sensibilities onto the movie, nothing overly political will jump out at you.

This post has dragged on, so I will conclude by saying that I definitely recommend this movie. I'm not confident that I would watch it again, but it is definitely worth watching for the spectacle.


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