Monday, July 04, 2005

War of the Worlds: movie review

Ok, first things first:
This movie has been soundly trashed my legions of angry reviewrs at the IMBD and I couldn't agree more.
Yet, I still think Spielberg is a decent director and at the very least he knows his craft. It is the person responsible for the script who should commit harakiri or at minimum must be banished from the movie industry forever. The plot has so many holes it'd take several pages just to list them all. Generally speaking at various moments the movie brazenly defies verious laws of physics and/or common sense.
But Spielberg knows how to shoot a movie and all the script holes notewithstanding one can be genuinly impressed by his craft.

So the story is shallow but some implications the movie entails are more deep. I am talking here about the portrayal of Ray Ferrier, played by Tom Cruise, and his relationship with his estranged offspring.
Ray Ferrier is a working class guy, or what's now a more common reference to this type of people - 'white trash'. He comes off as a sheer looser, all so common type in Hollywood movies lately (it never ceases to amuze me how Hollywood stars manage to be both 'anti-establishment', i.e. anti-Bush, anti-corporation campaigns, and at the same time so condescending and elitist when it comes to the 'regular folks'. I mostly disagree with struturalists and discourse analysis proponents but it's just a trick of words: one man's working class person is another's white trash.)
His children are a five years old Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and a teenage boy Robbie (Justin Chatwin). The former is the sterotypical 'smart, cute, little' female, a girl-woman, very much akin to Lisa from the Simpsons. Many have found her quite annoying and I agree for deep psychological portraits are not Spielberg's best quality so he fails utterly, trying to present her as a smart child that's a child after all under precarious circumstances. Instead she comes off as either self-rigthous or, under duress, peevish.
Her brother though is a typical teenager, self-absorbed and full of coveted contempt for his lousy father. It's the relatiionship between Tom Cruise's character and his son that struck me most as being so contemptible. Cruise acts as if he were Robbie's older, jerk brother rather than his father. He of course set to redeem himself by sort of 'saving' them through the havoc of the invasion but even that is dubious. Most of the time, the trio are helpless victims of the circumstances (and why would he go to Boston in the first place?).

I don't know whether Spielberg's caricature of a man is actually an accurate depiction of reality but that it perpetuates male-bashing in North American culture is hardly doubtful.


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