Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Martians Have Come and Gone, So What's the Big Deal?

WAR of the WORLS by H.G. Wells is my all time favorite novel. Many of my friends have asked me why I haven't done a thorough review of the new War of the Worlds film by Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise. The truth of the matter is the film was really good. But at the same time it was no where near perfect.

They're coming!

What I thought?

Spielberg's film was an artistic and cinematic piece of beauty! An astounding piece of cinema where every frame was art. Just look at the beautiful lighting of the stills! However, the film definitely needed to be done as a period piece. This would have eliminated those awkward technology bloopers in the film's continuity. Especially the well known cell phone/camcorder electro magnetic pulse tangle up. But you can't blame the powers that be for missing a little continuity in a big budget Hollywood blockbuster. I mean, the film is meant to perform and entertain, and in the end the pressures of filming such a monster film under a deadline creates for more opportunities to error. I personally found the film to be a wonderful sci-fi adventure, and I'm sure it will turn classic science fiction thriller.

Where I'm sure the Spielberg version of War of the Worlds will go down in history as a decent film with a mass cult following. This doesn't detract from the obvious clash of humanity's portrayal in the films though, and one thing we do know is that the new movie depicts people in a less than humanitarian light. Do I blame Spielberg for this? Yes and no. His fault isn't in miss-labeling people in general, his fault is simple, he followed to book too closely. He followed it all the way down to the red Martian land-scaping of Earth, which was a welcome treat, and he also got the tone of panic just right and amped it up with his cinematic tension. All in all, I think that the movie "Signs" starring Mel Gibson is a much more accurate version of the concept behind War of the Worlds. It rather feels like a tribute vs. a remake. Spielberg's film is a fun pop-corn romp, but if you're looking for the read deal, then I recommend you read the book.

Puny humans!

The original novel by Wells was one of dazzling imagination and genuine fear of the "other". The outside threat that couldn't be understood, controlled, or defeated posed a great deal more emotional terror than the new film. Continuing with that feeling was Orson Well's when he threw the nation into panic with the War of the Worlds radio broadcast in 1938. All this was hinged on America's fear of the "other". Today, terrorism is that "other" but at the same time we are not limited to such a back water country no telephone it's a small world after all feel. This is the 21st century! Our world is indeed microscopic to the Orson Wells and H.G. Wells concept. We have a fully networked communication grid via Internet, satellites, cell phones, etc. And surprisingly, this had no effect on Martians, but what we do know is the panic depicted in the Spielberg film mimics the panic of the past. Yet post 9/11 we know that true terror doesn't come from Aliens. True evil comes from men themselves. And the strong bond and quick humanitarian comradery which we saw post 9/11 is surprisingly lacking in this film. This sets it off for most viewers, and gives the movie an unrealistic tone.

After that the rest of the film is just eye-candy. But just think if it was done as a period piece? Great costume design, no worries about technological continuity or accuracy, and the wide-spread panic and less than humanitarian actions of the humans would have made perfect sense! But as is, you get a negative feeling about the human characters and between the apathy and the zaney craziness of their actions you find yourself cheering on the aliens with every heat ray blast they land to the puny earthlings. The new movie is fundamentally flawed for being too close to the original story, but not original enough to separate itself and stand on its own.

And that's my two cents worth, for all those who were wondering.

Is it all about family. Or survival?

This link will take you to the archived radio broadcast of Orson Well's adaptation of H.G. Well's War of the Worlds.


For inforamtion on the panic that this infamous radio broadcast caused in 1938, refer to this website: http://history1900s.about.com/od/1930s/a/warofworlds.htm

Also, more interesting information on how hundreds of thousands Americans could be decived found at: http://www.waroftheworldsfilm.com/radio_broadcast.shtml

More discussion, and a site with lots of links on WotWs: http://www.greatnorthernaudio.com/sf_radio/wow.html

No comments: