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  Crescent Blues Book Views

The tradition of Born on the Fourth of July (1989) works perfectly here. Tom Cruise starred in that film as an anti-war protester. Now, he runs for his life as a father alienated from his own children. The holiday coincidence maximizes the chance that audiences may explore this timely subject.

As a father, though, what crime does he commit? He meets rebellion with firmness and consistency. He seeks only the survival of his offspring. His single-minded focus brings reality to every far-fetched macabre invention.

His teenaged son (Justin Chatwin) acts out the behavior of youngsters who must deal with doubled authority figures when their parents divorce. When he flees his father, he heads straight for the malignant Martians. His rebellion becomes a go-for-broke quest for maturity.

His charming daughter (Dakota Fanning) achieves the impact of a Clara Bow. Her face registers every suspicion and already seems imprinted on the audience. Each time Cruise carries this family treasure through havoc, he shelters half of cinematic history in his arms.

Such delicate touches epitomize the human side of war -- families never to touch again. Hats off to director Stephen Spielberg for concentrating on the children in this story! The Freudian battle does not stop when nations declare war or sign a treaty.

As the obstructionist posing as an ally, Tim Robbins becomes the adult they must never be. If they can conquer him, they will realize that war inevitably creates oceans of blood. Love still treads furiously -- and may offer a lifesaver.

Do not underestimate the impact this movie may have on tender sensibilities. In fact, its horrific elements may point all the way back to Blood Feast (1963).

The tentacles of War of the Worlds prove deceptive. They drop like anacondas from above while cohorts fracture urban infrastructure from below. Sandwiched in between two reigns of terror, the human family becomes akin to earthworms. Even the slightest wriggle may bring detection -- and slaughter.

These alien devices carry the carnage through the earth's natural veins -- tree roots and spreading vines. This savage imagery will unnerve those who prefer green to red in their backyards. Its repugnance magnifies the villainy of Dune (1989), spreading blood lust over the face of the earth.

The atmosphere of impending doom derives from the original Paradise Lost, where Satan scans creation with "envy" (Book IV. 115). Wells applies the same term to the Martians; Morgan Freeman's reading of "envious eyes" drums the point home here. Both, in turn, rely on scriptural tradition: I John 11.16 warns of the "lust of the eyes."

If giant surveillance cameras bedevil so many characters, all share a right to scream.

Much as he admired the H.G. Wells' original, viewers should be aware that Spielberg never intended this movie to be a remake of anything. In the telling interviews on Moviefone, he simply says: "Tell a story -- that's the secret!" Furthermore, he insists that every moviemaker must "express your own originality."

Meg Curtis

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