War of the Worlds (2005)
Spilberg's "eye" of terror.
James Cameron and Stephen Spielberg famously ushered forward the CGI
revolution in the early 90's with films like Terminator 2 and Jurassic
Park. They set a trend, and since the late 90's we've been hit with one
CGI adventure movie after the other.
But Spielberg had his fun with his CGI dinosaurs, and soon moved on.
While lesser directors scrambled onto the CGI bandwagon, churning out
soulless nonsense like RESIDENT EVIL and TOMB RAIDER, Spielberg changed
gears and directed Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report, The Terminal,
AI etc. Argue about the quality of those movies all you want, but what
I'm trying to get at is that this guy tries his best to stay ahead of
the game. Ahead of the trends.
Saving Private Ryan broke new ground. I think it's a flawed film, but
nevertheless, it now serves as a template for all future war movies.
Loot at Black Hawk Down, can you imagine it shot with the static feel
of, say, Platoon?
So here we have War of the Worlds, and again we see Spielberg
developing a new "eye". And that is what fascinates me most about this
film. The camera stays fixed on Cruise and his family. We catch
fleeting glimpses of the alien invaders and their war machines. The
destruction and special effects whir by in the background, ominous and
looming but never dominating the screen.
Spielberg's camera is always running away, afraid to look at the
destruction, panning away from the effects, terrified! And what's
terrific is that this new "eye" suits the story.
I suppose it was only a matter of time before a director decided to
consciously play down special effects for dramatic purposes. Of course
this filming style is not new. But no other movie has ever used this
technique from start to finish with such intensity.
Aisde from this "eye", the movie is actually pretty standard. Instead
of children hiding from Raptors in cupboards, we have Cruise hiding
from invaders in basements. Spielberg handles the tension well, but its
all stuff you've seen him and others do before.
As for the "review" lock-down, I personally don't think it's warranted.
I don't see what Paramount is trying to suppress. I haven't given any
spoilers away in this review, but that's basically because the film had
no major spoilers for me to reveal! There are some twists but the
abrupt ending isn't earth-shattering.
Regardless, I suspect within the next few years, everybody will be
copying the style of this film. It will be interesting to see how
Spielberg chooses to shoot his next movie.
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