Friday, July 01, 2005

26 Strikes For War Of The Worlds

Intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. Amazing hook, a killer line. And Morgan Freeman's resonant voice makes the fantastic as fitting and matter-of-fact as falling down the rabbit hole. War Of The Worlds is a superb film, solid and sensational. The effects are incredible, there's nothing modern films can't delineate. People are comparing this film to Jaws, saying Spielberg ramps up the horror as good as he's ever done. That's true. Then they say the film cops out as soon as we've actually seen the aliens. And the aliens aren't horrible, that's true, too, but then, aliens are never horrible, not anymore. Monsters (true monsters, Grendel-stuff, inescapable man-eating nightmares) can be bad, but no one blinks anymore when Alien breaks out of another body. We've seen that violence all too often. But Spielberg goes clever, I think, and gives his audience something to see that will make this film a rental for years to come.The big reveal isn't the aliens, after all. That's a mistake on the viewer's part. The aliens are just pilots, part of the horrifying machines. The big reveal is The Victims. Soon as we see it's red, we get an idea of what the strange plants around the machines might be. But when we realize what that matter actually is, Godsake! Spielberg moves from horror to the horrific in classic Edgar Allan Poe style. Just like some of Poe's best work turns unseen horror into grotesque parodies, we're shocked to see the actual reality of what's being done to the human victims. The damage and the damaged, not the diabolus ex machina, become the hurting centre of this blood-soaked film. It's Twilight Zone, its Jaws, it's The Pit And The Pendulum. There's a few telling lines of broad social dialogue, of course (this IS a Spielberg film, after all): one of them, Dakota Fanning's flawlessly timed, "Is it terrorists?" brings back everything I felt when my brother shook me awake and convinced me that the USA was being attacked. Spielberg works with pretty obvious strokes here, but that's how he does it, that's his style. And don't blame the director for the weak ending to this film, either. At least the man makes it a quick ending. The homecoming scenes and the you-know-what are straight out of the novel, Morgan Freeman's last quote word for word from the original page. The strengths of this film far outnumber the weaknesses. H.G. Wells' The War Of The Worlds is a shocker, and so is this film. Listen, the riot scene alone was worth the price of admission! And the machines, boss, the machines!

Reading: I don't think you can call what I'm doing with We Need To Talk About Kevin reading, you know? More like I'm letting the story just happen in front of me. This novel is a sponge, I'm getting absorbed and suffocated by it, just excellent, excellent. Thank-you, Crystal. Anyway, Lionel Shriver wrote it.
Listening: They're not exactly subtle but that's not exactly the point. The band's description of the cd previous to the one this song is on goes: "Things get intense. Old Testament violence, the Book of Revelation as read by Roger Corman, true love in Infocom parsing errors and the most brutal Buchla synth composition recorded in these 2000s (it's 52 minutes long). Smash-mastered as hot as we could get it." Most of those old words still apply to this newer release. Plus, young voices quickly clarion "Whoo!" four times across the singer's frantic ravings."Vampire Beats" + Mae Shi

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