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I took a couple of hours off today and saw "War of the Worlds" -- the new one. In the classic film, the premise was much simpler. The space badguys come down in spaceships protected by a lot of rock and land hard on the ground. The rock breaks open and the big three legged war machines come out blasting. Why mess with that? Its simple. In the new one, the war machines are already here. The space badguys ride lightening storms down to the spaceships. Weird, but alright I guess. In the classic film, no real reason is needed for things to happen. They come, they blast, they get sick, and they die. In the new one, they turn people into food and fertilizer to grow their instant-weed gardens all over everything by spraying them with blood. That's stupid. Sorry, its just stupid. Also, they get sick because they eat our food (well, us) and drink our water. Imagine the conversation in the spaceship pod thingy... "We've traveled billions of miles, reached our pre-planted tripod things that we buried in the ground the last time we were here, we've got the cool rayguns, we've got the cool lighting bolt riding ships, but YOU FORGOT TO PACK THE COOLER? HELLO? What are we supposed to eat, the vermin we're supposed to chop up and make into plantfood?
As far as our leading man, Tom Cruise -- who I am, like Richard, even more disgusted with than ever (and for the same reason) -- I have to say that everyone is wrong. He's the perfect choice given the script. He plays himself perfectly. He's a complete arrogant, self centered asshole who starts the movie off by blowing off the boss who needs his help. He spends the entire movie looking out only for himself, and to some extent his kids. His kids clearly know better than to rely on him though, which is probably true in real life -- but who knows. He runs over people in his stolen Dodge Caravan (which runs because he's the only one who figured out that old cars are less effected by EMP, and a changed starter solenoid will set things right) to prevent anyone else taking it. His only act of courage (well, other than the mandatory 'get caught so you can sneak into the bad guy's tank-thing and get your daughter back' scene -- which made no sense at all) in the entire movie involves killing another human being.
Some leftover questions from the movie:
1. Why didn't the aliens take over the first time when they planted the spaceships? Were they waiting for a food source? It would have to have been recent enough for plate tectonics to not have obliterated the machines, but early enough that no people remember seeing them -- which means there was plenty of wildlife around.
2. You can travel billions of miles through space -- twice, then ride lightning bolts into the ground to get in the car and drive around killing people and blowing up things with a cool death ray, but you don't consider testing the local air, food, and water? Personally, I don't even drink the water in Mexico unless I'm planning to stay a few weeks and am willing to deal with the "acclimation process" as it were.
3. The daughter is allergic to peanut butter -- and he doesn't know this? Forget how much he does or doesn't pay attention to the kids -- the mother would have driven him insane already about it. Believe me, I know this. Coryn is allergic to peanut butter.
4. The plan is to first deposit the war machines, then wait thousands of years, come back, then invade and make a big mess, and finally start teraforming (or marsiforming, or whatever) the planet. Hunh? Seems like an order of operations problem. I'd have thought you'd want to maybe plant the cosmic kudzu about the time you hide the walking ray-gun machines. Even the Visigoths knew better than that. You must do things in the right order if you're going to do them. Remember, you have to pillage BEFORE you burn the place down. I'm reminded of "....ok, now you, me, and Sir Robin wait until nightfall and jump out of the rabbit....er.... well...... we could build a giant badger...."
5. Why are the lights still on in the Boston Back Bay area where the in-laws live in a lovely (and expensive) brownstone -- one household which appears entirely untouched by the events of the film. You can almost smell the roast cooking inside.
6. Ok, the vacuum thing when the three-legged tanks come out of the ground -- it makes a whirlpool in the water, a big hole in the ground, and a storm that sucks the wind toward it -- so where does all that dirt/air/water go?
7. More on the storm thing. The lighting hitting one spot to soften the ground and charge up the tank things -- cool enough. Why in hell did they have to make the lightening devoid of thunder? That's stupid. Lightening makes heat, heat moves air, and the sky turns into a bit soft cone speaker sending sound waves out. What's the point of that changing here for no reasons?
8. Thousands of metalic three legged tank things burried fairly close to the surface of the planet -- and in thousands of years, nobody noticed. Not in all the mining, excavation, site planning, surveying, bombing, tunneling, and gardening. Not with all the satallite imagery looking for oil and gold, not with the ground pounding radar, not with the fault line investigations, not at all. Nope. Big secret. Thousands of tons of metal down there, we just happened to miss.
And of course, as Tom Duff pointed out, how is it that the EMP which took out all the cars (including the hot rod Mustang which should still have been running) and watches, and clocks, and lights, and cell phones, managed spare that one guy's camcorder?
Well, the special effects weren't bad. And to be honest, the opening scenes were pretty well done -- if technically inane.
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