War of the Worlds – From IPOD to Tripod attacks

war of the worlds

I’ve never walked out of a movie hall after a Spielberg flick like this, so untouched. Coming from H.G.Wells novel of the same name, War of the Worlds fails to impress because of it’s loose knitted screenplay and the influence of numerous movies that have stemmed over the years on alien attack. Considered to be the Mother of Alien Attack fiction, this HG Wells book is best read with its context in place than to be seen. Spielberg fails to impress, leaving a die-hard fan think, whether summer blockbusters are made just for seizing the box-office.

We have this husky voice-over of Morgan Freeman, quoting first few lines from the book and after that the camera briefly pans over the post-9/11 skyline hinting us on the social/political metaphors, the movie is set to deliver. When the aliens [not essentially our favored Martians] attack through the tripods [not IPODs], buried under the earth’s crust some million years back, the day on earth is July 4th. As the world slowly succumbs to the alien invasion, a father tries to save his kids from the terror and in the process fights for the survival of human race. All this and more masterfully told by Spielberg from one man’s point of view, just as the original story of HG Wells.

Instead of the thrilling dialogues and clichéd super-hero characters of the Independence Day types, War of the Worlds feature a rather unassuming divorced dad who runs from/after the alien creatures to save his kids. In the process of saving his family, he emerges as an unsung hero by making on-the-fly moral decisions, at times of catastrophe. Ever alien attack movie, including this, doesn’t even outline the reason for their attack, leaving the audience to ponder. As the dock worker, Ray Ferrier [Tom Cruise] tries to ‘baby sit’ his teenage kids over the weekend, he has the slightest clue of what terror is. Even as he looks up to the sky, he is puzzled by the weird movement of leaves moving to the eye of a storm. When he witnesses, the tripods plunging from the earth and breaking buildings with a practiced ease, he knows his kids are in danger. And as the tripods send rays of light to just evaporate people, leaving their clothes flying in air, he knows they are under attack.

With the grey dust on his coats and panic stricken people running on streets, Spielberg subtly reminds of the 9/11 attacks and the makes a statement on how men on earth, wage wars-of-survival at times like these. There are no worlds involved here. Just a single family’s witnessing of the Armageddon and its aftermath is misnamed as War of the Worlds. We see the blood sucking tripods and the creepy creatures called aliens walking into a house to inspect it and how a young girl kid watches it with open jaws. This long sequence has Spielberg’s brilliance except that I wished he never showed the aliens on screen like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 – A Space Odyssey. The family also gets into trouble because an unruly mob attacks them. This is one silent yet powerful sequence displaying the mental attitude of a panic-driven mob.

While there are sensational episodes all over, the movie as a whole fails to impress. The sweet ending framed for the summer blockbuster is a true let down. While I was largely excited by major part of the movie, it fails to deliver in the end. It’s an intelligent move for Spielberg to stick with one man’s point of view in the movie and that by itself should be able to grip the audience. It’s the screenplay that doesn’t allow the audience to cuddle up with the movie. It’s detached at various fronts, especially due to the characterization of Tom Cruise. Also logical errors prevent from getting related to the story.

Tom Cruise is missing while Dakota Fanning as his daughter is impressive. But the impressive of all is the Justin Chatwin as Robbie, a teenaged rebellious son of Tom Cruise. Not to forget the impressive short note of Tim Robbins as the man with the gun. The special effects are as brilliant as any other Spielberg flick and one reason why the movie has to be watched in a big screen. Vivid images of the dead bodies seeping through water, a speeding-burning train, blood sucking of the tripods and ofcouse the human sucked by laser with their clothes flying on air, show the doomsday without any pretensions. John Williams scores the music just like every other Spielberg film and this one has some extraordinary BGMs with a classical tone. This movie is one good example of what digital film-making is capable of. Yet another long timer with Spielberg, Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography scintillates just like Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan.

Though the movie is set to be a summer blockbuster and money spinner at box-office, this isn’t the best of Spielberg. While I am sure, I could identify Spielberg in his next coming films, hugely missing him in this one, will be a long-running nightmare for me. Again, I’ve never walked out of a movie hall after a Spielberg flick like this, so untouched.

Tring Tring….

samsung e315

I ain’t sure if this is the coolest looking mobile in town, but its the most profitable to own. Amazon allows me to buy this Samsung E315 for $100, with a T-Mobile connection and gives back $200. So I get the phone for no cost and also get an extra $100. Cool. I would probably buy few books and DVDs for that extra money that would come to me through mail after 3-4 months. BTW, I have no idea what I would do the with T-Mobile’s 1000 minutes/month plan with unlimited minutes on weeknights/weekends.

This Samsung E315 has a VGA camera and video recorder with 15 second clips. Also allows me to take profile shots of myself. I was looking out for Nokia 6620 and just because T-Mobile doesn’t offer that in my zipcode, I had to settle with this. On the merry-go-round of my mobile shopping, I bumped upon a common truth, myself. In Asia/India, we have more advanced phones than what’s offered here in US of A.

Now, you guys don’t bounce those comments on the latest cell phones and make me feel more envious !!

Sachein – Smoke Robot

Sachein was horrendous. When the movie was announced, from the posters, I sensed that it was a going to be a 3 hour long advertisement like Minsara Kanavu. It ended up just as expected and was also hugely non-interesting. Yet another good example of how a movie can bore you to the core because of bad/no screenplay.

With the screenplay nearly non-existing and the ghost of ‘Khushi’ wavering around, one couldn’t expect much than this. Though the characters talk naturally like the college crowd, it’s the characterisation and the predictable story that’s irritating. The movie seems better as it nears the end, or probably I felt happy as it was about to end. Why whould someone want to direct his debut movie which is a out-right rehash of a earlier movie done by the same star ? That just says how the producer and the director ‘believes’ a tamil movie fan. Forget Johan, the debutant director doing the mistake. Imagine Vijay himself, who wants to do Kushi again. Clearly shows how Vijay cares-a-damn about his audience and his belief that his fan following would make this movie a super-hit.

While Vijay, like other characters in movie, starts artificially, he goes on to carry the light-weight movie upon him to the end. Vijay has a long way to go in acquiring dialogue delivery skills. As he starts to talk at the camera after every 5 minutes, it seems like a movie shot strictly for his fans. I couldn’t believe Harini can act so bad. While she did a good debut in Boys, she is intolerable with her performance. Her inspirations drawn from the well-performed Jyothika hasn’t helped at all. Bipasha Basu could very well stay polluting the bollywood with her vamp looks. The bloated Vadivelu with his paunch and overdone powder makeup, seems out-of-place.

In a movie, where everthing except photography[Jeeva] is overdone, the smoke machine operator walks away with the credit for the ‘best overdone component’ of the movie. As every single character walks into/out-of a room/scene, the smoke seems to follow them sacredly. This starts to irritate right from the first shot when Vijay walks into the airport. With two ghanna songs asking to tap foot, I’m still googling for the BGMs.

Though it was partly my mistake to expect Johan to perform like his father, Mahendran, his story/screenplay has been the biggest villain. Lastly, if only Vijay wants to take over kollywood by talking to the camera and by rehashing his older flicks with newer heroines, he is having a bad dream.

P.S : Johan has a long way to go before he could be compared on the sames lines as his dad. Being an avid Mahendran fan, I only hope Johan ‘delivers’ a good show, next time.

Contact Weekend

I’ve been lazy, not offlate, for quite sometime. From Shalini’s new kid to Anand’s Silicon India Interview to Srikanth’s Curry Rock[i know you are in India, Sriks], there are a bunch of friends with special occasions and 10 digit numbers that I need to dial-in to get in touch with. That’s my only job this week other than the 8 movies that have arrived from the library today.

Well, yeah!!…there is car search, bellevue strawberry festival, shopping uppu/pulli/perungayam at mayuri, hair cut, guests for lunch on saturday and ofcourse the favorite blogging. All this in less than 48 hrs from now. Gotta go….