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*** Official WAR OF THE WORLDS Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Fred Bang, Jun 27, 2005.

  1. Kirk Tsai

    Kirk Tsai Screenwriter

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    There is an astonishing shot with the three in the car early in their ride. The camera seems to be able to circle arond the car, but then it also was able to go into the van that Cruise was driving.
     
  2. Tino

    Tino Executive Producer
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    I noticed that shot too. Very impressive.
     
  3. Chris Harvey

    Chris Harvey Second Unit

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    Quentin, as usual, very nicely and concisely lays out the pros and cons of the film (at least, as I saw it). I had a tremendous time watching it, and the first hour is jaw-dropping in so many ways -- and is so intense -- that it really carries the rest of the film (which I found increasingly rough in terms of pacing).

    The "lullaby" scene strikes me as Spielberg pulling his punches, in favor of a lighter moment (Ray's choice of lyrics got a smattering of chuckles in the theatre). I suppose you could argue that a lighter moment is needed, at that point, to help the audience relax, but no doubt it feels a bit off (it didn't bother me that much, though).

    A greater problem, for me, is the amount of screentime spent in Ogilvy's basement. There simply isn't enough interesting stuff happening to justify the lengthy time we spend there -- and there's not enough payoff either.

    That, coupled with Spielberg's ridiculous "happy family reunites" moment and the abrupt ending, make the last act far, far weaker than the earlier ones. (For Pete's sake, couldn't he at least have smeared some mud and/or dirt onto Miranda Otto and her relatives? The convenience of having all of them happily reunite in a seemingly un-touched neighborhood as if nothing had happened is preposterous.)

    While I don't mind keeping Wells' original ending, there are a couple of issues with how Spielberg and Koepp dealt with it. The first is merely a regurgitation of SIGNS -- are we to believe that these aliens didn't bother with encounter suits or inoculations before invading? Very convenient. Secondly (and more importantly), the ending doesn't work because it's so sudden -- not only are the invaders suddenly dead, but we don't even get a sense of humans confronting the shock of all the destruction (and the inevitable rebuilding): the film is simply over, with the dulcet tones of Morgan Freeman reassuring us.

    Imagine if even the film had been just a few minutes more, but during those few minutes, if we had stayed with Ray as he, and those around him, began to grasp how close we had all come to total extinction, and of the collective grief as we began to bury those we loved, and a sense of the oncoming effort to rebuild our destroyed homes. (Of course, this impact could have been stronger had someone close to Ray died.) Instead, we have an abrupt ending with little setup and no cathartic relief.

    I realize this post makes it sound like I really didn't like the movie -- I did like it, a great deal. But I liked it in spite of its flaws, rather than not noticing flaws at all.
     
  4. Brent M

    Brent M Producer

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    Tim,

    I'm with you on the sound mix of this film. This was BY FAR the best sounding film I've ever heard at my local theater(even better than Episode III) and the bass almost rattled the teeth out of my mouth. I can't wait to hear this movie on my home system when it's released on DVD. It might even top Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan DTS mix which remains one of my Top 5 demo discs to this day. [​IMG]

    Oh, and they might as well start engraving "War of the Worlds" on the visual FX Oscar right now because this movie is a hands-down, no contest winner. I thought the visuals in Episode III were the best I had ever seen, but ILM even topped that with their work on this movie. I don't think King Kong has a snowball's chance in hell of having better visuals that WotW(especially with some of the horrible CG shots that were in that trailer) and I can honestly say I've never seen better special effects than the ones in this flick. Simply amazing!
     
  5. Galen_V

    Galen_V Second Unit

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    Someone at the junket asked Muren about that sequence last week, and he said that it's actually 9 different shots put together. If you look really closely you can see where the "breaks" are, but it's still a wonder to behold. I also really liked the shot when Ray walks into the living room and starts looking around and grabbing things, with the camera finally zooming in perfectly on his watch.

    Three more quick points:

    1) Anyone else catch the dead cow on the ground as Ray is leaving Ogilvy's basement? I thought that was a nice touch (as was the alien playing with the bicycle).

    2) While I think that ROTS still has the best visual effects of the year, nothing can touch the sound design of this movie. I thought Batman was good two weeks ago-the tripod horn nearly blew apart the Ziegfeld.

    3) I don't know if this happened at anyone else's screenings, but the shot of the 'Welcome to Boston' sign, with the city smoldering in the background, was received with thunderous applause from the audience I was with. Got to love New Yorkers. [​IMG]
     
  6. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I have been alternating between thinking it was him and not. It clearly sounded like him, but not as deep as his usual voice. And some of the intonnations threw me off. Weird.

    Was he trying to immitate someone else? I never saw the original movie(s) or heard the radio show.

    --
    H
     
  7. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    While I thought this shot was impressively done (like the one that was done in "Contact" as well - Ellie going upstairs to get to the medicine cabinet), it sort of pulled me out of the movie, especially when the camera floats up and away from the Caravan-like vehicles. It's like "how the hell did they do that?" but by then, I was out of the film for a bit pondering the technicalities of that swirling tracking shot.

    The middle section with Tim Robbins just dragged for me. The hide-n-seek stuff with the alien snake-probe just felt like bits of "Minority Report" and other similar films.

    Ray's arc never hit home for me, perhaps it was because the macro-story of how the aliens were "defeated", and Ray's micro-story just never did mesh all that well in the narrative, it was a mutually exclusive bit of storytelling that never connected with me. The very end with the son showing up, Bah! I'd rather Ray's "parenting" cost him something in this "war of the worlds", rather than him getting a free pass. I kept thinking, if Tom Cruise wasn't playing Ray, should I give a crap about this family during this crisis of galactic proportions? The character development for the family members just wasn't all that interesting to me.

    BTW, the scene in 1st act showing one guy taking photos, I'm pretty sure that was a disposable camera by the way he was winding it for the subsequent shots taken. The camcorder was a little too ambitious given the amount of time between the EMP strike and when the tripods were nuking the hell out of Ray's neighborhood.
     
  8. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I don't think any one mentioned the crashed 747, that was really neat. I don't remember seeing any bodies though. And I agree with whoever said the exposition with those reporters was utterly unecessary.

    Is there any chance that the nice neighborhood and somewhat abrupt ending might be due to the very short production time? I know Spielberg is a fast shooter, but a few months is awfully short for a film of this magnitude. I also know that films are rarely shot chrnologically, so I guess this thery doesn't make a whole lotta sense after all...

    --
    H
     
  9. Chris Harvey

    Chris Harvey Second Unit

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    I know that the production schedule was front-loaded with the FX-heavy scenes, to give ILM more time... but at the same time I doubt the quick schedule is behind any shortcomings with the ending.
     
  10. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    I'm rather ambivalent about the film. Some of it was amazing but I was bored through long stretches.

    On a technical level its probably the most impressive I've seen in years and the setpieces are easily at the level or better of Spielberg's entire career.

    But the family arc utterly failed for me. Cruise was fine, I suppose. I *hated* the bratty son in every single scene. I was happy when he went off to "die" but hated the setup of that scene since it made no sense why he was so compelled to go over that hill. I was just thankful to be rid of him. Dakota Fanning certainly has some impressive acting chops but I find her rather creepy- she comes off as way too adult for me. Of course this applies to all of her roles. Ultimately I wasn't once invested in the fate of this particular family.

    I also hated that Cruise had to personally save the day twice. I would have been fine with the grenade scenario if it had been the solider handing him the belt as he was being sucked up but I didn't like it as is. Even worse was that Cruise had to point out the the *trained* soldier that the shields weren't working in the final sequence.

    The happy ending- abysmal. The townhouse was way too untouched, especially considering that it had power. I would have expected any and all locations with power to be overrun with refugees in short order and certainly there would be widespread looting, especially of such an affluent neighborhood. It would have been far more effective if that last scene had taken place in some sort of refugee shelter in the Boston area

    And the fact that, against all logic, the son lived through the napalming of the hill and made his way to Boston? Horribly contrived.

    Absolutely amazing direction destroyed by a mundane and predictable script.
     
  11. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    I also think the ending of the film was the worst Ive seen all year. This movie does NOT DESERVE A HAPPY ENDING.

    I thought the rest of the movie up to the last 20 minutes were great. I was really amazed by the sights, and when Cruise got out of the farm and looked across the horizon, I thought...yeah, this movie is gonna really turn out amazing.

    But then we get one of the biggest 180s ever when the pods stop working and the family reunited. Thank god those four survived; screw the billions of other lives destroyed.

    I thought Ebert was really off base in his review before I saw the movie, but now I think he didnt go far enough. What a depressingly blah film. [​IMG]
     
  12. Patrick H.

    Patrick H. Second Unit

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    This was indeed a horrific noise that I hope to never hear in my daily life! However, did anybody else notice that EXACT same combination of chords was used, musically, as the major unifying element of the new Batman soundtrack?! Having just seen Batman Begins for the second time a couple days earlier, hearing that same sound blast out of the alien war machine really threw me...

    Some other observations:

    Best dialogue...
    "Is it terrorists, dad?!"
    "No, these things came from someplace...else..."
    "Like...from Europe?"
    "NO, NOT FROM EUROPE!"
    HAH!

    The opening of this movie was a pure frightening blast. It was like watching Spielberg single-handedly outdo everything horrific we've seen both in the news and the movies over the past decade or so. The mass-panic scenes are as scary as anything involving the monster tripods, and when both come at once, the film gets truly disturbing. The scene where the ferry is capsized really unnerved me. We've seen a lot of varying shades of Spielberg over the past ten years or so...this is the Spielberg apocalypse. It ain't nice.

    I had no problems with the resolution of the invasion at the end, either. It was in line with the book and made sense enough. However, the dramatic resolution did NOT really work for me. It had too much of a "crossing the finish line" feel to it. Some more uncertainty would've helped a lot...maybe having Cruise and Fanning finding the grandparents' block destroyed and having to deal with the possibility that nobody survived, THEN seeing them climb out of the rubble (without the son, either...a reminder of all that was lost) would've sold it a little better. Or perhaps having them just finding Robbie there alone among the ruins and facing the future as a new family unit... The film tries to have it both ways, though, and that just doesn't wash with the tone of what came before at ALL. Sometimes just a little bit of hope at the end of so much horror is what really satisfies, whereas a whole bucket-load just spoils the effect.

    Still, a good film overall and an impressive flexing of Spielberg muscle (especially following 'The Terminal'). Batman wins in the end, though. He always does. [​IMG]
     
  13. Tino

    Tino Executive Producer
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    Not in my book. War Of The Worlds is miles better than Batman Begins. More thrilling, more suspenseful, more exciting.

    Liked Batman Begins, loved War Of The Worlds.

    YMMV[​IMG]
     
  14. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    My biggest problem was with Robbie living. There is no way that I can see that he would have survived, and if they were going to have him survive, they should have shown how, just to make it believable. Besides, with all the people that died in the invasion, Tom came through pretty well with his daughter. Having the son die would have brought the general loss that the world was feeling into evidence.

    My other problem was with the way they gave the characters too much information about the aliens. OK, so most of it could be dismissed as theories, but still... Also, I don't buy why they had to have the tripods buried for so long. Why couldn't they just arrive? (Isn't that what happened in the book?) This also feeds into the last problem, which is just that the aliens seem to have been watching Earth for too long to not get their flu vaccinations.

    Other than that, I really liked the film - including Tim Robbins. (And I have no doubt in my my mind that Tom did kill him). It was in tense and scary and exciting, and I really loved it. It has been a few years since I read the book, but the actual major beats of the original story (as I remember them) seemed pretty much dead on (other than the changes to update the film and give the main character a family). And they kept the common-cold ending of the original, which I was completely expecting to be changed or replaced.

    When I heard Tom was playing a divorced father, and that they cast Miranda Otto for the wife, I was really worried they were going to have a "getting the ex-wife back" story. Really glad they didn't do that.

    Sound was just great. The cry of the aliens in particular was bloody terrifying.

    Overall, great film. I had a few problems with it, but overall I loved it, it was a great experience, and I'm looking forward to the DVD.
     
  15. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    "I don't think any one mentioned the crashed 747, that was really neat. I don't remember seeing any bodies though."

    I remember seeing one lady still strapped in near the front of the plane not moving.

    Brent
     
  16. DavidPla

    DavidPla Cinematographer

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    There were dead bodies... not in detail but you can see some bodies slumped over in their seats.
     
  17. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Spoiler Alert.

    It would have been a richer experience if Robbie had died. I know that sounds ironic but it's the tough gut wrenching choice that Ray makes by letting his son go, then he retrieves his daughter...then the BLAST.

    The family shot in the end was too much. Still a great film but I would have made it end a bit differently.

    Not sure about the Visual Affects award yet. It will be tight for sure. They are different looking films for sure (ROTS & WOTW)...The Sound mix does go to WOTW. Not because it is better one just more pronounced and in your face. ROTS was the most subdued mix of the entire SAGA. I think this was intentional. I really do. It's a different film from the other PT and more personal.

    The invasion sequences and other distrastrous moments in WOTW are meant to jolt you visually and sonically and they do DELIVER.
     
  18. Simon Massey

    Simon Massey Cinematographer
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    Absolutely loved this film, with one reservation which everyone seems to agree on. The son should definitely not have been there at the end of the film. With all the death and destruction going on around the characters, the film needed them to suffer a personal loss as well. I thought the film had that until those final moments. I was waiting for the mother's realization that the son hadn't made it what happened after spoiled it really.

    Still think ROTS should win the visual FX Oscar to date (and I think it will do on account of it being the last SW film) but this should easily win the Sound Design award. The bass was unbelievable.
     
  19. Chris Harvey

    Chris Harvey Second Unit

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    Following up on something I said earlier -- I'm in complete agreement with the last few posts. Robbie should have died. Not only more believeable, but it really would've provided a bittersweet ending to the story, which was needed. After all, Ray and his family are stand-ins for all of humanity.... except that they all escape with nothing more than traumatic memories, while it's nameless people who die. Poor decision to let him live, especially when you consider that a scene of Ray coming to terms with his son's death (and perhaps even a funeral scene) would really help the ending in terms of providing cathartic relief. Such a scene would also have tied nicely into the final narration (which otherwise is abrupt).
     
  20. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Well said Simon. Exactly.
     

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