War of the Worlds

Thursday night I went with my brother and my friend from work to see War of the Worlds. What a movie! I was expecting it to be kind of boring. I had only heard the radio play before, and I couldn’t think of how they would make that into a compelling movie. Was I ever wrong! It was scary! Even though it said his name at the beginning, I was completely unconscious throughout the whole movie that it was by Steven Spielberg, and I was surprised to learn at the end that the music was by John Williams. It certainly contradicted the “family fun” associations I have with those two. I was happy to learn that the critics also liked it–it got 72% at Rotten Tomatoes.

I was especially intrigued by the scenes from the time when the storm first appears to the time the destruction starts. First because I love strange, dramatic weather. But more than that, they distinctly reminded me of the kinds of weird things I imagined when I was little–bizarre events that progressively turn an otherwise normal day into the Twilight Zone. I also thought it was interesting that they set those first scenes in a suburb where the robots would tower over their surroundings rather than in a big city with tall buildings. That’s the kind of setting I probably would have picked because it emphasizes the surreality of the scene and because, well, I grew up in a suburb. Apart from those things Spielberg’s imagination diverged from mine.

I also forgot about the fact that it was Tom Cruise playing the main character. He wasn’t his normal, suave self in this movie. He was just an ordinary guy trying to stay alive and protect his daughter.

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