War of the Worlds

Is it sad to say that I saw this film in Spielberg's private screening room on the Universal lot...and hated it?

The screening room was awesome, but the movie had that Deus Ex Machina ending that I can't stand. The popcorn was good though.

SPOILER ALERT - Don’t read further if you don’t want to know any plot points from the film.

Just saw War of the Worlds. Holy Mackeral - what a piece of crap. I mean, it was a good show reel for ILM, but man, overall, the story just didn’t have anything to it. In fact, at the end, I couldn’t believe it was over--what the hell did I just experience?! Luckily, Morgan was there to give me all the answers…

Me, I’d much rather prefer the story itself gave me the answers.

All the pieces were there for a Grand Argument Story. You had the Objective Story, which was pretty apparent - aliens invade Earth. Then you had the whole emotional heart of the story - the father/son relationship between Ray and Robbie. Both had their viewpoints - one wanted to go to war, one just wanted to run away. (Which is a great dynamic - one wanting to go to war, one not wanting to go to war really isn’t a dynamic pair - that would be like proaction/inaction - those aren’t really dynamic pairs - proaction/reaction - now that’s a dynamic pair!)

But you didn’t really have much of a Main Character perspective - I guess him being a miserable father - single-minded - workaholic - something like that was in there. But there was never any time devoted to it. Why the heck did we learn he was real quick with loading and unloading things on the dock?! I thought for sure this was setting up his ability to destroy the aliens in the 3rd act - but nothing came of it! Why the hell waste screen time with that opening sequence?

And the Influence Character - you never really got to see him fulfill his role as the young bright-eyed soldier. He just disappears - and then conveniently reappears at the end. I know I was supposed to cry, but I didn’t feel anything. Why?

Because the story had no meaning.

Well, it did tell me one thing. I no longer feel guilty about driving my SUV around, polluting the atmosphere, because apparently - our crappy air quality and our degenerate blood (from the junk food we eat, etc.) is responsible for saving the planet. HA! What a message!

They tried to force some meaning at the end, again, thanks to Morgan - and it was something that I thought was a good argument - that every life lost is not lost in vain - but show that to me! Perfect use of this would be if his son died going to war. Maybe he and his fellow soldiers kept the aliens away from the remaining human survivors just long enough for them to be infected by our blood. But there was nothing tying this together at all - instead, Tom walks into a city, notices that the red veins are white and determines that they are dying. Just like that the movie is over.

Can we all say “deus ex machina?”

I’m so surprised that the film ended like this - I mean, this is 4th grade creative writing class stuff. For those who don’t know (or haven’t googled “deus ex machina” by now) its ancient Greek for “god from the machine.” An old plot device that solved a story crisis with some improbable intervention from God. Private Ryan and Jurassic Park both ended this way as well. When a story ends this way there is no meaning, and therefore we leave the theater feeling rather empty.

But the special effects were cool.