Denby's review of War of the Worlds (Spielberg, 2005) isn't bad. He's wrong about the visual effects of the film, the ferry overturning did NOT "make the special effects in Titanic look insubstantial and obvious" (p.102). Rather, they caused much laughter, at least at the theater I was in. But he's right about the fact that it is more of a horror film, with an individual psychological drama at the center, than sci-fi. And he's right that there are "no experts" and that this sets the desparate, hysterical, aimless tone of the film. Actually, this was my favorite thing about the movie - no team, no uniforms, no plan.
But I'm not a big sci-fi fan, despite this summer's theatergoing. However, I do like the genre when it addresses social and political issues by projecting them on a specific and unique technological, biological or otherwise "scientific" threat. That is, when the sci-fi creature means something to a collective, not just Tom Cruise. My favorite sci-fi films are as follows:
The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 1951)
K-PAX (Ian Softley, 2001)
Alien 3 (David Fincher, 1992)
Yes, I only like 3 sci-fi films. If you have any further recommendations, let me know . . . note that all three of these films create a strong identification between the audiance and the rather heroic alien creature. I guess I like that.
In other news, I replaced the flat tube on my bicycle, and spent some time at the Yough Trail this weekend, a local rails to trails bike trail south of Pittsburgh. The flowers aren't great this year, because of the dryness, I think.
And I watched another Robert Wise film, I Want to Live! (1958) Yes, the exclamation point is in the film title . . . that's just one of the things that makes this a great film. Based on the true story of convicted murderer Barbara Graham.
Final words on War of the Worlds - Painful, punishing . . . It's like going on a long, disasterous trip from NY to Boston, in a minivan, with your family. Which may, after all, be a political issue.
Categories: newyorker, film, outdoors