Point/Counterpoint: The War of The Worlds
Conflicting Reviews by Jon Minners and Justine Manzano
I have come across a great deal of mixed reaction as to the movie, The War of The Worlds. Such an alternative reaction to my own was most remarkably received by my colleague, Jon Minners, whom I viewed the movie with.
The movie was an excellent action movie while also managing to deliver an amazing story with exceptional acting. Steven Spielberg does not cut corners here. Every aspect of the film is jarring from the very beginning, so much so that I, who usually consider myself to be fairly unflappable by entertainment standards, found myself to be clinging to my husband from about fifteen minutes in.
First, I feel the need to counter some of my colleague's arguments. I’ll give him the EMP business, but as far as the explosion that Tom Cruise’s son survives, it was shown that many people had managed to run away from it. The reason why the mother of the children survives and their house remains untouched is because they were in Boston, which is where the aliens had begun to die….they never made it as far as that area. So, they were a bit calmer than the families whose houses were being blown to bits and whose people were being incinerated. I think that makes perfect sense.
SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON!!!! The end, which is the main part that people seem to have a problem with, is the same as the original ending, in which the aliens die of the pollutants and bacteria in our air. Mr. Minners has a problem with this because they’d been here before, but as some of us know, a bacterium evolves. If the aliens had been on Earth before, burying their ships, then they would have been here at a time where we wouldn’t have been around, or at least at a time we have no knowledge of. The colds that were around when I was a child were nothing compared to those floating around now, so obviously the bacteria in our air would have evolved greatly since then.
The original movie and book of this story were complete successes. So what makes this so different? Why, in this time, is this not a good enough ending? Does the need for theatrics and a big-boom climactic ending override the need for good storytelling?
This story was not about a military commander or a highly intelligent scientist. It was about Ray Ferrier, a regular man who is divorced with two children. He is not a superhero nor is he a warrior, and in that, he could do no more than I could if the Earth was invaded by aliens tomorrow-he could simply run away and try to keep his children safe. It is because of who the main character is that the aliens dying the way they do makes so much sense. A climactic battle is not needed because the climax of the story is not when the enemy dies, but when Ray leads his family to safety.
It only takes a slight knowledge of story structure to understand why Spielberg chose the ending he did.
Either way, I do believe that this movie is worth seeing just for the action and suspense throughout the movie-whether you like the ending or not. But as the end is nearing, ask yourself-what is worth more? Big explosions and special effects, or an intelligent ending that is truthful to the characters and the story.
Choose wisely. I’m going with option #2.