Spielberg's. Worst. Movie. Ever.
Actually, I'm really surprised that so many friends told me this was a great movie. There was absolutely no plot. I was glad that they got it started so quickly -- the aliens attack in like the first 20 minutes -- but then you quickly realize there's not much to do after that. This movie wants to be Signs (2002) so badly. In that light, it's frightening that Spielberg, with 30 years experience in this genre, can't even begin to muster the talent that Shyamalan demonstrated in Signs. I just watched Close Encounters on Friday... man, that was such a better movie than this. Stevie, what happened?
First of all, Spielberg has to start by firing Janusz Kaminski. This guy did frickin' amazing work on Schindler's List. That was arguably one of the best shot movies ever. And I'd actually argue that some of his work since then was cool too -- like Saving Private Ryan. But oh my god, can this guy get over the Dior Filter or what!? It's so overused, and it has no place in War of the Worlds. It's obvious he has no original ideas for photography anymore. I seriously hope that Spielberg finds a better DP after this movie -- this movie was partially ruined by his style, I'm not kidding.
Second, the effects here mostly don't work. You know, I've held back on criticizing VFX for many years because I worked in that industry but I gotta let loose on this movie. Sure, there are a few hero shots that are really awesome. They nailed those. But most of the "awesome" effects in the movie had nothing to do with technical capability... they had to do with concept. A big scene of tripods moving around, the freeway getting destroyed, things like that. You go "wow" just because it looks cool, and are willing to ignore the blurry edge glow around the main character. Guys, drop the edge glow and that "mix the background onto the character" idea... seriously, they looks like ass. Also, there seemed to be a ton of mismatched grain on this movie, which is really scary that I can point out watching it on an 8 year old 27" Trinitron.
Maybe I'm being overly harsh. I think it's because I, for one, am very tired of spectacle effects movies. This probably has a lot to do with Hollywood's downfall. How about some kick ass movies with effects that just make the story work for a change? Check out Kung Fu Hustle, which a couple buddies made me watch the other night. Those effects aren't technically great, but you don't care. They're great for the story.
Third, I still don't understand how they ended up defeating the aliens. It's always so obvious in these kinds of movies that they have to defeat the aliens, right? But I watched this movie and still have no idea how they did it. How lame.
Fourth, I made the mistake of buying this DVD before seeing the movie. Last time I'm doing that, my friends. Fifth, I accidentally bought it full screen. So it was a complete waste of money.
Sixth, Tom Cruise. Tom CRUISE. Ugh.
Rating: Bad/Good - Seriously, take my advice, wait until it's on HBO. I'm not sure why I spent $15 on this DVD. I wish I could return it.