War Of The Worlds

Saw War Of The Worlds (2005) in the cinema on Sunday night, and I have to say that I was jolly impressed. I was slightly dubious about it because of a number of reasons, most notably:

  1. it is a remake
  2. of something that was originally not based in the US
  3. and written by a famous non-American author
  4. that has Tom Cruise in it
  5. and is directed by Stephen “Hollywood Ending” Spielberg
  6. and had the potential to be rather similar to Independence Day

The last point proved to be very false (save perhaps for the physical appearance of the aliens themselves), and despite the other points it was actually a remarkably good film. It’s certified 12A, but it is genuinely very frightening in some parts and probably should be a 15. There’s a couple of things I don’t like about it, in that there’s a glaring goof early on in the film when someone’s using a camcorder after an electromagnetic pulse.

There’s also the ending scene where everyone’s alive and well with the grandparents in their fresh, clean Christmas-present knitwear smiling in a somehow unscathed street in Boston, but to be fair this is actually true to the original, where the journalist returns to his alive and well family in an otherwise completed levelled Leatherhead, so that was very convenient for the Hollywood ending.

I liked the way that you didn’t see the big picture. Rather like Signs, you only get to see events from the perspective of the central characters, which are normal working people, rather than presidents and military generals and unsung heros. There was also none of the rubbish like “… and only one ordinary man has the key!“, Cruise’s character isn’t a hero, he’s just a normal man trying to protect his family. The events of the aliens’ demise simply unfold around him, he has nothing to do with it. It was very gritty and very real in that respect, he remained totally helpless and powerless.

Definitely a DVD purchase, possibly even a second viewing in the cinema.



Watched JFK on DVD last night. An utterly splendid film with very high information compression, meaning you really have to pay attention to it throughout the whole 3 hours otherwise you WILL miss something. I didn’t know very much at all about Kennedy’s assassination up until now, I knew the basic story of course, including the fact that there was “a conspiracy theory”, but I didn’t know much beyond that. Personally I’m with Jim Garrison, and while I may not have been with him at the time (as I, along with the American public, probably wouldn’t have believed the US government to be capable of such things), I’ve had the benefit of seeing another 40 years of history pass by and witnessed numerous further acts of corruption, nest feathering and underhandness.

It was, of course, all about the war industry. Kennedy was a democrat radical, not exactly left wing, but certainly way too left wing for a lot of peoples’ liking. Kennedy was going to end the cold war with the Soviet Union and he wasn’t going to go to war in Vietnam, and of course this was all very bad news for those in the defence industry. The contemporary anti-communist witch-hunt was incidental, although it did not help Kennedy with his polices at the time. The links cannot be proven of course, but doesn’t that sound rather familiar considering what happened in the middle east last year? It’s the same thing every time – the economy of the United States more or less depends on there being a war in the world at any one time, whether US forces are actively involved or not. If there isn’t a war, they create one, otherwise they go into recession. They’re now even recreating the anti-communist witch-hunts, except now it’s with the largely unquantifiable foe known as “terrorism” – essentially an unrestricted meal ticket with no expiry date for the defence industry. It’s utterly sickening.

So now, 40 years on, what used to be an outrageous slur on the US government is more or less accepted as the way things are by the jaded and cynical publics of the world, and if Garrison thought that it was corrupt then, just think how he would feel if he knew what was to come: Nixon (whose corruption brought the country to the brink of crisis), arming the Taliban, Saddam Hussein and General Pinochet; right through to September 11th. Yes, I’m sorry, but I’m with the conspiracy theorists on that one, so many things just don’t make sense or sit right with me, but that’s another discussion for another day.

In summary, excellent film. An important part of United States history revealed, whether it can be proven or not. If you’re interested in United States history from that sort of time period, the film Nixon pretty much follows on from it as far as the timeline goes, although obviously it covers a different subject. Thirteen Days covers the Cuban Missile Crisis, which of course took place a year before Kennedy was killed. Kevin Costner stars in both JFK and Thirteen Days, but plays different characters in each.


The Lord Of The Rings

Watched The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on DVD with Dave yesterday. I had no idea what this film was about before, all I knew was that it was “some sort of fantasy”, and absolutely nothing more. I didn’t even know that it was related to The Hobbit (which I read as a child). So when Dave said “watch this inordinately long film that looks a bit hippah” I eyed him with suspicion. But I watched the film, and I was very very impressed and I enjoyed it immensely. Splendid characters, splendid locations, splendid scenery, splendid acting and splendid music, an absolute ten out of ten.

I was a little surprised by the ending as at that point I didn’t realise that all three films were one big long story, I thought they were self contained stories within the same world and with the same characters, so I said “oh” at the end of the film, but no matter, Star Wars is the same and that’s in six bloody parts. Talking of Star Wars, there was an amazing amount of similarities between the films. The storyline is generally the same and there are some very obvious equivalent characters. For example, Gandalf is obviously Obi Wan, Saruman is Darth Vader, Sauron is the Emperor, Frodo is Luke Skywalker, the Uruk-Hai army is the Clone army, the Fellowship is the Jedi Council, the tree people are the Ewoks; the list goes on. Lord Of The Rings obviously predates Star Wars, so I reckon some influence from it crept into Star Wars at some point.

So yes, from knowing nothing about Lord Of The Rings to being very impressed within the same 4 hours is a remarkable feat, and while I’m sure a second viewing will benefit my understand greatly, I think I understood the majority of it first time. It’s quite verbose (which is probably why it’s so bloody long) and this is helpful. Other films like Dune and Bladerunner require 10 viewings before you even start to follow them correctly. However, the best was yet to come …

Immediately afterwards we watched The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the cinema. Now this film really blew me away. The first film was excellent, but this was mind boggling. They obviously poured quite a lot of the profits from the first film into this one because it was truly staggering. The second part of the long trilogy, it picked up exactly where the last film left off, and no doubt ended exactly where the next film will start from. This film was a lot darker than the first one, there were no meadows, or happy clappy hobbits drinking ale and dancing round tables, of children laughing at fireworks, this was the nitty gritty, the “Empire Strikes Back” part of the story.

My favourite bits were the gigantic battle outside that castle in the cliff, and then the attack by the tree people on Saruman’s war factory, with the bursting damn and everything, truly amazing, how they filmed these things is beyond me. Actually it’s not, I know it’s all ILM hocus pocus, but even so, this is going to take some beating. Mostly the same characters were retained, except without Boromir and with the addition of Smeagol, the comedy Jar Jar Binks character but actually done well and is highly relevant to the story, instead of being a gratuitous action figure model designed to make children laugh.

Go and see it. Twice.

By the way, if you think I’ve misunderstood or missed parts of Lord Of The Rings, it’s because I’m an absolute novice. I know there are a lot of people who’ve been fans for most of their lives, whereas I only discovered it yesterday. Cut me some slack :)

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