Reading time: 12 – 19 minutes
I remember when going to the movies used to be so FUN! I would look forward to upcoming movies and just count the days until it was released. And you know what… I STILL do that. Although I am more cynical and jaded because of the inane and incessant attacks from Hollywood on my intelligence, I still let myself get excited and eager to see an upcoming movie of interest. And I always go within the first week of its release… and… it’s always the same.
It ends up sucking ASS. And not in a good way.
I feel like Charlie Brown, with Hollywood as the Lucy who pulls the football out from you after convincing you, “no, really, I won’t do it again this time!” But, inevitably, it happens again…. and again… and again… and then you begin to question your own intelligence for having been duped every time. On the one hand, I criticize my intelligence for falling for these awful blockbuster movies, but in the end I choose to believe I am just trying to retain at least SOME of my innocence for enjoying the movies.
I love the feeling of eagerness for a movie that will be coming out. I love it! So, I will probably fall for more shithole movies that smack me in the face with the reality that big money film makers REALLY think I am a complete idiot, dazzled only by the billion-dollar special effects so much so that I don’t notice the asinine story, horrible editing, and absolutely implausible and inconsistent logic. And it’s all a “Catch-22″ because I give them my money, which, to them, proves they are right and thus they continue to make horrible films.
You know… a movie should NOT be called a “blockbuster” or a “hit” just because of the money collected. Do you know what that means when a movie is a “blockbuster hit?” It means the MARKETING was a hit, NOT the movie. I look forward to the day when a system is installed where you can quickly rate a movie as you leave a theater:
Push 5 if you think this movie is one that you would see again and tell your friends to see.
Push 4 if you think this movie is one that you enjoyed, would recommend, but would probably not see again.
Push 3 if you think this movie was okay, but you will forget about it within the next day.
Push 2 if you wish you could get your money back.
Push 1 if you feel you have just been raped of your time and money, while being blatantly insulted.
If that system were in place, I bet the numbers would be VERY different. Please; if money was collected AFTER a movie, I bet the numbers would be different.
WAR OF THE WORLDS would get a 1, if that system were in place.
War of the Worlds (this Tom Cruise remake) is another example of why I teeter on dread for going to big blockbuster movies anymore. I hate that feeling of being duped and realizing how stupid they think the average audience member is. I don’t know… maybe the average audience member IS that stupid, but please Lord tell me that can’t be true.
WAR OF THE WORLDS COULD have been good! Oh my god, it could have been amazing. But no… it went the route of catering to the lowest common denominator of intelligence and sappiness, AND it counted on the A.D.D. of the MTV Generation to slip by the absolute assault on your ability to think.
If you REALLY want to see this movie, I would stop reading here.
Here are some examples of how awful this movie’s assumptions are against our intelligence:
1. OKAY, SO I LIED! Electro-magnetic, ultra-lightening storms hit, rendering ALL electronics completely without power, including Cell Phones, Watches, Cars, and all other means of communication or transportation. This fact was specifically established by showing all of these specific things suddenly NOT working.
Cut to: a man running down the street from the attacking aliens FILMING the attack on his CAMCORDER! Ummm, okay. And, of course, various other conveniences are in effect as needed.
2. FORESHADOWING FOR THE DUMB: As was previously established, ALL vehicles have been rendered useless, HOWEVER, as Hollywood would have it, the main character is able to make a passing suggestion about how to fix a vehicle in his neighborhood. This vehicle is then miraculously available with keys in ignition and runs perfectly just before the aliens obliterate the neighborhood.
3. FORCED DUMBASSES: In said scene where the main character is stealing the only working vehicle in all of the area, even with absolute chaos, destruction, mayhem, and screaming happening within walking distance from the vehicle, the repairman of the vehicle is joking around pleasantly and shouting out how the main character’s earlier suggestion really did work! The vehicle is running perfectly, Tom! Yo Ho Ho… it’s a miracle, Tom! As Tom tries to steal the vehicle, a heated argument ensues as the repairman is more concerned about the fact that it isn’t Tom’s vehicle than he is about the fact the world around him is in utter chaos.
4. HEART ATTACK ON MY INTELLIGENCE: Lame, oh my god, SO lame a subplot is established between Tom and his children and his ex-wife. This was, I am sure, Stephen Speilberg’s attempt at a heart in the middle of his “oohhh so dark’ story, but it ended up just being an extra-annoying distraction. Why? First of all, the dialogue between the estranged son and his father, Tom. But we will get back to that. More distracting than the very silly dialogue was the fact that in the midst of alien extermination of the human race, all chaos would randomly stop just long enough for the Father/Son story to get another shot at being jammed into the plotline. 5 minute arguments about their relationship history would beat us over the head JUST so as to make sure we GET IT that they are estranged and that there is tension that will be overcome and an inevitable redemption ahead. Stephen really knows how to ruin a perfectly good story. He did the same thing with A.I. (don’t let me get started on how awful THAT was.)
5. …and the WORST 9/11 Exploitation in a Movie goes to… Just because the world remembers the horrifying and heartbreaking images of New York City as we wept in the streets, plastering our buildings and fences with images of our missing loved ones, DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD AUTOMATICALLY USE THAT SIMILAR IMAGERY IN A MOVIE TO ESTABLISH DUMBASS SAPPINESS. Within HOURS… seriously,… within HOURS of the Alien Invasion, the streets are swarming with posters, flyers, and sheets painted and decorated with pleas for help in finding missing loved ones. Walls, fences, buildings are all plastered with these images and people are milling in the streets holding pictures and photocopies high above each other’s heads. Ummm, yeah, not only is this going on WHILE the world is under attack, but people are STANDING AROUND and READING these flyers on fences like gawkers at a memorial and all of this AS IF NOTHING IS GOING ON! There should not be walls of memorial-like behavior happening within hours and DURING an attack on the world by aliens. It took us days… DAYS, to begin putting up images of lost, missing, or dead loved ones in New York City. Stephen… shame… that is just in really bad BAD taste.
6. Best REINCARNATION scene in a movie goes to… There is a huge battle happening on a hillside where useless military attacks are being met with obliteration from the aliens. Paralleling this, and annoying the hell out of people, was the oh-so-heart-wrenching sappy ass battle between the estranged son and his father, Tom. The son is ohhhh so ANGRY at these kwazy alienz and he wants to KICK THEIR ASS. Like a zombie, he ignores all guidance and gruffness from his father to NOT run off and fight this losing battle against the aliens. Tom leaves his daughter by a dead tree as fireballs abound, military attacks abound, and screaming people are running. He leaves here there so he can run to stop his son from going off to his certain death in that damn battle. Tensions are high… he’s at least 20 feet from his daughter now, but he’s tackled his son and is BEGGING him not to run off. Meanwhile, a couple have spotted the daughter and have mistaken her as having been left behind, so they begin coaxing her to run with them. Tom sees his daughter being coaxed, but oh… the tension… the tension… he must stop his son, too! And he’s a WHOLE 20 FEET FROM HIS DAUGHTER! What shall he do!?? Well, howzabout we argue some more! Argument ensues until daughter is now being dragged away by the couple and Tom MUST make a choice. The son says, “Dad… it’s time to let go… just LET. GO. Of. me.” Pause for everyone in audience to get the metaphor… son stands, faces father. Father stands, faces son. Pause for moment of clarity between them as Father lets his son finally grow up… and son runs over hill into the battle. Father then runs and grabs his daughter. Everything in the direction in which his son has run now BLAZES AND EXPLODES into a MASSIVE FIREBALL, sending artillery vehicles flying into the air as the aliens consume all in their path. Son could NOT have survived. No one else did.
Cut to: end of movie wherein son is waiting in Boston, unscathed, running out into the street to hug Father. Miraculously reincarnated into the same body? A Pod Person? Nope, just good ole Hollywood cheating.
7. ABILITY TO SPEAK DISAPPEARS: In the previous scene described, it was supposed to be a very, oh so very, tense scene where Tom has to choose between rescuing his daughter or forcing his son to remain safe against his son’s will. However, that tension is lost when Tom is only 20 feet away from her and could have easily have yelled out to the couple trying to take her daughter. Not only that, but the daughter could have easily have yelled out to her father. But no. Robot Girl actress, Dakota Fanning, is having pleasant, courteous conversation with the couple, stating, “oh no… my father will be back soon. He’s just right over there.” She kind of giggles politely and looks in her father’s direction. Couple believes the poor girl is in shock and she’s really lost her father. Tom, the father, looks right at her negotiating with this couple 20 feet from him and instead of shouting out, “SHE’S WITH ME! I’LL BE RIGHT THERE!” He sighs and turns back to his son to complete the enforced dialogue to help us stupid people establish the metaphor of Father/Son Surrender.
8. I ONLY WANT YOU! After the son has been vaporized (but not REALLLlllyyy) Tom is running madly about with Robot Daughter, shuckin’ and jivin’ about on the lawn of a farmhouse. People are all around him… and yet… SOMEHOW, Tim Robbins is standing with his head popping out of the cellar of the only farmhouse left standing on the hillside… and SOMEHOW, even as Tim shouts, “OVER HERE!” it is only Tom and his Robot Daughter who decide to run to hide in that cellar. Verrryyy convenient for what’s ahead… how exCITing….
9. SPECIAL EFFECTS PORNOGRAPHY: When a movie’s lead character is CGI, that’s fine… but we don’t really need that gratuitous, pointless 10 minute showcase… do we? A very pointless and long scene was created just so we could get a close look at the aliens and the art of CGI. Seeing the aliens would have been enough, but no, we had to watch them for 10 minutes, rummaging about, looking at family photos of the farmhouse inhabitants and bumping around and into things like bicycles, and you know… cute, fun stuff like that. Awwww…
10. BUT, NO, He really IS a hero! Just so we weren’t confused, it was made to be very important to establish that Tom really is our hero, okay? So how can we establish this? Hmmm… we covered that he is really just a lovable, wuvable daddy who’s just ruff aroun’ the edges… but a hero? Hmmm… OH! Howzabout we have him rescue his Robot Daughter from the bowels of the alien feeding and fertilizing contraptions! YEAH!! So Tom is whisked high up into the air and placed with his daughter in one of the two cages that are dangling from the underbelly of alien contraptions. And what’s this? Tom has managed to hang onto a belt of grenades? And what’s this? He’s being selected from among ALL the people in the cage to be “eaten” next! Oh NO! But wait, he has the grenades! YEAH! So as he is sucked into the monster anus of the machine, the rest of the cage leaps to his rescue, using their weight to pull him back out of the hemorrhoid that is swallowing him (effectively ruining his “hero status,” but what the hey…). The grenades were somehow engaged and left inside the anus, SOMEHOW having had themselves pulled from the grenade belt, unpinned, and left inside… all done with ONE HAND (his other hand/arm was how they pulled him out.) BOOM! Alien crashes, baskets pop open, no one is harmed (even though they just plummeted hundreds of feet into a spiky bush.) YAY!
11. JUST FOR NOW: The baskets of people mentioned in the previous scene… didn’t exist on any other alien contraption. Good thing THAT one had one… so now Tom is a hero AND a damn good father.
12. IN CASE YOU WERE WORRIED: Making their way from New Jersey/New York area… ON FOOT, Tom and Robot Daughter finally walk into Boston where the ex-wife has been. Is she alive? Will she be glad to see him? YOU BETCHA! Not only is she GLAD to see him… she psychically felt his presence just in time for us to have her look out her front door window and see him far up the street, gasp a gasp of relief, and then open her door… of her UNTOUCHED, WELL-LIT, BROWNSTONE that apparently had been exempt from all of the destruction that flattened the rest of Boston. The street was pristine, a breeze was in the air, just enough to catch the messy hair of this reincarnated son running out to hug him. Oh, and he had some dirt on his face.
All was well, the aliens die from a cold, and everyone knows Tom Cruise is a hero again and that Dakota Fanning can still say robotically programmed grown-up dialogue that makes NO sense coming from a child.
Thank you, Hollywood. Thank you for placing absolute trust in my idiocy.
I can think of many other points about the movie that are corny or insulting to people, but I’m tired of writing about it. I wonder how many people will catch the same things I saw. I know my friends felt similarly, so I’m not just being harsh. We all agreed the movie was OKAY, but you really had to pretend for two hours that you had no capacity to think beyond the ability of a second-grader to enjoy it.
LAND OF THE DEAD
was just plain fun, jumpy, and adventurous, not EVEN trying to take itself seriously. It’s not the best of the zombie movies, but it was really smart and silly and scary in a classic way.