Tuesday, July 25, 2006

World Of The Wars

Tonight Sally and I watched Spielberg's version of War Of The Worlds. I saw it last year during its theatrical release and was impressed enough to watch it again because I like the storytelling in this film. At the root of any good story you've got to have characters the audience cares about and identifies with. I'm also glad that the special effects, as impressive as they are, weren't allowed to completely take over the movie.

In that sense Spielberg is lightyears ahead of filmmakers who make dopey films like Van Helsing and The Brothers Grimm, both of which I suffered through on On Demand recently. Why is it, when a filmmaker has millions of dollars with which to make a movie, he often forgets the most simple thing of all, that there has to be a story? I don't want the kitchen sink thrown at me with every special effect the computer boys can muster onto the screen. All the special effects in the world can't save a bad story, but a good story will save a movie with no special effects.

War of the Worlds has been one of my favorite H. G. Wells stories since I was a kid. Sometime about 1955 or '56 I was in a drugstore and saw the Classics Illustrated version on a shelf. A young teenage girl, at least a half head taller than me and twice as wide, had just put it back and turned to talk to her friend. I snatched it away just as it came to rest on the shelf. "Hey!" she said. "I was looking at that!"

"Tuff titty!" said I, mustering up a rusty-sounding squeak from my 9-year-old throat, knowing the girl could have punched my lights out. She looked that big to me. Luckily she just shrugged and walked away.

Anyway, the picture you see of the cover of that Classics Illustrated is the very copy I snatched away from that teenager in 1956. I still have it, and still look at it and re-read it every decade or so. I have also re-read the original Wells novel a couple of times since the 1950s.

One thing has always bothered me about the story, though, and seemed more obvious in this latest movie version. If the Martians (unidentified as to origin in Spielberg movie) were brought down by common bacteria, why not send home to the Martian Pharmacy for some antibiotics, or just wear spacesuits next time they plan an attack? Hey, they figured out how to get to earth, and they're obviously pretty clever with their weaponry. I'm sure it'd only be temporary before they could solve the problem of earth bacteria. So watch the skies…they might just be back.


I wonder…is the movie War Of The Worlds in any way a reverse reflection of our invasion of Iraq? Naw, couldn't be, could it? I mean, we all know that an enemy invasion of someone else's country often doesn't work because of insurgencies, and troops bogged down trying to fight an enemy on his own turf. Or at least I thought we all knew that until we got the Bush gang in office. Apparently they don't know any rules but the ones they've made up in their own heads. They obviously missed out on the lessons learned in Vietnam, but wait, of course they did! Five-Deferment Cheney and Mr. My-Daddy-Got-Me-In-The-Air-National-Guard President were just too busy living their lives while our soldiers sacrificed theirs. They didn't learn one damn thing from that debacle because they didn't have to go through it. And as for actually listening to generals or military men who would know, well, Bush already has showed he only listens to those who just say "yes" to him.

Ciao for now, El Postino

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