Movie Night! We’ve have War of the Worlds from the library for a whole week now, but I renewed it online and we finally sat down to watch it in our living room that currently has two couches and two armchairs. It’s like our own little movie theater, if movie theaters had fuzzy pictures and the stench of brandy. Husband is drinking brandy for reasons I do not understand. It is cheap brandy we only have on hand from some egg nog recipe Christmases ago. We had cheap beer in the fridge, and I don’t understand why he isn’t drinking that, unless it’s gone. Let the record show that I did not purchase the cheap beer, although I drank some yesterday and today and remember why I make such a pretense about fancier beers. I’m not going to say that Foster’s is Australian for piss or anything, but it’s not very good. It doesn’t even get you drunk. Not that I wanted to get drunk, but last night I could have used a bit of a buzz. Today I just went through hundreds of baby clothes I have no real recollection of acquiring. Mother took them out of the house and to a donation place before I let them sit in bags on my floor where my entourage could redistribute them instead of telephoning a place to come get them.
You know, as crazy as Tom Cruise has been portrayed lately (be it fairly or unfairly–you decide!), I really don’t mind him in movies. Some actors say something stupid in an award acceptance speech and I hate them forever. Some actors play a character I hate, and are tainted in my mind forever. But Tom Cruise did a good enough job in a movie that wasn’t as good as the book and that just didn’t make any sense. Like, I’m not worried about the blatant character developments or the weird ending that I thought was a dream sequence and thought was a dream sequence until BAM! Credits rolled. I’m not complaining about the fuzzy lapse of time or the implausibility of aliens and humans being four feet away from each other in a basement and the aliens not seeing the humans. (Dude. Chill. This isn’t a spoiler. It is just like in the book, which was written more than a century ago. By the way, Soylent Green is people.) That’s special effects drama for the sake of drama, and I have tolerated worse for lesser movies. This isn’t me bitching about the bad science or inconsistencies that someone as ill-educated as I can recognize (like the EMP stuff and that digital video camera that mysteriously worked) or colorful characters brought in for one scene to impart information rather than making the narrative or setting do the work. It just doesn’t make any sense why the aliens were here in the first place and what they really hoped to accomplish.
The special features included some promo piece about designing and CGIing the aliens and had interviews with all the key people. Someone that might have been Spielberg but upon further reflection I think was someone else (it did not have my complete attention) practically boasted that they didn’t spend a lot of time explaining how and why the aliens are on Planet Earth and that they really cared a lot more about how their legs moved. There was some faulty science in there, too, but I think that they maybe should have done a little more thinking about how and why the aliens were on the planet.
So we’ve got these beings that Morgan Freeman promises are of a greater intellect than our own, who live very, very far away. They come to our planet and plant these giant machines underground. So far underground, in fact, that not a single one is ever discovered in exploratory oil drilling or geologic core samples to investigate antropogenic global warming. OK. They’re very, very far down. But they’re just machines, right? They have to be controlled by organic beings that beam down inside lighting. But why are they here? To colonize the planet? They are killing people for a reason, although not other mammals, and it can’t be to drink them. How did they know humans would evolve? Why not just take over the planet in the first place? Occupy this desirable ecology before anyone else claims it. That way, you spare yourself the trip. I’m pretty certain that a million years ago the planet was just as inhabitable as it is now.
Furthermore, just how many different kinds of aliens are there? The creatures poking around the basement are more or less human sized, but the arm that unfolds out of the machine that goes down in Boston is much, much longer than any limb on the creatures we saw. And they’ve got all these viney attachments for picking up single humans and putting them in baskets. I guess they are collecting people to feed the machines they are traveling in? So are the machines semi-organic or cyborgs? Were they alive for a million years underground not eating humans and mammals? Did the little occupying aliens trigger some spore in the machine that made all this organic stuff grow? If so, it grew really fast. Really fast–like in an hour. And were the baskets made underground or after they figured out what size people were now? If the machines were so big, was picking up humans one by one the best way to go? If humans are so small compared to the cyborg tripod things, and you need so many to sustain the machine, why vaporize so many? And what is so special about cotton fabrics that skin, muscle, and bone atomize but clothes just float down? How come the tripod things weren’t immune to the microbes after living on the planet for so long? And what was all that orange crap that flooded out of the tripod machine? Even the larger version of the organic creatures could not have vomited that much. If they were just sadistic freak parasites roaming the universe sucking planets dry and then moving on to the next one, why not take care of it the first time you arrive instead of investing all this time and money in these elaborate machines on a planet and hoping nothing happens by the time you get there. And is this seriously the first trial run? You weren’t expecting microbes? Are all other planets that support intelligent life to drink the blood of sterile?
I wasn’t expecting Tim Robbins. I wasn’t expecting all the plate glass windows in Boston to be intact. But the guy with the dark hair who took the minivan away from Tom Cruise looked awfully familiar. I couldn’t find him in the credits and I can’t quite name who I thought at first that he must have been but I have the face in my mind. The closest I can get in the credits is “Man Fighting Ray–At Car.” Oh well. I hate to cruise the IMDb boards but I may have to. This could bug me for a while, and when I am bugged for a while I don’t get any work for money done.
And I’ve got work, believe you me. And I need some money. And I have plenty already to distract me.
Remember: It’s people. And the boat sinks, and the boy shoots the dog, and she goes home to Tara. But long story short is to just read the book in the first place and you won’t have to worry about what you read here.