Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 2005. Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks, Amblin Entertainment, Cruise/Wagner Productions. Screenplay by Josh Friedman, David Koepp, based on the novel by H.G. Wells. Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski. Produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Colin Wilson. Music by John Williams. Production Design by Rick Carter. Costume Design by Joanna Johnston. Film Editing by Michael Kahn. Academy Awards 2005.
Thrilling remake of the Oscar-winning 1953 adaptation of the H.G. Wells story, which was first made famous by Orson Welles’ radio broadcast on Hallowe’en of 1938. While the basic story structure remains intact, the characters have been completely reimagined in a form much more familiar to director Steven Spielberg’s own filmography: the broken family that comes together in the face of alien invasion. In this close encounter, Tom Cruise makes a laughable attempt to play working class as a dock worker who is saddled with his unhappy children for a weekend. His son is a typical teen rebel, while his daughter (Dakota Fanning) is brimming over with the same dollop of childhood psychological issues that Fanning’s characters are often seen as having (something about a child actress who can speak and look directly at another person at the same time gives people the impression that she is much more complex than she actually is). The difficult communication between these three individuals is made disastrous when alien life comes crashing through the Earth’s atmosphere in search of world domination. Spielberg spares no expense with impressive visual effects and delectable sound design, but the screenplay suffers from a lack of cohesiveness; the patriarchal, old-fashioned narration by Morgan Freeman (lifted from the original source) stands out of place in this ‘modernization’ of the story, and the ending feels like it was tacked on because the writers had painted themselves into a corner. Still, there are genuinely scary moments and it is definitely a lot of fun to watch. Check out how Tom works 50 hour shifts to make a living but also drives a vintage car and wears designer jackets–Hollywood poverty!