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PCR # 275  (Vol. 6, No. 26)  This edition is for the week of June 27--July 3, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"War of the Worlds"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three and a half stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Starring: Tom Cruise, Justin Chatwin, Dakota Fanning and Tim Robbins
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hours 56 mins

As a novel by H.G Wells, "War of the Worlds" shocked its readers. In the 1930s, a young actor named Orson Welles and his Radio Theatre company shocked the nation with their broadcast, convincing many listeners that our planet had fallen under attack by aliens. The 1953 film, directed by George Pal, was a faithful rendition of Wells story with plenty of flying machines to keep the audience interested. Now, director Steven Spielberg has brought the story to this generation. And it is a story meant for this time.

Cruise stars as Ray Ferrier, a divorced father of two who keeps the engine of his beloved car in his kitchen instead of food. Ray is scheduled to watch his children over the weekend while his former wife (pregnant with a third child) and her husband travel to Boston Older son Robbie (Justin Chatwin) blames his father for all that he feels is wrong in his life. To show his dad his disgust he proudly sports a Boston Red Sox cap when he knows his dad is a Yankee fan. Younger daughter, Rachel, (Dakota Fanning) is more forgiving of her father, but not enough that she doesn't look out for herself. Things seem to be going normally when reports spread about large lightning storms hitting various cities around the world, knocking out anything electrical. Soon the storms are over Ray and his New Jersey home. But lightning isn't the thing to fear. It's what follows the lightning that will change our world forever.

Much has happened to our world since 9/11/2001. So much so that when our planet is first attacked people don't suspect visitors from another world (they are never called Martians) but terrorists. And after the initial attacks, the scene is reminiscent of 9/11, with people fleeing the attack zones and walls covered with the photos of missing loved ones. Ray and the kids commandeer a car and head towards Boston, hoping to meet up with their mother. Along the way they slowly begin to take in the devastation caused by the attacking machines, called Tripods. Emerging from the ground these machines emit a beam that, when it hits you, turns your body to dust while leaving your clothes untouched. Hiding when necessary, slowly making their way north, Ray begins to understand his responsibilities as a father. Cruise continues to be one of this generations' great actors. While his co-stars took home Oscars, Cruise was the one that made "The Color of Money" and "Rainman" worth seeing and here he shines in a role where his confidence and cockiness must slowly erode as he learns to make the decisions that will save not only himself but his children. The rest of the cast is equally impressive and it's great to see original "War of the Worlds" stars Gene Barry and Ann Robinson back on screen in a nice cameo. The special effects are outstanding and John William's music, his 21st score for a Spielberg film, sets the tone perfectly.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "War of the Worlds"  Three and a half stars

This week's movie review of "War of the Worlds" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.