In an occurrence almost as rare as interplanetary invaders, Hubby and I went to see a movie alone last night. We were trying to remember the last movie we'd gone to see alone together and we're pretty sure it was "Daylight" with Sylvester Stallone--a movie so horrible that the man sitting directly in front of us fell asleep and snored loudly through the second half of the movie and we didn't even mind because we didn't feel we were missing anything of any value. "Daylight" was a disaster movie in which Sylvester Stallone tried to save a bunch of commuters trapped in the Holland Tunnel. Though it's hard to choose, the thing I hated the most about the movie was that everyone trapped in the tunnel was so annoying I found myself actively hoping they wouldn't make it.
Last night we saw "War of the Worlds." It's the kind of overly hyped mega-blockbuster movie I would normally avoid (a partial list of "must-see" movies I haven't seen: "ET," "Titanic," "Independence Day," and all but the very first "Star Wars" movie). I've always gravitated toward the less splashy stuff on the belief that if a movie is really good, there's no need for all the noise about how good it is. The movie will speak for itself. In our tiny town, though, the theater offers only two choices at a time and when all the other stars are aligned for Hubby and I to go see a movie alone-together, we have to take what we can get. (Our other option was "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," by the way. We picked "War" on the grounds that Pitt and Jolie wouldn't look significantly less impressive on the small screen when they're out on DVD in six months, but the special effects-laden "War" might.)
Whatever its flaws, "War" at least had characters I didn't want to root against. Dakota Fanning was, as usual, stellar. She's like a little alien in her own right, superhuman in her ability to emote on cue. Cruise was solid, especially in the scene where he sings "Little Deuce Coupe" to his daughter because he doesn't know the words to either of her favorite lullabyes. What struck me, though, was the scene in which Cruise's son, played by Justin Chatwin, takes Dad's car without permission. I flashed on Cruise, as the son, tooling around in Daddy's Porsche without permission in "Risky Business." As the aliens stepped up their attacks, I was stuck on the thought that I had no idea how so much time had passed--how had Cruise, the consummate teenager become Cruise, dad of the consummate teenager?
My overriding impression of the movie, offered when the kids swarmed us the second we walked in the door, was it was loud. It is a very, very loud movie, but still somehow more relaxing than being at home on another Friday night.
*Geek that I am, I could not let a mention of "War of the Worlds" pass without mentioning a book I read in 2002 called "The Spinster & The Prophet." The book is the true story of Florence Deeks, a teacher and amateur historian, who sued H.G. Wells, author of the original "War of the Worlds," accusing him of plagiarism. (The disputed manuscript was non-fiction, not any of his better known science fiction works.) The book is worth reading, though it might fill you, as it did me, with impotent rage on Deeks's behalf.
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