Spielberg has never made me well up like Jackson but...

He can sure make me think ‘holy fucking crap’.

I’ve been thinking about this since I left the cinema having watched WotW. Very very few films have had the ability to tug my heart strings. WotW wasn’t one of them. RotK was. (the scene where sam picks up frodo).

I had to wonder if someone other than Spielberg could have done better with certain emotional scenes (see spoiler 1)

But then I realize that none of the dramatic scenes in the three LotR movies come close to that ‘holy shit’ feeling I got from watching [see spoiler 2].

1 The reunitation between father and son. The realization that the daughter is ok. The shock that the daughter seems to be lost, and judging by what’s gone before, the chances of her being alive seem to be nil.

2 The first tripod emerge from the ground. That one scene was by far my favourite in the entire movie.

Spielberg is plagued by crappy endings. The guy just cannot end a movie well. The film always seems to go along fine and then…aw, crap.

I’ll agree about one particular film - AI, WTF!

WOTW would’ve been so much better if

[spoiler] the son had been killed. Not being mean, but the scene where he had to let his son go to save his daughter was very well done. The father had to make a gut-wrenching choice.

To wimp out at the end was just stupid. As a moviegoer, I had accepted the son’s death already.
[/spoiler]

Personally, I think that [spoiler]everything after the part where Ray kills the insane guy was a dream.

And here’s why…

  1. Why did the aliens send down another snake-scout thingy? They already checked the place out twice.
  2. The shrill girl finally stops making noise when Ray actually wants her to?
  3. Falling that height in the metal cage doohickey and they sustain absolutely no injuries?
  4. They walk from the Hudson River to Boston with no more tripods?
  5. That many people are still alive after all of that?
  6. Military personnel are still alive after all of that!?
  7. The afforementioned son.[/spoiler]

I also had the idea that everything after he took down the tripod with a grenade is in the afterlife. They never actually show them getting out of the metal cage doohickey. Maybe they died when it fell. It would explain why all those people were still around and, of course, the damned son. This idea doesn’t really make much sense though, because why would dying aliens be in the afterlife?

Anyway, as to emotional scenes, nothing in the movie was able to elicit an emotional response, because of my inability to suspend disbelief. It just didn’t really make sense. For example If the aliens could bury these things tens of thousands of years ago, why didn’t they conquer the planet then? And as for the ‘holy shit’ feeling. Well, the majority of the movie is that.

True. Spielberg’s never made me cry either, he stuff just never resonates with me.

That was the very first thing I wondered when that plot point was revealed.

I’m foregoing the spoiler boxes. This post will contain spoilers – turn back if you haven’t seen War of the Worlds and you’d like to. There’s also a spoiler for Minority Report below.

I thought it was great. This, Minority Report, and A.I. come from a side of Spielberg that is very different than the one he showed us in the '80’s. Looking at his oeuvre, there’s a distinct journey from the cheery optimist of E.T. to the deep pessimism of this distopian trilogy. (Not surprising that the turn came after Spielberg confronted the Holocaust.)

Strinka, the main reason I reject your dream theory is because Speilberg already did that in Minority Report.

These three films have all been panned because they’re too schmaltzy. But I think the people who do that need to look more closely. Spielberg is a filmmaker who is very good at creating awe, and doing it in such a way that’s almost gleeful. Give him a John Williams score, and he can move a theatre to tears without much struggle. But he is now using those tools for much darker comments on the human condition than he did in 1982. It’s just that he’s so good at showing the gleaming surface, and he is so subtle in showing the rot underneath, that most of the people who see his films don’t understand how pessimistic they really are.

In WoTW, for example, Ray is reunited with his family and everyone is safe only after he murders a man in cold blood. Ray’s not a better person than the guy who carjacked him, or the guy that carjacked that guy. He’s just luckier. That is by no means a happy ending.

–Cliffy

I just saw it yesterday, and yes, they did show them getting out of the metal cage doohickey; daughter on Ray’s back, being handed down by the military man.

My memory deceives me. Never mind then.

Well, obviously it wasn’t intended to be taken that way. If it were, he would have shown Ray waking up at the end or something. But it seems to make sense.

Strinka, the fact that it’s a dream in Minority Report is rather subtly signaled as well – there’s no waking up scene, and I missed it the first time around. Indeed, it’s exactly like what you suggest for the ending of WoTW – it’s a dream, but the audience is left to figure that out for itself, and most of them don’t.

–Cliffy