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1953: Aliens invade. They kill us a lot. Their motives are never really explained, though it's assumed they want our planets for their needs, making it a "war" of resources rather than ideology.

Cool moment: The priest's logic that these aliens must be more enlightened and "closer to the Creator" gets him an ass full of laser, as URL might say.

Perspective: Human, varying characters, all over the place.

Gigantic fucking plot hole: Apart from the whole "didn't bother to research the biohazards," not really, considering the time period.

Human factor in defeating them: Not a sausage. If anything, we help them out by looting, pillaging and destroying the miracle weapon that's supposed to stop them.

Propaganda: Purely religious. Aliens destroyed by the smallest creatures that "God in His wisdom" puts on Earth. Aww. Smarmy.

1996: Aliens invade. They kill us a lot. Their motives are clearly explained via telepathic link with one of them. They do want our planet for their own use, and they're happy to wipe us the fuck out to get it.

Cool moment: Very much a product of the 90s, there are several cool moments, though the movie sacrifices any real resonances for some good lines and cheap laughs. Probably my favorite bit, other than "It's the End of the World As We Know It" playing in the beginning, is the "Is that glass bulletproof?" "No, sir!" exchange between Robert Loggia and Jayne Adam Baldwin.

Perspective: Switches between many different storylines, all of which we're asked to care more about than the millions of dead people blown up as they take actions ranging from noble (fighting the aliens) to understandable (getting the hell out of the cities) to just plain dumb (waving signs around at the aliens saying "Take me with you!").

Gigantic fucking plot hole: Why does the human computer's OS work with the alien's? That's probably the biggest one. Well, the alien craft operating like a human one is pretty weird, too, but I'm willing to buy that.

Human factor in destroying them: It's all about humans, baby. While a "virus" does kill them, it's a human-designed computer virus (which is, at first blush, clever, but the logistics make my eyes bleed). It's human determination that brings them down, humans finally willing to quit arguing over who has the better imaginary friend and whoop some alien ass.

Clearly, we need an alien attack. But I digress.

Propaganda: Errmmm...a little bit of eco-hippie, but it's really more just a quirk of Jeff Goldblum's character than a message to the movie. The best point seems to be "humans fight over a lot of stupid shit, and we should knock it off before something really bad happens." I can get behind that.

2005: Aliens invade. They kill us a lot, this time with some truly fucking creepy disintegration lasers. Also, they suck out our blood and spew it all over the place. Eww. They're motives are not explained, ever, even a little, though we are again left to assume that this is more about our planet than us specifically.

Cool moment: Umm...the disintegration beams were pretty cool, though I'm glad the opening sequence with them only went on as long as it did. In Independence Day, we didn't see the effects of the alien's weapons up close and personal, but we do here, and it's pretty unpleasant. The silent fight between Tim Robbins and Tom "Psychiatrists Suck! They know how to deprogram cultists!" Cruise is nicely done, too.

Perspective: Limited. We never leave Tom "I love Katie! I should adopt her!" Cruise and his family. As a result, we never really learn what's happening in the world, though there are rumors. On the one hand, that's kind of nice - the movie acquires a refugee feel to it for a while.

Gigantic fucking plot hole: Well, aside from the fact that even though Tom "Golden Razzie Nominee" Cruise's watch stops from the powerful EMP some dude still has a working Camcorder just so Spielberg could get some cheesy shot of it falling to the ground capturing the destruction, the major one is that the aliens now come up from the ground. They've been buried, see. For a long time. In New York. We never noticed.

Oh, and even though they've been here longer than human beings have (that's not stated by a reputable source, of course), they don't have a way around bacteria. So, some pretty large plot holes.

Human factor in destroying them: Not a sausage. They just keel over and die. Oh, there's a half-assed stab at it when Tom "I Shot My Acting Wad During Interview With a Vampire" Cruise blows up an alien tripod with some grenades, but that was pretty obviously put in there just so he could be a hero for a few seconds. For me, though, the best humanizing moment was a throwaway: A Red Cross volunteer telling the crowds that they didn't need any more blood donors via a bullhorn (that, by the way, is just one of the many ways that Spielberg tried shamelessly to ape 9/11).

Propaganda: Religious, kinda, but because they got Morgan Freeman to deliver the opening and closing lines, his prosody makes it less obvious. That is, he doesn't punch the word "God" as much as Cedric Hardwicke did in the 1953 version. Again, Spielberg seems to be trying to make a war documentary about an alien attack, which is a great idea, but he doesn't do a great jorb of it. The way to do that would be to actually use footage, Blair Witch style, and not fall back on effects (IMO).

Overall Verdict:

Gotta go with Independence Day. The original's OK, but I have a hard time with the "human beings suck, but God makes it all OK!" thing. ID4, for all it's flaws, has good effects, a couple of fairly touching moments, a couple of fairly clever notions (Randy Quaid as a former alien abductee was cool, especially because it's never really confirmed or refuted, and when there really are aliens around, how do you know?).

Ooh! You know why I like ID4? It's the Anno Dracula of War of the Worlds movies. Anno Dracula is a novel by Kim Newman that posits that Dracula wins, kills Harker and Van Helsing, Embraces (I use WW terms because you know them, not because Newman does - I think he uses "turns") Lord Godalming and Mina, and marries the Queen of England. But the neat thing is, we get cameos in the book from Dr. Moureau, Dr. Jeckyll, Bill Sykes, Oscar Wilde, Sherlock Holmes (mentioned; his head's on a pike) and many, many other characters and personalities of the time. Newman genre sampled before LXG was a twinkle in anyone's eye, and the book is a treat to read because of it. ID4 does something similar on a smaller scale; we get Area 51, alien abductees, and a lot of the other ufology culture. Woulda been nice to have David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have camoes, but hey. Can't have everything.

OK, I totally feel like the comic book guy from Simpsons now. I'm gonna go play video games.

Date: 2006-02-25 04:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inscrutable.livejournal.com
I don't know. The simple fact that alien computers are Mac compatible is just something I can't get over.

My money's on the Orson Welles radio version.

Date: 2006-02-25 04:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inscrutable.livejournal.com
Although Bill Pullman/Paxton does have a great speech.

Date: 2006-02-25 02:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] innocent-man.livejournal.com
Oh, I was just talking about film versions. If we're opening up the field, Orson Welles wins, hands down.

Date: 2006-02-26 10:28 pm (UTC)
amokk: (Tux terminal)
From: [personal profile] amokk
At the time, the idea of Mac OS being compatable with anything was laughable. They've fixed that now.


Now, if they'd said "we're going to upload Windows" and it crashed out the alien's mother-computer with a Blue Screen of Death? That'd have been realistic.

Date: 2006-02-25 04:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mythdude.livejournal.com
Dude, I never made the connection between ID4 and the War of the Worlds movies. Nicely done. :P

I like the original though because it had a really good horror movie vibe to it. Very classical. And I hated the new one because it sucked horribly, despite how cool the walkers looked or how they kept the blood coral.

Oh, and one of the reasons its theorized why the martians left Mars wasn't just to get new land in the book: Its believed their population swelled to a size where their only food source, a small ape like creature filled with blood, was dying out. At least thats what I got from the original book.

Date: 2006-02-25 08:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mythicfox.livejournal.com
Was I the only one who thought that the War of the Worlds (2005 version) aliens looked a lot like the ID4 aliens? Or do they both run off of descriptions in the original WotW novel, which I haven't read since high school?

Date: 2006-02-25 02:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] innocent-man.livejournal.com
Believe it or not, I've not read the novel. The aliens in ID4 and the 2005 version do look kinda similar, so I'm guessing some common origin. Their faces also look sort of similar to the popular "gray" aliens that anal probe people, though it's much more noticeable in ID4.

Date: 2006-02-25 02:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nagaina-ryuuoh.livejournal.com
I feel horribly quilty about admitting this, but I love the crap out of ID4, too. I watch it whenever it happens to be on a network I get. I've occasionally been known to borrow it from my in-laws just to watch it for the entertainment value. Anthony and I went to see it on my birthday, which was its opening weekend, in a theatre packed to the walls and even the memory of the audience reaction continues to entertain me.

In this household, we worship the Orson Welles radio play version but sing along with the musical. Did you notice that, in the 2005 version, the tripods more or less made the "Uuuuuuuhhhhhhhh-laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" noise?

Date: 2006-02-25 03:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] matrexsvigil.livejournal.com
-sniffles.- Mulder should have appeared in ID4!!!!

-P.C.

--"Off the Pink."--

Date: 2006-02-25 08:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] incandescens.livejournal.com
Actually, in Anno Dracula, Holmes' head isn't on a pike; he's off in some sort of concentration-camp equivalent. Van Helsing's the one with his head on the pike, I think. (Lestrade, however, is still operating, and has been turned.)

Date: 2006-02-25 09:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] innocent-man.livejournal.com
Ah, yes. I think Holmes is mentioned as dead in a camp, though, but maybe not. It's been a long time.

Interestingly, when I read that book I was playing Bill Sykes in Oliver!

Date: 2006-02-25 09:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] incandescens.livejournal.com
Heh!

---

"It sounds like an affair for your old associate, the consulting detective."

She sensed, with the sharpened perceptions that told her night was falling, the chilling of the Inspector's heart.

"Mr. Holmes is not at liberty to investigate, Mademoiselle. He has his differences with the current government."

"You mean he has been removed, like so many of our finest minds, to those pens on the Sussex Downs. What does the Pall Mall Gazette call them, concentration camps?"

"I regret his lack of vision . . ."

"Where is he? Devil's Dyke?"

Lestrade nodded, almost ashamed.

---

(My vampire fiction section is quite close to my desk . . .)

Date: 2006-02-25 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] innocent-man.livejournal.com
Were I, at present, wearing a hat, I'd tip it. :)

Date: 2006-02-25 10:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] incandescens.livejournal.com
Most kind. ;) (I am extremely fond of the series.)

Date: 2006-02-25 11:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darkshiver.livejournal.com
Couldn't stand the latest version of WotW. Tom Cruise was wholly unbelievable as a dock worker. I like Tim Robbins, though. And the gritty feel to it.

ID4 is a fun, fun flick not to be taken seriously. It makes me cheer every time I see it. Hoo-rah!

Date: 2006-02-26 07:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sorednax.livejournal.com
First;

Another big plothole was towards the end when Earths bacteria was affecting them. Tom "boy, you love giving long middle names to this guy, although he deserves it" Cruise points out the birds to the soldier to get him to notice the "shields" are down. Why? What do the aliens getting sick have to do with the ship losing its shields?

Another hard to digest moment is when they're evading the snake-eye thing. I mean come on. An advanced alien race has to use a telescoping camera to search for survivors, and it can ONLY SEE WHAT'S IN FRONT OF IT??? What about infrared? Heat sensors? Motion Detectors? Not as advanced as we think.

Yet another hard to digest moment...again, as you pointed out, that the ships were buried on Earth, and according to Tim Robbins character for "millions of years." wtf? I have software from 10 years ago that is not compatable with my current system. You mean to tell me that in a million years these guys never upgraded or advanced their technology?

Second;

Regarding ID4, I loved that movie. I certainly will watch it again before WotW (2005). The only part that bothered me was the anti-nuclear scene where Jeff Goldblum's character gets drunk because we used a single nuke against the invaders. He went on about how we'll destroy the human race. Wait a minute, the aliens have been doing this left and right for the last two days, but he only gets upset if we use one warhead against the enemy. Hippie writers!!!

Date: 2006-02-26 02:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] innocent-man.livejournal.com
Tom "boy, you love giving long middle names to this guy, although he deserves it" Cruise

Well, you know how it is. You do it once, then you do it again, and before long, it's a habit.

Wait a minute, the aliens have been doing this left and right for the last two days, but he only gets upset if we use one warhead against the enemy. Hippie writers!!!

In fairness, that's very consistent with the way his character is presented. Likewise, one nuke didn't work any better than missiles, so no reason to keep making a radioactive mess of the world if it ain't gonna do any good.

Date: 2006-02-26 10:28 pm (UTC)
amokk: (bitch)
From: [personal profile] amokk
Definintely ID4.

I think the reason Tom hates psychiatrists is because he's off his meds...

Date: 2006-02-27 01:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dandelionclock.livejournal.com
Oh, I dunno. I love the book dearly, and if you haven't read it, you bloody should, since it is about what people do when the world goes to hell.

The "God's Wisdom" line is George Pal's doing (or possibly Orson Welles, I can't remember) - it's not in Wells' original, anyway. He was an atheist.

The inside cover of my copy has a note I wrote telling me that I first bought it and read it on 12th September 2001. Every time I read it, it completely rings true about what people do, good and bad, when things fall apart. The aliens, although creepy and well-realised, are just the premise Wells uses to illustrate this.

I have always considered ID4 to suck, interestingly for many of the same reasons that make you like it. I have a nostalgic affection for Pal's version, although I suspect it's still really bad. I have not seen the Steven Spielberg/Tom "Shh, Katie! You have to be quiet when giving birth" Cruise version.

Are you going to do this regularly? There's enough remakes out there. Dracula! Invasion of the Body Snatchers! And so on...

Date: 2006-02-27 01:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] innocent-man.livejournal.com
OK, now I need to go read the book.


Are you going to do this regularly? There's enough remakes out there. Dracula! Invasion of the Body Snatchers! And so on...


Hmm. Possibly; Hollywood does love remakes. I don't think I've seen the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers; I know I saw the one with Donald Sutherland, but it's been a while.

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