It's really hard to be jaded when you go to see a Spielberg movie. It's really, really hard. I've tried. I tried to be jaded when i went to see A.I because i can't stand that kid and i think Spielberg has been doing too much kids stuff already, but when Spielberg directs, things work, and even incredible things seem completely credible.
He is in short a master of realizing ideas.
I've been geared to see WotW since i first heard of it, and i'm very rarely excited about a movie to the point of getting all emotional about premiere tickets. I've read the novel and loved it, i heard the radio play and loved it. I thought they were brilliantly pessimistic and cruel portrayals of mankind and refreshingly unapologetic about the evil of the alien invaders; Indeed, the aliens were really besides the point, as people and how they cope is the core of the story. Sometimes it feels good to have your nerves shattered when 90% of the time every story feels like the same thing.
There isn't much of a storyline to talk about. It depicts a dysfunctional family and a crap father who's forced to acknowledge his responsability and emotional bond with his children during an alien invasion of bizarre proportions and ludicrous evil.
I'm not kidding about the evil. I had no idea Spielberg would have the balls for this kind of thing; These aliens are *assholes* of the highest order. They do shit to people you wouldn't be able to think of yourself. I went into that theatre and expected to see stuff blow up real good, but for the most part the sheer terror the film instils in you is in how well realised the alien invasion is and just how cruelly people are treated, by aliens and other people alike. You can sit down with a bunch of friends and try to concoct the most vicious and cruel thing imaginable, and it's probably not even close to what this movie shows you.
Something that really shows Spielberg's skill is in his treatment of special effects work. In a day and age where "effect movie" is an actual genre, it is deeply pleasing to watch a film where effects serve to *enhance* the image rather than create it. There are segments of this film where incredible effects work is used almost casually. The shot isn't set up to show the explosion, it doesnt happen dead center in the shot, no, it occurs in a rear view mirror. Coupled with a superb lighting job the effect shot is completely successful. There are few things you see in this movie that aren't believable, which is pretty incredible considering it's mostly about people running from gigantic tripods with rayguns. An excellent example is in a crucial shot where the arrival of the aliens is heralded by a storm cloud. The camera pans up to show the cloud building behind the silhouette of a house, then pans back. The shot is relaxed, almost casual, and it serves as an effects suckerpunch.
At other times, Spielberg uses effects to create impossible shots, which is something most of us won't even realise. An *incredible* sequence has a long stretch of dialogue in a car take place with the car in motion, weaving between wreckage. The camera moves in and out of the vehicle, moves around the car, dodges oncoming wreckage and moves back in again. The dialogue never ends, you never lose sight of the characters talking, and not at any time do you question the authenticity of the situation they are in. It is a fairly long shot that works spectacularly well. You hardly even notice it until the scene is over and questions start rising. That is if you'll have time to worry about such: The movie pretty much never lets go of your throat.
Spielberg spends 190 billion dollars or whatever it was on what is probably the ultimate 50's Corman horror film. The aliens are completely evil and completely alien, the characters go through true hell, and it is all so perfectly realised you won't doubt it for a second.
The only times the movie breaks from its badassedness is at the very end and in its 2 segments of narration (supplied by Morgan Freeman, narrator of the year). The narration, lopped right from the pages of the novel, is distractingly dramatic compared to the honesty of the film as a whole, and a segment has a character that really, really, really should've pushed up daisies return unscathed. Aside from these 4% of the film, the remaining 96% are ultimate badass. You could take this movie to the octagon baby.
People keep complaining about the ending. I have 2 things to say to those people. "You should read more" and "Get over ID4 already, this is a movie about people being hunted".
This film comes highly highly recommended by yours truly. You should see it as a horror fan, you should see it as a sci-fi fan, as an action fan, as a movie fan. You should see it because you're human and the pleasure of fully realised cinema is something sex can't compare to. No really, it can't.