"So Tom, exactly how young do you like your women?"
I knew that War of the Worlds would play like a mash-up of Spielberg movies. Perhaps he'd remix the hunt for Cruise in Minority Report with the reversed humanity of robots in AI over the constant drumbeat of terrified prey in Jurassic Park.
Little was I prepared last night to be slapped with hints of three entirely different Spielberg movies: Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan and Amistad. No joke.
Spielberg is an expert in showcasing evil. Whether it be snakes in Indiana Jones or government alien-nappers in E.T., he knows how to contrast the tension of the unknown with the thrill of close calls.
But when people were mauled by a T. Rex in Jurassic Park, that was just popcorn-chomping fun. Given that these aliens are even more fantastical and dehumanized than the dinosaurs, he could have let the audience have the same type of fun.
Instead, Spielberg manages to place the horror of human decimation here on the same plane as that in Schindler's List. The suspense from the flaming train in this film was eerily similar to the train that ominously pulls into Auschwitz.
That's because Spielberg's target here isn't our fantastical fears (aliens, Captain Hook) as much as our current fears. When Tom Cruise is covered with the ashes of vaporized humans and walls are plastered with pictures of missing people, the allusion to 9/11 is devoid of subtlety. The soldiers, the tanks, and the naive son who wants to fight the enemy remind us of the pointless chaos of our current war. The hundreds forced to abandon their home are reminiscent of refugees fleeing Rwanda. The people caught in the web of the alien's stomach look no different than victims of human trafficking.