SPIELBERG'S LATEST SPECTACLE
ARRIVES WITH AWE0M VISUALS
By Jeffrey Bloomer
Daily Arts Editor
Now here is a frightening film. Steven
Spielberg's "War of the
Worlds" is dark, tense """""
and merciless, unrelent- War of the
ing in its vision of death Worlds
and mass destruction. The At the Showcase
director's light-hearted and Quality 16
sense of humor is found Paramounts
only in small pockets in a
movie otherwise engulfed
in an adrenaline-soaked dread. And, no,
there are no metaphors for current events;
the movie acknowledges the possibility of
terrorism and brushes it off with a cynical
sneer. No, it tells us, these are not terrorists
- they're something far worse.
The film opens with a small-scale famil-
iarity. There is a family. The father (Tom
Cruise), a blue-collar bachelor who knows
the locals better than his kids, has custody
of the latter for the weekend. His children,
played with a sterling competency by rela-
tive newcomer Justin Chatwin and celeb-
city whiz-kid Dakota Fanning ("Hide and
Seek"), have another life with their moth-
er and make no secret of their preference
between the two.
But then something begins to happen.
Lightening strikes in erratic bolts. Cars
everywhere lose power. There's an ominous
hole in the middle of town that "the weath-
er" seems to have created. Then there's
the inevitable line of stock dialogue that is
somehow still inspired: "There's something
moving down there," a character says. True,
but the thing about "War of the Worlds" is
that it reveals itself to us only in pieces; its
trailers are wisely bare-bones teases that
allow it to unfold naturally into the primi-
tive stunner that it was intended to be.
Very loosely based on the quintessential
1898 H.G. Wells novel, "War of the Worlds"
knows that the extravagant special effects
sequences its nine-digit budget eagerly sup-
plies just aren't that interesting without a
human drama to anchor them. The charac-
ters are functional, if not fully developed,
as a flawed group of people that react to
the film's events as something of a personal
tragedy - it's not so much the fate of man-
kind that concerns them, but maybe that
their father doesn't know they're allergic to
"You don't know the history of psychiatry - I do!"
peanut butter; that he takes an active role in
their lives only after they are nearly killed;
and that he, in fact, doesn't know what will
happen to them.
While the movie avoids allegorical overtones,
there's a symptomatic undertow to its stark
imagery that endows it with an uncontrived
extra-textual weight. A particularly affecting
scene explores the aftermath, but not the actual
impact, of a crashed commercial airline; anoth-
er features a blazing train that unexpectedly
glides past onlookers with a furious intensity.
These moments, practically asides to the main
narrative, cement the film's emotional impact in
a way that its character drama can't compare.
Equally impressive are the movie's digi-
tal dreamscapes, which are some of the
most technically impressive ever put on
film. There's just something uniquely red-
blooded to them; if you put this movie up
against "Star Wars: Episode ItI," the Lucas
film would look like a high-priced, com-
The film ends as it began - with eerily
serene narration from Morgan Freeman,
whose raspy tongue must be that of God (just
watch "Bruce Almighty"). And speaking
of God, or at least someone who thinks of
himself that way, this leaves us precious little
room to talk about Cruise. Let's just say that
he's a movie star for a reason. Amidst soccer
moms everywhere who are self-righteously
losing their schoolgirl crush and a growing
hole of public scrutiny, Cruise's effortless
screen presence carries a film like this as few
other actors could ever hope to - and that's
all that should really matter to us, anyway.
Cruise is a madman, Freeman is God and
Spielberg is playing with aliens. Everything
is in its right place.
foC o D 's in0
fhe t.pecCD's in
Enigmatic star shines on LP
By Chris Gaerig hits. The song's ability to lose the drum
Daily Arts Writer machine yet still retain its club creden-
tials is a trait rarely seen. The sincerity of
M__scR__E_____E___________ Annie's voice also happens to kick harder
and sweeter than young love: "Time after
Annie is somewhat of an enigma - a time / Everybody came around / And I
seemingly ron-of-the-mill Scandinavian, was dancing with you."
the bubbly blonde dancehall artist that "Come Together" is another one of the
receives enormous amounts of critical jewels on Anniemal. Clocking in at just
acclaim and indie, under eight minutes, it manages to retain
music-snobworship. An its continuity without dulling down or
On first listen, she A fli becoming a static beat. The nearly two-
pumps out ecstasy- Anniemal minute intro features Annie crooning
driven, rover jams, Big teat out taffy-filled lines over intertwining,
but with time, the gorgeous keyboard hums and vocal
music becomes outbursts. She brings the house down
denser than any collection of dance songs screaming, "Come together!"
ever shossld. Her latest release, Anniemsed The most emotional track on the
- which is seeing a resurgence in praise album is its closer, "My Best Friend."
with its American release -- is a swarm- Ansnie shrugs off irony and tongue-in-
ing mass of drum and bass beats, syssth cheek wit for giddy hope, "I thoughtlI saw
drones assd airy vocals, you last night smiling at me / Thought I
The lead single, "My Heartbeat" heard yorsr voice calling for me."
-- Pitchfork Media's trsp single of 2004 The biggest problem with Annsiemal
- sheds the standard dance beat for a is inherent and unavoidable -- dance-
inure prip structtire and sirganic instris- bal is only appropriate for certain
mtets. The newly skiwed pace is a well- occasitits ssnd at certa in times. It tikes
'sed ad ;icrfw:i obsed diergeince si secib imdiet 4 nd settin0 so irsi]"
inrougusout sue asumu. oven srugu
Annie is able to create a record with
dance hits and pop epics that flow
together perfectly, her music is still
unable to obtain a universal appeal.
Anniemal is a pop gem that shows
Annie's talent and her amazing potential.
The density of her instrmmentation, givens
time and progression, will draw com-
parisons to artists like Bjork. Her vocals
blend gorgeously with the glitchy, dance
beats and bla ze through the music with a
overwhelmning presence. Anntiemael's pop
sensibilities are perfect. She's got ass sixth
sense for clmb beats stronger thou any-
body shire Basienim /axs.