Love him. Hate him. Adore him. Dismiss him. Indifferent? Neutral?
The two latter words have never arisen to surface when we start talking about this dream-maker who goes by the name of Steven Spielberg. At least, not until we watch his latest work, War of the Worlds.
The reason for those first words is quite clear: those who praise him tend to faithfully worship him regardless of his misfires on Amistad or The Lost World for example, whereas for those who bash him out will suppress their feelings on marvel works a la The Color Purple or Raiders of the Lost Ark. Hardly we think “it’s good, but …” or “it should’ve been this or that, then it’ll be good or bad” since Spielberg presents his work as representation of his own dream, his own fantasy world he longs to exist in reality. Not quite an auteur though, but there is a certain visual element on each of his work, often superbly crafted that will leave us feeling mesmerized. The bleak look of World War II is captured convincingly through the lens of Janusz Kaminski in Schindler’s List, the swinging 60’s has never looked any brighter in Catch Me If You Can, and the marriage of high-technology concept and futuristic look reaches its highest point in Minority Report. Regardless my disliking towards the latter film, the look itself is enough to keep me glued to the seat and getting overblown by his magic. This is something lacking on his second collaboration with perfectly miscast Tom Cruise here.
Or at least inconsistencies keep occurring throughout the film. I jumped off my seat while reeling the glowing looks surrounding Miranda Otto and David Alan Basche, suggesting the dreamy-like surrounding in the scene. A good five-to-ten seconds there, only to be ruined with the monotonous grayish coloring throughout early scenes, with certain gap of stillness in-between the scenes. Call me being unknowledgeable on examining Spielberg’s films but I can’t help scratching my head over things you least expect from a Spielberg film. Not to mention other kind of inconsistencies in logicality of the story that will leave smiles on the faces of trivia and goofs spotter out there, and failure to bring out the best in Tim Robbins and surprisingly annoying Dakota Fanning.
Does he want a breakthrough? Artificial Intelligence does better than that. It may be a tribute to Stanley Kubrick, but Spielberg does inject his personal touch that makes the film adorable despite its semi-controversial subject. Spielberg’s films stand for his own testament on how to amuse audience in genres crossing over one another, that we often think no other directors can make or re-create Spielberg’s films. Sadly, when I set my eyes to the big screen in Lido Theatre watching Tom Cruise trying too hard to act appropriately to his character, I can’t help wondering that this film should have been directed by someone else, to make it better.
The moment of revelation? Morgan Freeman’s majestic voice over.