There’s all this press being made about how War of the Worlds is the anti-E.T. or anti-Close Encounters of the Third Kind. While it may seem logical to compare Steve Spielberg’s new film to his previous alien epics… there are some very un-alien films in his canon that bear a greater resemblence to the new film.
Like any filmmaker that has a career of 20-plus years and 20-plus films, you can take bits and pieces from previous work and see the inspiration that drives the current stuff. In other words, War of the Worlds has less to do with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and more to do with three other (more recent) Spielberg films: Empire of the Sun, Jurassic Park, and Saving Private Ryan.
I don’t wanna describe the specific comparisons for fear of spoiling plot elements, but keep those three films in mind if you’re planning to see the film, or already have. War of the Worlds certainly feels more like a cocktail of those three Spielberg mixers, and less like a total inside-out version of E.T., as a lot of the media proclaims.
And, while I’m on the subject of War of the Worlds (which I found to be a very satisfying, taut, and entertaining thriller), allow me to preach a little: Think twice about taking your kids to this movie. In the crowded theater last night, there were half as many kids as adults. And, this is a pretty damn disturbing movie. I would argue more violent than Jurassic Park, in terms of horrific activity. I mean, we’re talking high tension and bloodlust. And a lot of the dark stuff involves the perils of a little girl. Just consider that before thinking, “Hey, it’s a Spielberg sci-fi movie, let’s take the whole family!”