Friday Film Blogging: Spielberg Time

[Like movies? So does our resident film critic, David Fellerath.]

Unless you're a fan of expensive, computer-generated apocalyptic bang-bang, don't be swayed by the unaccountably positive reviews and hyped-up box office reports on Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds.

First of all, even the film's alleged enthusiasts - like Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times and NPR - have serious reservations about the film. No less than Spielberg apologist Tony Scott of the New York Times called War of the Worlds one of the director's lesser efforts. And secondly, I strongly suspect the film's box office numbers will go down as the word of mouth - that this movie is overhyped - kicks in.

And then there are those of us who just think the film is mediocre to bad. My colleague Neil Morris's Independent Weekly review is here. I agree with Neil's assessment, and I might add that the film's 9/11 references are pretty cheap. Spielberg has encouraged these associations, but I much prefer the more sophisticated political subtext of George A. Romero's Land of the Dead, in which the flesh-eating zombies are easy to kill but impossible to eradicate. Consequently, the surviving humans cower together in a corporatist city that's heavily fortified in order to keep THEM out. But those zombies - killers as they may be - also have a few grievances against the shock and awe raids that humans launch against them. Ultimately, Romero doesn't overburden his pulp material with excessive significance, and he lends a healthy dose of humor to his movie.

As reported today in The New York Times, Steven Spielberg is already hard at work on a potentially explosive new project - one that's blessed free of CGI effects and Tom Cruise. The film doesn't have a title yet, but it's going to be about Mossad's targeted assassinations of the Black September Palestinian terrorists who kidnapped and killed the Israeli Olympic team in Munich. I'm not old enough to remember this 1972 event, and I don't fully appreciate what a horror it must have been. I certainly don't understand the specific political context other than that it occurred between the 1967 war and the 1973 war.

I'm not much of a Spielberg fan, particularly not of his serious movies like Schindler's List. However, I'm very curious about this project, particularly because Tony Kushner - author of Angels in America and the liberal conscience of Broadway - has been brought in to rewrite the script. -- DAVID FELLERATH