My full review will be posted tonight. But for now:

Effects: awe-inspiring

Sound: awe-inspiring

Cruise: impressive

Fanning: awe-inspiring

Robbins: like his Mystic River performance, only wackier

Tripods: truly terrifying

Urban chaos: chaotic to the point of exhausting

9/11 references and echoes: all over the place

Variations on Jurassic Park: everywhere

Political applications: critics looking for them will have a field day

Typical Spielberg broken-family-story: check

All in all, an exhausting ordeal of big city devastation with effects beyond HG Wells’s wildest dreams. A movie that travels the emotional territory of a nation still wrestling with 9/11, with questions of responding to violence with violence, with puzzles about occupying foreign territory, with questions about where to turn when the forces turning against us are beyond our comprehension.

But then, well…

Spectacularly dissatisfying conclusion: check

I’m sure many–probably most–will like this film far more than I did.

(But hey, ROGER EBERT is giving it the ol’ thumbs’ down!)

And to his credit, Spielberg avoids MANY of his characteristic errors. But I have no desire to see this again because I don’t find anything particularly interesting about it. I sat there thinking how much more troubling, and ultimately meaningful, Time of the Wolf was as a story of apocalypse-survival. Or Signs, even. (Oooh, I’m in trouble for that.) And frankly, after this first viewing, I find I actually prefer A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) for its more interesting (if similarly unsatisfying) storytelling.

I expect I’ll end up giving it a B, but I want to see if others find greater rhyme or reason or storytelling sophistication than I saw.

For what it’s worth, my friend Danny said he found himself slipping into the perspective of an 8-year-old being dazzled a big alien invasion, and on that level, he loved it so much he was cheering at the end. But I heard very few cheers.

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