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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

So Josh Friedman wrote about how David Koepp tried to take sole credit for War of the Worlds. And how he wrote a 22 page statement for the arbitrators detailing similarities.

{spoilers}

So, Josh, 'fess up. What about the dissimilarities? I mean, come on, Koepp probably deserved that credit. I bet, for example, you had a likable hero. Or at least a hero we gave a damn about. Koepp's probably the genius who made Ray one of the poorest excuses for a human being I've seen on the screen in years. And I bet you had a theme, too. Koepp's probably the guy who extracted every trace of one from the movie, making it really truly about aliens sacking and pillaging the globe. I mean, I bet you had some boring traditional theme-based idea like Ray lost his family because he loved them but was unreliable, and now he's trying to finally be reliable by taking the kids back to their mother. Rather than, say, Koepp's brilliant idea of the father having lost the family because he doesn't give a good goddamn about anybody but himself, and doesn't really care much about the kids, and is trying to get to Boston because he can ditch the kids there and then drive around in the only working car on the Eastern Seaboard.

I bet if they'd kept you on board, you'd have asked all sorts of irrelevant questions, like what kind of idiot tries to get to Boston when New York has been leveled by aliens? Who gets on a ferry when there are three alien tripods in sight and they're systematically torching every vehicle on the ground? In fact, who gets anywhere near a crowd of people when there are aliens killing crowds of people? And you probably would have objected when the son who bravely if foolishly goes over the top to watch the Army fight the tripods, and who is presumed dead when the Army is torched in a massive explosion by the devastating aliens, inexplicably shows up in Boston. In the one building which hasn't been destroyed, which, of course, is the ex-wife's parents' house.

Come on, Josh. Admit it. If they'd stuck with your script, it probably would have made for an entirely different movie. One in which it would have mattered whether you saw it in English or, say, Basque. As opposed to Koepp's script, which is an exercise in pure cinema, equally suitable for watching in any language, whether you can speak it or not -- almost a silent film with music.

Admit it, Josh. Your script might have made a good movie. (I don't know. Maybe you can blog about it.) And what I saw was in no way a good movie. Just a hell of a spectacle.

Though to be honest, considering how odd the choices are in Koepp's script, I wonder how much input he had in the story... In my experience directors often go for what would look cool over what's the best story, just as actors will go for the Big Acting Scene over, again, the story. The script seems like an accumulation of Cool Scenes strung together by not enough story logic. (As one reader points out: what do the aliens want??)

Ah, well.

5 Comments:

I just want to know why you would kill a mechanic that keeps working whilst the earth is being invaded?

I mean it is near impossible to find a good mechanic nowadays, why kill one this committed?????

By Blogger Grubber, at 1:44 AM  

To me WOTW felt like two movies in a single skin... the one I liked best stayed surprisingly close to its source novel, taking on board the updating and the shift of geographical location with ease.

The one I liked less was the overlaid sundered-family story. Spielberg used to do this stuff from the heart, probably not even knowing that he had such a thing as a set of personal themes. Then critics pointed them out and now he includes all the same elements, every time, and his output grows steadily less interesting.

Now, who did what, I don't know.

By Blogger Stephen Gallagher, at 5:44 AM  

And I just wanted to add that the big, big question I was left with was... what did the aliens actually want?

The planet? It was there for the taking when they buried the machines in the first place. The human society that's developed since? They're vapourising that. People? Ditto.

By Blogger Stephen Gallagher, at 5:50 AM  

Hi Alex. Great blog. I was wondering if you had been able to compare the two drafts of "War of the Worlds"?

Mark
Mark's Screenwriting Page

By Blogger Mark, at 3:06 PM  

No, but I'm hoping that if I taunt Josh enough, he'll tell us.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 4:18 PM  

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