In the first corner, we have an alien-invasion science fiction film starring Tom Cruise. In the other corner, we have an epic love story spanning approximately 1,000 years with a heavy fantasy and science fiction influence. Both films stirred a lot of conversation, but neither were universally acclaimed. Which film will win this battle?
First and foremost, War of the Worlds was a huge blockbuster in 2005. With a reported budget of $130 million, the film grossed over $234 million ($591 million worldwide). There have been plenty of disaster movies, but unfortunately no one considers War of the Worlds very good, because it’s not. It’s flashy at times, but there are plenty of scenes when you wonder where all the money went to, because the special effects aren’t that spectacular. Tom Cruise demands a big paycheck, and to his credit he (and director Steve Spielberg) delivered. But with a flimsy family-story and barely enough urgency (especially when aliens are killing everything in its path!), War of the Worlds is a whirlwind of chaos.
At its best, War of the Worlds shows the confusion of such a bizarre, catastrophic event. Where did they come from? What do they want? How are they functioning? How can we defeat them? But with a weak ending and a strange encounter with Tim Robbins, War of the Worlds is hardly memorable. The only thing that has stayed in my mind since watching it in theaters are the images of humans being evaporated by the aliens’ lasers. It’s very powerful when you see hundreds of clothes floating through the air. But then again, the aliens are defeated at the end and somehow the family remained safe. I just don’t buy it.
Meanwhile, The Fountain is a very ambitious film by Darren Aronofsky, who has provided us with films such as Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan. It’s safe to say that The Fountain is a misstep in Aronofsky’s career, but there is still a lot of great things happening. For one, while The Fountain isn’t an easy movie to understand, it’s one that would definitely spark up a conversation. Which story-lines were real? Which story-lines were a part of the book? What’s the meaning of the ending? You can count on Aronofsky to deliver some head-scratching scenes in most of his movies.
But just because The Fountain is thought-provoking, is it good? From his resume of films, it’s definitely on the bottom of his works, but then again it’s not a bad film, it’s just a lot more challenging than his others. The acting is very good in The Fountain, led by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. At the end, you’re left with a number of different feelings from the bizarre conclusion, which stem from the simple story about a man who loves a woman who dies. It’s not treated like a regular Hollywood film that bombards you with tear-jerking scenes until you’re out of tissues. It shows the passion and the distance that Tom Creo takes to try and save his wife, and the limits he breaks to try and keep her with him.
So who wins? It’s a challenging match-up because I don’t love either film, but I also don’t hate either. While War of the Worlds was a more entertaining film from a classic story, The Fountain is incredibly original. And shouldn’t filmmakers who take risks be rewarded? I think they should, and that’s why I’m picking The Fountain as the winner of this Flickchart Battle!
Winner: The Fountain