Much ado, with our more righteous critics, about the appropriation of 9/11 imagery by Spielberg. The problem goes like this: Spielberg is an emotional manipulator. Spielberg used imagery that evokes some of the circumstances around 9/11. Ergo, Spielberg is appropriating imagery of 9/11 to emotional manipulate us. Cad! Ego maniac! Uncaring pseudo-American!
I think the math is all wrong. I agree that Spielberg is emotionally manipulative, but then again so is Todd Solondz. So is Goddard. So is any filmmaker whose work makes you..., well, feel something. They're relying on age-old stories to evoke emotional responses.
The problem seems to be that Spielberg manipulates our emotions for the sole purpose of financial gain. Or, maybe it's just that he's a populist film maker. Whatever the reason. My argument is that Spielberg didn't put this imagery in to manipulate us. I think what he said to himself was "Hmmm. I want to make this experience seem real for the audience. What would real people do if a tragedy like this struck?" From the experience of the New York, and other places, we know that people would react by putting up signs. By acting out of fear and self-preservation.
I think, despite his arguable flaws (that is, arguable on the intent and merits of them, not on whether or not they exist), I don't think the man is purely driven by greed, nor do I think he's evil. I think he wants to make movies that move people. This movie was most moving in its dedication to realism, and realism is enhanced by echoing the real world and how it spontaneously reacts to crises.
For my part, I could ignore the Cruise machine (even amidst his Tom Cruise Kills Oprah mania) because he blends well enough into the everyman role. The movie was thrilling, exhilarating and even frightening at times. I had a good time, and for what it's worth felt that Spielberg was making some questions into mass-scale tragedy, and how people react to it. Maybe not the deepest quest made in cinematic form, but just because it's couched in a big-budget blockbuster doesn't mean we should assume the worst about those who would entertain us.Where we saw it: Movie Theater | We deign to rate it: 64 outta 100