(Review originally written at 26 January 2007)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The movie sort of has the bad luck that "United 93" was the first major theatrical movie released, regarding 9/11, so of course these two movies immediately got compared to each other. "United 93" is a movie that is far superior in its emotions and in capturing the the mood and emotions of that day. It makes you relive 9/11. "World Trade Center" is a different movie, with a different approach, that is less powerful, though still powerful nevertheless, just in a different way. It's probably the reason why "United 93" got praised way more and "World Trade Center" got based way more, even though it of course is far from a bad movie. Just because it's different doesn't mean it's bad. I mean, it's not like every good movie about WW II is the same either.

The movie mostly lays its emphasis on the heroic aspects of 9/11. The sort of message of the movie is 'we'll overcome' and not 'this is our darkest hour'. Maybe America and Americans needed this sort of movie, to heal their wounds and handle their emotions, that are all still fresh, by showing, as weird and disrespectful as it might sound, the positive aspects of 9/11, by showing the individual heroism and how people were brought together through the events and including a 'happy' ending. The movie doesn't ever succeed in capturing the total chaos, confusing and desperation of that day, perhaps only the first few minutes of the movie. It doesn't make this movie the most powerful or relevant movies, regarding the subject, around and my hope is that later Hollywood movies shall succeed better in this, since it concerns a relevant, important subject, that should be continued to be lighted in future movies, to contribute to it that 9/11 shall never be forgotten.

Let's be fair, in essence this movie is a disaster movie, like so many were made of in the '70's. And lets face it, those movies just aren't the best ones around. My biggest fear was that "World Trade Center" would be just as sappy and over-the-top melodramatic in some of it's moments, like always in '70's also was the case. "World Trade Center" is definitely sappy and over-the-top melodramatic at times but not halve as bad as I had feared. Some of the sequence even work out effective. It are however the emotions of the story work out but not the emotions of 9/11 itself.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the movie is that its directed by Oliver Stone. A man who normally likes to handle controversial and provocative subjects and throw in some conspiracy theories. It would had been very easy to put in conspiracy theories in this movie and if one man could do it, it would be him. "World Trade Center" however in now way ever gets predictable or question the actions of the authorities, or anything of that sort. As a matter of fact, if you'd told me this movie was directed by someone else, I would had believed it. Nothing in this movie indicates that this movie is directed by Oliver Stone. Also his trademark of fast cuts and high pace is not notable in this movie. The movie is very natural and mainstream. It also of course means that this movie is also perfectly watchable for his non-fans.

The time-line is pretty messed up. Hours go by in only on screen minutes time. The movie focuses entirely on 9/11 and the morning after but the movie doesn't ever give us the sense of time, also of course since it mostly is set underground, beneath the rubble of the collapsed tower. It however doesn't always make the story flow well and causes some drags.

It's a true story and that's really amazing. The story of the two men who got stuck alive beneath the rubble and life to tell the story is pretty amazing, considering how many lives were lost on 9/11 and how many actually survived from the rubble. Yet the movie also decides to put some more characters in the story, as if the two main characters already aren't interesting and in a way symbolic enough for that day. Of course it also focuses on their families, which makes sense but it also throws in some other 'heroic' characters in the movie, that we however never get to known, which make them and the plot lines around them pretty shallow and needless.

Not sure if Nicolas Cage was the right choice for the role. I mean he has never really played a dramatic or touching role in his career, though I'm definitely not a Nicolas Cage hater. I think a movie like this would had been better off with a completely unknown cast. It would had made it easier to identify yourself with them and would also had made the movie and story work out more realistic and powerful.

The effects of the movie are really good. The the impact and the all look extremely realistic and is amazingly well done, with lots of respect. So the movie doesn't try to impress with its visuals or make the impact and collapse look spectacular. As a matter of fact, the collapse of the towers isn't even shown on screen.

See this movie for how well made it is but don't see it for its emotions or for the emotional and touching impact it will make on you. For that, I recommend you watch "United 93" instead.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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