War of the Worlds

A 2005 movie starring Tom Cruise

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Good, But Not Good Enough.

  • Oct 28, 2005
WAR OF THE WORLDS was one of the few movies I definitely wanted to see during the summer of 2005. I was really looking forward to it. Having heard Stephen Speilberg comment over and over again how he would never make a "bad alien" movie, I was more than curious to see how his adaptation of the really first "bad alien" story would turn out. I guess I had my expectations set too high because I was disappointed.

The film starts off promising enough. Spielberg updates Wells' classic sci-fi story by having the main action revolve around a single-bum of a father and his two children. Tom Cruise is really a terrible actor, but in all honesty is performance in WAR OF THE WORLDS as Ray Ferrier is one of his best. Dakota Fanning plays his daughter Rachel and is brilliant as always, while Justin Chatwin kind of gets screwed playing the unnecessary role of Robbie Ferrier. Basically, Ray's wife drops the kids off at Dad's while she and the new hubby are supposed to have some alone time. Ray's not to happy about the whole thing and since he's such a crappy Dad it's kind of easy to see why (he had party plans of his own). Then the sky starts to literally open up. Not long after, the ground rips open and the tripods come. They start vaporizing people all over the place. Ray runs away and makes it home, gets his kids, and drives off. By that time the invasion is in full force. The film then follows Ray as he and his family move from one location to the next, from his wife's home to trying to out chase the monsters on a ferry, to hiding from them in a basement.

Spielberg does a great job of melding Wells' original novel to the famous 1953 version of the story. There are all sorts of allusions to that film: from the basement scene to the arm that falls out of the crashed alien tripod. The acting is decent and the film moves at a great pace.

Yet, despite all of this, the movie falls apart 2/3rds of the way through. Instead of taking a page from suspense master Hitchcock, Spielberg copies the teen-scream movies of blood and guts and tries to horrify the audience through gore. Though this element is an important part of the plot, it could have been told in a much better fashion. Also, the entire basement scene runs way too long, not to mention that the audience actually gets to see the aliens, they look more like the creatures from INDEPENDENCE DAY rather than something original. Spielberg originally wanted to make the movie around 1996, but when INDEPENDENCE DAY came out he thought better to wait so, perhaps the aliens are just a nod to ID-4. Whatever the case, the appearance of the aliens actually slows the film down, rather than build the tension up.

These flaws would normally be minor, but for some reason in WAR OF THE WORLDS the take so much away from the film, that it never does quite recover. Instead of being joyed that the protagonists arrive at a safe location, by the end of the film, one wants to root for the aliens to win and just blow the whole planet up.

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September 15, 2010
Yes, it was disappointing the way this movie fell apart. I was disappointed myself, nice review!
September 16, 2010
More War of the Worlds (2005 movie) reviews
Quick Tip by . November 19, 2009
Interesting reimagining of the H.G. Wells classic - some underground antics and world destruction; I still like the Gene Barry version best.
review by . December 02, 2005
The movie is alright, I think they (preview, trailer, media, etc...) hype it up too much before it was released. The special effects are outstanding the scenes of the tripods ascending from the streets and rocking the city was amazing. There are also some classic lines, e.g., "...are we dead?" this is extermination!", "...are you your mother, or mine?", and "...they come in the lightning..." Tom Cruise is Tom Cruise, but I was surprised at how small Miranda Otto's (Lord of the Rings) part was.    &nb …
review by . July 24, 2005
Pros: Technically flawless.     Cons: No emotional connection was established between us and the characters.      The Bottom Line: In the final analysis, War of the Worlds was mildly entertaining, but not at all thought-provoking, or partially profound.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. My wife is enamored with Tom Cruise and swears most women are as well. I however, can take or leave the man. …
review by . June 28, 2005
Pros: Nice Setup.     Cons: Lousy acting, weak FX, little action, paper thin plot.     The Bottom Line: With so much potential, it is hard to believe this went so far south.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. In a summer season of grand blockbusters, “War of the Worlds” is perhaps the biggest dud in years, and is a failure of epic proportions. The film is a remake of the classic 1953 film …
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Despite super effects, a huge budget, and the cinematic pedigree of alien-happy Steven Spielberg, this take on H.G. Wells's novel is basically a horror film packaged as a sci-fi thrill ride. Instead of a mad slasher, however, Spielberg (along with writers Josh Friedman & David Koepp) utilizes aliens hell-bent on quickly destroying humanity, and the terrifying results that prey upon adult fears, especially in the post-9/11 world. The realistic results could be a new genre, the grim popcorn thriller; often you feel like you're watching Schindler's List more than Spielberg's other thrill-machine movies (Jaws, Jurassic Park). The film centers on Ray Ferrier, a divorced father (Tom Cruise, oh so comfortable) who witnesses one giant craft destroy his New Jersey town and soon is on the road with his teen son (Justin Chatwin) and preteen daughter (Dakota Fanning) in tow, trying to keep ahead of the invasion. The film is, of course, impeccably designed and produced by Spielberg's usual crew of A-class talent. The aliens are genuinely scary, even when the film--like the novel--spends a good chunk of time in a basement. Readers of the book (or viewers of the deft 1953 adaptation) will note the variation of whom and how the aliens come to Earth, which poses some logistical problems. The film opens and closes with narration from the novel read by Morgan Freeman, but Spielberg could have adapted Orson Welles's words from the famous Halloween Eve 1938 radio ...
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