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War of the Worlds

A 2005 movie starring Tom Cruise

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Spielberg Phones One In

  • Dec 28, 2005
  • by
Based on H.G. Wells' book, "War Of The Worlds" had everything it needed to be a superb film, but it was as dull as the thud of the alien tripods' feet. The film started out very well, with plenty of build-up to prepare the viewer for what was to happen. The relentless alien attack was very tense. There was plenty of pop and fizzle to grab the eyes. Even in the basement, this film was very tense. However, the conclusion to this film was wretched. It totally killed any and every ounce of anxiety that was built up throughout the bulk of the film. Unlike M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs," in which the conclusion was both clever and unexpected, I knew all along what would kill off the aliens. Unfortunately, I was hoping very terribly that I was wrong. Whether this was true to the book or not, this was a horrible ending. Besides, it's called a "War" and there was little of that going on. We are mostly shown thousands of people running for their lives, screaming in fear, with no clue as to what is going on. When we do see the military, they are getting creamed by these big, bulky tripod vehicles piloted by aliens that look like a cross between the "Independence Day" alien and the man-eating plant from "Little Shop of Horrors."

Though I won't reveal exactly what kills the aliens (admit it, you know humanity prevails, so I'm not spoiling anything here), I will say that I hoped for it to at least be pollution or Barbra Streisand. There aren't any brilliant scientists who figure out that rum combined with Coke proves to be fatal or even a computer virus as in "ID4." Instead, we are given one of the most anti-climactic endings I've seen in years. It's as if Spielberg was thinking, "Okay, we've offed enough humans and sprayed enough red vines, let's kill off the aliens with....."

The special effects, for the most part, are very impressive. However, in one particular scene, when Tom Cruise crawls out of a basement, the setting is so obviously a studio stage that it's pitiful. In fact, when Cruise came out of the basement, it looked as if he stepped into the forest where Dorothy found the Tinman in "Wizard of Oz." It was totally laughable and killed the movie's tension abruptly.

As far as acting goes, I just couldn't believe Cruise as a down-on-his-luck average joe with a busted family. He was okay, but he just didn't work as Ray Ferrier. Dakota Fanning was pretty good in the other movies I've seen her in, but all she did in this movie was scream and annoy the fire out of me. In fact, the only likeable character in this whole flick is Cruise's son Robbie (Justin Chatwin). Tim Robbins plays a man who saves Cruise and Fanning, but totally wigs out as his time in the basement moves along.

In all actuality, I should give this film only two stars, but the film is so good up until the last twenty or thirty minutes that I do believe it is worthy of at least one viewing. Also, the special effects really are excellent excepting the silly "Oz" set.

This is definitely a rental. I would not purchase this flick unless I was a die-hard Spielberg or Cruise fan. If you're wanting to see aliens and man go toe-to-toe, watch "ID4." It isn't half as intelligent as this flick, but at least we kick a little more butt than this dud.

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More War of the Worlds (2005 movie) reviews
review by . August 05, 2011
The most that one can say for Steven Spielberg's adaptation of H.G. Wells' most famous novel is that it doesn't try to be anything other than what it is. Unsurprisingly, the movie's story is bookended by graceless and unnecessary expositional narration and opens with fifteen minutes (ten too many) of an equally pointless introduction to the central characters. Nonetheless, this is escapist entertainment and it's presented as such, and I'm almost surprised that Spielberg didn't …
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 . September 09, 2009
   Speilberg has done a superb job making this movie which is highly original from the 1953 version. In it Tom Cruise is an irresponsible divorced father who is given charge of his two children for the weekend. The movie is about how he has to cope with death all around him while keeping his children and himself from becoming mad.       There are some real touching and heart wrenching scenes especially when his young daughter is witnessing the horrors of people being …
review by . January 21, 2009
One thing I will always do when watching a film of this kind is always look for the positives as, let's face it there isn't going to be many. Being a Stephen Spielberg picture, there was a lot that this movie could have offered, seeing as he's considered a Sci-Fi directing legend (in my eyes anyway). The War of the Worlds legacy is a massive one with the original H.G. Wells novel in 1898, the 1938 radio broadcast that led to a few people committing suicide due to them thinking the world really was …
review by . July 24, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Story, special effects of Tripods Aliens, thankfully this was on HBO.     Cons: Plot holes, terrible ending.     The Bottom Line: Could have been great....ultimately bloated and did not reach a suitable conclusion.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot. I so wanted to enjoy this movie. I really did. I am a fan of Tom Cruise (I forgive him for his PDA tendancies), I really love Dakota Fanning …
review by . November 24, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
The real dazzler about this reincarnation of an old story is that it IS the reincarnation of an old story. H.G. Wells published his scary sci-fi novel in 1898, Orson Welles terrified the country in his 1938 radio drama version of the book, in 1953 the book became a film, and now in the time of terrorism Steven Spielberg makes the story not an invasion from Mars but an enemy from within the bowels of the globe. Quite a fest for a book over a hundred years old to still seem pertinent.    Steven …
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 . October 28, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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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Kendall Fontenot ()
Ranked #17
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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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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