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Ray Ferrier is a divorced dockworker and less-than-perfect father. Soon after his ex-wife and her new husband drop of his teenage son and young daughter for a rare weekend visit, a strange and powerful lightning storm touches down.
Steven Spielberg is the kind of the big Hollywood blockbuster. Think back to when "Jaws" was the highest grossing motion picture of all-time, only to be replaced by "E.T. The Extra Terrestrial" a few years later. Then, in the 1990's, he broke those records again with "Jurassic Park". Since then, Spielberg has been focusing on labors of love, such as "Schindler's List", "Saving Private Ryan", and "A.I. Artificial Intelligence". It has been a long time since we have seen a blockbuster than can only be described as 'Spielberg quality'. Not only does "War of the Worlds" break that streak, but also proves, once and for all, that Steven Spielberg is the greatest cinematic storyteller in the history of motion pictures. Whether it's a robotic shark and that chilling John Williams score, or dinosaurs gone wild, or destructive tripods hellbent on global domination, Spielberg can push all of the appropriate emotional buttons. "War of the Worlds" is one of the best films of the Summer.
Tom Cruise stars as Ray Ferrier, a dock worker who loves driving fast, living in his own filth, and wondering why his two kids don't want to call him Dad. At first, he is not so much the hero as he is the coward and the asshole. Of course, aliens would choose the weekend he has his kids to begin their global march of terror, death, and domination. What starts out as freak lightning storms eventually turns into large tripods able to kill large quantities of human beings in mere seconds. The world goes into a panic and Cruise must do everything he can to make sure his children do not turn into those red blood vines that we eventually see covering the ground everywhere. Along the way, he is met with an assortment of challenges, from having to save he and his daughter from the stomach of one of the tripods, to matching wits with a somewhat deranged and overly eccentric survivalist named Ogilvy (Tim Robbins). The end of the film mirrors the end of the classic H.G. Welles novel, which has always seemed like a disappointment to many audiences, but I have always found it totally appropriate, seeing as how the whole idea behind "War of the Worlds" is the notion of arrogance and greed and ignorance. Spielberg has taken this basic premise and inserted a family element, relying on Cruise and Dakota Fanning, aka Macaulay Culkin with a training bra. Both are up to the challenge, and help to level out the horror elements of the story.
For those of you expecting "War of the Worlds" to be your typical Steven Spielberg adventure, think again. In fact, this is more of a horror film than anything else, baffling me as to why it was not given an R-rating, instead of PG-13. There are some fairly terrifying images in this picture, as when the little girl watches as hundreds and hundreds of bodies flow down the creek in front of her; or when a terrified Cruise watches as one of the tripods stabs a person, sucks out their blood, and sprays it all over the ground outside. These are images we would expect to see in a David Cronenberg picture. In fact, this is one of the least 'Spielberg-esque' films Steven Spielberg has ever made, and it totally works. Why? Well, because most people seem to forget that Spielberg is, essentially, a horror director. "Jaws" is considered, by many, to be the most terrifying film ever made, and lest we forget "Duel" and "Jurassic Park". Though there is always a little fantasy involved, Spielberg is truly the 'master of horror'. If you are still a disbeliever, take this to heart -- sitting two rows behind me in the theatre was a woman and her two small boys. An hour into the film, one of them started crying and the mother had to escort them out. On the way out I could hear one of the little boys say, "What was he doing to that man?"
As for all of the hoopla surrounding Tom Cruise -- give me a break. So what is the guy is a Scientologist and is proud of his religion. Do we harass Christians and Catholics on a daily basis for trying to push off their religious beliefs? Hell no. And, why should we care if he is dating Katie Holmes? Isn't it possible that two celebrities can actually fall in love and want the world to know how much they love one another? All of this press has taken away from the fact that Tom Cruise continues to be one of the most under-appreciated actors in Hollywood today. He is the anchor of this film, and his humor and his spirit come to life in a way I have not seen since "Magnolia", and almost recaptured in "The Last Samurai". Dakota Fanning does her job as the adorable little girl, and Tim Robbins is slightly over-the-top as the loud mouthed Ogilvy. But, if you are still worried about the performance, think of this -- is that what you're really at the theatre for? Hell no. You want to see things blow up and people disintegrated. So, cover your ears and glue your eyes to the screen...you won't be disappointed and will probably be treated to three times as much violence than you originally considered.
Congratulations to Steven Spielberg on yet another high profile, record breaking blockbuster. If anyone deserves continued success in the business, it is him. He always managed to challenge and entertain us, and then crank out something that we all need from time to time...million dollar eye candy. "War of the Worlds" has more substance and credibility that most of the typical Summer blockbusters, and what it lacks in depth it makes up for in the most astonishing action sequences I have ever seen carried out on screen. This is literally every single disaster movie rolled into one. "War of the Worlds" entertained me in a way I would not have expected, but I love surprises, and this one goes down as one of the best films I have sat through all year long. Steven Spielberg is responsible. Tom Cruise is responsible. H.G. Welles is responsible. But, I give myself the most credit for not listening to all of the negative press and just enjoying a God damned enjoyable piece of cinema.
- added 07/05/2005, 05:49 AM
This shit made no sense. In the final scene when
hes in boston at the gay street. It's fall, sunny
and all the buildings are still intact. Isn't it
winter in the beggining and the whole town was
ruined and cloudy. Corny as hell. And just plain
- added 07/09/2005, 05:32 AM
You don't see Boston at the beginning. And perhaps
they were just having good weather, fuck the
ending anyway it was stupid.
- added 07/23/2005, 06:11 AM
I had big expectations for this film and I was
still surprised. It was a pretty damn good movie.
The camera work is awesome and gives it an
unstable, reporter-like feeling in order to really
get you in the action. The retro-alien-movie
atmosphere at the beginning is priceless, but what
I enjoyed the most was the effective depiction of
panic. You could feel everyone was dead-afraid,
harmless, desperate. If it wasn't for the ending,
I would've rated it perfect. But what's 10-15
minutes of deception vs over and hour and a half
of pure apocaliptic delight?
- added 08/01/2005, 06:28 AM
This movie was definitly the best of all the
summer movies. I only had one problem. The first
time a tripod rose all the cars went dead. So how
come the second time one rose right at the
ex-wive's house, the car still worked in the
morning? Other than that the movie was absolutely
- added 04/10/2007, 04:37 AM
I hated both of those goddamned kids and was
praying for them to bite it throughout the entire
movie (even though I knew there was no chance of
- added 04/10/2007, 08:17 AM
That stupid emo kid bothered me more than her. I
was praying he'd die. I'm not worried about her,
because she'll get hers in Hounddog
- added 06/04/2007, 08:56 PM
The ending was not only acceptable in my eyes, but
faithful to Wells' novel, as meanie mentioned. In
fact I appreciated the ending quite a bit, as it
showed in rare form that we truly can be powerless
against a foe. The sensation of chaotic
hopelessness acheived during the mob scene was
enthralling, and (barring the children, who played
their parts well as it seems they were intended to
be obnoxious), it was natural to empathize and
sympathize with each of the characters. Cruise
was excellent as per usual, and Tim Robbins flexes
his acting muscle as he has so frequently done in
the past, giving us a startling portrait of the
human breaking point. Realistically, my only
serious gripe about this piece was at the
conclusion when Robby (I believe was Cruise's
son's name) was shown to have survived.
Absolutely unneccesary. He could have perished
and in all honesty, it would have added greater
emotional impact to the film. Otherwise a worthy
film of the Spielberg legacy, with incredible
effects, cinematography, sounds, acting (though
yes I agree that little shit is the same annoying
know-it-all, 8-going-on-18, piss-ant wench she is
in every movie), and storytelling quality that has
become his hallmark. We could use an event like
this to chlorinate the gene pool a bit...
- added 07/26/2007, 03:16 PM
This is probablly my least favorite adaptation of
Welles' novel. Honestly, I got more fun out of the
TV mini-series. My main problems with this film
wer (1.) Very little content. The story is
supposed to be VERY charecter driven, yet, as we
watch it, the changes aren't even gradual. We go
from one extreme of personality to another in a
split second. There was not charecter build. (2.)
It was an anti-climactic movie. I mean, we see
what the aliens plan to do throughout the entire
film and I was never once disturbed by it. There
wasn't much to be had from what I saw. (3.) CGI. A
movie made for CGI (such as this one, or Mikey
Bay's "Transformers") is always dependant on that,
it's special effects, but I've never been a big
sucker for those. So when you're willing to
eliminate a gradual story to make a movie look
shiny, then you've fucked it up for me. Like I
said, this is all just me, I'm sure most people
will argue, go ahead. I didn't like this movie.
Not even alittle. 1.5/10
- added 06/03/2010, 05:42 PM
I couldn't stand this movie and like everyone else
I wanted the kids to die a slow painfull death.
- added 06/03/2010, 08:59 PM
The negative comments have it. Couldn't stand