Steven Spielberg this modern update on a classic story by H.G. Wells, centred on humanitys reaction and one family in particular, as they fight to survive against an alien force, the film stars Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Miranda Otto.
Yes this film was directed by Spielberg, a fairly straightforward alien invasion story that already has an existing film adaptation, we get a close look at how a family (the Ferriers) tries to survive with action man Tom Cruise playing Ray Ferrier who does a fair bit of his signature action running. From the offset, things are going at 100 miles per hour, much like Cruises running and it makes for an engaging and thrilling plot, though critics of the film would say there isn’t much story here with the plots visceral nature, the premise hooked me and what followed did keep my interest.
Cruise gives a solid performance and is one of the better things about the film, shining in the physical scenes as well as in the more emotional ones, this is a story about survival ultimately and going against the odds and that type of of story is one that will never quite get old, especially in sci-fi as things turn out. With the family relationship of the Ferriers being a central thing here as we see things from their point of view, dealing with the fallout of alien contact. Giving us just their perspective was a nice touch and I think it paid off, grounding events and giving you relatable characters to follow, though they are a tad cliché, Robbie (Justin Chatwin) is the thrill seeking teen son who wants to see action and get out there, while Rachel (Dakota Fanning) is losing it a bit and wants normalcy, while Ray (Tom Cruise) is trying to manage the situation and his kids as best he can.
Understandably the family dynamic can also get a bit annoying with Rachels naivety and… screaming, but it’s something that grounds the story as a whole and brings a sympathetic edge to the characters.
Spielberg uses his experience and vision to bring you more into the events, bringing shots right in among crowds as they view strange machines, bringing you right into the action as people get zapped, it all feels very in your face and uncensored as we see the fallout of the alien invasion. And the visuals do look good with explosions galore, general mass destruction and the eerie effect of people effectively getting turned into dust, with the later scenes on a red looking earth sticking out as being quite striking.
Alien invasion films are straightforward usually either great or pretty bad but War of The Worlds again defies convention and stands as a film that’s good, not spectacular but far from terrible, it has an interesting plot, some effective camera work and Cruise puts in a good shuffle, the ending may seem a bit out of the blue but I feel it’s a decent conclusion to one of the more solid alien invasion films out there.
. Plot flows well, stays engaging and interesting
. Has some good visuals, effective use of shots to engage
. Has some good slower, emotional moments too though the family moments can be annoying