War of the Worlds

This is an archived article from my now-defunct NeonReviews website. Any qualities and/or information provided about the reviewed item must be seen in context of when it was originally published.

Distributor: Paramount Pictures / DreamWorks SKG
Genre: Action / Adventure / Drama / Science-Fiction / Thriller
Availability: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk
Related links: Official website
Additional information: Internet Movie Database (IMDb) entry

We start off with a monologue from Morgan Freeman (yes, I thought I heard a familar voice) about life on Earth, after which we’re introduced to Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier, a crane operator at the docks. Not only that, he’s the best crane operator at the docks (this is Tom Cruise we’re talking about, remember?). He’s divorced and the movie begins with him having a couple of days with his two kids, Rachel (about 10-ish) and Robbie (late teens), presumably a weekend. On the morning of the second day, stuff starts to happen. An electrical storm knocks out all electrical stuff on various locations around the world, and the war is on! The huge war machines come up from the ground (and these have been down there for a very long time, even before the human race were done evolving, something which is annoyingly pointed out several times throughout the movie), and start zapping people and buildings. How will the human race survive?

To be blunt, I spent some time clutched to the cinema seat at several moments, but these were not much than just that. Exiting moments, based on the fact of what the aliens’ weapons are capable of. Aside from those moments, the rest of the movie just barely hopped along the tracks. A few fun spots, but not particulary funny. Frankly, Spielberg could’ve done better than this.

According to the trivia section on IMDb, the time from the beginning of filming this movie to the release date was about 7 months (compared to a couple of years with higher quality movies), something that is apparent in the general quality. The visual effects were top notch, there’s nothing to say about them; I had a hard time figuring out how the heck they did all that stuff, and what was real and what was not real (“real” in the sense of not being computer generated).

Also, I have to say that the last 15-ish minutes before the final credits were a disappointment. During this last section I went “Hmm.. Huh. Right.”, which isn’t a good thing. A lot of my final score goes down because of this.

Knowing some of the story of the original “War of the Worlds”, I was more disappointed with the storyline of this one. I just have a feeling that Spielberg and Cruise were after a quick Academy Award (for actor performance and for special effects) and a quick load of cash as well as just having something to pass the time in-between other, larger projects. Sorry, guys. When I hear the names Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise, I expect something better than this.


Story interest: ★★★★☆☆ 

Plot development: ★★★☆☆☆ 

Characters: ★★★★☆☆ 

Credibility: ★★★★☆☆ 

Visual effects: ★★★★★★ 


Overall: ★★★☆☆☆