War of the Worlds (2005)

Review Date: June 27, 2005

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: David Koepp

Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Colin Wilson

Actors:
Tom Cruise as Ray
Dakota Fanning as Rachel
Justin Chatwin as Robbie

plot:

A really bad father gets his son and daughter for the weekend and decides to crash in bed before taking them on as his chore. When he wakes up, he notices an odd lightning storm in his backyard. Checking it out a little closer, he notices that it isn’t an odd lightning storm after all, but rather, an alien invasion of our planet! For the next two hours, we follow this threesome as they attempt to survive this massive attack. PS: Tom Cruise loves Katie Holmes.

critique:

Steven. Spielberg. Is. A. Great. Filmmaker. I used to love this guy as a kid, you know, he made a couple of cool flicks a la JAWS, E.T., RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK…a few others. Then, he grew up…well, sort of. Over the past few years, he’s delivered a more mature, different side of himself, with movies that kick ass in the darker vein a la SAVING PRIVATE DAMON, A.I., MINORITY REPORT and now, WAR OF THE WORLDS and wow…it’s yet another triumph in an amazing career of outstanding motion pictures. I mean, is there any other person in show-business with a greater filmography track record than Mr. Spielberg? Yeah okay…maybe Tom Cruise, right? Well, he stars in this movie and despite his very odd monologues and “love for Katies” in public of late, he comes through in character, once again, as a regular ol’ dad, who as the aliens invade, and the end of the world nears, gets his shit in gear, and recognizes some of the errors in his ways, the love for his family and all that fun stuff. Together, Cruise and Spielberg have created one great summer movie, as well as an amazing science-fiction adventure, packed with action a-plenty, highly impressive special effects, plenty of cool tripod alien ships and aliens, but also a lighter side, including a couple of choice laughs (“Like what…Europe?”) and a believable bond between the lead family, that starts off like many families in the world, but is infinitely changed by the tragic happenings around them. Yes, just like many of Spielberg’s previous films, this movie’s got a heart and that’s what takes it to that other level, such that you are further invested in the characters, and actually give a rat’s about whether or not they are zapped into oblivion.

That said, it’s to note that ultimately this is a very dark, creepy, thrilling and all-around science-fiction adventure that, unlike its teaser marketing campaign, does not hold back in terms of its visuals with plenty of “flying saucers”, aliens and zapping of human animals sprinkled throughout its plotline. The film contains at least 3-4 masterful sequences in which all hell is breaking loose, and you attempt not to blink as you don’t want to miss one of the extra-terrestrials blasting some asshole away. My favorite had to be the one in which some of the mechanism behind the tripods is revealed, or any of the wide shots of the bedlam occurring about town. Wow…you just look up in awe. Sure, there were a few points in the story during which I just had to roll my eyes up a little and allow the suspension of disbelief to wash itself all over me (They’re driving the car through a highway filled with stalled vehicles and they get through, no problem? Also…the “mirror scene”…c’mon!), but there really weren’t too many of those points, and in the end, I allowed the fact that it was a friggin’ movie about an alien invasion, to keep my concentration centered on the bigger picture, which between and you…looked awesome! One thing I cannot forgive, however, is one plot point that seems to indicate something pretty bad happening to someone pretty important, but this something, as per most Spielberg vehicles, ultimately turns out to be untrue. Again, I have to say…it’s a movie about an alien invasion…I don’t think the audience would mind if ONE FRIGGIN’ important person disappears here! I mean…c’mon man! Granted, most moviegoers will surely appreciate the heartfelt moment, but not me…I would have preferred to have experienced a greater death, but alas, I’m just some jerk writing movie reviews for a living, so just move on to the next paragraph.

Those small twinges of negativity aside, the film kicked my ass from its sharp opening, to its character development, to its quick pace, stupendous special effects, dark imagery and realistic environment. It had everything you’d look for in a summer blockbuster and more. My dad was recently quoted as saying that this film was gonna “suck” because of the glut of publicity behind it over the past month or so, but my dad appears to have been wrong in this case, as the film comes through gangbusters, tossing aliens, deaths, tripods, red stuff, Cruise in form, Fanning playing adorable and Spielberg at his best all over the big screen, and daring us not to like. Well…me likey. Me likey a lot.

(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian

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Average Rating:
7.4/10
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Viewing 1-15 of 15 User Comments
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4/10
ginopags
Jul 25 2005, 9:19:13 AM
WAR OF THE PLOT DEVICES!!

Ok, so it seems every filmmaker that once had balls is losing there edge... Spielberg is no exception. So he made a movie about mean aliens, big deal, that isn't edge, that just means there are mean aliens in this movie. And yes, they are mean. Having cleared that out of the way, choosing to make this movie from the POV of 1 family was a big no no. Especially if he intended on showing as much as he did. It all means he needed silly plot devices, and thus plot holes to propel the family forward or along, stupid coincidences everywhere... in all very annoying, and ultimately, the word that describes this movie year in general, disappointing. Signs did a good job with that kind of storytelling, but it was a different kind of movie... it wasn't intending to show us action, so it worked. But here Spielberg wants to explore so many ideas, all while keeping it simple for the sake of munching on popcorn, but you know what I didn't get one bit of excitement out of this once the first 15minutes were up. Just dull, especially when we meet Tim Robbins character... so many embarassing scenes. ANd the ending, yes so horrible you have to ask yourself is this a joke. Maybe the ending wouldn't have been the end of the world (hahah) had it been handled differently, but it's sooooooooooo out of left field... soooo simplistic you ask yourself "Did I just get screwed out of 10 bucks?".

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7/10
Dee93
Jul 25 2005, 8:53:11 AM

I'm not a Tom Cruise fan, but i have to give him his props, no matter how nuts he may be in real life, and how the same he is in all his movies the fact remains that when he is in a movie he gets the job done. He may never blow me away with his talents, but he never sucks, AND i didn't think about his recent rants, scientology or Katie Holmes at all during the movie (though, that may be partially because of the intense pace of the movie). With Batman Begins, everytime Holmes was onscreen i could not help but think about the recent mess, she's no Tim Cruise. On to the movie...Its pretty good, but thats it. There are just too many weak points for this movie to be considered great, and its weak in such ways that you'd think it was a Michael Bay (Pearl Harbor, Armageddon) or Roland Emmerich (IE4, Day after Tomorrow) movie, not Steven Spielberg. It frustrates me, a lot, just a few tweaks here and there and we'd be looking at a much better movie. I won't go into the details since i'd give away too much of the movie, but i will say that Cruise's kids in the movie are pretty fucking annoying. I'm also definetly not a fan of the ending, a little lame and...dumb. Overall though, its an enjoyable movie with some quality action, suspense, and fx...........just a let down, *sigh*

Misc Thoughts

- The whole neighborhood was leveled by the plane that crashed....except for the mini van? wtf?

- No one else can make a car run?

- This always gets me about aliens in movies, how do these oddly shaped beings (often with tenticles) build these super machines?

- (SPOILER AHEAD) ya know Senior Speilbergo, the reunion with the son at the end was not needed, it was more powerful when we thought he was dead.

- The ending....lame. These super aliens never thought about that angle? c'mon.

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9/10
Quigles
Jul 25 2005, 1:41:09 AM
MINI-REVIEW

QUICK THOUGHTS: I saw this twice in theaters. Both incredibly entertaining, and intense as all hell.

PROS:
~masterful directing and style
~brilliant acting, especially from Fanning
~amazing CGI, beautiful visuals
~gets to the action quickly (very quickly!)
~most satisfying movie I've seen all summer

CONS:
~ending left something to be desired (to abrubt and frustrating)
~once the aliens are revealed, the fun seems to come to a slight halt

Great review Berge!

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3/10
MovieManMenzel
Jul 25 2005, 1:16:50 AM
HEY SPIELBERG, WHERE THE HELL IS THE STORY?

You know I was looking forward to this film when I first heard about it because I usually have a lot of faith in Steven Spielberg and I think he’s a damn fine director. But to be honest my interest in the film began to drop when Tom Cruise became the media whore over the past three weeks or so. I was just so tired of hearing his name over and over again. I normally run out and see a movie like this on opening day but since I lost interest I didn’t bother. So I went out today, Sunday July 3, 2005 to see what all the hype was about.

Based on a radio skit followed by a movie both created by H.G Wells comes Steven Spielberg’s version of “War of the Worlds”. “War of the Worlds” is simply a movie about aliens invading the planet earth. The movie focuses on one family as they fight to stay alive and avoid the aliens.

Tom Cruise! Steve Spielberg! A 180 Million Dollar Budget! And lastly NO STORY! I can’t even begin to say how disappointed I am with this flick. I really can’t! There is no excuse what so ever why this movie didn’t have a story and why almost everything makes little or no sense. One minute of Morgan Freeman explaining in the beginning what’s going to happen and then one minute at the end of Morgan Freeman telling us what happened, does not make up for a 2hr and 10min movie without a story. On top of it the lame story seemed like something a ten year old would make up. It’s like Steve Spielberg said I want to make a movie about aliens and so someone brought him a script and he was like no I don’t need a script, I am going to wing it.

Don’t even get me started on all the jokes in the movie. Stop trying to make serious movies especially Sci-Fi flicks and then throw in some lame ass jokes. I know the majority of the public is dumb and needs to be easily amused when watching movies but I am tired of it. Stop putting jokes in films where they don’t belong. My favorite was when the aliens started to attack and little Rachel (Dakota Fanning) followed by her brother Robbie (Justin Chatwin) ask “Is it the terrorists?” I just started laughing because it was so lame.

What else is wrong? Well we have a pointless 10 minute role by Tim Robbins as a nut job. It’s pretty funny; it reminded me of the trailer trash character from “Mars Attacks.” I was waiting for Mr. Robbins to scream out “I am going to kick some alien ass.” Not to mention the most unbelievable and lame ending. Why does there always have to be a happy ending? Mr. Spielberg didn’t you get that memo with “A.I” or did you miss that one. Also the film felt so rushed at the end, I mean no real explanation of anything. It’s like someone said ok guys wrap it up, were all done with this film. The film isn’t at all scary either. And finally, since everyone else mentions it what the hell? How did the digital cameras and camcorder stay working when everything else electrical went down? That made no sense what so ever but then again most of this film didn’t either so I guess why should I question that?

Tom Cruise (Ray) is unbelievable as a father. I mean seriously I never felt like he cared about either one of his kids. Dakota Fanning was just there; all she did was cry and scream. And when did Tim Robbins become an actor who gets a minor pointless role? I just don’t get it. The acting was passable but that didn’t take much. There was pretty much no real acting involved. Just running, screaming and looking scared; if you can do that then you could star in Steven Spielberg’s version of “War of the Worlds.”

So what’s good about War of the Worlds? The special effects are great! It’s all special effects and nothing else. I like special effects, I do. I like movies about aliens too. I just like a story to go with them. I have watched so many movies that special effects are just there now. I don’t rate a movie by special effects it needs more than that to wow me (no pun intended). You need more then special effects to create a good movie. How the heck this film is rated as highly as it is, well that’s beyond me. I guess it goes to show you that the American people much rather shut their brains off when they go to the movies then think and be entertained as well.

In the end, “War of the Worlds” has nothing to offer besides special effects and special effects only get someone so far. Many people complain about Michael Bay and John Woo because his movies don’t have any story and just a lot of action and special effects. Well I normally don’t like those movies and I didn’t care for this movie that much either. The aliens were cool but once you take that out of the equation there is nothing else to say about this movie. Bland Characters, No story, No explanation, Lame ending, and everything pretty much makes little or no sense, but hey you get Great Special Effects! Well that’s about it. I was truly disappointed, let’s just hope that Steven Spielberg’s next movie will have some story to go along with the special effects.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for "War of the Worlds" is a 3/10. If you like movies that have nothing else to offer then special effects see this film and enjoy. If you want more than that then skip this one or wait for it till DVD or video.

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10/10
go2
Jul 24 2005, 11:51:51 PM
WAR OF THE WORLDS

steven spielberg has done it again and so has tom cruise.the special effects rocked,the story was smart,the acting was great,the ending did not suck,the whole movie rocked.

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