The War of the Worlds - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The War of the Worlds Reviews

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November 22, 2016
Actually pretty hard hitting in the term of hostility, though a charade of weaknesses in the cast, music, religion and love-story. At times thrilling, at times horrible.
September 4, 2016
This is a good piece of 50's science-fiction movie based on H. G. Wells' novel of the same name.
½ June 16, 2016
Despite the surprising reliance on religion for plot points and a very dated story, War of the Worlds remains an intelligent and compelling milestone in science fiction classics.
June 2, 2016
A pioneer of more 50s Science Fiction, War of The Worlds is able to dazzle many fans and the audience on H.G Wells' classic novel
½ May 29, 2016
This 1953 film is naīve and some kind of ingenious, but is by far more interesting without the special effects of the 2005 remake
Super Reviewer
April 30, 2016
The science works, it's the fiction that doesn't.
April 7, 2016
Mas apegada a la radionovela de Orson Welles que al clasico literario. Mantiene su status de clasico del genero a pesar de los aņos y lo rustico de sus efectos especiales.
March 22, 2016
It's a frighteningly apocalyptic film, and an exhibition of gorgeous effects that look more like the product of the eighties than the fifties. The War of the Worlds is a strange take on the classic H.G. Wells novel, but it manages to pull everything together and work in its own way.
Super Reviewer
½ January 29, 2016
Byron Haskin spent decades as a cinematographer then a special effects artist before moving fully into directing. He would recycle the Martian heat-ray/laser firing ships for Robinson Crusoe on Mars ten years later. He made genre pictures and surely science fiction was not a prestigious genre during the first half of the 20th century. The special effects are adequate for the time yet clunky. All the performers are non-descript and stiff. H. G. Wells' novel describes a near future in England, which had not yet experienced any world wars, yet still traveled by horse-drawn cart, bicycle, train, or boat. This adaptation has the Martians attacking California first and we are completely entrenched in 1950s attitudes. I was bored to death when the movie focuses on the military scrambling around or hunkered down trying to hold back the relentless Martians. I only slightly prefer scenes with Gene Barry as Dr. Forrester and Ann Robinson as Sylvia (though the little romance and her damsel in distress act get old fast). There are few scenes from the book left intact and with the lack of respect for the original material goes much of the intelligent social commentary. America has entered the Cold War so military force and old time religion are portrayed as our best saving graces, not science.
January 24, 2016
Questionable science and some dated 50s ideals aside, The War of the Worlds boasts great special effects and wonton destruction worthy of a Roland Emmerich production. Those who have seen the Spielberg version will easily recognize how this film influenced the latter. Pacing may be an issue for those not used to older films, but for all others it should still be an enjoyable ride.
½ October 9, 2015
This was the first version of the H.G. Wells' story I'd been exposed to as a kid and this film scared the hell out of me int eh most exhilarating way. The scene where the priest walks across scorched earth with his Bible in hand to confront the alien ships was burned into my memory as a child and it still a powerful scene to watch today. Other scenes burned into my memory include the alien who comes face-to-face with the film's hero, the huddled masses attending church as the world around them, and the films final image of masses on a high hillside. The story is deceptively simple, aliens from Mars invade earth and all of human technology cannot defeat them, that is until the most simple and brilliant of solutions presents itself. The special effects were amazing for the time and they still work today, even if the aliens and alien ship designs are dated. I'd also say that the sound design for the aliens and alien ships is also terrific and extremely scary and effective. Although it's probably too dated for modern audiences, this one is essential viewing for classic film lovers and for sci-fi aficionados.
½ October 4, 2015
Classic. 1950's science fiction at its finest. H.G. Wells would gush over this adaptation and be repulsed by the version that had Tom Cruise.
October 1, 2015
I do not like Gene Berry nor Tom Cruise....The first is the best. Considering the age of the film and the special effects back in 1953, it shines overall over the remake.
½ August 12, 2015
I consider this movie to hold the standards of all sci fi movies.
½ August 6, 2015
Said to be a science fiction classic, The War of the Worlds sounded like a good piece of cinematic nostalgia

Since the story is a very thin one, the success of The War of the Worlds becomes predicated on its value as a spectacle. Still to this day The War of the Worlds contains to retain a legacy for being one of the most visually stunning science fiction films of the 1950's. I'll admit that the effect has not aged perfectly as you can see the string suspending the Martian ships fairly consistently and many objects in the film are clearly just minuscule props pretending to be much larger. However, considering the time that the film was produced in and the genuinely powerful dramatic effect of the film, it truly does end up succeeding.
As director, Byron Haskin takes The War of the Worlds extremely seriously, and this is a major benefit to the film as it prevents it from falling into the same category as the cheesy science fiction adventure films prominent in the 1950's. The film is slim on characterization, but it does not waste time trying to pretend that there really are any. There are minimal cheesy archetypes in the characters, but rather just a lot of startled human beings of all different states of status and such. They play out as insignificant against the invading martians, and as a result the genuine scale of the film feels larger as the focus is significantly more on spectacle than characters. The cast of the film are strong, but there is more time dedicated to seeing Martians blow up buildings and conquering cities than anything else. There are some frustrating moments in the film where this stops so that the film can pretend it has much in the way of story or human drama, but they do not drag on as the meager 85 minute running time of the film stands out more for its effective imagery than anything else. The imagery depicted in The War of the Worlds carries over to modern day very effectively as the revolutionary nature of the effects for their time maintain a sense of colour in this day and age while also putting a sense of nostalgic value into the experience through showing a turning point in the history of science fiction cinema. One thing that I find really impressive is that since the film really wants to emphasize the Martian ships as being large, the feature cleverly goes between different shots that change the size of things cleverly and integrate them together well. All this is thrown at the viewer with a pace that is fairly consistent with speed, keeping things energetic throughout the experience.
And as a means of ensuring that The War of the Worlds is truly a spectacle, the quality of the audio is also impressive. The sound effects are loud and edited very timely without being overwhelming, and they have a distinctive technological feel to them. On top of that, the musical score plays out when the film requires the appropriate dramatization and it really works. The War of the Worlds lays down a powerful effect on the viewer through the eyes and the ears, so its production values are all too obviously their finest element in every inch of the production.
I will admit though, there is a sense of repetition in the narrative. As effective as the imagery is, viewers are treated to largely just the same basic shots of Martian ships again and again for the majority of the film. As strong as the production values are, the versatility of it all is not as effective when seen in this day and age, particularly when the strings are so clear. While the effects are amusing at first, I can't help but feel that they could have been put to better use in their war against humanity. But at the same time, there is genuinely not that much story development.Even though the spectacle of The War of the Worlds is impressive, the lack of characterization in the film takes its toll. Since the film is very thin in story and very heavy in spectacle, the moments of the film which try to be more about story prove to slow the experience down. They would have more entertainment value if there was really any characters during them, and since there aren't any it largely just a dull affair any time they have anything to do on screen. But it is more a problem because the story doesn't have any way to put them to use except put them on the run or against the aliens. The entire time this is happening, the humans are constantly failing in their efforts and so the disaster elements of the film fuel the narrative with nihilism. This means that there is essentially no hope, and the thin nature of the characters as well as the lack of gimmicks maintained by the cast mean that there is little attachment to the story. This makes it all the more frustrating when a resolution happens all of a sudden without preceding notice and then the film ends within seconds. All in all, The War of the Worlds is more of a disaster movie than anything and it certainly succeeds at being one. The only thing is that it wants to pretend that it's more of a complex science fiction film even though the material is overly simplistic. I'm sure that H.G. Wells had more in mind when he wrote his original story than was delivered by Byron Haskin on the film, but I guess they both stand out in their respective fields for different merits.

So The War of the Worlds has a thin plot and no characters, but the powerful production values and genuine large scale disaster atmosphere make it a nostalgic piece of science fiction cinema.
½ July 27, 2015
While it's dated in terms of action and special effects, The War of the Worlds is a sci-fi classic and a true inspiration to the genre
July 10, 2015
one of the best and one of my favorite sci-fi films of ll time.
June 21, 2015
This weeks Classic Movie - exciting and thrilling at the same time. Good effects for 1953 and great screaming from Ann Robinson.
½ June 8, 2015
Not as interesting as the H.G. Wells novel, but it manages to get the point across.
May 17, 2015
One of the best alien invasion films of the 1950s. A good update of the H.G. Wells story.
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