War of the Worlds (2005)



Critic Consensus: Steven Spielberg's adaptation of War of the Worlds delivers on the thrill and paranoia of H.G. Wells' classic novel while impressively updating the action and effects for modern audiences.

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Movie Info

This is a contemporary retelling of H.G. Wells' seminal sci-fi classic. The adventure/thriller reveals humankind's extraordinary battle against an extra-terrestrial invasion fleet, as seen through the eyes of one American family. Located somewhere in the New England United States, the family -- like millions of others around the globe -- is forced to take refuge from the aliens' highly advanced weapons and impenetrable shields, which are unstoppable against anything that mankind can throw at them. Unable to fight back and finding it more and more difficult to remain hidden from the aliens, the human race faces the end of its existence.
PG-13 (for frightening sequences of sci-fi violence and disturbing images)
Action & Adventure , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
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Tom Cruise
as Ray Ferrier
Dakota Fanning
as Rachel Ferrier
Justin Chatwin
as Robbie Ferrier
Miranda Otto
as Mary Ann
Tim Robbins
as Harlan Ogilvy
Rick Gonzalez
as Vincent
Gene Barry
as Grandfather
Lenny Venito
as Manny the Mechanic
Lisa Ann Walter
as Bartender
Ann Robinson
as Grandmother
Roz Abrams
as Herself
Michael Brownlee
as TV Reporter
Camillia Sanes
as News Producer
Marlon Young
as News Cameraman
John Eddins
as News Van Driver
Peter Gerety
as Hatch Boss/Load Manager
David Harbour
as Dock Worker
Miguel Antonio Ferrer
as Brazilian Neighbor
January LaVoy
as Brazilian Neighbor's Wife
Stephen Gevedon
as Neighbor with Lawnmower
Julie White
as Woman
Marianni Ebert
as Hysterical Woman
Rafael Sadina
as Mechanic's Assistant
Amy Ryan
as Neighbor with Toddler
Morgan Freeman
as Narrator, the Narrator
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Critic Reviews for War of the Worlds

All Critics (251) | Top Critics (48)

Spielberg's calculations turn out to be more prominent than any effects they could possibly produce, and the less pretentious 1953 version by producer George Pal emerges as more likable.

Full Review… | June 8, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The film succeeds as pure sensation, an exacting distillation of fear.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds is huge and scary, moving and funny-another capper to a career that seems like an unending succession of captivations.

May 11, 2006
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

There likely won't be a more gripping film this year than Spielberg's War Of The Worlds, which at its best glides along like choreography with a camera, slowly parsing out information while shrouding the rest in shadow and suggestion.

September 25, 2005
AV Club
Top Critic

Overall, the film is too lacking in feeling to provide a recognizably human experience.

July 14, 2005
New York Observer
Top Critic

It's a thrilling ride...[but] this bountiful pot of signifiers leaves a caustic aftertaste.

July 7, 2005
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for War of the Worlds

Fantastic! Special effects are amazing. The story was good as well. A few drawbacks in some parts (why not leave angsty teenagers out of these sort of movies?) but these are minor flaws compared to the whole package.

Wildaly M
Wildaly M

Super Reviewer


Get ready for a wild ride with the Steven Spielberg "DreamWorks" production team, in this high quality revision of H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds". For this invasion, the story has been updated to focus on the family changes which have become most dominant over the decades since the successful 1953 version. So, the central figure, Tom Cruise (as Ray Ferrier), is not a doctor, but a more ordinary New Jersey dock worker. And, the lead character played by Mr. Cruise is made much more interesting by the fact that he is a divorced man, who is somewhat estranged from his children . Instead of the expected "hot romance", you have the drama unfolding around the bonding of Cruise and his children. Of course, a lot of disbelief suspension is required, especially in this type of film; but, the updated situation is refreshing, and believable. When the film begins, Cruise's ex-wife drops off the couple's two children while she goes off to spend some time with her new husband, and parents, in Boston. The children are played well, by Justin Chatwin (Robbie Ferrier) and Dakota Fanning (Rachel Ferrier). There is a point (foreshadowed twice) where Mr. Chatwin leaves the action; it seems like a flaw in the storytelling; but, it does work out quite well. The "son" is replaced by Tim Robbins (as Harlan Ogilvy), in some scenes which would not have worked with the original threesome. Cruise deserves some particular praise, for his performance. He is especially good after suffering a loss, then taking refuge in Mr. Robbins' basement; observe his fight to overcome madness, and protect his daughter, in the bowels of the Earth. Cruise's tearful rendition of "Little Deuce Coupe" is one of the film's most memorable moments; and, it involves no observable "special effect". The alien "special effects" are fantastic. John Williams is outstanding. Reserving comments on minor difficulties which would reveal too much; (except, the narration was unnecessary); the "War of the Worlds" is excellent entertainment. 3 Stars Updated 9-5-13

Bruce Bruce
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

This contemporary update of War of the Worlds is a lot better than most people say it is. 2/3 of the movie is some of the most atmospheric,suspenseful, and intense stuff that Spielberg has made in quite a long time. The problems come during the final 40 or so minutes. The movie does such an excellent and effective job of channeling 9/11 and War on Terror fears, paranoia, and anxiety, and then remembers that it's supposed to be a summer action blockbuster and jarringly becomes a cliched actioner with a schmaltzy and sentimental ending typical of almost all of Spielberg's work. Seeing as how much and love and respect the man, I can't bring myself to hate on him too much for this, but thankfully what is done right still manages to save the movie from totally sucking. With Munich Spielberg (for once) made a movie that was completely adult and serious, and avoided sentimentality-and that movie was absolutely brilliant. This came so damn close to reaching that same level, and was so close to being a masterpiece....and I don't know why it was deemed necessary to not stick with it. I only just realized that this came out a bit before Munich, but still.... Anyways, this film does feature some spectacular moments..especially the action scenes. That I used to own a van that looked 99.9% just like the one Cruise drives around in makes me like this movie in spite of it's faults. The acting is better than average, and the camera work is top notch. Give this one a chance. It's really good, which normally is fine, but it should have been excellent.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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