War of the Worlds Reviews
Using the knowledge gained from the mistakes of their 2002 film 'The Time Machine', DreamWorks SKG has figured out the proper way to 'Americanize' an H.G. Wells novel. Instead of dropping key plot points and replacing them with romances or characters portrayed differently from the book, War of the Worlds hits almost all of the points on a checklist for a movie based on the century old novel. Tripods reveal themselves on Earth - Check
A large group of people goes to check them out, leading to the beginning of the chaos - Check
A man must leave everything behind and hang all hopes on reaching a destination - Check.
A crazy man has the idea of starting again, underground and taking out the Martians that way - Check.
And lastly, the man makes it to his destination to discover that the easiest way to defeat the Martians is to simply just survive because they die due to bacteria.
Tom Cruise is always a wonderful and charismatic star, but in this film, we get to see him play a vulnerable and scared father, which is awesome. Dakota Fanning gives a fantastic performance as Rachel, and Justin Chatwin... Well, he's Justin Chatwin. However, he is better in this than he is in most films. This is a truly thrilling feature adaptation of a classic novel that has everything you could ask for. Steven Spielberg at the helm, fantastic and truly frightening sequences that are memorable in every sense of the word, some really great character moments amidst the chaos, a score by John Williams (he's the man), narration by none other than Morgan Freeman, and every good moment from the book including the ferry and the basement scene, and none of the bad ones. As I said, to compare this to other Spielberg films is unfair, as this one isn't even close to his best, but it is a fantastic adaptation. Those who loved the thrill of not knowing what will happen next in the novel will find the same feelings here. It is not to be missed.
War of the Worlds is loosely based on the H.G. Wells novel of the same name, about a father and his children trying to cope with a global alien invasion. There have been so many of these alien invasion films over the years, so it's difficult for any of them to feel fresh and stick out to me. I think the one thing that separates this film from others is that Tom Cruise or any of the other actors aren't playing characters that fight the aliens, or "tripods" as they call them. It only makes up a matter of a few days following the first attack and the immediate aftermath.
Because of that, Cruise is given more to do dramatically than per usual. He gets a few stunts and an action scene or two (because why wouldn't you take advantage of his talent) but it's much more about family than it is about anything else. In that regard, the film works most of the time. Cruise plays Ray Ferrier, father to both Rachel and Robbie. Not to intentionally quote another Cruise movie, but it's really (k)night and day with these kids. Dakota Fanning is perfectly cast as Rachel, a pre-teen who is terrified of the apocalyptic world she now lives in. However, I just couldn't get behind Justin Chatwin's performance and the character of Robbie. There were too many times in which I either felt the character was entirely unnecessary to the plot, or he kept the plot from moving forward in frustrating ways. Why does he all of a sudden feel the need to leave his family and join the Army's fight against the tripods? Makes no sense whatsoever.
Unsurprisingly, Spielberg's visual flare is probably the film's biggest asset. Whether it's the endless amount of long takes, explosive and visceral alien action, or the impressive CGI and green screen work, War of the Worlds is a gorgeous film to look at. If every aspect of the film was as good as the visuals, this could have been quite the adaptation. Bottom line, I like everything visually and some of the performances very much, but the last 20 minutes is a bit of a letdown, as is the constant annoyance of the Robbie character.
+Dakota is magnificent
-Annoying older brother