War of the Worlds
Action (Sci-Fi, Alien)
Running Time: 116 minutes
Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Miranda Otto, Justin Chatwin
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Rating: 5 out of 10
It is man versus alien as we battle for humanity’s survival. We follow the story of one man as he crosses the country with his two kids in tow.
I always find it funny that Aliens/Martians always want to kill us off and usually for our resources. You would think with the millions of planets out there they could just mine in peace but here we are again as humanity faces extermination. Anyways, War of the Worlds is the story of present day earth. It follows the story of Ray Ferrier as he tries to save his two kids from an alien invasion that is bent on destroying the human race.
This movie unfortunately fractures into two different parts, the alien part that works, and the dialogue part that will piss most viewers off. The film is narrated by Morgan Freeman and can I just tell you that all movies should start off with his voice. He could read a menu out loud and I would be interested. The start to the film is slow and sloppily put together. We meet Ray who is a single dad and at odds with this two kids. Their strained relationship is uneasy to watch and a poor choice for a film like this. As the film progresses though the action and battle for survival are fantastic to behold. Unfortunately the whole film alternates between mundane and distracting personal dialogue to great scenes of battle and death with the alien invaders. There is no happy medium between the two making this film hard to sit through at points. The invasion of the alien army is truly breathtaking. The inclement weather coupled with lightning and seismic disruptions is a work of art. The general mayhem of what happens after the alien war machines surface and start to attack is very believable and frantic. Ray runs for his life as bodies and buildings literally explode all around him. In this flight the movie is worth the time and price but it always gets back to Ray and his stupid family discussions of what to do next which is not.
For all my complaints of dialogue the acting is not bad. Ray is played by Tom Cruise and love him or hate him he does a good job with this role. He is believable as a regular Joe trying to save his kids from the alien invaders. His emo son Robbie played by Justin Chatwin comes across as brooding and aloof and does nothing to ruin the portrayal. Lastly is his daughter Rachel played by Dakota Fanning and she also is okay in her role as a very adult 10 year old girl. Her emotional range is great when dealing with times of peril or tension. Where they fail is not so much in the acting as in their discussions and decisions. Robbie hates Ray and lets us know it at every possible moment, and when things get hectic he wants to go fight the aliens with nothing but his bare hands. Rachel screams at everything and has claustrophobia in a van with windows. The stupid discussions of where to go and how to survive just drives this film further and further down the rating scale. They do good jobs with the characters acting wise it is just the characters themselves you will hate.
As the Ferrier’s drive, run, and boat for their lives, the aliens in their well thought up war machines (Tripods) give chase. They announce their presence with a menacing horn that will literally make you say “holy shit run people!” at the screen. Even the movements of the machines are creepy and not of this world as they kill everything in their path. The struggle to maintain not only their lives but also their sanity is the key motivation for Ray and he does the best that he can given the situation. The good: the film has plenty of action, has alien technology that allows you to see the kill even though the film is rated PG-13, the special effects, the design of the alien tripods, the struggle for survival. The Bad: the dialogue, the stupid characters personalities and decisions, the odd characters they meet along the road, the abrupt and unsatisfying ending (I didn’t mind it but most people will). I weighed the pros and cons and the film is entertaining but the characters make it fail.
Director Steven Spielberg has much to be proud of with in this film. The aliens are malevolent in both design and purpose. He makes a PG-13 movie viable for both kids and adults. The special effects are great and the general sense of mayhem and uncertainty is palpable. His casting and camera work is spot on and the film has enough action and tension to keep the viewer interested. The ending and characters are what hold this movie back from being great and that is a shame.
I cannot recommend this film and while the alien/action sequences are about an 8 the characters are about a 2.
T Factor + If you like alien movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you do not like Tom Cruise this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Battle L.A., Independence Day.