Reviews & Previews - War of the Worlds

Posted on Sunday, July 03, 2005 at 06:00 PM

War of the Worlds

By: S. Tran

Starring: Tom Cruise, Justin Chatwin, Dakota Fanning
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Running Time: 116 Minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 for frightening sequences of sci-fi violence and disturbing images.

Big Budget... Big Deal

Run for your lives, a strange alien is coming! Awwwww no its just Tom Cruise. But the real aliens do eventually arrive in this pointless, overhyped, under-storied offering from Steven Spielberg. War of the Worlds is a classic example of Hollywood style over substance. I suspect the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes thing was created to take attention away from how lame this movie is.

The planning for the movie apparently went like this: Ok we got Steven Spielbergcheck. Tom Cruise.check. Cool special effects and neat-o aliens.check. Did we forget anything? No? Ok lets spend $200 million on this sucker.

Actually you did forget something. How about a script that makes any sense or has a real story? War of the World's is a pointless, directionless movie that plays more like a montage of great special effects sequences rather than a coherent movie.

Tom Cruise plays Ray, a divorced father looking after his two children for the weekend when the aliens first arrive. After this promising start the movie devolves into a big long chase with lots of screaming and zapping by the aliens. Dakota Fanning plays Ray's daughter. The usually dependable young actress is grating as a hysterical ten year old. Its really not her fault though as the only thing she is given to do in the movie is scream. Unfortunately that's more than anyone else in the movie is given to do.

Even without a strong story it may have been a decent movie if anything in the movie made any sense. Too bad you are left scratching your head at the stupidity of everything. Spielberg doesn't even bother to explain some of the elements in the movie he introduces.

If you watch the movie you can see:

People running away from the aliens, unless there is a really big battle going on in which case they all decide to run towards them. What?

The aliens have waited until humans have developed technology such as rockets and nuclear weapons before attacking. What?

The aliens are planting red weeds. Why? Don't know. What?

Another problem is that, as with all alien invasion movies, War of the Worlds paints itself into a corner that's very hard to get out of. The aliens arrive, they have indestructible ships, advanced technology and are basically undefeatable. This means the only way to beat them is to have very dumb aliens. The aliens in this movie are so idiotic that they make the aliens in Independence Day seem like mensa candidates in comparison. I'm betting the ships weren't even theirs, they probably borrowed them from way smarter aliens.

Their eventual defeat reminded me of the ridiculous ending in Signs. I almost want to give away the ending to spare you from this film but in case you ignore my warnings and go see it any way I won't ruin it for you; the movie will do that by itself.

The only thing of any interest in this film is to see the kinds of special effects $200 million can produce. Without that kind of budget this would have been a straight to video special.


2 out of 5 stars.


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to