Jack Hall, paleoclimatologist, must make a daring trek from Washington, D.C. to New York City, to reach his son, trapped in the cross-hairs of a sudden international storm which plunges the planet into a new Ice Age.
Ray Ferrier (Cruise) is a divorced dockworker and less-than-perfect father. When his ex-wife and her new husband drop off his teenage son Robbie and young daughter Rachel for a rare weekend visit, a strange and powerful lightning storm suddenly touches down. What follows is the extraordinary battle for the future of humankind through the eyes of one American family fighting to survive it in this contemporary retelling of H.G. Wells seminal classic sci-fi thriller. Written by
Steven Spielberg: [Signs] Using a sign with directions or instructions as a joke. In this case, as the first buried machine is tearing up the street in Ray's hometown, causing all sorts of damage, the camera pans past a close-up of a municipal "No Littering" sign. See more »
After the ferry scene, CGI clothes fall off from the sky, but manage to go through the branches of the trees, without becoming entangled in them, or without the branches affecting the falling path of the fabric. See more »
No one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns, *they* observed and studied, the way a man with a microscope might scrutinize the creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency, men went to and fro about the globe, confident of our empire over this world. Yet across the gulf of space, intellects vast ...
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There are no opening credits after the title is shown. See more »
"War of the Worlds" is Steven Spielberg's third movie in which extraterrestrials visit Earth, but the first in which their intentions are malevolent. It can't be coincidence that the arrival of the ETs is heralded with eerie lights flashing amid lowering clouds, as in "CE3K." From there, the similarity ends--no light show as friendly aliens come in for a closer look. These creatures (presumably Martians, as in the original H.G. Wells novel) aren't interested in making nice; nor is there any ambiguity about their ultimate objective (as there was for much of "CE3K"). They're here to wipe us off the face of the planet, plain and simple, a point we understand before the movie has played for even half an hour, and the giant walking tripods they deploy are remorselessly efficient. So, too, is the movie--at scaring the hell out of us, notwithstanding some gaping plot holes (what's up with that camcorder, anyway?) and a couple of sequences that are too reminiscent of other movies (particularly "Independence Day" and Spielberg's own "Jurassic Park").
That Spielberg uses imagery alluding to 9/11, the Holocaust, and perhaps the siege of London during World War II is, for me, less an exploitation than a reflection of how seriously he intends the audience to take the on screen mayhem. The atmosphere is heavy with threat, and the depiction of a populace numb with shock amid the devastation is chillingly convincing, despite a few moments of Hollywood cheese. We don't have Will Smith delivering snappy one-liners right after millions are massacred by the invading alien forces, a la "ID4." Nor is there much of a rah-rah, let's-kick-some-alien-ass mood as the outmatched Earthlings try fighting back. Even the ostensible protagonist (a low-key, effective Tom Cruise) crumples at one point under the enormity of what's happening.
I'm not really sure what the posters who complained of insufficient action and FX were talking about. Seems to me the tripods were pretty much a constant presence (if not always in the foreground) from about the 15-minute mark onward. And in fact the "war" of the title is waged from the beginning--it's just not on the level of humans vs. aliens combat that some viewers apparently were expecting.
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