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An Effective Sci-Fi Thriller
Lechuguilla13 July 2003
To be an effective thriller, a sci-fi film absolutely must impart to the viewer a sense of --- coldness, either the physical coldness of outer space or other worlds, or the emotional coldness of science.

Cedric Hardwicke's opening narrative in "The War Of The Worlds" is brutally cold, and the added images uninviting. The martian machines, vaguely resembling "legless swans", are both beautiful and terrifying. They move slowly, in a graceful but calculating manner. They warn of their approach with an eerie, unearthly "pinging" sound.

In the scene where the priest walks toward one of the "swans", the aliens do not impulsively open fire. Instead, they wait. The cruel "eye" peers down on the priest, studying him, in a foreboding prelude to his inevitable annihilation.

Other scenes in the first half also convey this needed sense of alien coldness. We can, therefore, forgive the film for its somewhat corny plot.

The film's second half is weaker because the aliens have to compete for screen time with Los Angeles mob scenes, a showy and irksome display of American military hardware, and dry narration of military war tactics. But even in this second half, suspense filters through, as we watch the heartless "swans" eject their heat rays on a helpless Los Angeles.

For sci-fi films made before "2001: A Space Odyssey", "The War Of The Worlds" is one of my three favorites, along with "Robinson Crusoe On Mars" and "Forbidden Planet".
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A Classic!
BaronBl00d23 November 2004
Somewhere out in the American West, a huge meteor-like projectile crashes in the soil. Everyone initially believes it to be nothing more than a meteor, but soon all learn it is really an investigative ship from the planet Mars out to destroy anything and everything in its path. This film directed by Byron Haskin, based on a script by Barre Lyndon, and produced by George Pal is one of the quintessential science fiction films of the 50's, otherwise known as the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Based on the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells, this film keeps the spirit of the book intact while changing some things like the setting. The book takes place primarily in and around London. All of the talents in this film help make The War of the Worlds an innovative, intelligent, and evocative film that tries to get one thinking about alien invaders and their intentions. The earthlings in this film are the good ones...trying to be friendly, yet, treated as nothing more than impediments in the Martians' way. So many scenes in this film are strong: the army fighting the Martian space ship while a man of God tries to make peace with the strangers, the old farmhouse, and the ending as the aliens attack Los Angelos. Acting is strong too as leads Gene Barry - doing a very good job as a scientist who just happens to be nearby - and Ann Robinson convincingly portray what life might be like in a world with such horrific news. But despite a first-rate script, solid direction from Haskin, and good acting, The War of the Worlds owes its greatest debt to producer George Pal. Pal knew how to put films like this together and was a driving force in the film's innovative and unique special effects. Who could forget those bright green Martian ships or that figure of a Martian?
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One word: CLASSIC!
Lang-John4 April 2004
George Pal redeems himself after the appalling special effects from "When Worlds Collide" by giving us one of the best science fiction movies from the 1950's. Without the use of Industrial Light & Magic or THX, George Pal created the near-perfect illusion of flying swan-like Martian machines attacking the Earth. (Near-perfect because you can faintly see the wires) Ann Robinson gives a BRILLIANT performance as "The damsel in distress". Sandro Giglio (from "When Worlds Collide") returns as one of the scientists. Also Leith Stevens returns from "When Worlds Collide" to provide the music. You'll notice too that some of the footage from this movie comes from "When Worlds Collide". I must add...look for George Pal & Byron Haskins as the hobos listening to the radio.
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the little men in lime green machines
didi-515 April 2004
HG Wells' futuristic novel responds well to the Technicolor splashed on it in this 50s B classic. Gene Barry over emotes in the lead now and then but the martian invasion is handled very well and the tension rises to the final scenes where the surviving populace huddle in the church as the buildings crash and burn around them.

'War of the Worlds' deserves its place as both a highly regarded novel and a well-remembered movie. Byron Haskin and George Pal did a great job in visualising the apocalyptic bits of Wells' text, while still making the end result enjoyable and interesting for the viewer.

Recommended for fans of intellectualised science fiction.
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One of the top 25 SF films ever made!
ZMBKLR24 March 2002
Vastly superior to ID4,which was a tired rip off of most of these ideas, WOTW is a great film because as we watch it, we believe. From the moments the first Martian pod lands and the three poor guys get toasted by the infamous heat ray, to the final thirty seconds where it looks like it's all over for humanity, this is how to do an Alien Invasion film! The scenes of destruction as well as the scenes of the panicking humans are extremely well done and beliveable. The film just works on so many different levels it's hard not to watch it every single time it's on. At least I do. One great addition to the pantheon of SF films and another winner by George Pal!
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Freaked Me Out
dvanwormer2324 November 2004
Cheesy, Yes! But...

Probably the creepiest and most horrifying scenes in Filmdom was when the Martian crept up behind our heroine and clamped its tarsier-like fingers on her shoulder.

She freaked, but not immediately. She paused. Reacted to that touch. Slowly turned her head around and LOOKED at the offending appendages.

This entire moment of horror and violation took about four to six seconds.

Her mind - finally - comprehended it. IT had touched her.

Then she lost it.

One of the best screams in film history. Great acting and just overwhelming.

For that one scene, I love this movie. Creepy as hell!
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Still a classic after 50 years!
moonbus6919 August 2003
This film is easily one of the Top Ten of the Sci-Fi genre. Producer George Pal and director Byron Haskin certainly reached a creative plateau back in 1953 that is seldom attained even now in the current age of CGI effects and ear-splitting soundtracks.

I was lucky to attend the 50th anniversary screening in Hollywood recently, with Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, other actors and production people from the film, and 'Mr. Sci-Fi' Forrest J. Ackerman, all in attendance. To see it on a full size theater screen for the first time, and with these people there, was the thrill of a lifetime, for sure!

The Martians and their war machines in this movie are still some of the best and most memorable designs in the history of science fiction films. The color cinematography and musical score also hold up very well. And any film that starts off with the beautiful space art paintings of Chesley Bonestell has my vote of approval. Also, Jack Northrup's Flying Wing bomber puts in a splendid cameo appearance.

Simply the best 'alien invasion' type film ever made - bar none!
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One word describes this classic - VIVID
matt-962 May 2000
For it's day; and, even this day, this is classic, almost perfect, masterpiece. Brilliant design work on the alien ships, incredible sound effects, and sharp, vivid colors. Pacing in this film is tight, and Barry's performance as a scientist in giddy awe of the alien's capabilities is masterful. Finally, the realism of the story telling is unrivalled in most modern science fiction films. All right, it's not true to Wells' original, but what's wrong with updating the story, especially when it is this effective.
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Curl up in the dark to watch
babykaren29 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I've loved this movie since I can recall first seeing it as a child. The Martian sound and ship seriously make me smile. I still want to help that Martian in the end. I recommend that you watch it in the dark with a snack as if you were in the movie house for the best viewing and NO talking. I have it on VHS and watch it at least once a year. Gene Barry is a hunk. The female lead is a mix of panic and strength. Still don't know why the Martians were interested in her. The first 3 to die were immigrant, blue collar and white collar-no one was safe. I've sometimes put the VHS in and just listened to it to compare the fear factor to the radio version which I also have. The special effects are great. SG-1 used the philosophy of the force field were the Martians could shoot out of the field but shots could not get in with the Gouald. The SG-1 episode were the "alien" race could walk through walls used a red-blue-green signal that looked very much like the Martian eye. Days prior to writing this review-there was an actual fire ball seen in the sky that looked similar to the first Martian ship entering the atmosphere. These references show how much influence this movie has and there's more.
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The 1953 Paramount version of the H.G. Welles classic is story is a minor masterpiece of the sci-fi genre.
scroggs6 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
A number of commentators here have registered complaints, making what I think are unfair comparisons of the film to much later and more technically sophisticated movies, and to Welles' original short novel. I intend to address some of these issues here. BEWARE, SPOILERS AHEAD.

The screenplay by Barré Lyndon updates and relocates the story to rural California in 1953, where a supposed meteorite crashes to earth near a small town. The choice of a modern day American location versus the original late Victorian England was made partly for budgetary reasons, staging a mass exodus from Los Angeles was certainly easier for a Hollywood studio to manage than an evacuation of London. However, updating the action to the age of nuclear weapons allowed the besieged Earthlings to confront the Martian invaders with a much more powerful array of weapons than anything dreamed of in 1898. Thus when the alien fighting machines prove invulnerable even to the most advanced nuclear explosives it is much more effective visually and dramatically than if they were being fired upon by the small and relatively crude horse-drawn cannons featured in the original story.

The central character is Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry), evidently a physicist with a major California-based university, who fills in the role given to the unnamed narrator of the original story. By making him a scientist the screenplay is able to economize on characters whose only job is to provide exposition, Forrester can be both the object of the viewer's sympathies and can instantly explain some of the more dramatic elements of Martian military technology, such as the fighting machines, which rather than flying actually walk on invisible legs of magnetic force, and the devastating anti-meson plasma weapon. The narrator of the original story has to rely on extraneous characters or post-invasion scientific analysis of Martian technology to supply similar important information to the reader. Dramatically the movie's solution is more satisfying since the references in Welles' text to post-war scholarship telegraph the ending (i.e. human civilization survives) whereas the movie version could have ended with mankind's extinction without internal contradiction. One particularly satisfying point about Forrester character is, brilliant as he is, he is not the lone authority with all the answers – he is part of a highly respected team of scientists from many disciplines who jointly tackle the problem of alien invasion.

Providing the romantic foil, which Hollywood always deems to be necessary in sci-fi films, is Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Richards), a graduate in Library Science (the most misnamed academic discipline ever). She has no parallel in the Welles text except perhaps the narrator's wife, who is only referred to obliquely and has no dramatic role except as an object of longing. Sylvia is mostly ornamentation, but she does provide emotional counterweight to Forrester's cool intellectualism and curiosity.

The original story has two important secondary characters, the artilleryman and the curate. Welles uses both as vehicles for his social commentary, employing the artilleryman as a symbol of a reformed European society (i.e. a rational, scientific meritocracy without class distinctions) while the curate functions to show the weakness of religiosity in the face of mortal peril (Welles was an avowed atheist). Not only is his curate is a despicable coward; he is also a parasite who endangers his fellow humans. The artilleryman comes off somewhat better, but he is shown to be lazy dreamer rather than a true visionary, perhaps this is Welles' veiled criticism of the socialist agitators of his day who offered themselves as spokesmen for the working class yet were notably shy of personal experience as workers themselves.

The movie has no parallels to the curate and the artilleryman, except for Sylvia's uncle Mathew, the minister of a local church. In keeping with George Pal's religious optimism (faith is always a central and positive force in his body of work) Uncle Mathew offers hope and kindly guidance to his flock in the face of imminent war, helping to organize and comfort the townspeople. He also shows a remarkable curiosity about the alien invaders – an unexpected and refreshing take on the clergy considering the usual Hollywood stereotype.

Much as been made about the fighting machines as a regrettable deviation from Welles' animated tripods. Personally I think the gliding metallic manta rays (designed by master prop artist Albert Nozaki) are an improvement. When Welles pictured his tripods he evidently didn't work out how they would move. When the movie was in preproduction the tripod concept was discarded as unworkable and visually unimpressive, even comical. Granted the supporting wires are too obvious and distracting in many scenes (perhaps with a larger budget they could have been matted out), yet their stately, inexorable movement and scanning swans necks do communicate a thoroughly alien technology with no reliance on the concept of the wheel, a point Welles makes in his narrative. UPDATE -- I have since learned that the original theatrical release prints using the Techicolor process effectively masked fighting machine support wires, ergo more kudos to "War of the Worlds". I've never seen this film in Techicolor, unfortunately. This makes me long for a re-mastered DVD or Blu-Ray which has the wires obscured digitally.

My final point is the appearance of the Martians themselves. In Welles' conception the Martians are essentially body-less heads, which make and use mechanical substitutes as needed. In place of arms and hands they have tentacles. From the standpoint of a Victorian layman's thinking influenced by Darwinism, the idea of evolution producing giant brains without a supporting suite of organs might be tenable. However, more advanced research would tend to discard that notion. The movie Martians are a much more alien and more plausible with their functional bodies, three-fingered (and thumb-less) hands, and their remarkable tripled-lensed eyes.

Overall I give the movie high marks. It has little of the social commentary of Welles' novel, but it is better sci-fi, a pioneering work in the context of its times.
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Great 1953 Film!
whpratt117 September 2004
Decided to view this film which has been showing on TV for a very long time and enjoyed the great efforts of the director to create a great Classic Sci-Fi Film. Gene Barry (Dr. Clayton Forrester),"Burke's Law,TV Series, '63, gave a great performance hiding behind some rather large framed glasses. Ann Robinson,(Sylvia Van Buren),"Imitation of Life",'59 gave a great supporting role and helped Dr. Forrester try to defeat the invading enemy from another planet. This is a great Classic film from the 1950's, however, I am very glad that our films industry has progressed since this flick. I never thought we would ever see just what the enemy looked like and the ending of the film will surprise you to NO END!!! KEEP PRAYING!
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Good Adaptation
Sargebri12 March 2003
Even though this is not a literal translation of the H.G. Welles classic, this is still a good film. I especially loved how it was updated to the 20th century and that all our modern weapons, including the atom bomb, couldn't destroy the Martians. George Pal is definitely one of the most underrated directors of science fiction and this film along his When Worlds Collide and The Time Machine stand out among the great science fiction films of all time.
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War of the Worlds (1953)
jagonzo6 January 2008
I agree, Speilbergs remake was a disappointment. Here's what I think was wrong with the movie: 1. The dysfunctional family crap should not have been introduced into a science fiction movie. 2. Who wants to watch a movie with some ill mannered children. I went to see a science fiction movie not a movie about a smart mouth kid and a burnout making their dad's life difficult while he's trying to save their lives. 2. The basement scene with Tim Robbins never seemed to end.

The original movie is over 50 years old now but it still a great movie. In the original movie I wanted the characters to survive and triumph over the aliens but with the remake I wanted the movie to end.
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Great as a sci-fi film--atrocious as a book adaptation
preppy-313 March 2000
OK, it's not an adaptation of the H.G. Wells book. If it's supposed to be, it's horrendous...BUT taken as a sci-fi film from the 50s, it's tremedous. The dialogue is corny and the acting is beyond belief (did anyone tell Gene Barry not to move a muscle in his face?), but the special effects are incredible. Some are pretty obvious (love it when the spaceship crashes into what is obviously a paper mache building!) but the majority of them stand up even today. I had the good luck to see a newly struck print and the color was superb and I've never seen the film look so good! This movie scared the hell out of me as a an adult it doesn't (of course) but it's still a heck of a lot of fun! This is 20 times better than that piece of crap "Independence Day". "ID" had cardboard characters, REALLY stupid dialogue (much worse than this movie) and stunning gaps of logic (Will Smith learning in 3 seconds how to fly an alien spacecraft; A COMPUTER VIRUS??????). This one doesn't. A true classic. See it!!!
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Science-fiction at its best.
vip_ebriega12 May 2007
My Take: One of the first and very best version of H.G. Wells tale of alien invasion.

George Pal's adaptation of H. G. Wells "The War of the Worlds" is, without a shed of doubt, the most influential version of the tale. Not only is it highly acclaimed, but also made an unseen mark on Hollywood on how to do sci-fi films. Wells' story have introduced a number of inventive and prophetic material and stories that has forever changed scientists' minds about our future. George Pal, though, has also shared Wells' vision, with his wide imagination and great in-touch sense on the real world. Combining his and the great author's vision, this classic was born. And a vision of grandness it was. Never has the story been shown with mind-ticking interest in this George Pal wonder. Mix an awe sense of wonder, some chilling teeth and a feel of realism, you get a classic, that would set the pattern for many other filmmakers to come.

This acclaimed adaptation is followed by many other adaptations, usually with more budget to extend Wells' vision. But only this strikes the mark of being the best. Not only as an adaptation, but also as one of the best films ever made in the genre.

Rating: ***** out of 5.
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Is this the best sci-fi movie ever made?
gsh99925 April 2001
Being quite a sci-fi fan for many years, I have seen hundreds of science fiction movies. In my opinion, this is the best ever. War of the Worlds is the only movie I can watch again and again, never get tired of, and always find something new every time I see it.

The special effects are brilliant. The alien aircraft are terrifying, and the cobra-like appearance and sounds of the heat ray are awesome indeed. I first saw this movie as a youngster and was absolutely in awe of the realism of the alien invasion. Now a gray-haired old coot, I still feel some of that awe every time I see this film.

What should we expect if we are invaded by beings with technology capable of carrying an invasion force across space? Independence Day answers the question one way - War of the Worlds provides a different answer. You'll just have to watch it to see if we win.

My final thought on this classic film is that the acting is superb. Everyone is bigger than life: the scientist; the student; the general; the colleagues; the priest. I thank them for taking so seriously this far-fetched tale of a Martian invasion.

Superb science fiction movie. Highly recommended.
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tshodan12 September 2000
Before Independence Day there was THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, based on the classic book by H.G. Wells and motivated by the mass hysteria created by the 1939 radio broadcast. Intense special effects for it's day and featuring a realistic approach to how to handle an alien invasion. The writers of ID4 must have been influenced by this one.

This movie moves fast as US military forces quickly realize their obselecence vs the superior Martian technology. Humans begin giving up the fight and are all but ready to surrender to the onslaught. Then, the suprise ending ID4 chose to modify for todays standards.

The movie keeps well inline with the book, I think the only major discrepency is that the Aliens didn't use Chemical weapons in the movie. (maybe a wise choice by Hollywood)
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Intellects Vast, Cool, and Unsympathetic.
rmax3048236 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is a strange movie. For one thing, the lead scientist (Gene Barry) is allowed to wear eyeglasses, which at the time was considered demasculinizing. For another, we don't emerge from the interplanetary conflict victorious. We don't discover that the Martians dissolve in salt water or are allergic to second-hand smoke or peanuts. They die alright, but not because of -- but rather despite -- our every effort to eliminate them, including a nuclear bomb. For another, in some way this is a rarity -- a film that's an improvement over the book it's based on.

H. G. Wells' novella had aliens landing all over England and building cylindrical walking tripods to use as "fighting machines." People were not just killed by their main weapon, "black smoke," but were eaten as well. And, as we should expect from a socialist like Wells, religion is just about absent from the book. The narrator DOES encounter a churchman but he goes mad and is eaten.

The film is smoother, splashier, and easier to follow for non-British audiences who might not know West Wokking from Stoke-on-Trent. And the flying -- or rather the GLIDING -- fighting machines are a vast improvement over Wells' giant, stumbling cylinders. These machines here are really creepy. And, although the Martians don't seem to eat anybody, they destroy everything and everybody in sight. We get barely a glimpse of them, just enough to know they are bipedal and bilaterally symmetrical, with suction cups on the ends of their three fingers, which, it has to be admitted, is a little outré. I mean, where do they live -- perched on smooth walls? Come to think of it, they lack a thumb too. That puts them in the same category as Mickey Mouse, doesn't it?

Gene Barry is the stalwart scientist. There is a girl in it for no particular narrative reason. When everyone is trying to escape Los Angeles before it is destroyed, two trucks and a bus are packed with electronic equipment that might be pieced together in such a way as to check the Martians' advance. Yet when the vehicles try to leave, they are confiscated by a hysterical mob. The mob throws out the scientists and their equipment and take off for parts far away. The mob members who knew what they were doing (if any of them knew) were in an interesting position called a "social trap." If you were in a position to save (1) all mankind or (2) your own lily-livered butt, which would you choose?

The religious element of the film probably has H. G. Wells spinning in his grave. Right off the bat, the beautiful young girl's uncle Mathew is a minister who tries to communicate with the creatures, tremulously approaches one of the machines, holding a Bible and reciting a familiar Psalm. ZAP. Barry's young girl friend was abandoned as a child and rescued by the Minister, who found her in a church doorway. There is a lot of ecumenical religious imagery in this film. In the end, with civilization being blasted away and falling down around their ears, the survivors hold each other inside a church -- just as the Martians begin to kick it. A holy choir swells up and the narrator, Cedric Hardwicke, tell us about the bacteria that "God in His wisdom" put upon the earth. I guess everybody would go along with much of that. I'd leave the bacteria alone instead of trying to kill them off by overusing antibiotics to make our cattle fatter and our chickens plumper for the short-term change.

At that, the General (Les Tremayne) who sees all military efforts fail, announces that they will now move to the mountains, establish a line of defense, and fight them from there. This is a smart move when a weak opponent faces a technologically superior one. What else can you do? It is what's called "guerilla warfare" and is waged by "freedom fighters" (if they're on our side) or "rebels" (if they're not).

I don't mean to suggest any solutions to these kinds of issues, or even that there ARE any solutions, but the movie itself, wittingly or otherwise, manages to raise them in model form. Wells was quite open about it. For him and his contemporaries, the behavior of the invading Martians is an analog of colonialism. Do we have the right to condemn the Martians when we ourselves move into a portion of another continent and claim it as our own? In any case -- ethics or no -- this is a good movie, full of zest and special effects. It's not a masterpiece. There are so few masterpieces, especially in genre movies. But the view is both cogent and satisfying. Watch it, if you haven't already.
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An even better 50's movie than the Forbidden Planet
kenhe24 May 2004
The War of the Worlds starring Gene Barry has the benefits of solid acting and an excellent plot. The actors are always believable, actually allowing their own personal tension and understanding of the catastrophe facing them to build as the plot unfolds before the viewer. In the wrong hands even the brief appearance of the Martians could have deteriorated into almost slapstick comedy but instead the director only allowed us to see flashes of the aliens rather than dwelling on them. Indeed, this was both necessary and effective, since the special effects, the spaceships, and even the Martians themselves were only props to give meaning and body to the real narrative. That narrative of course is classic, human beings facing a problem to which they have no solution, not even their wits and knowledge can save them. Their salvation must and does come from outside of them, presumably from the hands of God, since the moment of the Martians doom occurs while the movies focus is on Gene Barry finding his companion in a church full of people praying. I thought this movie was indeed great as an action film full of excellent special effects, but the movie was even greater in the way it explored the dilemma of human powerlessness and the power of faith.
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Classic Science Fiction, Better than Any Subsequent Version
TheExpatriate70030 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The War of the Worlds, while not a perfect adaption of the H. G. Wells novel, is arguably the best adaption of Wells ever put on screen, with the only real competitor being Island of Lost Souls. As a child, I was a huge fan of Wells's novels, with War of the Worlds being my favorite of all. This film more than met my expectations as a child and still holds up as an adult.

The film benefits from Academy Award winning effects that hold up well even today. Yes, you can see the occasional wire, as was par for the course at the time, but the practical effects are still superb. More importantly, they have a sense of weight that no CGI-effect can match. In the close up shots of the Martian fighting machines, you can tell that a real object is being filmed. Gene Barry and Ann Robinson are obviously running around on an actual set, rather than in front of a green screen.

The film also maintains a good level of tension, having a surprisingly dark atmosphere for a fifties science fiction movie. The Martians' advance seems genuinely unstoppable, backed by Sir Cedric Hardwicke's ominous narration. The flashes to battles outside of the United States give the sense of a true war of the worlds, a sense lacking from Spielberg's remake.

There are a few weak points. The Cold War allegory is made a little too obvious at points, and the religious theme gets a little over the top at times, particularly given the cynical depiction of Christianity in the novel. (Was I the only one who noticed that Barry only finds Robinson after he gets to an obviously mainline Protestant church?) Nevertheless, the 1953 War still ranks as the best.
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A Timeless Classic but Dated
mike4812829 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Several reviewers pointed out that the spaceship "wires" can be seen in the DVD copy. This movie needs to be "restored" again so those pesky wires can be computer-edited out. (I wish I had not read that, as now I can "see" them too!) It makes the scenes much less effective. Otherwise, very good efx for 1953. Good (12 ft.tall) "minatures" and mattes. Effective use of puppetry for the Martians. What doesn't work: splicing b/w stock footage into a color movie. Unintentionally funny dialog. That terrible wig and flawless make-up on "Sylvia". The reporters at the press conference don't seem excited or scared enough, considering we are fighting monstrous aliens! Still, this movie is enjoyable in spite of its faults. Was it an all-white cast as it has been suggested? No. Some of the "extras" and "soldiers"are p.c. A good, tight movie with only a few minutes of "slowness" in the action. The invaders die in the end because of Earth's bacteria; the exact same premise used in the movie version of "First Men in the Moon", which is also based on an H.G. Wells story. Outstandingly vivid Technicolor, with a nightmarish quality to it. Is this the best Sci-Fi thriller ever made? No, but its in my top 10 list of must-see sci-fi features. Great DVD extras for a 1-disc: Good "making of" 29 min. feature and the "War of the World's" Orson Welles radio "broadcast". Original trailer. Should be PG. No gore but too intense for very little kids.
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Smashing sci-fi film that is a landmark for special effects.
Spikeopath3 May 2008
Martians invade Earth with total destructive powers, seemingly unstoppable, mankind must find a way to beat them before all is Lost.

In spite of the uproar and considerable success of Orson Welles' 1938 radio adaptation of the H.G Wells novel, War Of The Worlds was a topic that directors were staying well away from. Such high esteemed men like as Cecil B. DeMille & Alfred Hitchcock were mooted to be interested but it always came down to a worry that the special effects needed for the story were too much of a headache. Enter producer George Pal, noted for puppetoon shorts, he managed to sway the big wigs at Paramount that it could indeed be done, and thus the chain of big colour spaceships blasting, sci-fi creatures lurking and blockbuster bums on seats movies began.

Directed by Byron Haskin, this version of the source moves the location from Edwardian England to 20th Century America, and this works a treat because the watching American public were genuinely unnerved at the sight of contemporary America being reduced to rubble by an invading force. The makers further our sense of dread by only letting us glimpse the aliens once in a wonderful scene {respectfully homaged in Stephen Spielberg's 2005 version of the source}, other than that scene we are subjected to attack after attack from shiny flying saucers, slick and ground breaking effects working their magic on an impressionable audience.

Outside of those known to hardcore sci-fi fans, the cast doesn't contain any stars of note, probably due to all the money being used on the effects? And for sure many of them come across as wooden beyond compare (tho the lovely Ann Robinson lights up every scene she is in), while if I'm to be over critical: then the romantic thread in the film is tiresome and the religious overtone is tardily done. But War Of The Worlds 1953 still stands proud as a brave and hugely enjoyable picture thats importance has never been (nor should it be)understated, and even allowing for nostalgic fervour from this particular viewer, I heartily recommend this film to anyone interested in template movies for the sci-fi genre. 7/10
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Dated, but hey! What do you expect?
benmcfee12 March 2008
I get it... it's an old movie, and it shows in a lot of the acting and the characters. It was 1953! For its time, it was about as intelligent as any malevolent-alien-flick could be. If you're looking for cinema that's on par with anything they could have made, even a decade later, you will be sadly disappointed. If you watch the film keeping in mind that back in that day, it was difficult to do a flying saucer without seeing the wires, then it's incredible.

Remember, this is before wire-removal, green-screen and animatronics (obviously). Every visual effect that was done, needed to be created, and masked, in-camera. Flashes of ray-gun fire needed to be put onto each frame by hand, and done in such a way so that it looked half- plausible, and not jerky. This film absolutely deserved the Oscar it got for visual effects. It also used what scientific information they had at the time (now, much of it proved to be false, but not then) effectively, and to the story's advantage.

We've got a winner, here, folks!
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GOWBTW25 September 2007
Remember the radio play about the "War of the Worlds" done by Orson Welles? Well, this big screen version of the famous radio play comes to life. Now I read the book myself, and found it to be very interesting about invaders from Mars. It was awesome when the crash-landing of those pods became these alien ships. Those three men waved the flag symbolizing their peace with the beings. So what did they do? They blitzed the men with those rays. So much for peace talks. And the sheriff? He was lucky. His deputy drove off without him, and ended up getting blitzed by the ship. Plenty of science went on in the movie. The power failure, watches getting magnetized after they stopped running. And when the military tried to stop them, they have their force fields to guard them against enemy fire. And the disintegrating rays were unbelievable. I don't think anyone could stand up to that. When you think all hope was lost, the weakness of these martians is the immune system. It's weak! Mankind is saved. Orson Welles did a fine job doing the show, this movie made it a dream come true. I enjoyed it a lot. Really golden to be exact. 5 stars!
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Excellent Sci-fi film of the 50's
daleja-dale28 December 2013
On my digital sub-channel Movies, I saw this film for the first time in years! I enjoyed watching it as much as I ever did earlier! Back in those days Paramount Picture had some of the greatest special effects anywhere! The Ten Commandments was another example of Paramount's great special effects! It not just the visual effect I liked, but more so those cool audio sound effects of those weapon the alien invaders used! I also like the acting performances, the plot, how it ended (with religious over tones), and no sex or gutter language in it! It is now in my top 5 list of my favorite 1950's science fiction films! I recommend this great movie to anyone who is a consumer of classic sci-fi films!
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