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.
An ordinary man has to protect his children against alien invaders in this science fiction thriller, freely adapted from the classic story by H.G. Wells. Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) is a dockworker living in New Jersey, divorced from his first wife Mary Ann (Miranda Otto) and estranged from his two children Rachel and Robbie (Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin), of whom he has custody on weekends. On one such visitation, looking after the kids becomes a little more difficult when, after a series of strange lighting storms hit his neighborhood, Ray discovers that a fleet of death-ray robotic spaceships have emerged nearby, part of the first wave of an all-out alien invasion of the Earth. Transporting his children from New York to Boston in an attempt to find safety at Mary Ann's parents' house, Ray must learn to become the protector and provider he never was in marriage.
Tom Cruise took two days off from working on the film, when he fell sick with flu. See more »
When Ray and the kids are hiding out in the mom's basement, they take cover in a small utility room that goes pitch black when Ray shuts the door - even though there are windows above the girl's head that emit light before he shuts the door and after he opens it to leave. 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 »
For the U.S. theatrical release, the Paramount logo appeared before the Dreamworks logo at the beginning of the film, and the poster credits said, "Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks Pictures present." Since the U.S. version's home video/DVD rights are owned by Dreamworks, the Dreamworks logo at the beginning of the movie appears before the Paramount logo, and the back of the box's cover art says, "Dreamworks Pictures and Paramount Pictures present." In the European version, the original order of the logos and studio names is preserved (and the DVD is released by Paramount). See more »
A brilliant alien invasion film for the first two acts
What Spielberg, Cruise, and Koepp accomplish here in the first two acts is nothing short of revolutionary. They've made a big-budget summer blockbuster about massive destruction and action that manages to studiously avoid every cliché and expectation of such films. It stays resolutely on the characters' points of view, showing us almost nothing they don't see, even to the point of coming tantalizingly close to a raging battle, then avoiding showing it. It keeps its focus on character instead of spectacle. The "hero" of the piece remains decidedly unheroic, wanting only to escape, and trying to talk others out of fighting back. The purpose of every piece of action is to frighten and disturb rather than thrill, making ingenious use of familiar 9/11 imagery. At the end of the second act, it is hands-down the best alien invasion film ever made, and perhaps one of the best sci-films of all time.
Then something strange happens. The filmmakers lose their nerve, and remember that this is an extremely expensive summer film financed by two studios. Or perhaps it was the fact that it stars Tom Cruise, who up to this point has spent almost two hours doing nothing but run for his life. Suddenly, and tragically, the film changes, violating not only its carefully established tone, but its own internal logic. Suddenly, Cruise begins to act like a hero, and summer action clichés force their way into the story like a worm into an apple. The transition is jarring, and it creates a serious disconnect from the story.
While it's true that Wells' original ending creates a problem for a movie, here they try to remain faithful to it, while still shoehorning moments of triumph into the conclusion. Unfortunately, these moments come off as alternately false, unbelievable, and meaningless, since it isn't mankind that defeats the invaders in the end.
Is it recommendable? Well, I suppose that depends on what kind of viewer you are. If you feel that 75% brilliant material overshadows the 25% that falls apart, then you'll enjoy it. If, however, you're the kind of viewer who feels that the final impression a movie makes is its ultimate stamp on your memory, you may be in for a crushing disappointment. On the other hand, if you're the kind of viewer who just likes the cliché of the boom-boom summer action spectacle, you're likely to be bored and frustrated with the first two acts, and only engage in the end. It is confused about what audience it's trying to reach, and consequently, isn't likely to satisfy any of them.
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