In the year 2154, the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth. A man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds.
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.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Steven Spielberg): (music): John Williams scores. A short sequence of notes, repeated used as a signal to the audience. The tripods use a long, drawn out, low tone (like a foghorn), followed by a higher pitch (sounding like an orchestra), as a way of communicating to other tripods (as it was in the book). The two notes are similar to the two notes used in Jaws (1975). As in different attacks in the movie, like the beginning of the Hudson Ferry attack, it announces to the audience that something is about to happen (again, like in Jaws (1975)). In that scene, it seems to mean "Come here, other tripods, I've found a bunch of humans." As a counter-example, though, the same tones are used at the end of the "aliens in the basement" scene, and seem to mean a rallying signal, as in "everyone, report back to your posts", as the aliens immediately leave. Note, also, that a basic five-tone sequence was used in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), as a connection to that film's aliens. See more »
When Ray and Ogilvy play tug-of-war with the gun, as the aliens rummage around the cellar, Ogilvy finally pulls it away from Ray. In the next close-up of Ogilvy and his gun, the boom mic dips down for a moment, but it's gone in Ogilvy's next close-up. 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 »
"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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