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*** Official WAR OF THE WORLDS Review Thread

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#1 of 47 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted June 28 2005 - 09:40 PM

This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "War of the Worlds". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.




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#2 of 47 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted June 28 2005 - 09:48 PM

Just a few more words of caution, let's be careful on how we post our reviews by using spoilers when required for any film detail. Let's not ruin other members first time viewing experience of this film. Also, this is the review thread so please, refrain from posting any type of question or comment that will cause other members to reply. Thank you for your consideration in this matter. Crawdaddy



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#3 of 47 OFFLINE   TerryRL



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Posted June 29 2005 - 04:56 AM


Steven Spielberg has crafted a sort of a sci-fi/holocaust that boasts fantastic work by Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning. For me, this ranks as one of Cruise's top two/three performances. It was interesting seeing him playing a deadbeat dad that has to rise above the situation to ensure the safety of his children.

Spielberg has essentially made a (very) dark version of 'Close Encounters' (with bits of "Signs" thrown in) that really amps up the terror after the initial assault. From there the movie becomes a survival story as Ray (Cruise) and his children (Fanning and Justin Chatwin) are thrust into a series of horrifying events.

The FX are breathtaking and ILM has once again outdone themselves. The attack sequences are both terrifying and spectacular as the alien invaders lay waste to all in their path.

I also dug the look of the aliens. They are seriously creepy and there is absolutely no "cute" factor here. These guys are here to conquer and they're taking no prisoners. They do bear a passing resemblance to the creatures in ID4 (minus the organic suits), but they are ten times scarier, especially when they are in motion.

Much has been talked about the ending being "too happy", but this is Steven Spielberg after all. The only minor complaint I had was that the Justin Chatwin and Dakota Fanning characters (Robbie and Rachel) do a couple of really stupid things in the movie that drew a few groans, but nothing that undermines the film in any way.

Despite the box office "slump", this summer has so far produced what I feel are three truly great movies in "Batman Begins", 'Revenge of the Sith', and now "War of the Worlds".
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#4 of 47 OFFLINE   Marko Berg

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Posted June 29 2005 - 06:33 AM

Just got back from the theater, and I'll rate this 8/10.

Cruise's performance was good, emotional but not sappy and although I have a problem with many Spielberg films in that the characters seem two-dimensional to me, the pacing of this film was such that I thought Cruise's character worked well.

Regarding the ending,
I didn't think it was too happy. Ray manages to reunite his ex-wife, her new husband and the children -- I doubt he has illusions being a part of the equation even after all that happened. And while it was a surprise seeing everyone in the family make it through the ordeal alive, I thought the effect Ray realizing nothing (except for perhaps his relationship with Rachel, not sure about Robbie) has changed that much, was comedic and happy/sad rather than "too happy". Even the mother-in-law with whom Ray had a terrible relationship is still there. Posted Image

#5 of 47 OFFLINE   Chuck Mayer

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Posted June 29 2005 - 07:27 AM

Tough review. A technically flawless film that has some great moments, but is tough to watch. The performances are top-notch, the direction is sublime, and the story is good, though the narrative less so. Purported a more realistic take on the story, it goes "Hollywood" a few too many times for me. It also recycles scares.

That said, Spielberg is a master, and he plays the audience for all they are worth. There are some brilliant nail-biting sequences in the film. As stated, both Fanning and Cruise are exceptional (I would agree with Terry that Cruise has only done better work once or twice).

Often brilliant, occasionally silly, but never bad. It's still head and shoulders above the dreck we received as event films in the mid to late 90's. I know I sound very critical, but the film is well worth seeing, and a marvel to behold. Anchored by great performances and one of the most gifted directors of all time.

I wanted great, and got good instead. Hardly a crime Posted Image

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#6 of 47 OFFLINE   Tino



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Posted June 29 2005 - 09:22 AM

Steven Spielberg in top form.

War Of The Worlds is a rarity in the "disaster" genre. It's 100% serious without the fluff of other similar films.

It's a simple tale of a father protecting his children set against a backdrop of the end of the world.

This truly is a spectacular film. Full of action, terror, suspense and horrifying images. Definitely NOT for young children.

Tom Cruise is perfect here. Playing an everyman unlike any character I have seen him play, he gives just the right performance.

Dakota Fanning I am convinced will win an Oscar some day soon. She is amazing conveying such a wide variety of emotions with ease.

The visual effects are amazing as you have heard, but they are not overly spectacular for the sake of looking cool. They are spectacular because they look so tremendously real.

Don't go into this film expecting anything like ID4 or The Day After. This is hardcore serious sci-fi!

One of Spielberg's best.Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
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#7 of 47 OFFLINE   dpippel


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Posted June 29 2005 - 09:49 AM

I saw it today and was quite impressed. The film is relentlessly brutal in its portrayal of the "it's an extermination, not an invasion" theme. As others have mentioned, the spectacle of what's on-screen and the pacing definitely helps you get past some of the problems. Cruise and Fanning were absolutey superb, and one of the films strong points is that the narrative is viewed through the lens of three ordinary people caught up in the utterly fantastic events unfolding around them.

However, in retrospect I had problems with:

1) The whole lightning thing. A bizarre and impractical element in the film in my opinion.

2) The implication that the tripods had been buried on Earth for a very, very long time. If these invaders had been to the planet in the distant past, why didn't they terraform and occupy it BEFORE the human race was something that needed to be dealt with? It made no sense.

3) The holocaust references got OLD. Give it a rest Stephen. We get it, OK?

Even with those caveats I *thoroughly* enjoyed the film. It was visceral, disturbing, and wonderful to look at. I loved the fact that things were NOT explained - along with all of the anonymous violence it kept the tension level high. I also appreciated that Spielberg respected the source material, sticking pretty closely to the ideas and concepts in Wells' original novel (critics of the films ending take note) while bringing the story forward into our timeframe. I also agree that this film is really pushing its PG-13 rating. NOT for the kiddies!

Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image /Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Ebert be damned.

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#8 of 47 OFFLINE   Seth Paxton

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Posted June 29 2005 - 12:06 PM

War of the Worlds
9 of 10
(no spoilers)

For the first 2/3 of the film I found myself watching one of Spielberg's most powerful films ever. The power and emotion of human loss attempting to rival even Schindler's List at times, nevermind "death for fun" action films like ID4. Instead I felt hand-wringing terror as Cruise and family endlessly attempted to escape an alien force of pure terror.

Along the way the film makes it clear that the alien invasion is really just a metaphor for any crisis that strains the relationship between a bad father and his two kids, that brings out the weakness of this man and reinforces what his children badly need from him.

It is truly Cruise's journey of character as he learns to be responsible and learns the importance of having something to live for. And as a backdrop we are invited to watch the real nature of man facing destruction, both the good and the bad.

But then the film hits some snags. Where the scenes had been flowing well they suddenly become forced. The metaphors, while not subtle, were solid. Yet as the film looks to wrap up the story and the character arcs it begins to rely on rather forced scenes to make its points. Even early on it has a couple of places where exposition scenes are forced in when they aren't really needed.

And the finale, while consistant, is depicted in a sickeningly Spielberg happy-ending manner that undermines much of the real horror seen before that point.

However, let me again stress that for much of the film before that point, before a rather cliched "escape" near the end, the film HAD been rather horrific and violent, with lots of blood and cruelty implied or just off camera. For a guy that took guns out of FBI hands for the ET update, Spielberg here pulls few punches. I'm not entirely sure this would be a comfortable viewing for younger children.

With this one he came out strong and lean and for the first half or so I definitely felt a "Jaws" or "CE3K" vibe, it seemed that good. Too bad he couldn't maintain that level. Still, very strong work and a great version of the story.

My problem with the ending for those who have seen it
I hated that conveniently his in-laws area of Boston is left almost pristine while the rest of the countryside was being smashed to bits. Also, the fact that while no one else was seen moving, looking out of windows, or whatever, his wife and in-laws and even the son all just happen to be hanging out at home waiting. He turned the reunion into a Rockwell portrait, and after the rest of the film this was just wrong and unnecessary. A few torn clothes on Otto doesn't match the horrors that everyone else has been through. How about a dead in-law, a bashed in house, people still struggling with the terror they've been through?

#9 of 47 OFFLINE   Peter Apruzzese

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Posted June 29 2005 - 12:24 PM

Sadly, I found War of the Worlds to be average, at best. A 2.5 out of 5.

Instead of an exciting movie about an alien invasion, it's a dreary-looking film about a regular Joe who learns how to be a good divorced dad. The special effects are remarkable, but there are curiously few big set pieces that a movie such as this needs. Why Spielberg pulls away from the intense action is a mystery. Paul Verhoeven would have been a better choice to direct this one.

The opening 45 minutes (or so) are scary and dynamic and had my hopes way up - even Cruise was doing a good job (in his "scared" scenes in this section he seems to be channeling Steve McQueen from The Blob - that's a good thing). But then it takes a drastic wrong turn with an interminable encounter with Tim Robbins and a by-the-numbers "Tom's the hero" rescue sequence.

H.G. Wells, Orson Welles, and George Pal have nothing to worry about. Posted Image

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#10 of 47 OFFLINE   Arman



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Posted June 29 2005 - 01:18 PM

Despite having a lame (3/4 finish) and horrible typical Hollywood suspension of disbelief ending after it's wild and strong 30 minutes start, compared to the horrible Lost World (1/5) & Independence Day (1/5) though, War of the World gets an extra Posted Image (2/5 for disappointing) not necessarily for having a much smarter or more inventive or more compelling screenplay but for having overall a better special-effects.

Oh yeah, (Spielberg did it again) aliens invaded the world and tried to exterminate all human beings on sight so that (neglectful) father could reconcile with his (bitching, whining, hard-headed, heroic and forgiving rolled into one) children. Yeah right. Sigh ... Yawn ... #$#@### annoying, that family issue is just uncomfortably distracting!

War of the Worlds Posted ImagePosted Image (out of 5)

#11 of 47 OFFLINE   DavidPla



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Posted June 29 2005 - 03:09 PM

One word... brilliant!
I agree. For me, there has never been a greater summer for movies.

#12 of 47 OFFLINE   Brent M

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Posted June 29 2005 - 03:35 PM

I echo the sentiments of David and Terry. This summer has provided me with 3 of my favorite movies to come along in years: Revenge of the Sith, Batman Begins and now War of the Worlds. Spielberg shows in this film that he is one of the most talented filmmakers in history and when it comes to all out visual assault, he may very well be THE BEST EVER(and I say that as a die-hard Star Wars fan). I can easily put this movie in his Top 5(along with Raiders, Jaws, Saving Private Ryan and Jurassic Park). The visuals in this movie can't be described; you just have to see this film to understand how amazing it really is. While I agree that the ending could have been much better, the rest of this movie had me on the edge of my seat in complete awe. This is Spielberg at his best and I really don't know how CGI/special effects could ever be done any better than they were in this film. I originally thought ILM would win an Academy Award next year for Revenge of the Sith, but now I have to retract that statement and say that they'll win it for War of the Worlds. Hands down, no question this is the best work ILM has ever done. This is a film that must be experienced on the big screen and I give it my highest recommendation.

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#13 of 47 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted June 30 2005 - 05:15 AM

We went to the big Dallas theater to see Batman Begins but it was moved to a different screen so we took in WOTW.

Like many here, I loved alot of it, but I'll start with the minor bad stuff. There are some moments that were unnecessary. Eventhough I understand the sequence of the Tim Robbins scenes, all I saw for most of that was Tim Robbins. This is being over picky, but it reminded me of seeing Ted Dansen in Saving Private Ryan. Just pulled me waaaaaaaaaaaay out. But a short lived thing.

Certainly, WOTW works on alot of different levels. One way, and it surprised me was how scary and frightening it was. I mean, I was really terrified at times-as were the people I was with and the audience. The amount of horror and display of that was a good move by Spielberg. Effective.

The dead beat father story works too. I had my doubts since the premise is predictable. But to the actor's credit, it works and is believable and touching. The young girl, who has gobs of screen presence, is terrific. Cruise is great as usual. Even understated at times. This was not a film about Cruise being a big time save the day hero (except for one moment or 2) this was about a man doing what was necessary-realizing what was really important; then making decisions based on that. It works.

The action was indeed incredible. There's probalby not a better director around to do this. There are some steals from Minority Report but thats ok.

The ending
was too wrapped up and happy since there was so much devastation. Part of what worked so well was Ray thinking that he did let his son go. And then forced to making sure whatever happens he would protect his daughter.

I'm going to start using a 10 scale rating system like many here do. So I give War of the Worlds a


BTW, the bass was incredible . This will be the new champ for subwoofers. Not only loud bass, but deeeeeeeep- chair moving bass.

#14 of 47 OFFLINE   Matt Stryker

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Posted June 30 2005 - 06:02 AM

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I mostly agree with Seth, mid-way through I was convinced that this could be an instant classic....but oh that ending, jeesh. The movie did a great job of showing that "disaster" in the movies wouldn't just affect cities, and the countryside scenes were by far my favorite....reminded me in ways of Red Dawn, the way it is so shocking to see "war" in the countrysides of America.

And the middle reels reminded me of what I had forgotten since the last time I saw Jaws: Spielberg can be a master of horror and suspense when he wants to be. The one scene in particular that really struck me was
when they are walking towards the ferry and the train goes by on fire....for some reason it just seemed like a little tap on the shoulder to remind you that in other places you hadn't seen yet, those aliens were tearing stuff up.

#15 of 47 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott


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Posted June 30 2005 - 06:08 AM


it was simply put, an intense experience.
i had absolutlely no complaints about the way the material was handeled at all.
the movie did slag a little with the introduction of the Tim Robbins character, but it also provided a key event that illuminated the Tom Crusise character, and made him even more vivid.

i really don't get some of the criticisms on this one.
i would be among the first to criticize Spielberg in the past for sentimental pandering, but this film is defintiely not in that category.

for me this was vintage Spielberg- the same judicious craftsman that gave me Jaws, Close Encounters and Raiders.
WOTW is right up there with them.

can't wait to experience it again.

#16 of 47 OFFLINE   BridgetJZ


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Posted June 30 2005 - 06:48 AM

there's very little i can comment on without spoiling it, but man, Speilberg is a master at suspense. such an intense movie. loved the music.

#17 of 47 OFFLINE   Fred Bang

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Posted June 30 2005 - 06:51 AM

Saw it and also give it a 9/10. Thought it was the most nerve-wrenching movie I've ever saw (or at least, that I remember of). Some goofs does prevent me from giving it a 10, but nevertheless, this was a suberb experience. The tripods were really scary, and I hope to God if aliens ever come to earth, they will be more like E.T. (not sure the tripods can be tamed with Reese Pieces) My top 5 of 2005 (for now); 1- Revenge of the Sith 2- War of the Worlds 3- Crash 4- Batman Begins 5- Sin City

#18 of 47 OFFLINE   Adam_S



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Posted June 30 2005 - 08:19 AM

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35mm - Grauman's Chinese

This was the first film I've seen in Grauman's famous Chinese theatre, and the sound was absolutely the best I've ever heard, what an absolutely AMAZING theatre! Too bad it's so damn expensive.

The film itself is excellent, and the lightest sci-fi that Spielberg has ever done. That's on a science fiction/ideas scale not on actual tone of movie scale. But then that's because this is from one of the stories from the infancy of the genre, so it's not really an issue.

Neither is the 'ending' an issue because that's the way this story has to end. What is an issue is:
The final six shots of the film that first of all reveal that the ex ex wifey wifey is all hunky dorey and not the least bit affected as she and her super-rich bostonite upper upper class folks in laws are all unaffected by world devastation because they're rich and have nice clothes--so they couldn't possibly be harmed.

Then in the last two shots of the ending a character who sacrificed himself earlier to join the fight, Tom Cruise's son, is revealed to be alive for absolutely no reason whatsoever. There's no logic, no sense to this 'survival' there's no explanation other than the simple fact that the survival is the single most spielberg element of the entire film. I'm not one to criticize his endings, the one I like least is CE3K because I don't like Neary just cheating on his wife and then abandoning his family. But this flick tops the Terminal for it's cheesyness and sheer idiotic outragousness. It inspired cold fury in me that this little punk would be alive it ruined the entire film experience for me. I say seething in my seat because the ending betrayed the entire story of shoah--extermination--that we had seen in this film. Spielberg knows enough about history, and has shown it to us himself to know how people do and don't survive a shoah; this ending is the most pathetic element of his entire career in my opinion.


#19 of 47 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted June 30 2005 - 03:03 PM

I didn't quite like it that much. Good start (mighty nice special effects), sagged in the middle, and peters out at the end. At one point, I was still trying to figure out why the audience would care about the family of Tom Cruise's character, Ray, over any other family in the film. The film just never bridged that emotional connection for me. I get the "everyman" quality that was embodied by Ray's family, but none of it truly resonated with me, and their continued survival didn't much impact the conclusion all that much either as it wraps up a bit too tidy, and I was left with a "Eh..." feeling. I give it 2.5 stars, or a grade of C+.
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#20 of 47 OFFLINE   Paul_Stachniak



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Posted June 30 2005 - 03:07 PM

Terribly stupid I thought. I know the original Wells ending was silly, but Spielbergs version really begs the question of...
Why the aliens didn't just get rid of humanity when originally planting the war machines. Rather then waiting all these years.
Also, I found the constant running and basment hiding boring. But that's me - and whatever.
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