War of the Worlds

War of the Worlds

3.6 40
Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Miranda Otto


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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… See more details below


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. Also starring Tim Robbins, War of the Worlds was directed by Steven Spielberg, who had been planning the project for years, but set it aside until a wave of "alien invasion" films (led by Independence Day) had run its course.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
An updated and very loose adaptation of the influential science fiction novel by H. G. Wells, this visually sumptuous film directed by Steven Spielberg not only has the apocalyptic scope one would expect but also focuses on individual human emotion in a way that makes the horror and terror more readily comprehensible. Tom Cruise portrays a divorced New Jersey dockworker whose upwardly mobile ex-wife (Miranda Otto) gives him weekend custody of their two children (Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin) and heads for Boston. Hours later, alien invaders who have been hiding underground in mammoth machines of war begin to surface and set out to obliterate Earth. The bulk of the film is devoted to Cruise and his kids’ flight from his working-class neighborhood -- the site of one such alien unearthing -- with the previously irresponsible parent instinctively rising to the challenge of protecting his offspring. The effects astound, as one expects in a Spielberg film; and the Josh Friedman-David Koepp screenplay offers some very powerful sequences, which the director realizes with his trademark precision and emotional clarity. Perhaps the most striking subplot involves father and daughter, who seek temporary refuge in the home of a quietly deranged man (exceptionally well played by Tim Robbins) who may also be a pedophile. This brief, uneasy respite comes to a startling end when an alien patrol combs the dwelling for survivors; the masterful handling of this lengthy, almost wordless sequence leaves no doubt that Spielberg was just the right guy to direct the film. It's an impressive motion picture in every respect, made with extraordinary attention to detail and utterly, shockingly realistic in its depiction of an Earth laid waste by alien invaders. For sci-fi fans, it's a not-to-be-missed item that sacrifices none of its effectiveness by being shrunken to the dimensions of a TV screen.
All Movie Guide - Jeremy Wheeler
Steven Spielberg has crafted one of his most horrific nightmares with War of the Worlds, an unrelenting disaster pic that brings the genre to a bruised, post-9/11 world. With imagery taken straight from history's darkest days, the master storyteller goes against his crowd-pleasing genes and delivers a harrowing tale of survival as only he could. Spielberg and America's favorite crazy man, Tom Cruise, follow up the inspired but bloated Minority Report with a surprisingly efficient picture that's as succinct in its running time as it is in its scares. Made under the gun with less than a year of production behind it, there's an energy to the 128-million-dollar film that hasn't been found in the famed director's work for quite some time. He once again shows his magical skills directing young actors with Dakota Fanning, whose traumatic performance sells every bit of the frightening action, while relative newcomer Justin Chatwin impresses as the older brother filled with blind retribution. Most surprising is actually Cruise himself, who's cast against the typical heroic mold in favor of a conflicted self-centered father forced to accept his responsibilities in the face of imminent death, which even then is questionable considering his plan of action. With superb effects and nerve-rattling sound design, War is filled with its share of jaw-on-the-floor awe moments, but they simply wouldn't work as well if not presented through the narrowly focused perspective of Cruise's character. The somewhat maligned third act with Tim Robbins is a perfect example of this, with Spielberg closing in the action to a single basement, where the fear comes not from what you see, but what you don't. In another person's hands, this could have been a soulless exercise -- as it is now, War of the Worlds stands as a strong allegory for its time, taking its place in a summer full of movies with more on their minds than simple popcorn entertainment.

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Tom Cruise Ray Ferrier
Dakota Fanning Rachel Ferrier
Miranda Otto Mary Ann
Justin Chatwin Robbie Ferrier
Tim Robbins Ogilvy
Rick Gonzalez Vincent
Yul Vázquez Julio
Lenny Venito Manny the Mechanic
Lisa Ann Walter Bartender
Ann Robinson Grandmother
Gene Barry Grandfather
Morgan Freeman Narrator
David Alan Basche Actor
Daniel Franzese Actor
James DuMont Actor
David Harbour Dock Worker

Technical Credits
Steven Spielberg Director
Roy Barnes Set Decoration/Design
Rick Carter Production Designer
Aric Cheng Art Director
Kevin Cross Set Decoration/Design
Randy Dutra Special Effects
Josh Friedman Screenwriter
Scott Herbertson Art Director
Billy Hunter Set Decoration/Design
Joanna Johnston Costumes/Costume Designer
Ronald Judkins Sound/Sound Designer
Michael Kahn Editor
Janusz Kaminski Cinematographer
Kathleen Kennedy Producer
David Koepp Screenwriter
Doug Meerdink Art Director
Andrew Menzies Art Director
Norman Newberry Art Director
Adam Somner Asst. Director
Terri Taylor Casting
Paula Wagner Executive Producer
John Williams [composer] Score Composer
Colin Wilson Producer
Debra Zane Casting

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