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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Product Details

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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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War of the Worlds 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't think I'd like this movie, but I did. I do not like Tom Cruise, however I thought he did just fine. The little girl did better than what most here have said. Her facial expressions were right on for the most part. The scene where she asks her dad to sing and he didn't know the words and then he sings ( I'm old enough to know the song ) but can't think of the name brought a tear to my eye. At the beginning I thought what if this was to really happen, not exactly the same.... but I would be crappin' in my drawers. When they are driving on the freeway/interstate, that was bad. They wouldn't have gotten that far without being blocked by other cars, trucks and people but hey no movie is perfect. I seen mistakes in Kill Bill 2 Sorry Q. T., but you shoulda caught that.. I'm that way. I look for stuff nobody else usually notices. I'm a horror fan. Never was into Sci-Fi. Never seen a Star Wars, Star Trek, Close Encounters, just not for me. The little girl that plays in Jurasic Park, I love watching her face. She did an excellent job. There were funny parts too. It's OK but not a favorite. My fav's are the Alien movies. In Aliens they could have gotten a better player for Newt. If it hadn't been for those yellow loaders and a few other things, it would be my least favorite one. And thank gawd they didn't put ( I believe the directors cut) in the theaters. The bison type things are just not right. Yes I have gotten off the subject , sorry. Anyway I would watch WOTW again. But not as many times as the Alien movies! Or the Kill Bill movies. And I just love watching Inglorious Bastards with Brad Pitt. Too bad it couldn't have really happened that way. One more thing, I watched about 1/2 of the ending of a movie and in the credits it stated the entire movie was made on a computer. YIKES! I was waiting for the next movie. I hope that doesn't become a trend!! BTW, There's this huge box for me to type in....all in one line. Really? It'd be nice to read what I typed without backing up. OK, I'm done. I could say more though, but this was to be a review of WOTW. And I did say a few things about it. So, g'night people.... to the ones that read all this thank you for your patience.
Brandon57 More than 1 year ago
This movie is amazing! I just love all the special effects they did on the alien tripods! They made them so eery no human could ever think of making, it has to be from aliens! The cast is awesome and so is the story line. A man (Tom Cruise) and his 2 children ( Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin) try to survive and make it to Boston while the world is under attack by giant tripods controlled my hostile aliens. The tripods shoot hot ray beams that make people burn to ash. They also have tentacles that can pick people up and put them into this basket were a red tentacle grabs them, takes them into the tripod, and suck out all there blood. This movie is great!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Steven Spielberg has done it again: He has manipulated our fears and given us something we are truly afraid of. Many people complained about the movie and its lack of a logical plot, but the subject matter doesn't really warrant them. The entire cast does a terrific job, especially Tom Cruise as an average nobody. The visual effects are some of the best I've ever seen, and all technical aspects are first class all the way. Spielberg continues to prove himself as one of our greatest directors with this masterpiece of the science-fiction genre.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie was probably the best alien film I have ever had the pleasure of watching. The special effects are second to none, the story was surprisingly close to the original, even though the time period was almost 100 years apart and the acting was supburb, especially from up and coming actress Dakota Fanning. The scariest part of the film weren't the aliens, but infact the reaction of the human race and how we acted during the time of crisis. Steven Speilberg has done it again!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the effects and that's why I gave it so many stars but it certainly has nothing in it for thoughtful movie goers interested in seeing something new in terms of dialogue as one extra proclaims "Oh my God" and other such trite sayings. And the only direction Tom Cruise seems to have gotten was be angry or afraid for 2 hours...and what a bore he son was---Yeeks what was Speilberg thinking? But still worth owning for like 5 dollars...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although the special effects and technical aspects were great, it didn't explain a lot of things in the beginning like the 1953 version did. It jumped right into the aliens attacking. The original gave more of a build up towards the attack and left a lot to your imagination. With all the religious and anti-god sentimate in the world, it was nice to see they left the "god" aspect in at the end. All in all a great movie, but do yourself a favor and get both versions just to compare!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having seen both versions of this movie, I have to give this one a little lower rating than the original. The story line is pretty much the same, however it is a little far fetched to believe that Martians planted these tripods under the Earth's surface millions of years ago.I still feel over all it is a great movie and the special effects were fantastic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tom Cruise was a real good actor in this movie. So was Dakota Fanning. Steven Spielberg has made another alien movie to be chrished for many years to come. Spectacular!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Once again, Speilberg comes through. This amazing director, who only disappointed me once (Minority Report), continues to show the way for other directors. War of the Worlds has amazing special effects, probably the best I've seen. The movie is quite dark, truly scary, yet riveting. The scene involving the ferry boat in the Hudson River is incredible. Totally convincing. And I have to admit that Tom Cruise seems to be getting better as an actor while his personal life is getting weirder. Regarding the realism of it, only one thing bothered me: How did Cruise and Fanning get from New York state to Boston so quickly? No biggie, though. It is still a high impact movie well worth getting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the worst movie that Steven Spielberg has ever made. It has been grossly overrated by critics that just want to please him. The only thing going for this film are the special effects. The storyline and the acting are very poor. In additon, the opening and closing of the movie are very weak.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I typically like action films with Tom Cruise, however, this one was boring. Perhaps it is much better if you had previously listened to the radio series or have seen earlier renditions of this film, but as a stand alone movie, it was horrible. Visually, it did look great, and the sound was very well done, but their was no substance to bring it all together. I was ready to quit watching this movie about half way through, but forced myself to finish it because I paid to see it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although this movie was nowhere near as bad as the ridiculous and laughable "Independence Day", it was not great. It had its high points, such as the scene in Tim Robbins' basement where they are trying to avoid the probes, but overall, it left me thinking that there should have been more. All this build-up and all the buildings and overpasses being destroyed, and it ends as quickly as it does with very little plausibility. Like most Spielberg films, it is long on visual and short on mental.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Despite Tom Cruise's recent craziness, we thought this movie would still be worthwhile because it was a Spielberg movie. We were very disappointed. While the special effects were terrific, the acting was terrible, the characters unbelievable and the human story undeveloped. The ending suggested that they pretty much wanted to wrap up the project and move onto the next one - glad we didn't waste $8.50 to see it on the big screen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
War of the Worlds has been a favorite story for me for years. Have the 50's version, listened to the Orson Welles version in audio book form prob. 30 times. Even though I knew the original story well, Spielberg's variations and subtle plot changes worked very well. The soundeffects were startling, and the graphics superb. I bought the DVD and thought the loudest sounds - like the lightening - were toned down some for home viewers. I have a pretty good surround system and the volume wasn't as good. I guess I don't have the huge speakers that theaters do.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't get too excited about watching this movie because it will be a total letdown! This movie was completely ridiculous and filled with many holes. Such as, how come the lower class people were running for their lives while the rich were just hanging out at home munching on caviar, merely waiting for the aliens to get bored and go home? Blecch! The one highlight of the movie is Dakota Fanning who is such an incredible actress that you can't help but watch until the movie ends. In fact, she keeps the movie going. Otherwise, nada.
Guest More than 1 year ago
DON'T BOTHER. If you want to watch people running around and screaming for a couple of hours, OK. The movie sucks. I can't believe Spielberg let his name be associated with this thing. The 50's version was a lot better. Unfortunate that this site won't let you give 0 or negative stars.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although I loathe Tom Cruise and what he has to say about Psychiatry, I have to admit he did a good job as a dead beat dad. I loved Spielberg's direction, especially in the cellar scene with Tim Robbins, but all the effects and great directing can't save what is basically a flawed script. The way the invasion occurred just makes no sense. The original movie had more plausability to it, but the writers seemed to have jettisoned this in favor of something less believable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really thought this movie was awesome. Enjoyed it very much. I went out and bought the original War of the Worlds and plan to watch that next week.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've loved the 1953 movie version of War of the Worlds since I first saw it, and I have the DVD as well. I've also heard and enjoyed Orson Welles' 1938 radio broadcast. But when the Spielberg version was released, I really had no interest in seeing it. Two reasons: (1) I didn't think it could top the 1953 version (as it turns out, it doesn't), and (2) Tom Cruise. However, when someone whose tastes run similar to mine recently told me it was pretty good, I bought the DVD. Well, some of it *was* pretty good. And some of it was pretty bad. My first viewing left me with mixed feelings, likely due to my high expectations. So I watched it again, and enjoyed it more the second time. As has been noted in other reviews, the special effects are rather spectacular. But to me, some of them had a superimposed look, although I'm pretty sure all the effects were CGI. From a technical standpoint, my favorite scene is the one on the freeway early in the film. Ray (Cruise) and company have appropriated the only functional vehicle and are weaving at high speed through miles of dead cars. The camerawork in this scene is nothing short of amazing. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the screenplay. Some of the dialog is actually laughable. For instance, during that same freeway scene, Ray's son Robbie (Justin Chatwin) asks if terrorists are responsible for the melee. Then Ray says: "This came from someplace else." Robbie: "What do you mean? Like Europe?" Later, in Ogilvy's (Tim Robbins) basement, Ogilvy -- referring to the aliens -- tells Ray: "They drink us then they spray us." Ohhhh noooo. Contrary to what many have said, I don't think Dakota Fanning screams too much at all. If that stuff were happening to me, I'd be screaming, too. Gene Barry and Ann Robinson (the stars of the 1953 version) were given cameo roles in this version. I think that's a nice touch. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I won't go into the plot's gaping holes and rampant illogic. Let's just say that the movie requires suspension of disbelief in a big way. This isn't the best movie I've ever seen, nor is it the worst. Despite its flaws, I do think it's worth seeing, particularly if you like Tom Cruise and lots of eye candy. It's even better if you can get it at a bargain price. Just be sure to check your expectations and logic at the door, and try not to think too much as you watch it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The reviewers who insist on comparing this to the 1950s movie adaptation are barking up the wrong tree. Spielberg's version is, despite its contemporary setting, very faithful to H. G. Wells's original novel -- something that can't be said for the 1950s movie, which took considerable liberties with the original text. The so-called plot holes would be more accurately described as narrative jumps. Yeah, we don't get an explanation as to how Cruise's son ended up safe and sound after last being seeing sprinting towards a Martian tripod, but it doesn't require too much imagination to fill in this gap. I guess modern movie-goers prefer to be spoon-fed rather than spend a few seconds thinking about such things. If you're looking for a gritty sci-fi movie that tells a more personal tale than the cliched and considerably more implausible alien invasion movies, such as Independence Day, then you'll enjoy this adaptation. If you prefer Will Smith leaping into a jet fighter to whup ET's ass, or have a pathological hatred of Dakota Fanning, you may want to reconsider.
bookin-it More than 1 year ago
This is easily, in my opinion, one of two really good alien invasion movies. I have a few friends who complain about the anti-climatic ending, but my response to them is, "The whole movie was one giant climax scene that never let up." So it had a relaxed ending. (Though I wouldn't have complained if more stuff happened, but I know that wouldn't be true to the book.) There are a few things you need to overlook, like how was their car the only thing not destroyed in the plane crash? and stuff like that. But overall, I really liked it a lot and found parts of it truly creepy in a good way. Just don't expect much of a thinker. Avoid The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) and watch Signs. If you like Independence Day, that's your call.
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