Steven Spielberg directs this modern adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic novel with none of the flair or style he’s known for. All the alien attacks are pretty straight forward, repetitive, and unmemorable. There’s only so many scenes of Tom and the kids barely escaping an alien attack you can take in one movie. The movie’s main problem is that it’s focus is too narrow. It’s told from Cruise’s perspective and not from a global scope. I mean if the movie’s called War of the Worlds, you better show it and not some domestic drama. Also, there’s no scientific speculation or sense of awe about the creatures, just a lot of scenes of “We gotta get outta here before…” A. The building collapses. B. The boat capsizes. C. We get vaporized. D. Crazy Tim Robbins gets us killed.
The aliens themselves are unimpressive. While the tripods are OK, the actual aliens are a goofy combination of the aliens from Independence Day and Star Kid. Cruise is alright in the lead, but he has little to do besides run, duck for cover and babysit. You know it’s a bad sign when you find yourself wishing Will Smith will show up and kick some alien butt. Stick with the 1953 original instead.
Screenwriter David Koepp also wrote Jurassic Park for Spielberg and Cruise and Robbins were also in Top Gun together. Featuring Miranda (Lord of the Rings) Otto as Cruise’s ex-wife and Dakota (Hide and Seek) Fanning as his whiny daughter. Listening to Cruise’s creepy tirades about Scientology is a lot more entertaining than this flick, which is Spielberg’s worst since The Lost World. Then again, if it’s your lifelong dream to see Tom Cruise get sucked up inside an alien’s asshole, then this is your movie!