I watched this at the cinema when it originally came out in 2005, the attraction of Steven Spielberg and the story of “War of the Worlds” seemed to be a great combination. Sadly it did not work out the way I was expecting.
Unfortunately Spielberg does not always have the knack for picking great scripts. This is such an average screenplay of a great idea and the original story is one which has been written in much better ways than what we have here, but saying that, Spielberg visually created a film which looks great. The Tripods have a look about them which I imagined them to look in the original story, while keeping the world in which it is set real and believable, with people we would meet in the street.
I understand that in a situation of panic and worry such as the event such as this, people would not be behaving normally, but the characters I found unlikable and wanted to distance myself from them. Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) does not seem to have grown up and seems self absorbed, you can see why his wife left him for somebody else. Rachel Ferrier (Dakota Fanning) screaming; wanting her mum or letting Ray know that he should know more about her than he does becomes annoying very quickly. She seems to have already acquired an attitude of a girl a few years older than herself. Robbie (Justin Chatwin)… well he’s just the usual teen not wanting to be with his dad.
There are moments when we would rather spend time with characters that, due to the situation bump into the three main characters along the way. Characters who are going on their own journey to where ever it is they’re trying to get to, who seem more likeable and more worthy of our time… and more worthy of surviving the attack.
The aliens who seem to have been planning this attack for so long, the equipment is already lined up for the overdue events of the film. We question why, if they’ve already before and their equipment has been here for many years, why have they have taken so many years to finally make their move on Earth. The details and holes in the story are so glaring that we wonder if the makers of the film thought that because these mistakes were so obvious that we wouldn’t give them a thought and just go along with it.
This is a film which is a family friendly version of the story, and any violence is extremely toned down or left to the audience’s imagination. It is mediocre in its entertainment value, certainly not one of Spielberg’s best… but saying that, even at his worst, he is still better than many other directors.