Review Written by: Everett Lauster
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Josh Friedman and David Koepp
Based on the book by: H.G. Wells
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy and Colin Wilson
Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Tim Robbins, Miranda Otto, Rick Gonzalez, Lenny Venito
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!
The Steven Spielberg adaptation of 1953 Byron Haskin version of "War of the Worlds" based upon the novel and clever trick (so to speak) by H.G Wells is an all out tour de force of his follow ups on life in outer space. His first alien movie was Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977 with Richard Dreyfuss and then in 1982 he made the heart warming tale, E.T the Extra Terrestrial. Although, this time the aliens don't "come in peace" and instead attempt to reek havoc on unsuspecting town folk in a little New Jersey town. Spielberg was again working with screenwriter David Koepp whom he worked with on 1993's Jurassic Park and the well-known sequel in 1997, The Lost World. The movie was born to be good with a well know screenwriter and a phenomenal cast that included Tom Cruise, Tim Robbins, Dakota Fanning and narrator Morgan Freeman.
The movie starts with dead beat dad and blue collar worker, Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) having his not so enthusiastic kids, Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and Robbie (Justin Chatwin) staying in his house for the weekend by divorce/mother Mary Ann (Miranda Otto, who during filming was pregnant). Moments later, a typical weekend with Dad has transformed into an alien invasion and leaves the broken family on the run from invading Martins and not to mention a few mind boggling effects. The movie well divides itself into part science fiction and part everyday life and brings true meaning to the phrase, "Every dog has his day" and Spielberg again brings that phrase to life.
The movie was well directed and well casted by Debra Zane and Terri Taylor putting Fanning in scared 9 year-old Drew Barrymore's place in E.T and doing more than necessary on her screaming quotas. Again, Spielberg working with the legendary composer, John Williams who helps bring each action packed scene to life with touching and edge of your seat music. Hats off to Spielberg who hired actual soldiers for the battle and necessary marine styled combat scenes. DTS 5.1 Digital Surround help the great sound effects and score by cast/crew/composer alike. The battle scenes and alien scenes are really brought to life through digital surround sound. Plus, if you like to turn up the volume for loud and exciting parts this is the movie to do it to.
The second disc is packed with extra features, including a 4-part documentary talking about how the scenes were made and thoughts from cast and crew alike. Along with "Designing the Enemy", a full making of feature with the creators showing how the Tripods and Aliens were made from computer visuals to the final cut. Sadly, the discs contain no commentary, but at least we get hands on documentaries and interviews with Tom and Steven.
Overall, the movie was very good and a worthy remake of a classic 1950's movie and also containing cast members from the original Gene Barry and Ann Robinson version who do cameos towards the end as grandparents. I would highly recommend this movie if you like action, a well-written script, a beautiful score and of course an overall great cast.