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WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005)
"War of the Worlds" is a remake of the H.G. Wells classic novel that tells of an alien race's premeditated attack on planet Earth sometime in the 21st century. Through the lens of a typical American family the audience watches the aliens unleash their fury in an attempt to exterminate the entire human race - but men has long since earned his right to live on planet earth and a mysterious enemy awaits the unsuspecting alien race.
Written by: Josh Friedman and David Koepp (screenplay) and H.G. Wells.
Directed by: Steven Spielberg.
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller, Action.
Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi violence and fighting sequences.
Tagline: They're always watching!
A remake of the classic H.G. Wells Sc-Fi thriller, Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds" depicts the human race fighting for their lives in the 21st century against the lethal extermination process of an alien species. Having premeditated their attack before the dawn of man, or so the story goes, Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) and the rest of his Eastern suburb are put in a panic after a mysterious lightening storm (without thunder) sweeps over their skies. Just as soon as it begins however, the storm ends, followed by an eerie silence that sends Rachel Ferrier (Dakota Fanning) running into the deep recesses of her room. Meanwhile Ray is in search of his rebellious son Robbie Ferrier (Justin Chatwin) who has taken off with his car just prior to the storm.
But once outside Ray discovers the unthinkable. The entire infrastructure is being annihilated before his eyes as deep cracks tear through the streets. Cars, whose electric systems have been fried by the electrical storm, fall into the deep chasms ripping through the town. As people stand half-paralyzed in awe and fear they are shaken into a panic as strange gigantic tripods emerge from underground and begins to sweep their laser rays over the population, disintegrating them on contact.
Running for his life, Ray grabs Robbie and Rachel and heads to the nearest car shop where he finds the only working automobile and high tails it out of town. But his daring escape encounters massive mobs of people desperate to hitch hike a ride and Ray is left to do his best to steer his family away from trouble, which means taking back roads outside of civilization. Traveling to Boston, Ray hopes to find the kids mother so that he can place his kids back in the safety of their favorite parent. Stopping by their mother's house, the only thing to be found is another attack by the vicious tripods. Seeking shelter in an underground basement the Ferriers wait out the "storm" only to rise in the morning to find the town completely destroyed. A quick run in with a few survivors teaches Ray that the tripods are being driven by an alien species: the lightening storms were actually the alien's transporting themselves into the underground machines via capsules. Much more to his dismay, Ray realizes that there isn't one, but hundreds of tripods' the human race seems doomed.
As the Ferriers desperately travel from town to town trying to stay ahead of the tripod's wrath Ray searches for a solution while his resentful kids hesitate to trust their father whose protection is their only chance at life. Robbie attempts to leave several times, desiring to join the government troops to fight back at the indestructible army. Meanwhile Rachel throws her daily tantrums whenever her fear is too much too handle. Weary, hungry, and having escaped death more times that they ought to, the Ferriers evade the tripod's certain death attacks on cities, roads, and even ocean carriers.
But Ray is losing hope and after a mob hijacks his family from his car in their desperate panic to stay alive, Ray and his family are forced to hightail the roads on foot, whereby Robbie bids farewell to his father and heads out for action. But all looks in vain for Robbie, who Ray assumes is dead after a massive explosion goes off near Robbie's final farewell. Running for safety Ray and Rachel seek solace in Harlan Ogilvy's (Tim Robbins) underground basement. But soon that too is penetrated and Harlan begins to panic and attempts to fight back several times, nearly costing Ray and his daughter Rachel's lives. Desperate, Ray decides to permanently silence the panicking Harlan, and together the Ferriers tiptoe their way around the detection of the aliens. While there they are nearly detected several times, by both the alien's machines, and the aliens themselves, who, resembling their tripod machines, come gaiting in on three legs to examine the human surroundings of the basement.
As the Ferriers wait for the aliens to move on their presence is detected and Rachel is snagged up into one of the machine's pods. Ray, defeated, grabs a stack of ammo hoping it will be of some use and allows the tripods to suck him up into the machine. There, Ray and Rachel wait in a cage, among dozens of other humans, who are slowly being sucked up and eaten one by one. When it is Ray's turn, he grabs a grenade and places it in the head of the tripod sucker. Nearly sucked in himself, Ray watches as the machine explodes and drops the cage, allowing the remaining survivors to flee for their life amidst a town covered in a red, bloody, vine-like slime.
Ray and Rachel continue to head to Boston, and along the way they begin to notice the vines changing color, from red to gray. Ray pontificates that they are dying, and upon noticing their vines change colors, so too does Ray notice that their impenetrable shields have disappeared. Informing the military, the latter go full steam ahead in taking down the tripods, killing the alien species hiding inside along with the machines. But firearms weren't what destroyed the alien race, but rather, the common cold. As the film notes, "from the moment the aliens breathed our air, and ate and drank their fill, they were doomed?" A billion lives later man had earned his immunity, and thus his right to live on earth. The aliens, simply, never stood a chance.
"War of the Worlds" is a special effects bonanza. Spielberg brings the tripods and aliens to life even better than they have ever been depicted. Miles ahead of E.T. in the production quality, 21st century technology enables Spielberg to merge the realistic with the fantastic to wow audiences non-stop throughout the film.
Truly the film doesn't stop the climactic suspense until the very end. From the moment the film opens the aliens begin their attack and the entire film is devoted to one family's desperate attempt to outrun the unthinkable. It seems so ridiculous to watch the Ferrier's attempt to escape the alien's wrath, which has obliterated everything it has come in contact with, and yet, tired and hungry, the Ferrier's march on, attesting something about the human will. Moreover Cruise gives a fine performance as Ray Ferrier and Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin shine in their roles as Rachel and Robbie Ferrier respectively. Tim Robbins short, but poignant performance is both tragically and hauntingly realistic.
Though the climax does end rather abruptly, and some critics have been known to balk at the sudden conclusion of the film, if reexamined one does notice that Spielberg has covered all of his bases. Everything is there that is needed to conclude the film. Perhaps because the first 95% of the film is so intense the anticlimax seems so sudden and disarming, nevertheless the theory as to why the aliens were finally rendered defenseless is both compelling now, and even more so back in the 1940's when H.G. Wells first manifested such a scenario. Truly Spielberg pays homage to Wells in this truly visually spectacular film that will entertain, awe, and terrify you until the end, when of course you can rest happily assured that the human race has prevailed yet again?
Tom Cruise plays Ray Ferrier, a down and out dad whose life is turned upside down after his weekend babysitting job turns into an adventure to keep him and his kids alive.
Dakota Fanning plays Rachel Ferrier, Ray's claustrophobic little girl whose safety becomes Ray's primary interest during the alien attacks.
Justin Chatwin plays Robbie Ferrier, Ray's rambunctious teenage son whose avid attempts to "get in on the action" smack of an ill-fate.
Tim Robbins plays Harlan Ogilvy, a panic-stricken man who opens his basement up to the Ferriers, but whose attempts to fight the alien race provoke an ill-fate.