ISSUE #8 FEB 06

Chris Bond

War of the Worlds

1st August 2005
Official Movie Poster reviewer: Chris Bond
directed by: Steven Spielberg
written by: H.G. Wells, Josh Friedman
starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Tim Robbins
genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
released: 1st July 2005

On first glance War of the Worlds contains all the hallmarks of a great film from Steven Spielberg. We follow the story of Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) as he fights to keep his family alive from the alien extermination of humankind. This storytelling technique (following one manís journey through an epic war) worked wonderfully for Saving Private Ryan, and, for the most part, it works well here. The Ferrier family is a conventional broken home; mother and father have split, with the father only making a token effort to see his kids. Only through nearly losing his family, does he realise how much he loves themÖyou get the picture.

For most of the movie, this is Spielberg at his best. Visually stunning set pieces, wonderfully intimate moments (including the most tense game of hide and seek Iíve ever witnessed), and well acted (especially Dakota Fanning). Purists will argue that the move away from the book is too drastic (the aliens no longer come from Mars, the setting is moved from Victorian London to America, and the 9/11 references are numerous). However, those looking for great cinema will not be disappointed by the dark, tense and foreboding atmosphere that Spielberg creates. It is fast, unrelenting, and takes your breath away.

That is until the movie reaches its conclusion. The final 30 minutes are badly paced, and over-sentimental, very much to the detriment of the film. Once Morgan Freeman kicks in to explain what happened, you canít help but wonder exactly what Spielberg was aiming to do with the ending. Which is a real shame, as for three quarters of War of the Worlds this is Spielberg at his best, and is highly recommended.