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War of the Worlds

3.4 out of 5 stars 1,327 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning. A phenemonal adaptation of H.G. Wells' sci-fi classic with Steven Spielberg at the helm! A disgruntled, divorced, failure-as-a-dad" guy desperately seeks to save his family from annihilation against an alien fleet of killer tripods. 2 DVDs. 2005/color/117 min/PG-13.

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Despite super effects, a huge budget, and the cinematic pedigree of alien-happy Steven Spielberg, this take on H.G. Wells's novel is basically a horror film packaged as a sci-fi thrill ride. Instead of a mad slasher, however, Spielberg (along with writers Josh Friedman & David Koepp) utilizes aliens hell-bent on quickly destroying humanity, and the terrifying results that prey upon adult fears, especially in the post-9/11 world. The realistic results could be a new genre, the grim popcorn thriller; often you feel like you're watching Schindler's List more than Spielberg's other thrill-machine movies (Jaws, Jurassic Park). The film centers on Ray Ferrier, a divorced father (Tom Cruise, oh so comfortable) who witnesses one giant craft destroy his New Jersey town and soon is on the road with his teen son (Justin Chatwin) and preteen daughter (Dakota Fanning) in tow, trying to keep ahead of the invasion. The film is, of course, impeccably designed and produced by Spielberg's usual crew of A-class talent. The aliens are genuinely scary, even when the film--like the novel--spends a good chunk of time in a basement. Readers of the book (or viewers of the deft 1953 adaptation) will note the variation of whom and how the aliens come to Earth, which poses some logistical problems. The film opens and closes with narration from the novel read by Morgan Freeman, but Spielberg could have adapted Orson Welles's words from the famous Halloween Eve 1938 radio broadcast: "We couldn't soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night, so we did the best next thing: we annihilated the world." --Doug Thomas

War of the Worlds at Amazon.com


The Soundtrack

The War of the Worlds (1953)

War of the Worlds - The Complete First Season (TV series)

Classic Sci-Fi Movies and Their Remakes

Aliens Invade on DVD

The Prog-rock Opera (no kidding)


Special Features

  • Featurette: Designing the Enemy - Tripods and Aliens

Product Details

  • Actors: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins, Miranda Otto, Justin Chatwin
  • Directors: Steven Spielberg
  • Writers: David Koepp, H.G. Wells, Josh Friedman
  • Producers: Colin Wilson, Damian Collier, Kathleen Kennedy, Paula Wagner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS ES), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG-13
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Dreamworks Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 22, 2005
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,327 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JNTI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,527 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "War of the Worlds" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By DAVID BRYSON VINE VOICE on July 25, 2005
The War of the Worlds is a great novel and Spielberg is a director of exceptional talent and accomplishment, so I had been hoping for a lot from this film. In the event, I have got part of what I was hoping for. Very occasionally, a novel can be 'walked' straight on to the screen (The Big Sleep, with a script by Faulkner, is a striking case), and I found myself wondering whether this novel might not have benefited from the same treatment. Some of Spielberg's changes are perfectly reasonable, others less so in my own opinion. It makes perfectly good sense to bring the action forward by a century into the present day, for instance. I suppose there's no harm either in changing the main actors from Wells's scientist with a wife and a brother to a dysfunctional American family, as this may provide enhanced 'human interest' or some such benefit for all I would know. Again, I have no real problem with the way the film combines the roles of the curate and the artilleryman in the book into the single persona of the former ambulance-driver, and I can well understand that Spielberg would have thought it prudent to tone down the socialistic elements in this aspect of the story in order to avoid setting off the wrong types of reaction in American audiences. What I do have a major problem with is the appearance of the Martians themselves. I'm sorry to report that these have far too much in common with a certain wretched TV series. The author's own description is one that stays in the memory, to say the very least, and Wells's Martians look the way they do for very clear reasons that he provides. What was gained by going downmarket in the way Spielberg chooses to do? Nothing that I can think of except perhaps better audience figures from harking back to that ghastly broadcast series.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
Spielberg's version of H.G. Wells' classic yarn of alien invaders making purée out of feeble humans get's a thrilling blockbuster treatment. The director piles on the terror as bad-dad Tom Cruise, stuck with weekend custody of his hysterical (even before things turn gruesome) kids, flees the ever-increasing destruction of the tripod killing machines (which are superbly realised). Much scarier than the 1953 version with Gene Barry, the film manages to keep escalating the tension either in scenes of epic urban demolition, or claustrophic games of hide-and-seek with the aliens in Tim Robbins' (as the nutty survivalist) dank basement.

The film is a white knuckle ride right up until the missing third act, when the movie ends so abruptly I thought I had been sent a defective DVD with about 6 chapters missing. But no, Spielberg sticks to Wells' original ending, which was scientifically innovative when he wrote it but is totally lame now. Surely the writers could have tried to refresh this story with a more interesting denouement, perhaps based on what happens after mankind's amazingly lucky reprieve, followed by the return of the clued-up aliens after we had mastered their technology?

After the adrenalin rush recedes only irritating questions remain: why haven't the aliens heard how the story 'War of the World' ends and brought cold remedies with them? Given that they rely on humans as food, why does their primary weapon vaporize people and spare their clothes (when the oppposite would be so much more convenient)? Why does Cruise watch a TV broadcast of how the tripods are systematically wiping out major cities and then decide the safest thing to do is... head for a major city?

What I like about this movie is the point of view.
Read more ›
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H. G. Wells wrote the novel over a century ago and Steven Spielberg has done a fantastic job of incorporating some of the literary tale's elements into his version: the tripods and their ear-shattering "ULLA!", the heat ray, the retaining baskets, the growth of the "red weed," the demented "Ogilvey" (Tim Robbins), the devastating onslaught from the invaders, man's futile efforts to defend himself, and the final "solution," among other parts familiar to fans of the book.

The director also paid tribute to producer George Pal's 1953 Technicolor classic by using a similar "probe" into the basement occupied by Cruise and daughter Fanning, the destruction of a church, an American setting, and a brief appearance by the earlier film's stars: Gene Barry and Ann Robinson.

There are many tense scenes, making this film not quite suitable for younger audiences. The sound is loud and abrasive, befitting the on-screen destruction. Surprisingly, John Williams's score is quite subtle and, on occasions, is barely audible.

Actingwise, Cruise, contrary to his behavior off-screen, asserts himself well as the estranged father of two kids who must now do all that he can to save his children, as well as himself. Fanning's strong performance shows why she is one of most popular child performers today. And Robbins is appropriately creepy as the man with the plan to bring down the invaders.

While megahit "Independence Day" toured similar ground, "War of the Worlds" is more the work of a master storyteller and his name is Steven Spielberg.

That alone makes it a film not to be missed!
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