The Spielberg fascination with family is kind of boring in here, but there's not a bunch of directors that can create a more cinematic fear than the Earth turning red like in the best moments of this film. Also: the effects live in time, it's really impressive.
I enjoyed the visuals and sound. The special effects dated a bit, but some scenes still look impressive. Interesting design of the alien war machines. The film achieves sense of terror of the unknown, relentless brutal force spreading destruction and chaos. Unfortunately, the film falls flat when comes to the main characters portrayed, they are unlikeable for the most part; this element of the film feels very bland.
4.5, It is what it is, an amazing achievement to make a rivetting film of such a familiar and relatively simple story. He achieves it by using the same skills for evoking wonder and terror which H. G. Wells himself possessed. Spielberg manages to get the jaded USAmerican stereotyped broken family jive to wobble along on four wheels under the mystic prayer flags of the neighbourhood laundry. And yes, it's Gene Barry.
I bumped into Tim Robbins some years ago and I told him how much I enjoyed Neil Burger's The Lucky Ones. He looked at me with suspicion:. "Of all the great works why would I bring that little art-house film up?" (...though still a bloody good film IMO). And now I just wonder how would have he reacted had I brought War of the Worlds up. This gets two stars = one for the sound designer and another one for the gaffer.
Nice colour & contrast to the cinematography, & good SFX. But the acting is atrocious, and the plot/pacing is terribly uneven. The 3 main characters are boring at best, ridiculously annoying at worst. I actually spent the movie wishing they'd get bumped off. And the ending is the most anti-climactic ending ever. I wanted to like this, but I just couldn't care about the characters at all.
A pure Spielberg tale from start to finish, what I really love about it is the feedback you feel from many directors: he sets up the alien invasion using many of the tricks that Roland Emmerich used in Independence Day, Emmerich being a director completely obsessed with Spielberg since day one. It's a familiar ground for Spielberg that he works with love. The three leads are fantastic.
Perhaps my favorite post-9/11 allegory. It's a fairy tale for a country that just wanted their dad to carry them and tell them that everything was going to be alright. You can tell where the priorities in this film are by the undamaged house Tom Cruise's ex-wife presides in during the final moments. And that's not a bad thing.
The first half is Spielberg on good form, full of hyper-real thrills and his typical complex family stuff, but after the impressive Hudson River ferry sequence it loses all of its pace and charm. It was quite a relief that everyman Ray (Cruise) was just that and didn't turn out to be the hero who works out the aliens' key weakness - I wouldn't have put that past David Koepp.
I'm in two minds about this. The set up is great. Cruise's relationship with his kids is really well handled. The movie's bleaker and brutal than I expected. The plot does amble along, probably intentionally, but the final section doesn't transition well at all and the last sequence feels silly. It isn't a bad film, just flawed.