In my book, Steven Spielberg rarely goes wrong. I’m happy to announce that his latest film, an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel War of the Worlds, is no different.
This film had me on the edge of my seat from about twenty minutes in until it ended. Non-stop action, total suspense, very frightening moments (both with the invaders and with how humans can devolve so savagely when challenged), along with spectacular special effects make this movie worth the price of admission.
I’ll be honest, I was sort of expecting an Independence Day type of film. Thankfully, we didn’t’ get one (don’t get me wrong, I liked Independence Day, I just didn’t want to see a rehash, and yes, I realize the irony in such a statement considering most alien invasion films are byproducts of Wells’ novel). Instead, the film held truer to the actual novel. I won’t offer any more spoilers than that, but please keep in mind the novel was published in 1898, so obvious modernizing is essential to capture the contemporary audience’s attention.
I suppose that the greatest surprise of the film for me was the fact that no matter how much Tom Cruise has fallen, in my opinion, of late, he really did give a pretty good performance in this film. Most movies I see with Cruise, I feel as though I’m watching Tom Cruise in a movie, not a character that Tom Cruise is playing. In War of the Worlds, this was not totally the case. He had some Tom Cruise moments, but overall, I felt as though he was Ray, the character he was playing (not the singer). Cruise plays a man who is not an especially heroic person, not an especially honest or moral person, and a father who pretty much stinks at the job. It was nice to see him playing an everyman, a reluctant hero. In fact, I wouldn’t even call his character a hero. Protagonist would be more appropriate, I believe.
All in all, see this film. I’ll say it again, Spielberg always produces gold when he directs, Cruise plays a convincing character, the little girl did not irritate me like I thought she would (I even kind of enjoyed her performance, but don’t tell anyone), and it was a fun thrill ride. Oh, and those special effects won’t be done justice on the small screen, so don’t wait to rent.