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Thursday June 30, 2005 7:03 pm

The Final Cut:  War Of The Worlds Lives Up To The Hype


Posted by Devin Categories: Features, Movies


War of the Worlds

I’ve never read H.G. Wells 1898 novel “War Of The Worlds”, or have even seen anything having to do with the it in any other medium.  When I was younger, my dad told me that during a radio presentation of the story many listeners(who I would presume tuned in after the start of the show) thought that they were listening to an actual live newscast, which in turn caused mass hysteria and widespread panic throughout the listening area.  This amused me.  The thought of a bunch of people getting scared while hearing a work of fiction on the radio was quite funny. Not scary at all.  But I had no idea what they were hearing…


I entered the theater, grabbed a decent seat, and pulled out a stow-a-way pack of candy from my pocket and proceeded to open it as the theater grew dim.  I rarely ever pay attention to the previews, so most of that time was spent opening my candy, turning off my cell phone, and generally getting ready to watch the film.  I heard a voice, and almost immediately realized that it belonged to no other then Morgan Freeman.  A good choice for narrator I thought.  After the intro by Mr. Freeman, the actual story starts and moves at quite a quick pace all the way through. 

We’re immediately introduced to Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) a divorced father who is on his way home from work to meet his ex-wife and her husband, who are on their way out of town and stopped by just long enough to drop off the kids, Robbie and Rachael(Justin Chatwin, Dakota Fanning) for a rare visit.  It becomes clear rather quickly that Ray is irresponsible and most definitely not a nominee for the “Father Of The Year” Award, but his shortcomings are quickly replaced with panic and the natural instincts to protect his children and survive as an army of alien tripods begins to ravage the Earth.  As Ray does everything in his power to keep his family alive, we see that no matter where they turn, death and destruction is all around them.

I am not a big fan of Tom Cruise, but I must say that his performance in this film really blew me away.  When he was terrified, I was terrified.  When he was angry, I was angry.  I was able to completely relate to a character that, at the beginning of the film, I truly thought would end up annoying me.  Dakota Fanning never fails to amaze me.  That little girl is great, and her work in this film only further convinced me that she has a long career ahead of her in Hollywood.  I cannot think of a better child to play the part of Rachael.  I think it’s safe to say the film had great acting all around. 

The film also had a great script.  There were times I, along with every one else in the theater, laughed out loud, and there were times I was completely terrified by what I was seeing and hearing. Josh Friedman and David Koepp did an excellent job of turning a 19th century novel into a 21st sci-fi thriller.  The only thing I didn’t like about the movie was the end.  While the story set a good pace throughout the movie, the ending sort of brought it to a halt.  I think a little more elaboration towards the end would have benefited the film.

The last time Steven Spielberg directed a film with an alien in it (E.T.) It became the fourth highest box office earner in history.  While none of the aliens in this film will be playing dress up or eating Reese’s Pieces, you can pretty much assume that this movie will be just as(if not more) successful then E.T.  Spielberg has said that he never even thought about doing this film as a period piece because he felt it wasn’t an interesting way to go, and I agree.  By updating it, Spielberg has allowed viewers to relate it to their everyday lives and be drawn in by the story, rather than simply sitting in the theater watching a film but having a hard time relating to characters whose 19th century lifestyle have almost nothing in common with our lives today.

I didn’t expect to laugh when I went in to see this film, but more importantly I didn’t expect to be so scared.  Everyone involved did an amazing job on this film, and I think this film has a way of connecting with the audience.  Through great storytelling, the movie sucks you in and at times will absolutely terrify you.  Now I understand why so many people panicked from listening to a radio broadcast.  Overall, I would have to say that this is the best film so far this year(although I loved Batman Begins) and I recommend that if you haven’t seen it yet, you should see it soon, and if you already have seen it, watch it again!

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