“War of the Worlds” is a 2005 American science fiction action film based on the novel of the same name (1898) by H. G. Wells. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Tom Cruise. It tells a story of a doc worker and his family in a catastrophe when extraterrestrials invade the Earth and devastate cities with giant war machines. It was a co-production between Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures. 116 minutes.
Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) has lived alone in Bayonne, New Jersey, working as a crane operator at a dock in Brooklyn, New York. He has two children, teenage son Robbie (Justin Chatwin) and 10-year-old daughter Rachel, with his divorced wife Mary Ann (Miranda Otto).
One weekend, Mary Ann, who is pregnant, leaves her two children with Ray to visit her parents in Boston, though Ray is estranged from his children.
Later, giant three-legged war machines called “tripods” emerge from the ground around the world, and start destroying cities.
Ray steals a van and drives to Mary Ann’s home in suburban New Jersey to take refuge with his children.
That night, they take shelter in the basement, but the house is destroyed by the aliens. The next morning, Ray and Robbie discover that a Boeing 747 had crashed into the neighborhood.
Ray puts his children in the vehicle and heads to Mary Ann’s parents’ home in Boston, but a crowd of people in panic rob Ray of his vehicle.
They get to a Hudson River ferry. Though a tripod capsizes the ferry, Ray’s family manages to survive.
They witness the U.S. Marines fighting against some tripods. Trying to join the fight against the aliens, Robbie disappears after the U.S. Marines.
Being led by a man named Harlan Ogilvy (Tim Robbins), Ray and Rachel take refuge at an empty house. When they lie low in the basement, a group of aliens invade the house.
“War of the Worlds” is characterized by that it depicts the situation from a limited point of view of a citizen instead of explaining the whole thing from a higher perspective.
The film focuses on not the war between humans and aliens itself but a family story, in which a man, who had neglected his family, changes into a father to protect his children in extreme situations.
The 1953 film “War of the Worlds” produced by George Pal, directed by Byron Haskin had reflected the nuclear threat in the context of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, while Spielberg’s 2005 film reflects the memories of the 2001 September 11 attacks and the fear of terrorism.
Though the film has often been criticized for its weakness as a spectacular film and anticlimax in the ending, it has been highly appreciated by critics.
The French film critique magazine “Cahiers du cinéma” ranked the film as 8th place in its list of best films of the 2000s decade.
Japanese film directors Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Shinji Aoyama listed the film as one of the best 10 films of the 2000s decade.