War of the Worlds 2005, a quick review
Updated: Jul 20, 2019
War of the Worlds (2005) is a film which has admittedly perplexed me. It's a remake of a film which was in turn a remake of a radio programme which was in turn a version of H.G Well's original novel back when Queen Victoria sat on the throne. Normally, when something is that separated from the source it ends up a mushy awful messy - look at The Mummy (2017) for example. Despite suffering the common affliction as the Mummy of containing Tom Cruise, War of the Worlds is unique in that it was actually quite good.
I remember it as one of the first "Horror movies" I watched in the cinema, at the tender age of 13 - waltzing care-free into the 12A rated film. Even then, I couldn't help but feel rather warm to it. Perhaps it was the fact I went with my best friend at the time, or that it felt rather cool to watch a film that her Majesty's Government had deemed myself only just able to view, i'm not sure.
There are, though, many things to like about this film.
I love the Tripods in this film. They look so cool, with their dark, metallic surfaces, searching periscopes, carrying sacks, and -most importantly - their almighty, bellowing howl. From the second they are awakened from their underground slumber, these towering behemoths know what their job is - to eliminate life on Earth, or harvest their tasty blood. Throughout the film, the Tripods prove themselves to be formidable adversaries, withstanding attacks by the armed forces using their powerful shields. When they seem unstoppable, the common cold has our back and weakens to aliens who control the mighty tripods.
The humans we get to see in War of the Worlds are much better than you may have expected. It’s one of those “big and small” type stories, in which aliens may be attacking, but there’s still family issues to sort out. Tom Cruise’s disenfranchised teenager, and his screamy young daughter are both left in his ‘capable’ hands. He’s the kind of guy who only has mustard in his fridge, but has kids he suddenly needs to take care of. It’s not the most original story, but Spielberg pulls it off in that magical - family friendly way which only he really can.
Seeing the development of the characters and the changes in their relationships is almost as interesting as the big tripods which stomp overhead.
I like Tim Robbins. He’s a really talented actor, who’s on screen chemistry with Morgan Freeman made The Shawshank Redemption (1994) - incidentally Freeman is also in War of the Worlds, but only as the narrator. Robbins plays Harlan Ogilvy, a man who at first seems like salvation for Cruise and his daughter - who is of course played by Dakota Fanning. As they run away from more Tripod carnage, he beckons them into his basement. Neither of them has a clue about stranger danger, clearly. Robbins is actually bat shit crazy and, with the aliens using the tripod’s periscope to have a snoop around, Cruise is driven to murder. It’s a short, sweet appearance, but I think that the scenes with Robbins, and just after his death are probably the best.
What did you think of War of the Worlds? Could we do with a reboot to make a series out of it, maybe on television? Let me know!
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