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Review: War of the Worlds

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Last night, I watched as War of the Worlds exploded onto the movie theater’s screen. The movie was fast-paced, action-packed, and it left me tired at the end. I was never a big fan of Independence Day (warring with aliens is so cliche), but War of the Worlds delivered on the promise of a summer blockbuster. If you’re looking to spice up your summer, go see this movie. It was an easy 4 out of 5.

Special Effects
Ultimately, movies like this so often come down to whether or not the special effects were believable. The special effects in War of the Worlds were just right. That is, they weren’t noticeable at all. The movie went on with everything seeming perfectly real and fitting in without problem. Rather than show every explosion and boom, it often showed the effects that such an event would have (ground shaking, blaring sounds and bright lights). It did have its share of spectacle as well. In fact, Spielberg created a movie that was visually memorable. Images from it are still in my mind. Just as they would likely haunt the characters of the movie.

Fast-Paced, Well Delivered
War of the Worlds jumps straight to the punch. Then, it never lets up for a second. Immense event after event unfolds on the screen with hardly a pause, yet the pacing never seems rushed. The characters are extremely normal, but the story is anything but. It has the feel of a modern day Godzilla. The directing was superb, and even the acting was top par.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was fun, it was action-packed, and it was visually stunning. I keep reading that American Hollywood blockbusters are a dying breed, but with movies like War of the Worlds and others that I have seen this summer, I think this may be the best summer line-up yet.

Note: The movie didn’t get a 5 out 5 only because humanity got our butts kicked by the aliens. Come on, that takes a point away right there.

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About Nicholas

  • Bennett

    Thanks for this! I knew I was gonna see this flick, but your review has me thinking about braving the cinema for a big screen experience.

  • Phil

    Nice review! I agree with you. Please note, however, that you have the DVD cover of Pendragon’s vrsion of War of the Worlds, and not SPielberg’s. This may confuse your readers into going to buy the Pendragon version that went straight to DVD, and if they do so, they will be sorely disappointed!

  • Andrew Ian Dodge

    LCSM has a different take on this movie.

  • Nicholas

    I guess if you were a big fan of the book you prolly won’t like the movie. I had never read the book (don’t really care too either). I’m guessing at least 90% of the audience who goes to see this movie won’t have read the book. 50% probably doesn’t even know there is a book version.

    If you’re going to see this movie because you liked the book, you probably shouldn’t.

  • Tim Sheppard

    The flick is more about childhood innocence and parental guilt than good science fiction: imagine the Brady Bunch Meets Ruthless Intergalactic Mayhem. It is typical Spielbergian tripe, complete with insultingly obvious plot movement and contrived attempted emotional crescendos. I give it one projectile vomiting episode out of four.

  • http://moggit hard to please

    I don’t think this movie will do Steven Spielberg’s reputation much harm, but it certainly won’t do it any good either. It’s the kind of movie that leaves you feeling empty. After all the hype and anticipation, I foumd this movie a big dissapointment. I really think the scrip should have been thrown away and have the actors say nothing,(HAA not that they say much anyway) then we can all use our own imagination to fill in the dialogue. The original movie may have been ok for 1952, in fact, I think it was pretty good for the time and far more convincing than this new version. It’s the little things in the latest War of the Worlds, like “1 million years of planning to invade Earth”…?? and as soon as they breath our air they start dropping like flies, err! not very bright, are they? After a million years they didn’t realise that germs here might be harmful to them? It might have been believable in 1952 but not now, and did I hear correctly, that these ships were already buried on Earth waiting for these aliens to jump start them with a few sparks of lightning? or did I fall asleep and miss something? What were they doing for 1 million years? Oh! I know, they fell asleep as well. The problem with most movie’s from hollywood, is their stories are oh so weak and unbelievible. They spend so much time and money making special effects and about 30 seconds writing the scrip. This movie is ok I suppose for the American market and the Americanised morons here in the UK who don’t have the brains to understand what good acting is, but for the rest of us who have more than air between our ears, This movie is just another load of American tripe.

  • dez

    Another opinion of the film from a non-U.S. point of view:

    where it was given a rating of 6/10.

  • Aaman

    Unless you have the URL wrong, couldn’t find any review. Also, please clarify that it is your own site, else one might get the wrong impression.

    Finally, please put URLs into links when you paste them, have changed the URL into a link for you now

  • Dave Nalle

    >>This movie is ok I suppose for the American market and the Americanised morons here in the UK who don’t have the brains to understand what good acting is, but for the rest of us who have more than air between our ears, This movie is just another load of American tripe.<< Bigoted much? I guess you’re not a reader, so you may not be aware that the movie is based on a novel by one of your most famous British novelists. And from what I understand the problems with the movie largely duplicate the problems of the book – specifically the remoteness of the characters and the meaninglessness of their efforts in the face of an alien foe whose power is completely overwhelming. This made the book depressing and unengaging apparently does the same to the movie, so perhaps the fault lies with Mr. Wells from merry old England. Dave

  • Andrew Ian Dodge

    Rather decent book…it would be nice to see it set where it is meant to be ie Victorian England.

  • HW Saxton

    Thank you for the most enlightening post
    (# 6)Mr./Ms. Hard To Please. Very good.
    It’s odd how we do not know what good
    acting is here on this side of the pond.
    Yet, somehow American Cinema seems to
    have set a standard by which filns from
    most other countries are judged.British
    cinema could never make that claim.Funny

    For every one great British actor you’d
    care to name,I could name you five more
    American actors. For every great British
    Director I can name 10 Americans.Even if
    I do hedge a bit and name some German
    imports like Billy Wilder. And so on and
    so on.

    Yeah,American Cinema is full of those no
    talent actors,writers,directors,editors,
    cinematographers(ya hear me Gregg Toland
    huh,ya hear me?)that we are always on
    the lookout for talent from elsewhere &
    anywhere but the United States. What was
    I thinking all this time, D’OH!!!!

    While there have been many great actors
    from the UK and the rest of the European
    continent as well there has never been a
    British actor that can exude tough guy
    cool like Lee Marvin or Robert Mitchum
    without even trying.

    Then again no Yank could carry off the
    works of Billy Shakespeare like Sir John
    Gielgud or Richard Burton could. Hard to
    see this field of the Arts as having any
    sort of an exclusivity regarding talent
    because of which side of the Atlantic
    you’re from.

    But,I’m just a rude close minded yankee
    what do I know.It’s strange that folks
    who love to bash the USA and call us all
    rude assholes are the ones who like to
    jump into comments on this blog site and
    without any provocation call names,start
    fights and flame for no apparent reason.
    Rude of me to point this out I know but,

  • Dave Nalle

    “Then again no Yank could carry off the
    works of Billy Shakespeare like Sir John Gielgud or Richard Burton could.”

    Yep, John Barrymore and John Carradine
    couldn’t hold a candle to those brits.


  • Hard to Please

    Wow, HW Saxton. I really have hit a nerve haven’t I? First of all let me apologise, it seems there are Americans who can put a sentence together with words of more than two syllables. Perhaps you should write speeches for your president. I really don’t want to upset you any more but honestly, putting Lee Marvin in the same context as Richard Burton, come on, you are joking! Yes there have been some Great American actors, Gregory Peck, William Holden and many more. There have also been some really good movies. The point I was trying to make is, all modern movies are made on a similar theme. All special effects and no dialogue, just a lot of shouting and screaming. Anyway, I stand my ground and say War of the Worlds has been over hyped and is not the great movie all the idiots say it is.

    A quick note for Dave Nalle.
    Perhaps no one told you that this book was written in 1898, when your oh so famous Wright brothers were still flapping their arms to see if they could fly. H.G.Wells had an amazing imagination for his time, and perhaps you should be grateful to merry old England because it’s English you speak and not Spanish or French. I only wish it had been one of these countries that had colonised North America. Then you could have made a mess of their language. hee hee, I can see George Bush trying to give a speech in Spanish or French, now that would make a good movie.

  • Temple Stark

    Cue comment of bilingual “ability” …

  • Nicholas

    “The point I was trying to make is, all modern movies are made on a similar theme. All special effects and no dialogue, just a lot of shouting and screaming.”

    You don’t watch a lot of movies do you? Life Aquatic and Napoleon Dynamite come to my mind immediately, but I bet there are a slew of other examples that fit the bill.

    WotW wasn’t over-hyped. It was advertised as exactly what it was. A special effects laden, summer action flick.

    Hard to Please, just because you’re a pretentious prick trying to escalate your own self worth by looking for something deeper in common entertainment doesn’t make the movie any less fun. And that IS what movies are about, having fun.

    I suggest you down a couple martinis and take a suppository to loosen up before you go see any of the movies you proclaim “just another load of American tripe”.

    Peace out. 😉

  • uao

    Not sure if George Bush ever gave a speech in Spanish, but Jeb Bush has, many times.

    I think Hard to Please raises some good points, and his synopsis of the film is hilarious; Hollywood films have never been as formulaic as they are now, this one being no exception. Tom Cruise is the robot actor king of formulaic films. When he starts taking daring roles like Johnny Depp, I’ll be impressed.

    American indie films aren’t what they were in the late 80’s-late 90’s; too many are made now with an eye towards Hollywood; but that’s still the place where you can still find American innovation.

  • Dave Nalle

    >>Then you could have made a mess of their language.< < Having spent a good portion of my life living in England and going to English schools I can safely say that the English mangle the language far more than Americans do. In fact, as I learned in one of my graduate linguistics class, American English is substantially closer to the way the language was spoken in the 18th century than the version spoken in England is. The dense population of the mother country has led to faster degredation and diversification of the language. >> hee hee, I can see George Bush trying to give a speech in Spanish or French, now that would make a good movie.<< I’ve seen him give a speech in Spanish when he was governor, and he did a reasonable job of it. Dave

  • Masculiste

    EASILY Tom Cruise’s finest performance bar none!

  • Steve S

    EASILY Tom Cruise’s finest performance bar none!

    Has he moved up to ‘Baldwin brother’ level?

  • hard to please

    I’ve never heard of or seen Life Aquatic and Napoleon Dynamite, but it’s interesting that you have. I had to look them up on the movie website. So these are the kind of movies you watch eh!

    It’s obvious I’m out of my depth here, so I’ll say hasta la vista baby, before you start rambling on about this being Americas Independence Day and start waving your flags.

  • Dave Nalle

    Good lord, where do you live that you haven’t heard of Napoleon Dynamite? The movie has already become part of teen pop culture, stupid though it is.


  • Victor Plenty

    Napoleon Dynamite rules!

    As for humans losing a War of the Worlds, what possible reason could anyone have for imagining any other outcome?

    Aliens invading the Earth have, by definition, the technology to travel through space in large numbers. Humans could have such technology; it wouldn’t be beyond our capabilities. But we haven’t actually built it yet. We’ve barely dipped our toe into the waters of the ocean between the worlds.

    It’s possible for very skilled authors to write a plausible story of humans winning an interplanetary war, but only if the aliens arrive with the most primitive technology level that still allows space travel. Niven and Pournelle’s Footfall manages this.

    All other recent attempts to show humans winning such a war (Signs, Independence Day, etc.) have been nothing short of utterly preposterous.

    In conclusion, Napoleon Dynamite rules!

  • Scott

    I liked it. There were moments of genuine terror, moments when i jumped in my seat. I think everyone owes it to themselves to see it in a movie theater with the best sound system you can find. The special effects are great and the movie itself is mostly great until they meet up with Tim Robbins and it kinda changes its pace. Not to say there aren’t any good parts after that point because there are, but it just starts to lose some steam. And the ending…yes, very abrupt. But I kinda prefer abrupt after some other Spielberg endings (“A.I.” comes to mind). I’m gonna give it a 3 1/2 out of 5.

  • Chris Kent

    It was abundantly clear in War of the Worlds that the film was helmed by a true master (Steven Spielberg). It was not what I expected, and I could see the director taking chances with scene composition, character reaction and dramatic viewpoint. This was no Independence Day. During the film’s first hour, I was terrified, awestruck, amazed and completely engrossed. I liked Tom Cruise’s acting. Fanning’s screaming didn’t bother me either (and in reality she would have screamed far more). Spielberg took on this precarious subject matter and decided to follow H.G. Wells’ novel. He told the story from the viewpoint of the protagonists only – and the movie was far more fascinating for it.

    I disliked the ending, but only because of the survival of the son. It uncomfortably smacked of Cruise’s miraculous survival at the end of The Last Samurai. I also thought the Tim Robbins sequence brought the film to a complete halt. But I could tell what Spielberg was trying to do during this segment as Robbins, digging animal-like into the ground, reverting back to the days when we once lived in caves. Cruise, framed by the doorway, slowly enters the room. He is not going to return to the ground. This is his planet, his son has just sacrificed himself for mankind, and hiding within a hole is not going to happen. Robbins’ character, in many ways, is more dangerous to mankind than the aliens. Thus, Cruise puts an end to this danger.

    I don’t think War of the Worlds has the depth of past Spielberg films, but it is an intensely realized version of what might happen if society was faced with such an event. It was utterly believable.

    Ebert’s review was surprisingly harsh and I think he entirely missed the mark – as he’s been known to do at times. As for this quote:

    I suppose for the American market and the Americanised morons here in the UK who don’t have the brains to understand what good acting is, but for the rest of us who have more than air between our ears, This movie is just another load of American tripe.

    ….well, it speaks for itself…..

  • Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    chris kent??? where you been man!!!??

  • Dr. Tristan, M.D.

    did anyone notice just how “coincidental” that “underwater volcano” near Iwo Jima was with the War of The Worlds release and how “similar” it was to the aliens’ giant tri-pods popping up from underground …??????

  • Matt Paprocki

    It actually bares a freaky resembalance to countless Godzilla flicks too.

  • Tony

    This movie rocked. <–period

  • RJ

    This movie is much like Tom Cruise these past few months. I major disappiontmet. I have never been a big fan of Cruise but have enjoyed his past movies. Maybe he should of talked with the scientoligist priest before making this. The movie really had no meaning and no plot. The young girl in the movie out shined Cruise.
    Of coarse this is just one mans view of the movie. I am sure there are many die hard Cruise fans who loved it.