In a lot of ways I believe that today is the true golden age of science fiction films. Not only are great new works like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind available, but Hollywood is revisiting old classics like this one.
This film, War of the Worlds is a remake of the 1953 story of the same name, based on the H.G. Wells book of the same name. Despite all that repetition, this film delivers what the previous incarnation couldn’t, but the changes in story make a number of oddball plot holes that need to be ignored if one is to enjoy this film.
I don’t want to get too far into the plethora of problems with the updates version of story, as it might act as a spoiler to the film. However, the big question that persists in my mind was “when did they bury the tripods?” In the film, the aliens are transported to their killing platforms, called “tripods” by lightning. However, that just begs the question, when were they put there? Why weren’t they detected when the subways were built, how did they know they would need shields, and how did they know where the major cities would be?
If you can get past this major point, you’ll enjoy this film. Spielberg puts forth a classic work of science fiction in a way the filmmakers of 1953 could only dream. The death ray, the aliens, the carnage, all are incredible. This is a great looking film, and the special effects are on par with any movie out there.
One of the more notable points in the movie is when the main character, Ray Ferrier, is walking with a large group of refugees when they stop at a railroad crossing that is signaling that a train is coming. Then the train crosses the screen, it’s on fire, the whole car. This glimpse of devastation (we get plenty) is rather poignant, and it ended up being rather humorous. It was a very powerful scene; it showed the total desperation in the faces of those that were taking on the mental pressure of knowing that they were being exterminated.