In 1938, during The Great Depression, future filmmaker, Orson Welles, (Citizen Kane) was working for a radio program based on H.G. Wells’ novel “The War Of The Worlds.” Many families tuned in their radios (this was before Television was introduced) to know what was going on in the world or listen to some jazzy tunes. Several individuals tuned in for Welles’ broadcast unaware it was all make believe, many listeners begin to flip out, thinking that the planet is about to become an apocalyptic holocaust. CBS Radio confirmed the entire program was entirely fictional. This event became one of the most infamous mass panics in the history of entertainment.
Two decades later, a film adaptation based on the book was released in 1953. It was a critical and box office success. At the time of its release, the film reflected The Cold War and nuclear weapons similar to the original 1954 version of “Godzilla.” I have to admit, I’ve never seen the original 1953 version of War Of The Worlds. Five Decades later, filmmaker, Steven Spielberg finished production on his film, “Minority Report” with Tom Cruise. (One of my favorite actors) They discussed on which film should be their next project. Steven mentioned to Tom that he wants him to star in a remake of War Of The Worlds. Tom said yes, but he had to put the project on hold due to a busy schedule filming “The Last Samurai” & “Collateral.”
Between 2003 and 2005, Mr. Spielberg once again reunited with David Koepp (who wrote the screenplays for Jurassic Park, Carlito’s Way, Mission Impossible, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man) to write the script. Tom & Steven approved Mr. Koepp’s script. Thus, filming began immediately. After weeks of filming, editing, marketing etc. the remake was released in 2005, the same year as Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” came out. War Of The Worlds became a critical and box office success. During a public appearance on Oprah to promote the film, Tom declared his love to Katie Holmes by jumping on Oprah’s couch. I think the infamous couch jump for Tom earned him a Razzie for his performance in the movie was the cause of this. Sort of a Butterfly Effect scenario whenever something happens like a dinosaur egg being stomped by a time traveler from the future, when he returns to his own time, his world drastically changes.
With the announcement of Steven’s upcoming film, “Ready Player One” and Tom’s future installment the “Mission Impossible” series coming out in 2018, I thought about watching War Of The Worlds in response to the news.
This article contains no SPOILERS. You’re allowed to read all about it.
Positive & Negative Elements
Positive: Tom Cruise did a fantastic job as a vulnerable father, allowing Mr. Cruise to play against type or not being typecasted as an Action Hero since “Top Gun” was his first action movie prior to the Mission Impossible franchise.
Tim Robbins also did a great job as a crazed survivalist.
The Best Line in this movie is “Not my Blood!”
Action Sequences are intense, its not about fighting, its all about survival, every man or woman for his or herself.
Cinematography wasn’t all that shaky throughout the film.
John Williams orchestrated the soundtrack.
I’m not gonna lie, SpongeBob appears on a TV screen.
One character sings The Beach Boys song, “My Little Deuce Coupe.” The Beach Boys contributed to the song “Kokomo” for another Tom Cruise film called, “Cocktail.”
Ray yells out, “Rachel!” Katie Holmes, (who was married to Cruise at the time) played Bruce Wayne/Batman’s love interest, Rachel Dawes in “Batman Begins” with The Caped Crusader screaming Rachel out loud. Both films came out the same year. It’s probably a coincidence
Special Effects look alright, and they look impressive bringing the aliens and tripods to life.
The designs for The Aliens & Tripods look decent. I gotta love the war cry it makes before it obliterates humanity.
The Opening Scene starts strong with The Narrator voiced by Morgan Freeman. Tom & Morgan later worked in “Oblivion.”
Morgan Freeman & Tim Robbins participated in this movie. It is the closest thing to “The Shawshank Redemption” reunion.
The film manages to parallel commentary on real world events such as 9/11, because the aliens represent Al Quada while mankind represent victims of the fateful terrorist attack trying to stay alive as possible. Alien Invasion in this movie is also a metaphor for the aliens as terrorists invading and wreaking havoc.
Rachel asks Ray, what the capital of Australia is, Ray claims that he and his brother know everything and he also mentions his brother knows the capital of Australia. Possibly an in-joke to Tom Cruise’s Oscar winning film, Rain Man, when he and Dustin Hoffman’s characters mentioned Quantas. (an airport located in Australia)
A Pause Worthy moment of an action figure of Emperor Pilaf, the very first villain of the “Dragon Ball” manga/anime series. Justin Chatwin went on to star in that god awful film adaptation of “Dragon Ball Evolution.” I’m never gonna psychologically recover from that aforementioned stinker.
David Koepp’s script is a hit and miss.
The Climax in the film is a David VS. Goliath scenario, this time it’s Man VS. Alien.
Negative: Dakota Fanning constantly screams throughout the movie. I know it’s a survival film, but do we need every scene with her screaming during a heart pumping chase scene? It’s as if Black Canary (Green Arrow’s love interest) has succumbed to Capshaw’s Disease! Dang it Steven, what is it with you having a fetish for annoying characters who excessively scream a lot, besides your thing for spotlights!? Sorry Dakota, I’ll have to Double Down points for your performance, because the worst stock character in my opinion, is “The Annoying Idiot!” Why did one of my favorite actresses turned into an obnoxious buffoon? It’s not entirely Dakota’s fault, I blame Steven & David.
Besides Fanning’s annoying performance, I hated Justin Chatwin as Robbie, who is Ray’s incompetent son with daddy issues. He’s a moron who wants to fight aliens, but he has no combat experience. Nobody does that in real life! He alongside Fanning are the worst. I’ll Double Down the points again due to the fact that he’s also an annoying idiot! It’s not entirely Justin’s fault.
The Ending involving one character who somehow survives a massive alien attack.
When the family enters a cafe, a woman at first appears in a booth behind them, one cut later, she disappears. Did Nightcrawler from “X-Men” teleported her away off-screen? Filmmaking 101, always check your numbers before you approve The Final Cut, and next time reshoot the scene if an element is missing.
One character stares at a Tripod without running for her life. Guess who?
The Final Verdict: B-
From my perspective, War Of The Worlds is average. Despite a few problems, I’ve actually enjoyed The First Act, 9/11 used as a metaphor for the alien invasion, action scenes and Tom Cruise’s performance as a father trying to protect his kids. I nearly got disappointed if it weren’t for all the positive elements surrounding the entire story listed above. If you haven’t seen the remake, go ahead and give it a shot.
3 thoughts on “Flashback Review: War Of The Worlds (2005)”
Honestly the 53 version of War of the Worlds wasn’t sci-fi. It was a monster movie. I think I saw it once in 1997/1998 but I do have it on VHS. It’s among one of the cheapest tapes I have EVER bought in my entire life (only 25 cents!)
25 Cents? That’s a bargain!
Cruise and Spielberg make a good match. I think I prefer this to the original- the ominous sound the tripods make shook me to my core on first viewing. The sense of panic is brilliantly captured.