Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin
Director: Steven Spielberg
Running Time: 116 mins
War Of The Worlds is an American film about a family who fight for survival after a brutal alien invasion of Earth commences.
H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds is an all-time classic of science fiction, but arguably sparked a century of generic alien invasion movies. So, for this film to not only bring a refreshing new vision to the genre, but also prove one of the best alien invasion films ever made, is nothing short of remarkable.
With War Of The Worlds, director Steven Spielberg delivers a spectacular sci-fi thrill ride, with staggering visual effects and exhilarating action, but most of all a gripping and emotionally devastating story.
I can’t remember the last time I saw a film as terrifying and traumatising as War Of The Worlds. A powerfully effective vision of the apocalypse, Spielberg brings to life the real horror of an alien invasion, leaving the humans of Earth as mere ants to the extraterrestrial aggressors.
It harks back to Orson Welles’ infamous 1938 radio adaptation of the story, which was so realistic that listeners mistook it for the news. While the 1953 film is a little too flimsy for today’s tastes, Spielberg’s adaptation gives you a sense of the fear that listeners must have felt when they believed Welles’ broadcast was real.
While Spielberg may be best known for his family-friendly blockbusters, War Of The Worlds is further proof of the director’s incredible range, blending his enormous talent for mind-blowing cinematic action and much darker, more challenging drama.
In tandem with powerfully bleak cinematography and an ominous score, War Of The Worlds proves an unrelentingly dark watch, following Tom Cruise and his two children as they desperately battle for survival in what is surely a vain attempt to fight against the aliens.
That emotional resonance is what really makes this film so powerful, and rather than spending time at the centre of the fight against the aliens, as you might see in the likes of Independence Day, War Of The Worlds keeps you in the dark, on the fringes of the terror that seems to be sweeping across the world.
They say that your mind is able to come up with much scarier images than anything you could see on screen, and that’s what War Of The Worlds uses to tell such a terrifying story. On the one hand, the immediate peril of trying to survive is frightening, but the not knowing when, how or even if this invasion will end.
From start to finish, War Of The Worlds is an absolute masterpiece, and without doubt one of Steven Spielberg’s very best films. Dark, scary and even traumatising it may be, but it’s a staggering reinvention of one of sci-fi cinema’s most well-trodden stories, giving you a rare sense of what it is to be really, truly scared. So, that’s why I’m giving War Of The Worlds an 8.9 overall.