War of the Worlds

Critics Consensus

Steven Spielberg's adaptation of War of the Worlds delivers on the thrill and paranoia of H.G. Wells' classic novel while impressively updating the action and effects for modern audiences.

75%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 260

42%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 32,518,946
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Movie Info

This is a contemporary retelling of H.G. Wells' seminal sci-fi classic. The adventure/thriller reveals humankind's extraordinary battle against an extra-terrestrial invasion fleet, as seen through the eyes of one American family. Located somewhere in the New England United States, the family -- like millions of others around the globe -- is forced to take refuge from the aliens' highly advanced weapons and impenetrable shields, which are unstoppable against anything that mankind can throw at them. Unable to fight back and finding it more and more difficult to remain hidden from the aliens, the human race faces the end of its existence.

Cast

Tom Cruise
as Ray Ferrier
Dakota Fanning
as Rachel Ferrier
Justin Chatwin
as Robbie Ferrier
Miranda Otto
as Mary Ann
Tim Robbins
as Harlan Ogilvy
Gene Barry
as Grandfather
Lenny Venito
as Manny the Mechanic
Lisa Ann Walter
as Bartender
Ann Robinson
as Grandmother
Roz Abrams
as Herself
Michael Brownlee
as TV Reporter
Camillia Sanes
as News Producer
Marlon Young
as News Cameraman
John Eddins
as News Van Driver
Peter Gerety
as Hatch Boss/Load Manager
David Harbour
as Dock Worker
Miguel Antonio Ferrer
as Brazilian Neighbor
January LaVoy
as Brazilian Neighbor's Wife
Stephen Gevedon
as Neighbor with Lawnmower
Marianni Ebert
as Hysterical Woman
Rafael Sadina
as Mechanic's Assistant
Amy Ryan
as Neighbor with Toddler
Morgan Freeman
as the Narrator, Narrator
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News & Interviews for War of the Worlds

Critic Reviews for War of the Worlds

All Critics (260) | Top Critics (50) | Fresh (195) | Rotten (65)

  • Spielberg's calculations turn out to be more prominent than any effects they could possibly produce, and the less pretentious 1953 version by producer George Pal emerges as more likable.

    Jun 8, 2007 | Full Review…
  • The film succeeds as pure sensation, an exacting distillation of fear.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
  • Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds is huge and scary, moving and funny-another capper to a career that seems like an unending succession of captivations.

    May 12, 2006
  • There likely won't be a more gripping film this year than Spielberg's War Of The Worlds, which at its best glides along like choreography with a camera, slowly parsing out information while shrouding the rest in shadow and suggestion.

    Sep 26, 2005

    Scott Tobias

    AV Club
    Top Critic
  • Overall, the film is too lacking in feeling to provide a recognizably human experience.

    Jul 14, 2005

    Andrew Sarris

    Observer
    Top Critic
  • It's a thrilling ride...[but] this bountiful pot of signifiers leaves a caustic aftertaste.

    Jul 7, 2005 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for War of the Worlds

  • May 03, 2017
    When one of the greatest filmmakers in history makes a science fiction film, which is one of his biggest strengths, you have no choice but to check it out. War of the Worlds is loosely based on the H.G. Wells novel of the same name, about a father and his children trying to cope with a global alien invasion. There have been so many of these alien invasion films over the years, so it's difficult for any of them to feel fresh and stick out to me. I think the one thing that separates this film from others is that Tom Cruise or any of the other actors aren't playing characters that fight the aliens, or "tripods" as they call them. It only makes up a matter of a few days following the first attack and the immediate aftermath. Because of that, Cruise is given more to do dramatically than per usual. He gets a few stunts and an action scene or two (because why wouldn't you take advantage of his talent) but it's much more about family than it is about anything else. In that regard, the film works most of the time. Cruise plays Ray Ferrier, father to both Rachel and Robbie. Not to intentionally quote another Cruise movie, but it's really (k)night and day with these kids. Dakota Fanning is perfectly cast as Rachel, a pre-teen who is terrified of the apocalyptic world she now lives in. However, I just couldn't get behind Justin Chatwin's performance and the character of Robbie. There were too many times in which I either felt the character was entirely unnecessary to the plot, or he kept the plot from moving forward in frustrating ways. Why does he all of a sudden feel the need to leave his family and join the Army's fight against the tripods? Makes no sense whatsoever. Unsurprisingly, Spielberg's visual flare is probably the film's biggest asset. Whether it's the endless amount of long takes, explosive and visceral alien action, or the impressive CGI and green screen work, War of the Worlds is a gorgeous film to look at. If every aspect of the film was as good as the visuals, this could have been quite the adaptation. Bottom line, I like everything visually and some of the performances very much, but the last 20 minutes is a bit of a letdown, as is the constant annoyance of the Robbie character. +Visuals +Dakota is magnificent -Annoying older brother 7.7/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Jun 26, 2016
    The special FX were good, the acting is quite okay but still, you can't go wrong with Spielberg except from Hook.
    Film C Super Reviewer
  • Apr 12, 2013
    The H.G. Wells classic War of the Worlds is remade yet again, this time by Steven Spielberg. Unfortunately Spielberg brings nothing to the table, offering no new insight or perspective on the material. The special effects and battle sequences are amazing, but the storytelling is weak and does a poor job at capturing the impact and tragedy of this epic tale of survival. The characters are also poorly written, and are rather unsympathetic. Dakota Fanning manages to deliver a strong performance, while Tom Cruise is serviceable. Though the action and special effects are impressive, Spielberg's War of the Worlds is a superficial film with no depth or meaning.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 30, 2012
    [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img] Wow, if there is one director who can deliver an epic scale popcorn movie. It's Spielberg. I think he is consistently at his best when he's delivering us these massive, overwhelming blockbusters that genuinely display his intricate skill for the camerawork, lighting and atmospherics, simply the best of Hollywood film making. I believe his adaptation of H.G Well's deeply profound novel is one of the most under rated film's of the 2000's. I dont really need to point out that this version changes a lot from it's source material. But I think that "War" is a partly unfilmable book. In my opinion, the real genius in what made the book work in literal terms cannot be faithfully replicated onto the screen. There's a whole lot of underlying politics in the paranoid obsessive book. But there's an incredible amount of awe inspiring spectacle that touches your imagination too. In the film there's a lot of the monumentally captivating flare and a little bit of the deeper meanings, the thing that's made fans of the novel rant on how much they hate this film is the change in setting, among countless other things. For film fans it's dismissed for the apparant "cop out" ending. But that's how it's supposed to end. For cinema, that ending for a lot of people doesn't work but the focus on action doesn't work for hardcore fanatics of the source. Now personally, I saw some real darkness in that ending, resultingly, Spielberg delivered a solid, action packed, light hearted popcorn flick but also stayed faithful to the novel in some fashion. He successfully positioned this disaster epic on the fine line of appreciating the complexities of the novel but also gave us a return to sci fi- horror B movie form. For that, hats off to him and his writers. Terrfying aliens, an under stated performance by lead Tom Cruise who is as engaging as ever, a good script, it's cut to the chase, easy well polished fun. Putting the annoying Hollywood cliches and moments of poor storytelling aside, I am a proud fan of the new War of the Worlds.
    Directors C Super Reviewer

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