While Tom Cruise films are slowly dwindling down these days, there’s not a soul around that hasn’t seen one of his blockbusters, and I’m sure plenty have a favorite. For me, that has always been a difficult choice, as he’s played a part in so many franchises and explosive films throughout the years. That being said, as I was going through my reviews, I was surprised to find that I’ve never reviewed War of the Worlds. This movie was so much fun the first time I watched it 11 years ago that I couldn’t help but wonder if it still holds up after a decade. Let’s get into it.
War of the Worlds stars Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier, the father of two kids, but an otherwise typical male. On one of his visitation weekends with the kids, a storm comes around that precedes a global alien invasion. Ray has to protect his children to prove that he is still a good father in the midst of something that can only be described as armageddon. Their fate, as well as the fate of the human race is at stake…who will make it?
It’s pretty funny watching this after so many years. I watch movies so often that sometimes I pick up on what does and doesn’t work for the film. For instance, this is a huge, epically enticing alien invasion story – but the human aspect of it isn’t fully developed. You have a big family just trying to survive, but the depth of their characters is severely lacking, something that is easy to notice when the initiating crisis happens 15 minutes in, and then it’s just non-stop action there on out. Instead, the reason why you care so much for their survival is because one, it’s Tom Cruise, and two – there is a young child involved. In the end, that’s really the two things that keep you specifically caring about their characters. In the long run, if this family didn’t even exist in the film, it would still begin and end exactly the same, making their characters ultimately useless. So, I see this as a general survival movie that needs to focus on…somebody, so they randomly picked this family…not that it ever mattered…and that’s a pretty substantial fault.
The rest of the movie, however, I had no problem with. In its most basic form, this is a very fun, electric movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat. There is always something happening in this movie that, if you’re a first-time watcher, forces your jaw to drop. Truthfully, this is an awe-inspiring visual masterpiece – and I guarantee a big part of that is Steven Spielberg. How many alien invasion movies have we had? How many alien movies has Spielberg made alone? How can you see so many of these movies that present similar concepts and still feel like War of the Worlds is still incredibly original to this day? Is it because of H.G. Wells or is it due to Spielberg’s unique vision when it comes to the spectacular? It may be a mixture of both, but no matter how much the human aspect is lacking, I can’t deny how wonderful the movie is apart from that.
I can’t tell you that this is my favorite Tom Cruise movie, even after all his great running sequences. His character is just too entirely pointless in the big picture. He plays a great dad, and as much as alien invasions bring families together, I think the elements that you’ll remember the most from the film is simply the edge-of-your-seat destruction, mayhem, and altogether suspenseful scenes that never give up…which just means it’s a fun movie without any real soul…and that’s okay.
What did you think of War of the Worlds?