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(Review originally written at 19 November 2005)

This movie had huge potential. Everything to make this a science-fiction classic masterpiece were present; Spielberg's directing, a great concept, ILM special effects, Tom Cruise as the main character and lots of other professionals involved both in front and behind the cameras. Then where did it go wrong? The answer to that is the script. The story is very simple and lacks a real clear plot line. Basically the movie is only about Tom Cruise and his two children running and driving from city to city, from the aliens and their destructive Tripod-machines. Exactly why are we, out of all the people, following these persons? The character development is lacking, just as much as the story does. Both lack development and depth.

Of course the movie is by no means an horrible movie but it's just that the movie is a bit disappointing because of the fact that it had so much more potential. It still is a good and certainly spectacular movie to watch but it's not a movie people will still talk about in 5 or 10 years from now. The story makes this movie a bit of an easily forgettable movie that doesn't leave an huge impression afterward, even though the movie itself is pure eye-candy to watch.

There is no doubt about it that Spielberg is a great director. He directs his actors in this movie very well and everyone in the movie gives an amazing performance, especially Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning. Tom Cruise for once again doesn't play the action hero. He is an average Joe instead and I think he did this in a very good and convincing. Spielberg also uses the special effects very well. He doesn't use the special effects to impress the audience as much as possible, with lots of spectacular and action filled sequences, which he could had easily had done, he uses them as a tool to tell the story with instead. The movie is purely told from Tom Cruise and his family's perspective, because of this the movie gets a very realistic feeling. We don't get to see any close-ups of the Tripods and how they destroy entire cities and fight off the American army. I like this approach. It makes "War of the Worlds" different from many other alien-invasion movies. It because of this certainly is one of the most believable and realistic alien-invasion movies, along with "Signs".

Visually there also is absolutely nothing wrong with this movie. The special effects from ILM are very impressive and look extremely convincing. The cinematography by Janusz Kaminski is also simply phenomenal at times and is typically gritty, which certainly adds to the tense and realistic atmosphere of the movie.

Unlike others, to me the ending didn't came really abrupt. But perhaps this was because to me the ending was already spoiled, thanks to the movie it's soundtrack, which featured the final narration of Morgan Freeman explaining how the movie ended. So I already knew what to expect. To be perfectly honest I liked the ending and I couldn't think of any other, or better way to end this movie, without losing any of its realism and credibility. I can understand how it might seem lame and sudden to most though but for me it was satisfying enough.

It certainly is a movie that will receive one or two, most likely, technical Acedemy Awards. And it deserves to. There isn't an awful lot wrong with this movie but it truly is the simple story that prevents this movie from being a classic or masterpiece. I still regard this movie as one of the must sees of 2005 simply because of the movie its look and acting. You can tell by watching this movie that there was lots of talent involved, both in front and behind the cameras. Especially Spielberg's touch still makes this movie better than just the average alien-invasion movie but still not even he can prevent this movie from being a bit of a disappointment. Not his or anybody else his/her fault, simply blame it on the script.

7/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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