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War of the Worlds

Title: War of the Worlds

Director: Steven Spielberg

Stars: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Miranda Otto, Tim Robbins

Reviewer: Matt Eccles

Rating (out of 10): 5


When the man who is possibly the most naturally gifted director of his generation teamed up with one of Hollywood’s biggest stars for Minority Report in 2002, the result was an intriguing, astute and impressive take on one of Philip K. Dick’s innovative short stories.

Hopes were high, then, when Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise combined their talents again for this adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi novel. The optimism seems to be justified by the first 30 minutes or so of this film, with its thick sense of foreboding giving way to a tremendously terrifying set-piece when the tripods emerge from underground and begin their carnage.

Unfortunately, Spielberg loses his form after that, settling for what is essentially a family’s point-of-view chase movie crammed with clunky, face-slappingly obvious references both to his previous films and the tragedies of 9/11.

Much like the original 1950’s B-movie, War Of The Worlds here is adapted as a contemporary allegory about an assault on humankind by a formidable and techologically-savvy enemy. However, as virtuosic as Spielberg undoubtedly is, here he seems to be trying too hard, and the film doesn’t seem to favour well when compared to the sort of straight-laced, heady, breathless storytelling that Spielberg can surely do better than anyone on Earth.

Technically, it is as impressive as expected, and all the performances are fine, with Dakota Fanning again showcasing her prodigious talent. Yet, for all the expertise involved, War Of The Worlds still feels far less than the sum of its parts, let down as it is by its ill-judged portentousness.

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