Dakota Fanning, War of the Worlds
Credit: War of the Worlds: Frank Masi

Aliens are attacking Earth! And they’ve knocked out all electrical and battery-operated machinery as part of their dastardly plan. And yet, there’s some dude videotaping the whole thing on his camcorder. Hmm… Such nonsensical elements prove more maddening than any extraterrestrial in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. (Especially when the E.T.’s can’t decide whether they’re supposed to be zapping people or drinking their blood.) Yes, there are visually stunning spectacles, but there’s no substance behind the style, and an abrupt ending, while faithful to Wells, is laughably anticlimactic. In one of several mildly engaging EXTRAS on the production and Wells’ legacy, screenwriter David Koepp discusses his list of destruction- movie clichés he was intent on avoiding (like famous landmarks being blown up). Evidently, multiple shots of masses of people standing still while staring up at their impending doom, the token crazy survivalist guy in an underground bunker (poor Tim Robbins), and an impossibly happy reunion ending were nowhere on that list.

War of the Worlds
  • Movie
  • 117 minutes