An ordinary man has to protect his children against alien invaders in this science fiction thriller, freely adapted from the classic story by H.G. Wells. Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) is a dockworker living in New Jersey, divorced from his first wife Mary Ann (Miranda Otto) and estranged from his two children Rachel and Robbie (Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin), of whom he has custody on weekends. On one such visitation, looking after the kids becomes a little more difficult when, after a series of strange lighting storms hit his neighborhood, Ray discovers that a fleet of death-ray robotic spaceships have emerged nearby, part of the first wave of an all-out alien invasion of the Earth. Transporting his children from New York to Boston in an attempt to find safety at Mary Ann's parents' house, Ray must learn to become the protector and provider he never was in marriage. Also starring Tim Robbins, War of the Worlds was directed by Steven Spielberg, who had been planning the project for years, but set it aside until a wave of "alien invasion" films (led by Independence Day) had run its course.~Mark Deming
Revisiting the invasion
The H.G. Wells legacy
Steven Spielberg and the original War of the Worlds
What Spielberg, Cruise, and Koepp accomplish here in the first two acts is nothing short of revolutionary. They've made a big-budget summer blockbuster about massive destruction and action that manages to studiously avoid every cliché and expectation of such films. It stays resolutely on the characters' points of view, showing us almost nothing they don't see, even to the point of coming tantalizingly close to a raging battle, then avoiding showing it. It keeps its focus on character instead of spectacle. The "hero" of the piece remains decidedly unheroic, wanting only to escape, and trying to talk others out of fighting back. The purpose of every piece of action is to frighten and disturb rather than thrill, making ingenious use of familiar 9/11 imagery. At the end of the second act, it is hands-down the best alien invasion film ever made, and perhaps one of the best sci-films of all time.
Then something strange happens. The filmmakers lose their nerve, and remember that this is an extremely expensive summer film financed by two studios. Or perhaps it was the fact that it stars Tom Cruise, who up to this point has spent almost two hours doing nothing but run for his life. Suddenly, and tragically, the film changes, violating not only its carefully established tone, but its own internal logic. Suddenly, Cruise begins to act like a hero, and summer action clichés force their way into the story like a worm into an apple. The transition is jarring, and it creates a serious disconnect from the story.
While it's true that Wells' original ending creates a problem for a movie, here they try to remain faithful to it, while still shoehorning moments of triumph into the conclusion. Unfortunately, these moments come off as alternately false, unbelievable, and meaningless, since it isn't mankind that defeats the invaders in the end.
Is it recommendable? Well, I suppose that depends on what kind of viewer you are. If you feel that 75% brilliant material overshadows the 25% that falls apart, then you'll enjoy it. If, however, you're the kind of viewer who feels that the final impression a movie makes is its ultimate stamp on your memory, you may be in for a crushing disappointment. On the other hand, if you're the kind of viewer who just likes the cliché of the boom-boom summer action spectacle, you're likely to be bored and frustrated with the first two acts, and only engage in the end. It is confused about what audience it's trying to reach, and consequently, isn't likely to satisfy any of them.
This review is for the 4K Steelbook version of War of the Worlds. I won't review the actual movie, except to say that since I purchased it, it must be pretty entertaining, which it is. Instead, I will focus on the product itself. I have ordered many steelbooks from Best Buy and have always had positive experiences, both with the actual item as well as Best Buy's ordering process. This time was no different. The steelbook arrived as scheduled and the packaging was undamaged. The steelbook itself was undented, with no scratches or scuffs. Being a collector of steelbooks, this is very important to me. Also, the artwork on both the outer cover of the steelbook as well as the inside of the case is really cool. As for the 4K transfer of the film, aside from a few scenes of natural graininess, this is a very crisp and vibrant transfer. Definitely a step up from the regular bluray version. I would highly recommend this 4K version of War of the Worlds.
This is the best I ever seen this movie and the audio alone is definitely worth buying the disc for. Playing in Dolby vision and atmos. I know the video is not as clean as today movies as this movie was originally filmed in 35mm. So it has that grainy look on it but with Dolby vision it’s looks way better then the blu ray and I’m watching it on a lg oled. I’m very happy with this and recommended it.
Excellent and phenomenal native 4K disc! Compared to the standard blu-ray disc that is also included in this combo pack (the same blu-ray that was released previously in 2010), the color depth is greatly improved and Dolby Vision elevates it even further. Black levels are excellent and improves on depth without sacrificing fine object detail.
The 4K disc also comes loaded with different subtitles option:
English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Swedish, Thai
There are no special features/extras on the 4K disc itself, but are provided on the standard blu-ray disc, which includes:
-Revisiting the Invasion (7:39)
-The H.G. Wells Legacy (6:34)
-Steven Spielberg and the Original "War of the Worlds" (8:00)
-Characters: The Family Unit (13:22)
-Production Diaries (4 parts):
1. East Coast - Beginning (22:30)
2. East Coast - Exile (19:39)
3. West Coast - Destruction (27:29)
4. West Coast - War (22:20)
-Designing the Enemy: Tripods and Aliens (14:07)
-Scoring 'War of the Worlds' (11:57)
-We Are Not Alone (3:14)
-Four still galleries:
1. Sketches by Costume Designer Joanna Johnston
2. Production Stills
3. Behind the Scenes
4. Production Sketches
-War of the Worlds trailer (1:59)
If you're a fan of this film and already own the blu-ray disc, I still highly recommend upgrading to 4K!
It had been a while since I'd seen this version, but it's every bit as entertaining as I remember, and has never looked or sounded better than the 4K presentation here. There's a few really eye-popping shots that are made all the better by the upscale. Would have liked some new art for the steel, but it's awesome we even got a re-release at all!