Bottom Line: One of the better extra-terrestrial studies in years.
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins, Tom Cruise
It’s rewarding to see director Steven Spielberg return to the alien studies for which we know him best. His earlier films CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND and E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL were classic (and much less intense), but seeing him revisit such a marvelous concept is phenomenal. The running up satisfier about this adrenaline-heavy thriller is that it is not merely an adaptation of H.G. Wells’s classic novel; it is a 21st century twist, narrated reverently by Morgan Freeman. It was also one of three versions of the story in 2005 (!), all remakes of the 1953 film THE WAR OF THE WORLDS.
Tom Cruise and child actress Dakota Fanning are the stars of the show here. Cruise’s character, the father of Fanning’s character, is a fair reminder of his roles in RAIN MAN and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, in one blended personality. He’s just one of those angry, selfish people, but he also has a darkly humorous side, mockingly joking about how the extra-terrestrial invasion (which is never revealed to be an attack from Mars) is just a storm/terrorists—he never seems to decide which one. Fanning, on the other hand, is clearly and constantly freaked out of her mind. Even at only around six or seven years old, her character is consistent, well-performed, and believable, compulsively screeching when she’s told not to and repeating the word “terrorists” over and over. If there was ever a child stuck in a disaster of such, Dakota Fanning’s character would be the ideal image.
Anyone who has not seen this already, I’d recommend it. It’s a loud but engrossing blend of such genres as science fiction, action, and thriller, with subtle touches of comedy. I would try to name how fast my heart rate went while I was watching this; however, this was so stunning, that I couldn’t move my hand to feel my heart. A true jaw-dropper and a very pleasant surprise.