Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Nominee #9 - War of The Worlds (2005)
In the midst of a massive, dooming alien invasion, one family struggles to survive against all odds.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Josh Friedman (screenplay), David Koepp (screenplay)
Stars: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins
Steven Spielberg brings this H G Wells classic to mind-numbing life on screen for 21st century audiences. That opening scene alone, with the howling entrance of an alien invasion (from below) warns us that this is no smoke and mirrors threat. The sheer inescapability of the giant ungainly tentacles stretching across streets, hauling people off the ground, emptying their blood - takes alien invasion fantasy to another level.
This is no half-hearted exploratory mission. It’s a full scale invasion. Families torn apart, only some re-united; this is a story of much loss.
The sheer inescapability of the giant ungainly tentacles stretching across streets, hauling people off the ground, emptying their blood - takes alien invasion fantasy to another level.
Tom Cruise stars as the middle class divorced parent who is desperate to save his children from what is almost certain destruction. Dakota Fanning plays his daughter. Tim Robbins plays the quirky (and unhinged) outsider defiant against the face of annihilation.
Stunning special effects effectively capture the mayhem unleashed by the malevolent aliens. Memorable moments include the first emergence of the tripods, the fearsome attack on the Hudson River ferry, the wreckage of a crashed airline, a train in flames, the alien probe seeking out humans hidden in the basement, the abduction of the daughter and the suicidal intent of the father who lets himself be taken up by the probe just so he can save his daughter.
Amidst all the death and destruction (as well as the sprinting, shrieking and hiding by the main characters) is the parallel story of a father trying (often unsuccessfully) to reconnect with his children, to gain their respect and set right some wrongs.
In the imagery and treatment of some scenes, there are also certain subtle and not-so-subtle references to the awful events of the September 11 terrorist attacks. And that is why, in the end, this is a film about a fantasy alien invasion with all too-real parallels.
The film won Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.