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War of the Worlds

They're Already Here. 

Year: 2005 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from War of the Worlds

With such excellent source material, Steven Spielberg's adaptation of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds risked suffering by comparison. Thankfully he has pulled it out of the bag once more and created another instant classic.

The plot concerns an alien invasion, but with a twist. For one, the aliens don't come in spaceships from the stars, they are already here, biding their time and waiting to attack. And attack they do but not before a chilling Morgan Freeman voice-over that sets the scene and our introduction to "regular guy" Ray Ferrier (Cruise) who is looking after his kids for the weekend: chirpy 10-year-old Rachel (Fanning) and sullen teenager Robbie (Chatwin). From then on it is a race for survival as Ray (Cruise) attempts to get his family to safety.

The special effects are brilliant: from the wacky weather that heralds the aliens' arrival through the scenes of mind numbing destruction to the terrifying tripods that are used to exterminate mankind. It is all done so well that it will probably be rewarded at the Oscars early next year. Dialogue is snappy and laced with humour. The script itself makes several changes to the original, shifting the location from England to the US amongst other things, but keeps enough of the key elements to retain the distinctive feel.

Cruise puts in a solid performance as the lead and does more than enough to hold the film together. However, it is Fanning who once again steals the show. For her age, she is simply amazing. Other faces to look out for are the disturbed Ogilvy (Tim Robbins) and Ray's ex- wife Mary Ann (Miranda Otto) but they get little screen time to impress. It is all about the Cruise-Fanning dynamic, which works marvellously.

In short, this was probably the biggest blockbuster of the summer and deserves to be seen as intended, on the big screen.

James Kopka

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Screenings of this film:

2005/2006 Autumn Term (35mm)
2005/2006 Autumn Term (35mm)