*** 1/2 / ****
Dir: Steven Spielberg
2005 Color English 116 Min
Rated PG-13 for frightening sequences of sci-fi violence and disturbing images.
Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) is a bad dad. He neglects his children and is more interested in his car than his son Robbie(Justin Chatwin). The kids are in town this weekend and Ray is mad that Robbie has taken off in his car and his daughter Rachel (Dakota Fanning) is alone in the house. Before he can do anything, a series of bizarre lightning strikes occur – similar to ones that have been happening all around the world. Before Ray knows what is going on, there is an EMP pulse frying all the electronics. The next thing Ray knows, he is on the run from alien invaders who are turning the neighbors into ashes.
Steven Spielberg’s take on the H.G. Wells novel of the same name is full of his trademark seat of the pants excitement and amazing special effects. My favorite part of this movie is that so much is taken from the Wells novel (The alien machine design, the red plant life, Tim Robbin’s character) that to me it is more of a faithful adaptation of a book I’ve always enjoyed. Less campy and in a ways less dated than the ’50s version (despite the obligatory nod to current events with lines like “Is it the terrorists?”), I’d say this movie was perfect up until the end.
For some reason, the scenes of Ray and his daughter being chased and captured by the machines jumps into a scene of Ray and Rachel meandering through Boston. That’s quite a lot of ground to cover. They could have at least spent a minute or two on a montage. The result just jarred me and kept me thinking about what the heck are they doing through the rest of the movie.
Another thing I didn’t care for was the role of Robbie. I am not sure if it was the actor or the way it was written, but it could have been so much better.
At any rate, I really enjoyed it!