in about 100 words or less
US 116m, Colour
Director: Steven Spielberg; Cast: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Miranda Otto, Tim Robbins
Under Spielberg’s direction this 2005 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds becomes a family drama about a divorced father who has weekend custody of his kids when the earth is invaded by aliens. Despite the frightening special visual and sound effects, and some credible performances, the deadbeat-dad’s struggle with his annoying kids is another example of a lazy script which encourages annoyingly stereotypical children’s roles. Even the film’s potentially dramatic ending is undermined by cheesy narration which simply gives away the demise of the aliens – before the entire family is… [gasp] happily re-united [argh] (Klaus Ming January 2012).