For what it wanted, the entertainment was delivered, albeit with more than a few unintentional chuckles along the way.
Based on the historically famous writings of H.G. Wells, the earth is invaded by endless hordes of tripod shaped alien machines bent on consuming the planet of its resources. A single father not fully accustomed to having his kids rely on him will have to protect his family from the sudden invasion at all costs as he tries to return them to their mother safely.
This film, regardless of its many flaws was a great adventure with a fast pace and solid cast performances that make the overall package a fun time in front of the screen. Yes the script has many subtle and some not-so-subtle conveniences that make you raise your eyebrow a few times but it does not hinder the fun. The script quickly sets the scene then gets right into the action and does manage to keep you on the edge of your seat.
There are all the massive action-sequences and explosions you would expect from a summer blockbuster as well as the insurmountable chaos and catastrophe expected from a world being taken over by alien beings. Throughout the Cruise-filled action shots of running from impending doom on more than one occasion, and the constant screaming of a young Dakota Fanning, there is enough of a story-line (regardless of its plot holes) to keep you intrigued on the final outcome of the small family fleeing for their lives. Yes you can see how the film will end before it happens but the enjoyment is still plentiful.
The cast was great for the most part, Cruise certainly delivered a convincing performance, easily pulling off the physical requirements of the role as well as hitting the certain dramatic and comedic moments as well. Young Dakota Fanning was relatively enjoyable in her performance, her biggest hindrance being the material she was given to work with. Too many times I wanted to turn the volume down as she screams at seemingly every obstacle the story throws at them. Sure it fit for some moments, but for the most part it was not needed and only made you cringe, like fingernails across a chalkboard, rather than the intended pulse raising suspense.
Tim Robbins was fun to see in his role, delivering a great performance… despite it feeling completely out of place in the flow of the script, and clearly forced to the emotional punch. If the writers wanted to show the lengths of which Cruise’s character will go to save his daughter then they could have chosen many other ways to do so that would have fit better into the flow of the story-line. Thus, while Robbins’ portrayal was fun, it felt like it was in the wrong film.
There is never a doubt this film will end how it does, and while the theme of the movie is more serious in tone, the clear intention of this film was to be a wildly adventurous science-fiction tale with the Orson Welles radio script merely serving as the idea. For that aspect, the over-the-top chaos-sequences and far from ambitious family saga in this film serve up just enough meat to provide for a decent turn-your-brain-off night with a movie.
Time: 116 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For frightening sequences of sci-fi violence and disturbing images)