War of the Worlds (2005 film)

War of the Worlds (2005 film)

:Otheruses3|The War of the Worlds (film)Infobox Film
name = War of the Worlds

caption =
director = Steven Spielberg
producer = Kathleen Kennedy
writer = H. G. Wells (novel)
Josh Friedman
David Koepp
narrator = Morgan Freeman
starring = Tom Cruise
Dakota Fanning
Miranda Otto
Justin Chatwin
Tim Robbins
music = John Williams
cinematography = Janusz Kaminski
editing = Michael Kahn
distributor = USA Theatrical
Any USA DVD reissues 2006- (see below)
Paramount Pictures
2005 USA DVD:
DreamWorks SKG
Non-USA Theatrical:
Paramount through
United International Pictures
released = June 29 2005
runtime = 118 min.
country = United States
language = English
budget = $132 million
gross = $591.7 million
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website = http://www.waroftheworlds.com/
amg_id = 1:312948
imdb_id = 0407304

"War of the Worlds" is a 2005 science fiction disaster film based on H. G. Wells' original novel starring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Josh Friedman and David Koepp. It was released on June 29, 2005.

It is one of four film adaptations of the novel, preceded by two straight-to-video versions released in the same year and the original 1953 film version.


"War of the Worlds" draws elements not only from the H. G. Wells novel, but also the 1938 radio play and the 1953 film. Hence, to place this film in proper historical context as an adaptation requires some knowledge of all three previous incarnations of Wells' story.

As in the original novel, which takes place in and around London, the narrative is told from the point of view of civilians caught up in the conflict. Whereas the novel portrayed the experience of a solitary British journalist late in the 19th century, "War of the Worlds" is, according to Spielberg, purported to show the war "through the eyes of one American family fighting to survive it". It is set in the early 21st century, and as in the radio play begins in New Jersey. Part of the movie was filmed in the Newark, New Jersey Ironbound District. The scene in which the alien first appears from the hole in the ground was shot on Ferry Street. Filming in Newark was reportedly cancelled due to the noisy environment and prospect of storefront owners losing business from the closed off set. Main parts of the film was shot in Bayonne, New Jersey, with the Bayonne Bridge being destroyed.


The story opens with Newark, New Jersey dock worker Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) finishing the third shift in the morning. His ex-wife Mary Anne (Miranda Otto) and her new wealthy husband Tim (David Alan Basche) drop off Ray's 10-year-old daughter Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and teenage son Robbie (Justin Chatwin) at Ray's house. They are staying with him in Bayonne, New Jersey, while Tim and Mary Anne visit her parents in Boston for the weekend. Rachel suffers from a panic disorder, and Robbie harbors resentment and outright disrespect towards his father. Later that day, Ray wakes up from a nap to discover that Robbie has stolen his car and left .

Ray sets out to find him, but is immediately distracted by a strange wall cloud. It begins to unleash electromagnetic pulses in the nearby area, disabling all of the working electronic devices in the area, including cars, leaving everyone stranded. Ray finds Robbie, and tells him to take care of Rachel while he goes to look at a hole in the ground that Robbie mentioned. Travelling past, he advises a mechanic to replace the solenoid of a light blue Plymouth Voyager he is repairing. Ray and many other people find a mysteriously cold hole from which a large Tripod machine emerges and begins to vaporize human beings and buildings in its path. The Tripods also seize some people, imprisoning them in metal cages located where the legs join the main fuselage. Ray manages to escape and returns to his house. After packing food, Ray and his kids abandon their home and steal the only operating vehicle in town, due to his advice of changing the solenoid in the van.

They drive to Tim's large house, and take refuge in the basement for the night. During the night, a tripod destroys a large airliner that crashes into the development, demolishing many of the houses. In the morning, Ray has a brief conversation with a small news team, who show video footage to Ray of the lightning in the previous "storm". In slow-motion, it can be seen what they believe to be a pod, with the aliens "riding" down the lightning into the ground where the Tripod machines were buried. The woman believes the Tripods were buried in the earth since before the rise of humanity. After hearing a nearby Tripod, the news crew escapes, while Ray struggles with Rachel's panic hindering their attempts to flee the area. Eventually, a frustrated Ray tells her to look only at his face and nowhere else in order not to see the carnage from what happened during the night. As the family drives towards Boston, a bathroom stop results in another panic attack in Rachel when she sees bodies floating in a river.

As the family continues toward Boston, they are passed by a convoy from the Army. Robbie begs them to allow him to fight, but is ignored until Ray confronts him. Later, Ray asks him to drive the van in order to sleep a little. In the evening, their van is seized by a mob, the family only escaping because Ray had a small revolver. After losing the pistol, Ray and his children are forced to give up the van, and continue on foot. They reach a Hudson River ferry in Athens, New York, but as three Tripods appear over the horizon, evasion proves futile as a fourth hiding underwater capsizes the ferry. Ray, Robbie, and Rachel escape and swim to safety, while other refugees are captured or killed. They escape as they see the town of Athens being destroyed.

Later, they come across American military forces somewhere in Massachusetts, trying to keep the Tripods back but ultimately fruitless effort as the alien machines are protected by force-fields. Although their weapons are ineffective, the Marines (played by real Marines from 1st Marine Division [cite news|url=http://www.mcnews.info/mcnewsinfo/marines/2005/20053RD/onliberty/marinesbattle.shtml|title=Marines Battle Extraterrestrials in Hollywood|last=Sgt Goff|first=James S.|date=July - September 2005 |work=Marines Magazine|publisher=Headquarters Marine Corps Public Affairs|accessdate=2008-07-26] ) delay its advance so the refugees can escape. Robbie attempts to join the battle, and Ray reluctantly lets him go in order to save Rachel from being taken away by a married couple nearby, who see her waiting alone by a tree, and think she is alone, so therefore worry for her safety. In the ensuing chaos an enormous firebomb erupts, wiping out many of the Marines. Robbie is separated from Ray and Rachel, and they assume he is dead.

Immediately following the battle, Ray and Rachel are offered shelter in a basement by a man named Harlan Ogilvy (Tim Robbins), who lost his family to the Tripods. The invaders settle close to the house where the trio is hiding and tensions start to emerge between Ogilvy, who wants to strike back at the aliens, and Ray, who is preoccupied with his own safety and that of his daughter. Ray wants to hide until the invaders move off to a different area. Meanwhile the invaders begin spreading a strange "red weed", which appears to be a mysterious plant fertilized with the blood of harvested humans. Ogilvy begins to exhibit signs of mental stress. Later that night, a Tripod probe invades the basement, where the three manage to escape detection. A small contingent of aliens then enters and explore the house, even examining photographs of their human prey while Ray struggles to stop Ogilvy from attacking the aliens, until a siren emitted by the Tripod summons them to return. Ogilvy cracks mentally after witnessing one of the Tripods harvesting blood and tissues from a helpless human victim. Ray, concerned that the commotion Ogilvy is creating might draw the attention of the invaders to himself and his daughter, makes the decision to murder Ogilvy and thereby silence him. The pair then fall asleep but are awakened as another probe enters the basement and sights Rachel. Ray attacks the probe with an axe (as an obvious visual stand-in for the recent murder of Ogilvy) and the probe retreats, while Rachel flees the house.

Ray attempts to find Rachel, but is attacked by a Tripod. As he attempts to find safety in a truck which the tripod tosses upside down, Ray spots his daughter standing on the ground harsh and screaming as the Tripod approaches her. As Ray escapes, the Tripod captures Rachel and begins to ignore him, leading him to harass it with some hand grenades he finds nearby. The shield protects the Tripod, which immediately captures Ray and deposits him in a metal cage with many other refugees and a traumatized Rachel. A closed chute above the cage releases a mechanical arm which periodically grabs a human. It then pulls the human within the body to be violently processed, to which Ray insists on valiantly fighting. When it grabs Ray, the others fight to save him, and after pulling him from within the interior of the Tripod, he reveals that he left two grenades. They detonate inside the Tripod, destroying it and dropping the cage safely to the ground.

After they are freed, Ray and his daughter continue to move towards Boston. It is there that they find that all the "red weed" is dying, along with other Tripods. This is because they are suffering from terrestrial diseases, which they have no resistance to, as they are from another planet and where they would not have encountered such diseases. After observing birds are flying near and landing on one still-living Tripod, he realizes that the shields are no longer active, and advises a group of soldiers who are trying to lead refugees to safety, who attack the tripod with several Javelin missile launchers and a Carl Gustav, successfully toppling a Tripod to the ground, which disgorges a revolting cargo of blood-colored liquid and the dying alien invaders within. With the threat over, Ray finally brings Rachel to Mary Anne and Tim at her parent's house, where she has been waiting for them. Robbie shows up a few moments afterwards. The movie closes with Mary Anne thanking her ex-husband for saving their family.


* Ray Ferrier: Knowing that the character was to be played by Tom Cruise, writer David Koepp intentionally wrote Ray as the opposite of the type of confident characters Tom has played. The back-story that Koepp designed is that Ray's life has not turned out as he had hoped (often citing Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" as a basis). Ray is divorced with two kids, who do not give him their respect as a father. Ray's self-absorbed personality is challenged when the aliens invade, as he has to put it aside to keep his children safe.
* Robbie Ferrier: Ray's rebellious teenage son. He often scoffs at his father's attempts at parenting, which becomes a problem when Ray tries to take control when fleeing the alien menace, such as often remarking that they should help the Army.
* Rachel Ferrier: Ray's 10-year-old daughter. She is intelligent and independent, but stubborn, claustrophobic and understandably terrified by the events depicted in the film.
* Harlan Ogilvy: Little is known about Ogilvy other than that he had a wife and child who were presumably killed by the invaders, which unhinged Ogilvy's mind. He seems to draw inspiration about life, especially during the alien occupation, from his time as a paramedic. He is eventually murdered by Ray, because Ogilvy might attract the aliens due to his continual ranting about attacking the aliens. Harlan Ogilvy's surname is derived from the astronomer who first saw the Martians coming in their rocket-propelled space capsules in the original novel.
* Mary Ann: Ray's ex-wife and the mother of Robbie and Rachel. She has remarried, to Tim (whose baby she is expecting), and the kids respect Tim more than they do Ray. Mary Ann and Tim leave the kids in Ray's care while they visit her parents in Boston, and much of the movie's plot concerns Ray's attempts to reunite Robbie and Rachel with their mother.
* Tim: Mary Ann's new husband. He is wealthy, and Robbie and Rachel seem to consider him to be their father, not Ray.
* Manny: A mechanic who fixes a van after the electromagnetic pulse strike. Ray tries to convince Manny to escape with him in the van, but Manny is unconvinced of the impending danger. Moments later, Manny is killed by a Heat-Ray.
* Evangeline: A businesswoman who is with a friend in the cages. She helps save Ray and escapes with everyone when the cage falls and the Tripod is destroyed.
* Invaders: Extraterrestrials who invade Earth. Their physical appearance is trisymmetric, which is reflected in their technology. Beyond those obvious details, little is revealed about the aliens, including their world of origin, and most of the information concerning them in the film is speculative. While Koepp has provided some minor details of their back-story in the script and in interviews, they remain largely enigmatic. Among the details provided in voice-overs included with the DVD release of the film, are that they were intended to be perceived by the viewer as highly intelligent and curious.


The film was produced by Cruise/Wagner Productions, Amblin Entertainment, DreamWorks SKG, and Paramount Pictures.

Quotes from Spielberg

On the web site Dark Horizons, [http://www.darkhorizons.com/news05/warworlds.php/ On-Set Interview: Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg] Spielberg described his preferences for long takes in special effect-heavy movies: :"I'm more interested in concept shots and money shots than I am in tons of MTV coverage, which certainly takes a lot of time. But if I can put something on the screen that is sustained where you get to study it and you get to say, 'How did they do that?' That's happening before my eyes and the shot's not over yet, it's still going and it's still going and my God, it's an effects shot and it's lasting seemingly forever. I enjoy that more than creating illusion with sixteen different camera angles, where no shot lasts longer than six seconds on the screen. To pull a rabbit out of a hat, because you are really a smart audience and you're in the fastest media, the fastest growing new media today and you know the difference between sleight of hand visually and the real thing. I think what makes "War of the Worlds", at least the version that we're making, really exciting, is you get to really see what's happening. There's not a lot of visual tricks. We tell it like it is, we show it to you, and we put you inside the experience."

He described the story as follows::"It's nothing you can really describe. The whole thing is very experiential. The point of view is very personal — everybody, I think, in the world will be able to relate to the point of view, because it's about a family trying to survive and stay together, and they're surrounded by the most epically horrendous events you could possibly imagine."

At the world premiere in Tokyo, Spielberg said he was proud to bring it to Japan, referring to Japanese monster movies including Gamera and Godzilla, and explained the first tripod is killed in Osaka because "Osaka has a lot of experience [with monsters] ." [ cite news
title=Time is ripe for 'War of the Worlds': Spielberg


In August 2004, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the film was "poised to make history in Hollywood as the most expensive film ever made — surpassing "Titanic"'s $198 million budget." The report stated that "so far rumors are pushing the "Worlds" budget well beyond that figure". [cite news|title=Movie Mojo|last=Longino|first=Bob|coauthors=Eleanor Ringel Gillespie|date=August 20, 2004|publisher= "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"|pages=2C|accessdate=2008-06-01] "The New York Times", the original source for this number, ran a correction a few days later that the budget is actually $132 million. Fact|date=September 2007


* Tom Cruise — Ray Ferrier
* Dakota Fanning — Rachel Ferrier
* Justin Chatwin — Robbie Ferrier
* Miranda Otto — Mary Ann
* Tim Robbins — Harlan Ogilvy
* Rick Gonzalez — Vincent
* Yul Vazquez — Julio
* Lenny Venito — Manny
* David Alan Basche — Tim
* Lisa Ann Walter — Cheryl
* Ann Robinson — Grandmother
* Gene Barry — Grandfather
* Roz Abrams — Herself
* Morgan Freeman — The Narrator

Critical reaction

The film garnered a positive box office response, [ [http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=waroftheworlds.htm Box Office Information] on "Boxofficemojo"] with reviews being generally positive. As of August 8, 2008 Rotten Tomatoes had the movie rated as 73% fresh. [ [http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/war_of_the_worlds/ 230 Reviews] on "Rotten Tomatoes"] Overall reviews have praised the film for its special effects and the direction of Steven Spielberg, but have criticized the film for putative gaps in the logic, and holes and inconsistencies in the story line. Some critics such as Glenn Whip (LA Daily News) and Bruce Westbrook (Houston Chronicle) consider the film a near masterpiece. [ [http://u.dailynews.com/Stories/0,1413,211~24684~2942487,00.html Review by Glenn Whip] on "LA Daily News"] [ [http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ae/movies/reviews/3244603.html Review by Bruce Westbrook] on "Houston Chronicle"]

Critic James Berardinelli gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, he wrote in his review: "…War of the Worlds may not stand up well to careful inspection and it may not be the smartest science fiction film brought to the screen (although, when considering movies such as the like-themed Independence Day, it's far from the dumbest), but it is an intense, visceral experience." [ [http://www.reelviews.net/movies/w/war_worlds.html Review by James Berardinelli] on "Reel Views"]

Some thought otherwise, Critic Roger Ebert gave the film 2 out of 4 stars and regarded it: "...a big, clunky movie containing some sensational sights but lacking the zest and joyous energy we expect from Steven Spielberg." [ [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050628/REVIEWS/50606007/1023 Review by Roger Ebert] on "Chicago Sun-Times"]

Critic Isabela Boscov from Veja, Brazil's main weekly magazine, noted that the film was modeled after the taste of the United States' post-9/11 audience by downplaying the original notion of the stronger civilization subjugating the weaker one and the moral questioning of that, as H. G. Wells had intended when writing during the height of the British Empire domination. Instead, she wrote, Spielberg tried to demonstrate that conservative values, such as family, can withstand any evil. She otherwise praised the film for its realism. [ [http://veja.abril.com.br/060705/p_102.html] ]

Criticism and controversy

Tom Cruise, Scientology and the film

Press coverage in May and June 2005 leading up to the film's release focused on Tom Cruise's proselytizing for Scientology. Around this time, Cruise had changed publicists, from Pat Kingsley to his sister, Lee Anne DeVette, and spoke to interviewers more frequently about Scientology — and his sudden engagement to actress Katie Holmes — than about the film itself.Some press coverage noted [ [http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?c_id=100&ObjectID=10328889 NZ Herald - The Latest New Zealand, World, Business, Sport and Entertainment News ] ] the similarity between the film's promotional poster and the front cover of "The Invaders Plan" (volume one of "Mission Earth") by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. This similarity is not singular to the film, however, as the image of a hand grasping the Earth is a recurring one in science-fiction: it was used, for example, for the 1975 film "Rollerball". Moreover, the image used to promote it is very similar to the image that was often used in advertising Paramount's "War of the Worlds" TV series during its first season.

Press coverage and anti-piracy controversy

The press preview of the film raised severe criticism, since every journalist who wanted to take a preview of "War of the Worlds" before it premiered had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This NDA stated that the undersigned could not publish a review of the film before its worldwide release on June 29, 2005. Many people have argued that the film might not have been able to catch up with the great expectations that might have been postulated by such reviewers.

Furthermore, at the New York premiere of the film at the Ziegfeld Theatre, all members of the press were required to check all electronic equipment — including cellular phones — at the door, as part of a larger sweeping anti-piracy campaign by the film's producers hoping to keep the film from leaking on the Internet.

Among other efforts to curb piracy, the producers also prevented theaters from screening the film at midnight the night of June 29, despite the recent success of midnight screenings of such films as "". The producers also chose not to screen the film in any DLP-equipped theaters.

Box office

Despite the controversies detailed above, "War of the Worlds" received positive reviews and made an impressive box-office performance. As of November 22, 2005, (the last day it was at the box office) it has earned $234.3 million domestically and $357.1 million overseas, making the total $591.4 million. It is the 4th highest grossing movie of 2005 (after ', ' and "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire").

Spielberg has not seen such a massive success since "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) — another Paramount/DreamWorks co-production — and the $100-million "Minority Report" (2002) — his first collaboration with Cruise — earned a reasonable $132 million. In the case of Cruise (whose 43rd birthday coincided with the movie's release), "War of the Worlds" is the biggest blockbuster of his career, since the film opened its first weekend with $65 million (which is a record-high for Paramount Pictures), beating ""'s nearly $58 million (also from Paramount). By July 31, it had surpassed "Mission: Impossible II" in terms of total domestic box office receipts, a film that earned $215.4 million.


* The bicycle being investigated by the three aliens in the scene in Ogilvy's basement resembles the one used in Steven Spielberg's previous film, "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial", by Elliot and E.T, to escape the government. It even has the basket in which E.T. rode.

*Species 8472 from Star Trek: Voyager, is another example of a tripedal alien.

Awards and nominations

;2006 Academy AwardsThree nominations:
* Achievement in Sound
* Achievement in Sound Editing
* Achievement in Visual Effects

;Central Ohio Film Critics
* Best Sound Design

;M.P.S.E. Golden Reel Awards
* Best Sound Editing in Feature Film - Sound Effects & Foley

;2005 Visual Effects Society AwardsThree Wins:
* Best Single Visual Effect of the Year (Fleeing the neighborhood)
* Best Models and Miniatures in a Motion Picture
* Best Compositing in a Motion Picture

;2005 Golden Raspberry AwardsOne nomination:
* Worst Actor (Tom Cruise)

DVD special features

*Revisiting the Invasion: Introduction with Steven Spielberg
*The H. G. Wells Legacy
*Production Diary: Part I — Filming on the East Coast
*Production Diary: Part II — Filming on the West Coast
*Designing the Enemy: Tripods and Aliens

See also

* Red weed
* Tripod
* Heat-Ray


External links

* [http://www.waroftheworlds.com/ Official Site]
* [http://www.waroftheworldsfilm.com/ The War of the Worlds Movie Site] — Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise
* [http://www.war-ofthe-worlds.co.uk/war_of_the_worlds_spielberg.htm/ War Of The Worlds Invasion] — Review and movie image gallery, plus many other War Of The Worlds movies.
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1171975,00.html Guardian Unlimited: Spielberg and Cruise plan new War of Worlds]
* [http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/waroftheworlds/ First teaser trailer]
* [http://www.mstrmnd.com/wotw.html War of the Worlds Examined] A study of the film's unusual uses of mirrors/that the machines are actually 'War Gods' humans inadvertently worship/centrality of Rachel's color patterns.
* [http://romanticmovies.about.com/od/waroftheworlds/a/warworld022305.htm/ Interview with Doug Chiang and Rick Carter, designers on the film]
* [http://www.latinoreview.com/films_2005/paramount/wotw/featurette.html/ Behind the scenes featurette on the film]
* [http://www.dreamworksfansite.com/waroftheworlds/images_official.php/DreamWorks Fansite's new images from War of the Worlds]
* [http://www.waroftheworldsmovies.info/ War of the Worlds Movies.info]
* [http://www.oregonherald.com/reviews/mark-sells/reviews/waroftheworlds.html Movie Review] — Mark Sells, "The Oregon Herald"

Box Office Leaders USA
before = Batman Begins
date = July 3
year = 2005
after = Fantastic Four

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