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"War Of The Worlds"
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TITLE : War Of The Worlds
DIRECTOR : Steven Spielberg

Tom Cruise, Miranda Otto, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins, Justin Chatwin

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War of the Worlds is the seminal science fiction classic about alien invasion. H G Wells’ novel was published in 1898, dramatised on radio in 1938 by Orson Welles in a programme that caused widespread panic, filmed once before in 1953, made into a top-selling “rock musical” recording in 1976 and the forerunner of numerous similarly-themed books and films, not the least of which is 1996’s Independence Day which borrowed heavily from some of its ideas.

Now with Steven Spielberg’s new movie comes what must be the ideal marriage of novel and director. With his Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. Spielberg gave us passive aliens who instilled a sense of wonder. Not so with the invaders of Wells’ classic tale whose sole purpose is to wipe us out.

Spielberg expertly builds the tension in the opening passages of his contemporary re-telling of the story. Dockworker, Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) returns home to find his ex-wife, Mary-Anne (Miranda Otto), her new husband and Ray’s kids, Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and teenager, Robbie (Justin Chatwin), who - much to their discontent - are spending a weekend with Ray. Ray, it becomes clear, is no prize as a father…but he’s about to be put to the test.

A curious looking “storm”, “lightning” that is unaccompanied by thunder and the sudden breakdown of everything electrical send the townspeople, including Ray, out into the street searching for answers. The eruption of that street, the towering, menacing tripod that emerges from it and the horrific death and destruction it wreaks in seconds is a heart-pounding sequence that is arguably the movie’s most terrifying.

Panicked, frightened and covered in what appears to be dust - but is actually something more grisly - Ray returns home, packs the kids into a car and heads for Boston where Mary-Ann has gone to visit her parents. He soon discovers that the monolithic machines are spread across the planet and that humankind’s time on it finally seems to be up. As the family travels across the country through a demolished landscape that is literally turning red with death, the people’s panic turns to rage and the seemingly unstoppable machines continue to eradicate all signs of life.

As always, Spielberg delivers some mind-blowing set pieces and suspense during the family’s terror trip, not least of which is a close encounter of the creepiest kind with the inhabitants of the machines during a brief stopover in the cellar of a crazed man called Ogilvy (Tim Robbins) who puts their lives in jeopardy.

Moviegoers familiar with the 1953 movie might pick up on some references in Spielberg’s film - and watch out for the grandfather and grandmother at the end; they are played by the original movie’s stars, Gene Barry and Ann Robinson.
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H.G. Wells' The War Of The Worlds [DVD](2005) DVD
Faithful adaptation of H.G. Wells' classic 1898 novel returns the setting to Victorian England where a band of turn-of-the-century resistance fighters do battle against an invading Martian armada bent on destroying humanity. Anthony Piana, Jack Clay, James Lathrop star. 180 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo; theatrical trailer; photo gallery; biography.

H.G. Wells' The War Of The Worlds: The Real Story [DVD](2005) DVD
Since its debut in 1898, H.G. Wells' tale of interplanetary invaders landing on Earth has thrilled audiences around the globe in print, on radio and TV, and in the movies. The documentary "The War of the Worlds: 100 Years of Terror" traces the story's history, from the panic caused by Orson Welles' 1938 radio broadcast to the 1953 drive-in fave and the 2005 Steven Spielberg blockbuster, while "Mars: 100 Years of Discovery" looks at the science behind the fiction and the latest facts about the Red Planet. 134 min. total on two discs. Soundtrack: English.

War Of The Worlds [DVD](2005) DVD
Contemporary retelling of H.G. Wells' sci-fi classic about a race of aliens who invade Earth follows a loving father as he is separated from his family when the otherworldly lifeforms attack. Determined to be reunited with his loved ones, he struggles to find a weapon that could stop the extraterrestrial terror. C. Thomas Howell, Peter Greene, Jake Busey star. 83 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital 5.1; audio commentary; deleted scenes; featurettes; outtakes.

War Of The Worlds [VHS](1953) VHS
H.G. Wells' timeless tale of a Martian invasion of Earth is vividly brought to the screen in this classic film. Gene Barry and Anne Robinson star as Mankind tries to defend itself against the Martians' incredible flying machines and death ray; produced by George Pal. 85 min.

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