War of the Worlds
|War of the Worlds is a 2005 American science fiction film adaptation of H. G. Wells’ novel of the same name, directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Josh Friedman and David Koepp. It is one of three film adaptations of War of the Worlds released that year, alongside The Asylum’s version and Pendragon Pictures’ version. It stars Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier, a divorced dock worker estranged from his children (Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin) and living separately from them. As his ex-wife drops their children off for him to look after for a few days, the planet is invaded by aliens (loosely based on H. G. Wells’ Martians) driving Tripods and the earth’s armies are defeated, and Ray tries to protect his children and flee to Boston to rejoin his ex-wife.
War of the Worlds marks Spielberg and Cruise’s second collaboration, after the 2002 film Minority Report. The film was shot in 73 days, using five different sound stages as well as locations at Connecticut, Staten Island, California, Virginia, and New Jersey. The film was surrounded by a secrecy campaign so few details would be leaked before its release. Tie-in promotions were made with several companies, including Hitachi. The film was released in United States on 29 June and in United Kingdom on 1 July. The film generally received positive reviews, and attained a 74 percent “fresh” rating on the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 250 reviews. War of the Worlds was also a box office success, and was 2005’s fourth most successful film both domestically, with $234 million in North America, and worldwide, with $591 million overall.
The film begins with Morgan Freeman’s voice explaining on how mankind is so busy with their own concerns that they fail to notice they are being watched by aliens with superior intellects and sinister intentions. On a cold winter day in the present day, Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) a dock worker residing in Bayonne, New Jersey, is visited by his ex-wife, Mary Ann (Miranda Otto), who drops off their children, Rachel (Dakota Fanning) and Robbie (Justin Chatwin), at his house as she is going to Boston to meet with her parents. Meanwhile a series of unexplainable lightning storms hits Ukraine, later hitting other parts of the world. While Ray sleeps, Robbie takes Ray’s car out of the house without his permission. When Ray wakes up, he goes out to search for his son, and notices a strange wall cloud, which starts to send out electromagnetic pulses in the form of lightning in the nearby area, which disables all working electronic devices in the area, including cars, forcing Robbie to come back to Ray’s home. Ray then leaves to investigate, along the way telling Manny, the local mechanic, to replace the solenoid on a dead car.Ray finds a rock from the hole that, instead of being hot, is freezing. Where lighting struck, a hole has appeared in the ground from which a massive machine that appears to be humped-shaped, standing on three long legs appears. After emerging, the Tripod opens fire with destructive heat-rays, vaporizing bystanders and destroying everything in its path. Ray manages to escape and return to his house, then packs up his kids and leaves. He steals the vehicle Manny repaired and leaves as the tripod destroys the town around them.
Ray drives to Mary Ann’s and her new husband’s house to take refuge in the basement that night. The next morning he discovers that the tripods have caused a Boeing 747 to crash into the houses. He meets a small news team searching the wreckage, who show him footage of Tripods destroying other cities and tell him that aliens apparently “rode” down the lightning into the ground where the Tripods were located, showing that they have been preparing this invasion for a long time. Ray flees to join with Mary in Boston. While driving along NY 385, they are witnesses to a slew of bodies being carried in a river. Robbie, obsessed with joining the fight against the hostile aliens, tries to leave with the U.S. military, but Ray and Rachel stop him. They are then forced to leave their car after a mob attacks them in order to take the vehicle, and survive a Tripod attack while navigating the Hudson River on a ferry, which is later capsized by another alien Machine under water.
The family then encounters the military preparing to mount an attack on the Tripods and slow down their advance on a hill top. Upon seeing Robbie’s determination to join the fight, Ray lets him go with the military and goes to stop a couple who were carrying Rachel away. As Ray retrieves Rachel, the tripods overwhelm the military and begin to open fire on the refugees. The tripods are revealed to be protected by some kind of energy shield that makes them completely invulnerable to all forms of attack. While escaping from the tripods, Ray and Rachel are offered shelter and protection by a stranger, Harlan Ogilvy (Tim Robbins), who vows revenge on the aliens after his family was killed upon their arrival. He plans to begin a resistance against the aliens, believing that more and more waves of Tripods are on their way. While hiding in Harlan’s basement, they witness the Tripods spreading a strange red weed substance over the ground, and avoid detection by both a metallic snake-like probe and four aliens who arrive to explore the basement, although Ogilvy shows his desire to kill one of the aliens. They use a mirror to fool the probe by hiding behind it. The following morning, Ogilvy suffers a mental breakdown after witnessing a Tripod harvesting blood and tissue from a human to fertilize the weed. Concerned that Ogilvy’s yelling and ranting will attract the Tripods, Ray kills Ogilvy to silence him. Ray and Rachel’s hideout is exposed however when another probe catches them while they sleep. Ray cripples the probe using an axe, but Rachel is so scared she flees the house, eventually being caught by a Tripod.
While pursuing the Tripod, Ray finds several hand grenades in a destroyed Humvee and detonates one of them to attract the Tripod’s attention, intending to be captured to try to rescue Rachel. After Ray is captured and put into a basket with Rachel and several other prisoners, the aliens try to pull Ray inside the Tripod to be used as fertilizer for the red weed, but the other prisoners manage to pull him back out of the Tripod. The grenades left by Ray inside the Tripod’s cabin then detonate, causing the Tripod to collapse and freeing all the captives.
Soon afterward, Ray and Rachel arrive in Boston, where they notice the red weeds are starting to dry up and die, and the Tripods appear to be dying also. They witness a Tripod acting strangely, struggling to keep balance and taking little notice of the soldiers and refugees. Ray notices a cluster of birds are circling and landing on the hood of the machine, indicating the Tripod’s force fields are no longer functioning. Ray alerts nearby soldiers by yelling “Look at the goddamn birds!” who attack and destroy the Tripod with two FGM-148 Javelins and a Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, leaving it crashing through a factory and onto the ground. Approaching the downed Tripod, a hatch opens, revealing an alien pilot that lets out a final growl and dies. Ray and Rachel reach Mary Ann’s parents’ house and find her and, to their surprise, Robbie, who has somehow survived the attack on the hilltop. As the camera zooms back to overview the wrecked city and downed Tripods, the film ends with Freeman saying, “From the moment the invaders arrived, breathed our air, ate and drank, they were doomed. They were undone, destroyed, after all of man’s weapons and devices had failed, by the tiniest creatures that God in his wisdom put upon this earth. By the toll of a billion deaths, man had earned his immunity, his right to survive among this planet’s infinite organisms. And that right is ours against all challenges. For neither do men live nor die in vain.”