I don't quite know what I expected from this movie. I am a big fan of Spielberg and have, like most people, seen the majority of his films (although I missed out on The Terminal).
Where do I start?
In short, War of the Worlds is, I suppose by it's nature, a dark movie. There are no light moments or rather, these are so overshadowed by the seriousness of the material that you don't really remember them.
I have to say that nothing quite matched the thrill of the first set piece, where the aliens invade. It is truly jaw-dropping, in the same vein (if not as horrific) as the beach invasion at the start of Saving Private Ryan. Tom Cruise demonstrates that age is definitely an advantage when it comes to the quality of his acting. He really is convincing in the title role of Spielberg's typical "Average Joe" character - think Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and you'll know what I'm talking about.
Funnily enough, this movie was quite reminiscent of Close Encounters. I would even go on to describe it as the observse to that movie. Whereas Close Encounters was relatively light/reverantial towards aliens, War of the Worlds portrays them (as per the book) in a nighmarish manner. Similarly, the scene where the probe looks for the humans in the confines of the shack, brought to my mind at least, the scene in Jurassic Park where the dinosaurs were scouting out the kitchen.
I wouldn't call War of the Worlds entertaining. Saying that, It is thrilling in places and Cruise is very believable (I really related to him as he strove to maintain his composure whilst driving the car at the same time as having to deal with his hysterical daughter, sat in the back seat), so it's definitely worth a look.
This is Spielberg at his darkest. Go see, but don't take the kids because you'll regret it - it's not for them.
My Rating (out of 5)