It’s not very often that a trailer puts me off a film I had previously wanted to see, but the trailers for War of the Worlds managed it for me. “Another Tom Cruise film”, thought I, “that’s taken a perfectly good storyline and twisted into brainless hollywood fare.”
Actually, that summary isn’t too bad – this film is all about Tom Cruise’s character (Ray), who has custody of his kids the very weekend the Martians choose to invade. Except that it was never clear they came from Mars. And they utterly trashed the previously chilling opening paragraph. But I digress.
So Ray, an almost entirely odious man, decides the answer is to travel to Boston, where his ex is visiting her parents, and the film is basically him and his kids narrowly escaping death for 90 minutes of screen-time – usually by shafting someone else who’s got in the way. I suppose all due respect to TC for playing someone so unlikeable.
Sure sure – the special effects were pretty well seemless. Yeah yeah, Tom Cruise does “man on the edge” without breaking a sweat – but the ending is hugely anti-climatic: what sort of film suddenly (literally in 1 minute of screen time) from “absolutely no hope – it’s the end of world” to “oh hang on – actually we’ve beaten the rotters after all”, and has to explain the ending with a voice-over as the credits roll?
So while it paints a pretty realistic doomsday scenario, and doesn’t pull too many punches in terms of dispatching people, I’m afraid it just didn’t hit the spot for me.