Another review borrowed from jmaddy.com. I think this is a most interesting review in the sense that the response to Tom Cruise has grown worse and worse since the film came off. I even praised Tom Cruise's ability
My main concern going into this film was that I've seen it before and I'm not talking about the 1950s movie or the famous 1930s radio broadcast. I was thinking more in this case of the 1997 summer blockbuster hit Independence Day, and while a film being a remake doesn't automatically drive me away, I really couldn't see where this movie could go that its predecessors hadn't already explored.
Independence Day, after all, was a scientifically updated version with state-of-the-art special effects, and it's not like science has gotten THAT much more modern in the last 8 years...I was proved wrong. With Independence Day, director Roland Emmerich managed to recreate H.G. Wells' original "World" vision into a modern epic by showing us things on a truly global scale (he also showed his talent for globally scaled drama in 2004's Day After Tomorrow). War of the Worlds, on the other hand, tells the same story from the point-of-view of a single family's journey through the crisis.
The film's genius lies in how little he wavers from that vision. It's uncompromising in leaving the questions unanswered that this plot naturally lends itself to being asked (such as "what are these aliens doing here?", "where did they come from?", etc.). As a result, we went through the movie experiencing and learning about the danger at the same time the characters were. The effect was so pervasive it feels more than anything else like a 2-hour roller coaster ride, no doubt enhanced by Spielberg's deft camera- work, which for the first time since Jaws reminding us of his unrivaled brand of terror with which he revolutionized blockbusters 30 years ago in Jaws.
As with other films of his, Spielberg adds an estranged- father-and-son plot on top of the main story, with Tom Cruise as custody-sharing blue collar dad Ray Ferrier and Justin Chatwik as the rebellious son, with Dakota Fanning added as a loving young daughter for contrast. The relationships between Cruise and his two kids, both of whom carry significant loads of the script with precision, adds a whole new depth to the action scenes. As for Cruise, for all his crazy antics that have been filling the newspapers lately, he shows definite growth in this role and doesn't just carry this film with a mistimed sparkling grin, but with a convincing-yet-firm performance as a father.