‘War Of The Worlds’ (2005): David Koepp’s Best Kept Secret – Retro Review

The 2005 version of War Of The Worlds was met with mixed results. However, like fine wine, the film gets better with age. David Koepp wrote the screenplay for legendary director Steven Spielberg. Koepp is probably best known for the Kevin Bacon thriller, Stir of Echoes (1999 – read our retro review here), and most recently, the Tom Cruise vehicle The Mummy (2017), a film that completely halted production on the highly anticipated Dark Universe reboot, one that had a lot of promise on paper. As famous head football coach Herm Edwards once said, “That’s why we play the games!”

I have always been a fan of Tom Cruise as an actor. I may be better at distancing art from the artist than most people. However, we can not ignore his acting abilities, as he is big in the science fiction genre. War of The Worlds is no different, being adapted from classic author H.G. Wells’ novel. I highly recommend checking out Orson Welles’ reading of War of The Worlds on Audible if you can.

When I first watched War Of The Worlds at the age of 15, I wasn’t too impressed by it. I really felt the only thing the movie had going for it was the fact that Tom Cruise was in it, and he gave it his all. Upon second viewing a few years ago, I really appreciated it a lot more. Including supporting characters like Justin Chatwin, I felt Cruise really gave us a breakthrough performance here. Chatwin later starred in the genre film, The Invisible (2007), and now has became a fan favorite in the cult TV show, Shameless. Dakota Fanning gave an admirable performance here as well, and her career is still going strong. The forever scene-stealing Tim Robbins also gave a very powerful performance towards the end when he had some material to really sink into and was phenomenal as always.

The special effects and the sound were ahead of its time in War of The Worlds. Steven Spielberg, as always, gave us a memorable movie, even if it wasn’t exactly what we wanted at the time. The film got better for me with multiple viewings. This latest viewing it completely floured me! Though not in the top tier of Spielberg films, it is in the top tier of David Koepp screenplays. Without his writing, the movie would’ve been a completely soulless effort. If you’re on the fence about a revisit to War Of The Worlds, I would highly suggest it, especially now that we’re all in quarantine and have time on our hands. If you have a 4K player, pick up the newly released 4K edition with a brand spanking new Dolby Atmos track that will make your whole room shake!

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