War of the Worlds (2005 film)

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A 2005 film directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Cruise, and very loosely based on the H. G. Wells book of |that name.

Cruise is a divorced dad living in a modern-day New Jersey suburb. He has two kids whom he wants to be a better parent to. After about twenty minutes or so showing family life with his family, metal tripods with lasers start landing in New Jersey. Red plants grow where the tripods land.

It's a war between alien life-forms and humanity. Action ensues between attempted moments of heartwarming.

Not to be confused with two other separate War of the Worlds films released the same year (which the crews didn't discover the other two were making movies on the same novel until after they started production or was done so by design to snub it) directly to video which were overshadowed by Spielberg's production. Directed by David Michael Latt and Timothy Hines each. (The one by Latt even got a sequel but with a different director.) Confusingly, these two films were both named H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds.


Tropes used in War of the Worlds (2005 film) include:
  • Apocalypse How: Class 0.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The aliens are made three-legged, to tie in with the appearance of their machines.
  • Book Ends: The film begins with a zoom out from some microbes, then at the ends it zooms back in on those microbes. Of course, these are the ones that are responsible for the aliens' defeat.
  • Composite Character: Harlan Ogilvy is the artilleryman combined with the curate. And, for some reason, he is given the name of a third completely unrelated character (the astronomer).
  • Calling the Old Man Out: From Robbie just before he tries to run off with the army guys (first time round); he calls Ray out on the fact that he's probably only taking the kids to Boston so they'll be with their mother - and less of a worry for him. This basically sums up their relationship for most of the movie; neither of the kids pays any attention to what he tells them to do, he knows barely anything about them and he clearly has hardly any real relationship with either of them.
  • Deflector Shields: Although without them, the tripods will go down to hand grenades and LAWs.
  • Did Not Do the Research: In one of the last scenes, soldiers are firing Javelins at tripods. Portrayal of firing the weapon is just wrong. The Javelin has so-called soft launch system, in which the missile just pops out of the tube and then engages its engines, so as not to fry the operator with the backblast when firing in enclosed spaces. In the scene, the rocket just flies joyfully at full power. Oh, and it can't be fired as often. It needs to cool down its targeting system.
  • Deus Ex Machina: Even more so than in the novel, since the aliens' vulnerability to terrestrial microbes isn't mentioned until the closing narration.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The alien invasion has many deliberate similarities to 9/11. The shot of the vaporized victims' clothes floating down recalls the paper falling from the sky after the towers went down, the shot of Ray covered head to toe in grey ash after escaping the first tripod, and there's a pretty deliberate shot of a wall covered by pictures of missing people. When she sees the heat ray, Rachel even asks "Is it the terrorists?"
  • Earth-Shattering Poster
  • First Father Wins
  • Five Rounds Rapid: "No effect!" "Keep firing!" Justified since they're only trying to delay the invaders until the civilians are evacuated.
  • Hell Is That Noise: In-universe. The loud foghorn-like cry that the tripods occasionally give out makes them sound as much like a living creature as a machine. It's immediately terrifying and a signal that something really bad thing is happening or going to happen if you hear one in the distance.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: "Maverick"'s old RIO "Merlin" offers him and his daughter shelter in his basement. Goku is Robbie.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Morgan Freeman does the opening and closing narration.
  • Hollywood Tactics: The military's straight-on charge against the alien machines (which have already proven to be invulnerable to conventional weaponry) in order to save the civilian refugees.
  • Hot Dad: Ray spends the whole movie looking pretty good for a father of two.
  • Humans Are Morons: Subtly subverted. The aliens who explore the basement our human characters are hiding in show a lot of fascination in a bicycle tire, hinting that for all the greater technological advancements they have over humans, they never invented a tool as simple and practical as the wheel.
    • That's another bit from the original novel as well, where the narrator postulated that the Martians never invented wheeled vehicles simply because all their machines use legs rather than tires. The Martians also apparently had no idea that microscopic organisms like bacteria existed, which is why these aliens are helping themselves to water dripping from pipes and such.
  • Humongous Mecha: The aliens' Tripods are modeled after their own body structure (3 legs, 3 fingers on each leg, wide-plated head), just like any Mecha humans would build would be humanoid.
  • Joisey: The Tripods start appearing in New Jersey, which may be a shout-out to the famous radio play by Orson Welles.
  • Large Ham: Tim Robbins, usually a pretty understated actor, as Ogilvy.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Robbie's attempts to join the military to fight the aliens tends to come across as this.
  • Not Using The A Word: The obviously Alien invaders are never described as such.
  • Magic Pants: The heat ray disintegrates people in an instant, but doesn't work as well on their pants and jackets. Maybe the resistance needed to armor their tanks with corduroy.
    • Wouldn't have worked - the heat ray was an explicitly antipersonnel / terror weapon. For anything artificial, they used a Wave Motion Gun, which shredded everything it came in contact with.
    • Weirdly Truth in Television - the vapourisation temperature of most fabrics is higher than that of human tissue.
  • The Nudifier: Inverted - the Martian heat ray vaporized people, but left the clothing intact.
  • Only Sane Man: Ray, especially in his interactions with Robbie.
  • Papa Wolf: Ray pulls a gun on a mob of crazed people after his son disappears. He also hurls a grenade at a tripod that's just captured his daughter.
  • Pineapple Surprise: The main character somehow managing to pull some pins out of the grenades while he was being sucked into one of the tripods.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Ray spits out the pins of a couple of M67 grenades he uses to destroy a tripod. Of course, this was his only option.
  • Promotion to Parent: Robbie seems to have become a semi-father-figure to Rachel, since Ray clearly knows nothing about being a father to them both.
  • Ride the Lightning: The aliens ride lightning into the Tripods which are buried beneath the ground.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Dakota Fanning's first reaction to the heat ray was "Is it the terrorists?"
    • Ogilvy's line about how "Occupations never work", a less-than-subtle Take That at the situation in Iraq at the time.
  • Scenery Gorn
  • Shout-Out: The scene where the invaders use a probe to explore the house (and the protagonists subsequently hack it apart after being discovered) mirrors the 1953 version of the movie.
    • The probing scene can also be seen as a Shout-Out to the more famous (and infamous) scene of the kitchen in Jurassic Park.
    • Dakota Fanning's character is flipping through the channels and the first thing you hear is "Moon Gorgeous Meditation!" According to Spielberg one of his daughters is a huge Sailor Moon fan, so she gave the idea for a shout-out.
  • Sound-Only Death: This happens to the driver who takes Ray's car. A few seconds after Ray surrenders the car and enters a diner with his family, we hear shots fired and the car passing by the window, with one of them shooting inside with Ray's dropped gun.
  • Spiritual Successor: Though they're very different in theme, Spielberg considers this film to be part of a loose "Alien trilogy" with Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. All of them detail the very different ways that an encounter with extraterrestrials could turn out, and Spielberg has said that he believes that all three species could very well exist in the same universe.
  • Tanks for Nothing: Tanks are no match for the aliens.
  • Tripod Terror: Naturally.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Robbie has an obsessive interest in going to fight the aliens, despite Ray's repeated attempts to tell him exactly how stupid this is. Even after seeing the explosions occurring from over the hill and the military forces clearly losing the battle, Robbie is insistent he still wants to go.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Warrior tripods have them, and use them against artificial structures and against the military, with devastating results.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: When Ray and Rachel arrive in Boston, one of the first things they see there is a statue of a Minuteman covered in dying alien weeds.