War of the Worlds (2005 film)

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For other uses, see The War of the Worlds (disambiguation).

War of the Worlds is a 2005 science-fiction action film starring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning, based on the eponymous novel by H. G. Wells.

Directed by Steven Spielberg. Written by Josh Friedman, David Koepp, based on the novel by H.G. Wells.
They're Already Here. taglines


  • [first lines] No one would have believed, in the early years of the 21st century, that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they observed and studied, the way a man with a microscope might scrutinize the creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency, men went to and fro about the globe, confident of our empire over this world. Yet, across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cruel and unsympathetic regarded our planet with envious eyes...and slowly, and surely, drew their plans against us.
  • [last lines] From the moment the invaders arrived, breathed our air, ate and drank, they were doomed. They were undone, destroyed, after all of man's weapons and devices had failed, by the tiniest creatures that God in his wisdom put upon this Earth. By the toll of a billion deaths, man had earned his immunity, his right to survive among this planet's infinite organisms. And that right is ours against all challenges. For neither do men live nor die in vain.

Ray Ferrier[edit]

  • [to Robbie] Okay, hey, enough of the "Ray" shit, alright! It's Dad, Sir, or, if you want, Mr. Ferrier. It sounds a little weird to me, but you decide.
  • [to Robbie] You can hate me, but I love you!
  • Two for you, two for Robbie, two for me... One for the house.
  • [looking out at the teleporter's bolt of lightning] Where's the thunder...?
  • Robbie, you wanna head in that direction?! There's nothing living in that direction, Robbie!
  • We're gonna leave this house in 60 seconds.
  • Let's try a plan that doesn't involve your 10-year-old sister joining the army?
  • Get in the car, Manny, or you're gonna die!
  • [angrily, to a soilder] LOOK AT THE GODDAMN BIRDS!!!!

Rachel Ferrier[edit]

  • [as the family is chased by a tripod] Is it the terrorists?!
  • [just before the tripods appear] The trees are moving...
  • [unseen] Are we still alive?
  • [crying, and softly hitting him] Robbie! What are you trying to do?! Where are you trying to go?! Who's going to take care of me if you go?!
  • Is it them?! Is it them?!

Harlan Ogilvy[edit]

  • This is not a war any more than there's a war between men and maggots... This is an extermination.
  • You and me - I don't think we're on the same page.
  • I'm dead set on living. [laughs, to himself] "Dead set on living".
  • So what are you gonna do? Hide and wait here till they come and get you? Is that your "plan"?


Our mission Lieutenant, is to delay their advance until those refugees get to safety! Now keep firing!
  • Reporter: Once the tripods start to move, no more news comes out of that area.
  • Marine Corps Captain: Our mission Lieutenant, is to delay their advance until those refugees get to safety! Now keep firing!
  • Marine Corps Officer: Guidons, Guidons, Black Six. Attack, attack, attack!
  • National Guard Lieutenant: Load the Gustavs, this is gonna be a tough kill!
  • Tim: (awkwardly) I'm.....uh.....I'm gonna wait outside.
  • Mary Ann: You're out of milk. And everything else.
  • Captured Army Private: Everybody, down!-[when explosion is about to occur]


Mary-Anne: Take care of our kids.
Ray: Mary-Anne, you've got nothing to worry about.

Ray: [after a lightning flash] It's okay, you're fine.
Rachel: It hit right behind our house!
Ray: Yeah... uh... it's not gonna hit there again, okay? Because lightning doesn't strike twice in the same- [lightning strikes the same place] holy shit!

Robbie: Is it the terrorists?
Ray: No... this came from someplace else.
Robbie: What, you mean like Europe?
Ray: No, Robbie! Not like Europe!

[Robbie, Ray and Rachel are fleeing the tripods along the highway]
Robbie: Where are we going?!
Ray: We gotta go! We got to be the only working car around here. I'm not stopping until we are clear.
Robbie: Clear of what?!
Ray: We gotta go!
Robbie: What is going on?!
Ray: You saw! We're under attack!!
[Rachel begins to cry and scream hysterically]
Robbie: By who?! Who is attacking us?!
Ray: Rachel... Rachel you've got to keep it down Rachel!
[Rachel, still crying, starts to hyperventilate]
Ray: Rachel! Shut up, Rachael! I can't think!!
Robbie: You are freaking her out!!
Ray: Well, look, I'm driving!! Do something!!
[Robbie turns to Rachel and shows her an arm formation]
Robbie: Okay, put 'em up, Rache. Make the arms. [Rachel copies the formation, still panicking. Robbie holds her arms] This space right here, this is yours. This belongs to you, right?
Rachel: [taking deep breaths, trying to calm herself] Yes...
Robbie: [reassuring her] You're safe in your space.
Rachel: I'm safe in my space...
Robbie: You're safe in your space. Nothing is going to happen to you in your space.
Rachel: I'm really scared...
Robbie: I'm gonna go to the front seat to talk to Dad.
Rachel: No...
Robbie: I will be two feet away, okay. Will you hold my hand?
Rachel: Yes.
Robbie: Are you gonna be okay?
Rachel: Yes.

Ray: Ketchup.. mustard.. Tabasco sauce.. vinaigrette.. This is good, Robbie, I told you to pack food. What the hell is this?
Robbie: That's all that was in your kitchen.

(When they're hiding in their mother's house)
Rachel: I'm allergic to peanut butter.
Ray: Since when?
Rachel: Birth.

Rachel: If everything's okay, why do we have to sleep in the basement? We have perfectly good beds.
Ray: It's, like a slumber-party. [looks around] This is a nice basement...
Rachel: I wanna sleep in my bed. I got back problems.
Ray: Uh, well, you know how on the Weather Channel, when they say a tornado's coming and they tell you to go to the basement for safety? It's like that.
Rachel: There's gonna be tornadoes?
Ray: Okay, Rachel, no more talking.
[Robbie puts his cap on Rachel's head.]
Rachel: Could you be a little nicer to me, God?

Reporter: Hey, were you on that plane?
[Ray shakes his head]
Reporter: Too bad. Would have made a great story.


  • They're Already Here.
  • This Summer, The Last War On Earth Won't Be Started By Humans.

About War of the Worlds (2005 film)[edit]

  • Though War of the Worlds may have been based on an H.G. Wells novel from 1897, the film is very much about a specific, confusing, terrible time in American history: the period directly following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and how we, as a country, reacted to it. The movie tries to work through this collective angst and trauma, a fact that is, somehow, even more obvious watching it more than a decade after its initial release.
    The story begins in New York City, where Tom Cruise's Ray works on the docks and lives in New Jersey. When the alien attack first begins, greater New York City is the "ground zero" we see it depicted from. Ray's New Jersey community, filled with a sense of tight-knit camraderie and friendly neighborhood cops that feel totally different in the context of post-9/11 than they do in our current cultural context, is where this all begins for us.
    From there, we get several iconic images Americans have come to associate with 9/11: from traumatized people covered in ash to hordes of weary people walking across bridges to the signs people have made to look for their missing loved ones. At one point, when Ray and his kids are driving away from NYC, Dakota Fanning's Rachel asks if it is "the terrorists" as the city is destroyed behind them.
    This movie is also really pro-military. Pretty much whenever there is a heroic moment, it is a military man leading the way. The National Guard makes recurring appearances, somehow still in operation in the midst of this batshit crazy alien attack that the Earth is wholly unprepared for. This is not only an allegory for the police and firemen whose heroism has become a central tenet of our 9/11 narrative, but of the Iraq War that began probably around the time of this film's initial development.
  • In re-watching War of the Worlds, it's hard not to compare it to Battlestar Galactica. War of the Worlds is dealing with a lot of the same themes as Battlestar Galactica, which premiered in the same year and was also a direct response to 9/11 and post-9/11 American life.
  • SPIEGEL: Mr. Spielberg, no other film director has done more image-building for aliens than you: in your films "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977) and "E.T." (1982) you describe them as loveable creatures. In your latest film, "War of the Worlds," which opens in cinemas on June 29, you have aliens from outer space attacking the world. What's the reason behind your change of heart?
Spielberg: I probably became somewhat...
Cruise: ...more daring, am I right?
Spielberg: Yes, there's something in that. I used to be the goodwill ambassador between the aliens civilizations and our own, and did everything I could to prepare the ground for a peaceful encounter. That bored me. I grew up with the science-fiction films of the 1950s and 60s, in which flying saucers attack Earth and people have to resist the aliens with all their might. So I thought: before I retire I should direct a really mean invasion from outer space.
SPIEGEL: Your film "War of the Worlds" is named after the futuristic novel of the same name by H.G. Wells, written in 1898. At the end of the novel it says that Earth is "no longer a fenced-in and safe place to live." Doesn't this sentence exactly describe the feeling that Americans have had about life since September 11?
Cruise: It describes the feeling about life all over the world. We live in a world in which we are able to communicate very quickly in many different ways, and yet we find communicating more difficult than ever. When in fact we need communication more urgently than ever, because the enemies that threaten us are universal: drugs, illiteracy and crime. We have to fight against them together. The film is a metaphor for that battle.
Spielberg: We wanted to make a film in which people join forces, across all borders and despite all their differences, in order to fight against an enemy who is not of a human nature.
SPIEGEL: But the film is set almost exclusively in the United States. Does it really describe a global catastrophe?
Spielberg: It describes a global catastrophe from a subjective point of view. The audience experiences the war from the perspective of Tom's character, from the point of view of an American docker. But we leave it in no doubt that the entire Earth is threatened.
  • SPIEGEL: Mr. Spielberg, your plans to make a film of "War of the Worlds" date back to the early 1990s. Would you have made the film if September 11 had not happened?
Spielberg: Probably not. Wells' novel has been made into a film several times, notably always in times of international crisis: World War II had just begun when Orson Welles terrified millions of Americans with his legendary radio play version, the headlines were dominated by reports on Hitler's invasion of Poland and Hungary. When the first screen version came into the movie theatres in 1953, the Americans were very afraid of a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. And our version also comes at a time when Americans feel deeply vulnerable.
SPIEGEL: Won't this film actually heighten that sense of vulnerability?
Spielberg: It probably will. On the other hand, it is hard to image us feeling even more vulnerable than we already do.
  • War of the Worlds is a big, clunky movie containing some sensational sights but lacking the zest and joyous energy we expect from Steven Spielberg.
  • The problem may be with the alien invasion itself. It is not very interesting. We learn that countless years ago, invaders presumably but not necessarily from Mars buried huge machines all over the Earth. Now they activate them with lightning bolts, each one containing an alien (in what form, it is hard to say). With the aliens at the controls, these machines crash up out of the Earth, stand on three towering but spindly legs and begin to zap the planet with death rays. Later, their tentacles suck our blood and fill steel baskets with our writhing bodies.
    To what purpose? Why zap what you later want to harvest? Why harvest humans? And, for that matter, why balance these towering machines on ill-designed supports? If evolution has taught us anything, it is that limbs of living things, from men to dinosaurs to spiders to centipedes, tend to come in numbers divisible by two. Three legs are inherently not stable, as the movie demonstrates when one leg of a giant tripod is damaged, and it falls helplessly to the ground.
    The tripods are indeed faithful to the original illustrations for H.G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds, and to the machines described in the historic 1938 Orson Welles radio broadcast. But the book and radio program depended on our imaginations to make them believable, and the movie came at a time of lower expectations in special effects. You look at Spielberg's machines and you don't get much worked up, because you're seeing not alien menace but clumsy retro design. Perhaps it would have been a good idea to set the movie in 1898, at the time of Wells' novel, when the tripods represented a state-of-the-art alien invasion.
  • The human characters are disappointingly one-dimensional. Cruise's character is given a smidgen of humanity (he's an immature, divorced hotshot who has custody of the kids for the weekend) and then he wanders out with his neighbors to witness strange portents in the sky, and the movie becomes a story about grabbing and running and ducking and hiding and trying to fight back.
    There are scenes in which poor Dakota Fanning, as his daughter, has to be lost or menaced, and then scenes in which she is found or saved, all with much desperate shouting. A scene where an alien tentacle explores a ruined basement where they're hiding is a mirror of a better scene in "Jurassic Park" where characters hide from a curious raptor.
    The thing is, we never believe the tripods and their invasion are practical. How did these vast metal machines lie undetected for so long beneath the streets of a city honeycombed with subway tunnels, sewers, water and power lines, and foundations?

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