Steven Spielberg has made a couple movies — Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. — about benevolent aliens who come in peace and gently help us to reflect on our place in the universe. This time, however, extraterrestrial life is a bit — make that a LOT — more foreboding. And the critics say that’s generally a good thing. Based upon H.G. Wells‘ sci-fi masterpiece (which caused a literal panic when Orson Welles did a radio play of the story in 1938), War of the Worlds is split between human characters and otherworldly conflict, and gets both right.
At 75 percent on the Tomatometer, the critics have praised the film’s harrowing, spectacular special effects and fine performances by Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, and Tim Robbins. However, some have noted that the air goes out of the film as it draws to its conclusion.