Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 40
  2. Negative: 1 out of 40
  1. 100
    Contains all of the hallmarks of classic genre Spielberg: It shows you things you've never seen before, instills an accompanying sense of awestruck wonder, and delivers long stretches of heightened, delirious excitement that remind you why people started going to the movies in the first place.
  2. It is, simply, the alienation-invasion movie to beat all alien-invasion movies: meticulously detailed and expertly paced and photographed, with sights so spectacular and terrible that viewers will have to consciously remind themselves to close their mouths when their jaws drop open.
  3. Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds is huge and scary, moving and funny--another capper to a career that seems like an unending succession of captivations.
  4. 100
    Working in the spirit of his predecessors but with the kind of uncanny special effects they could barely dream of, Spielberg has come up with an impressive production that is disturbing in the way only provocative science fiction can be.
  5. An attack-of-the-aliens disaster film crafted with sinister technological grandeur -- a true popcorn apocalypse.
  6. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    90
    It's the human struggle that makes this a sci-fi masterpiece.
  7. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    90
    A gritty, intense and supremely accomplished sci-fier.
  8. With this genuinely big entertainment, powered by a beating heart, Steven Spielberg has put the summer back in summer movies.
  9. Rivets and amazes, even if it falls just frustratingly short of the mind-expanding grandeur it could have had.
  10. It's impossible to praise too highly the verve, skill and authenticity with which Spielberg brings off his alien invasion.
  11. Might be too realistic for its own good: The film takes perhaps a little too much glee in its abilities to manufacture mayhem. That being said, the ride is extraordinary.
  12. Reviewed by: Colin Kennedy
    80
    Dark and stormy, even gloomy, this is a distinctly autumnal blockbuster from the man who invented summer.
  13. 80
    The imagery is startling not just for its symbolic resonances, but for the breathless intensity with which it sears the screen.
  14. The filmmaker who once aimed to enchant his audiences with cheerful stories of beatific visitors from outer space now wants only to scare the hell out of us. E.T., as it turns out, is a mass murderer after all, and we are his Reese's Pieces.
  15. The audience is treated to one extraordinary vision after another; the sense of a world literally being destroyed around the principal actors, the sense of their flight through panic and destruction, the sense of concussion, collapse, rubble and ruin.
  16. Kaminski, who is as good as any cinematographer working today, matches the chromatic tones of shots to their content in ways that can only be called exciting.
  17. 78
    Certainly one of the most lovingly crafted, end-of-the-world, cinematic feasts ever made, a spectacle of destruction and survival not even C.B DeMille could have envisioned.
  18. 75
    It's those dark visions of destruction that stick, even when Spielberg pushes the script to an unlikely happy ending. Great foreplay, failed orgasm.
  19. The film isn't quite excellent, though, since it sags in the middle and starts to seem repetitive.
  20. For the first 100 minutes of his 117-minute film Spielberg holds the audience in a grip of fear. When Ray and Rachel take refuge in the storm cellar of a survivalist (a miscast Tim Robbins), the director's grip relaxes only a bit, but the film never recovers from this excursion into the Gothic.
  21. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    75
    But expect a logical plot, and you'll walk out of the theater with a host of questions, mostly concerning procedural points of the alien attack.
  22. 75
    War of the Worlds is not vintage Spielberg, and it's on the grim side for a summer action blockbuster, but it's worth the time and money invested.
  23. This is B-movie material all the way, yet it's not only watchable, it's engrossing. That's because the material is in the hands of an A-talent director, who knows, as few of his contemporaries do, how to manipulate the plastic qualities of a film: the lighting, editing, composition, camera movement and production values.
  24. 75
    Alas, Robbins is far more interesting than Cruise, and you wonder what the film would have been like if their roles were reversed -- if Robbins were the loser in search of redemption and Cruise the agitated freak in the basement.
  25. 70
    I thoroughly enjoyed the street level perspective of the world being destroyed, it just would've been nice if they hadn't crapped out at the end.
  26. 70
    In an unfortunate case of star casting, Cruise strains credibility as a hard-edged Jersey dockworker.
  27. Although it's thoroughly retooled, H.G. Wells's scenario doesn't allow for many soft landings, and the extreme respect for havoc on view quite properly keeps the Spielbergian cutesies to a minimum.
  28. Acting is not really the point of this movie, which seems to arise above all from Mr. Spielberg's desire to reaffirm that he is, along with everything else, a master of pure action filmmaking.
  29. As is his wont, Spielberg can't resist stuffing the ending of the movie with a bit too much cheese and baloney. Despite those quibbles, War of the Worlds is taut, gripping and surprisingly dark filmmaking.
  30. 63
    Now that this technically impressive - but seriously flawed and self-referential - remake is finally in theaters to swell the July 4 weekend box office, conversation will doubtless shift to the lamest ending yet to a Steven Spielberg movie.
  31. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    63
    War of the Worlds pushes some of the right buttons and enough of the wrong ones to make you wish that Spielberg would move on from aliens already and use his unparalleled talents to focus once more on earth.
  32. Reviewed by: Aaron Hillis
    63
    Has masterfully polished mechanics, some of the most seamless CGI effects in recent memory, and the Wells veneration is admirable. However, the film takes far too many creative shortcuts, like bookended narration and aliens that make strategically humanlike mistakes, completely incongruous to their technological superiority.
  33. 63
    Forget what Tom Cruise does outside his movies: What he does inside his movies is more than enough to wreck them.
  34. 60
    It unfolds in the angst-haunted shadow of the 9'11 terror attacks and teeters on a thin edge of sheer panic.
  35. 60
    It’s the right role for Cruise, but the movie is so devoted to him, so star-driven, that it begins to seem a little demented.
  36. 50
    A big, clunky movie containing some sensational sights but lacking the zest and joyous energy we expect from Steven Spielberg.
  37. Go for the extraordinary special effects, by all means, but not if you want to feel good about yourself or humanity. And heed the PG-13 rating, because this movie takes no prisoners.
  38. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    50
    The new film is a toss-up with George Pal's very watchable 1953 version: the special effects are even better here, the drama even lamer.
  39. Newly updated but shamelessly hokey, Steven Spielberg's version of the 1898 H.G. Wells yarn about murderous invaders from outer space starts off as a nimble scare show like "Jaws."
  40. 20
    Extravagant in movie terms but stingy in emotional ones, it embodies all of Spielberg's bad impulses and almost none of his good ones: It's a grand display of how well he knows how to work us over, and yet the desperation with which he tries to get to us is repulsive.
User Score
6.4

Generally favorable reviews- based on 1188 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Apr 2, 2012
    10
    First off, I would give this a 9.5 out if 10. Acting is good. Not amazing, but everyone does a good job. Score was really good. Had an incredible story. It also has really good special effects and great set pieces. Overall, this is a really good movie. Great movie, and one of my favorite Tom cruise movie. Highly recommended. Full Review »
  2. Jun 26, 2011
    7
    If anyone can make an amazing blockbuster, it is Spielberg, and he has proven this once again. Overall, this is a rather good film. Technically - simply stunning. Great visual effects, sound and cinematography make it a pleasure to watch. It is one of the rare blockbusters that are actually decent when it comes to the plot, also. Ironically enough, the screenplay is also its weakest point. I was especially annoyed with the ending and the "happy family" crap. The demise of the aliens also came a bit too suddenly, and Spielberg could have made the transition more subtle, more intense. Nonetheless, "War of the Worlds" is going to be definitely one of the many blockbusters of Spielberg's that is going to be remembered as a good, entertaining, and thrilling film. Full Review »
  3. Aug 13, 2014
    4
    It is too witless as a sci-fi film, but delivers some thrills and some interesting visuals. Most leads overact and there is a lack of meaning behind the plot that makes it look empty. A disappointing addition to Spielberg's directorial filmography, with the only merit of a horror-like tone darkening it. Full Review »