War of the Worlds is the seminal science fiction classic about alien invasion. H G Wells’ novel was published in 1898, dramatised on radio in 1938 by Orson Welles in a programme that caused widespread panic, filmed once before in 1953, made into a top-selling “rock musical” recording in 1976 and the forerunner of numerous similarly-themed books and films, not the least of which is 1996’s Independence Day which borrowed heavily from some of its ideas.
Now with Steven Spielberg’s new movie – reportedly with a budget bigger than Titanic - comes what must be the ideal marriage of novel and director. With his Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. Spielberg gave us passive aliens who instilled a sense of wonder. Not so with the invaders of Wells’ classic tale whose sole purpose is to wipe us out.
Spielberg’s contemporary re-telling sees the story of humankind’s battle for survival against the unstoppable alien machines through the eyes of one family – Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) his pregnant wife, Mary Ann (Miranda Otto) and their daughter, Rachel (Dakota Fanning).