[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/WarOWorldsSpielberg_3367.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Ever wonder what an ant goes through under a magnifying glass? These people are about to.]]

->''The last war on Earth won't be started by humans.''

A 2005 film directed by Creator/StevenSpielberg, starring TomCruise, and very loosely based on the HGWells book [[Literature/TheWarOfTheWorlds 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.

[[NamesTheSame Not to be confused]] with two 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 [[TheMockbuster by design to snub it]]) directly to video which were overshadowed by Spielberg's production. Directed by [[TheAsylum David Michael Latt]] and Timothy Hines each (Both movies even got sequels). Confusingly, '''these''' two films were [[NamesTheSame both named]] ''H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds''.

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!!Tropes:

* ActionSurvivor: Ray.
* ActorAllusion: Harlan Ogilvy (Tim Robbins' character) tries to escape the basement by [[TheShawshankRedemption tunnelling his way out.]]
* AdaptationalVillainy: Harlan Ogilvy shares the name of Ogilvy the astronomer in the book, who isn't around for long but seems to be a more sympathetic and amiable character.
* [[AliensInCardiff Aliens in New Jersey]]: Done intentionally to avert the whole cliche about [[BigApplesauce New York City being an alien magnet]]. It also refers to Creator/OrsonWelles' infamous radio adaptation, set in New Jersey.
* ApocalypseHow: On a regional scale.
* BadassBystander: The guy that saves Ray's life by grabbing his hand when the tripod is sucking him up and yells at everyone else in the cage to pull with him to bring Ray back down.
* BizarreAlienBiology: The aliens are made three-legged, to tie in with the appearance of their machines.
* BookEnds: The film begins where it zooms out of some microbes being shown, then it ends zooming in those same microbes, the ones that are responsible for the aliens defeat.
* CallingTheOldManOut: 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.
* ChekhovsGun: Rachel gets a splinter in her finger early in the movie, and explains to Ray that her body will eventually push it out on its own. [[spoiler:At the end of the movie, the aliens are defeated by Earth's own organisms infecting them with diseases.]]
* CompositeCharacter: 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).
* ContrivedCoincidence: The movie would have you believe that a dockworker from Bayonne would be front and center at ''every single major incident in an alien invasion of the Earth.''
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: Robbie starts out as your typical lazy and delinquent teenager, but when aliens invade the Earth he fearlessly (or stupidly, depending on your view) insists on fighting them rather than escaping.
* DeflectorShields: Although without them, the tripods [[NotSoInvincibleAfterAll will go down to hand grenades and LAWs]].
* DeusExMachina: Even more so than in the novel, since [[spoiler:the aliens' vulnerability to terrestrial microbes isn't mentioned until the closing narration]].
* DisneyDeath: We are let to believe the son dies during the alien attacks, but - hurray - he resurfaces for a happy ending.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: 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?"
* EarnYourHappyEnding: The family is reunited at the end, against a backdrop of dead and dying Tripods.
* EarthShatteringPoster
* {{EMP}}: The aliens subject urban areas to a terrifying EMP weapon disguised as a lightning storm. It is designed to wreck our technological society before the tripod assault: a instrument of ''total'' war. It works, but cars at least are easily fixable.
* FirstFatherWins
* FiveRoundsRapid: "No effect!" "Keep firing!" Justified since they're only trying to delay the invaders until the civilians are evacuated.
* HellIsThatNoise: 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. Think of it as a combination BrownNote[=/=]OhCrap in one convenient package.
** The arrhythmic, alien whirring sound the Tripods' huge servos make once they go on the move. It sounds like nothing remotely human, and if you're close enough to hear them, '''nothing''' good is about to happen.
* HeroicSacrifice: The military attempts to defend the civilian refuguees, which include Ray and the kids, by throwing everything they've got at the aliens. When that doesn't work, they ''throw themselves'' directly at the enemy in a last ditch effort to buy time and save as many lives as possible.
* HollywoodTactics: The military's straight-on charge against the (already proven to be invulnerable to conventional weaponry) alien machines in order to save the civilian refugees.
** Justified in that they ''know'' their tactics are useless, they're just buying time for others to get away.
* HumanResources: The aliens use ground up human pulp as seed fertilizer/germination agent for their homeworld's fauna (the red weed). Before the movie is over, a good portion of New England is covered in it.
* HumongousMecha: 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.
* IntrepidReporter: The journalist Ray speaks to by the crashed plane. Not only is she already so well-informed to be MrExposition, but stops to ask Ray if he was on the crashed plane because "It would have been a great story".
* LargeHam: Tim Robbins, usually a pretty understated actor, as Ogilvy.
* LeeroyJenkins: Robbie's attempts to join the military to fight the aliens tends to come across as this.
* TheLoad: Rachel.
* LowerDeckEpisode: Unlike the 1953 movie, it follows the book in centering around an ActionSurvivor, instead of the military and cutting to other places where the aliens are invading.
* NoTimeToExplain: Ray says this to the mechanic who's asking him to get out of the car.
* [[NotUsingTheZWord Not Using The A Word]]: The obviously Alien invaders are never described as such.
* TheNudifier: Inverted - the heat ray vaporized people, but left the ''clothing'' intact.
* MagicPants: The [[DeathRay heat ray]] disintegrates people in an instant, but doesn't work as well on their pants and jackets.[[note]]The vapourisation temperature of most fabrics is higher than that of human tissue; however, the human body is mostly water, flash-vaporizing it would create a steam explosion which at the very least would obliterate the clothing in question. Vaporization of the material in question is what happens with most explosive devices. A 180-200 pound human being flash-vaporized would create an explosion as powerful as multiple sticks of dynamite...denim just isn't made to survive that.[[/note]] The heat ray was an explicitly antipersonnel/terror weapon. For structures and armored targets they use a WaveMotionGun, which shreds everything in front of it.
* OnlySaneMan: Ray, especially in his interactions with [[TooDumbToLive Robbie]].
* PapaWolf: 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.
* PineappleSurprise: The main character somehow managing to pull some pins out of the grenades while he was being sucked into one of the tripods.
* PinPullingTeeth: Ray spits out the pins of a couple of M67 grenades he uses to destroy a tripod. Of course, this was his only option.
* PragmaticAdaptation: It follows the plot of the novel, only updating the setting from 20th century England to early 21st century New Jersey (but the writer decided to "take the modern world back to the 1800s" with the EMP frying most technology), and having the protagonist accompanied by his children (the unnamed one from the book only had a wife, which he drops with her relatives).
* PromotionToParent: Robbie seems to have become a semi-father-figure to Rachel, since Ray clearly knows nothing about being a father to them both.
* RideTheLightning: The aliens ride lightning into the Tripods which are buried beneath the ground.
* RippedFromTheHeadlines: 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 TakeThat at the situation in Iraq at the time.
* SceneryGorn
* SettingUpdate: From the original novel's late-19th century England to the early-21st century New Jersey.
* ShapeshiftingExcludesClothing: The alien heat ray reduces people to ash, leaving their clothing behind. [[FridgeLogic But not underwear for some reason]].
* ShoutOut: 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 ShoutOut to the more famous (and infamous) scene of the kitchen in ''Film/JurassicPark''.
** Dakota Fanning's character is flipping through the channels and the first thing you hear is [[Manga/SailorMoon "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.
** The use of hand-grenades may well be a ShoutOut to TheTripods, a trilogy of novels inspired by (and would be considered a sort of spiritual successor to) the original The War of the Worlds novel.
* SoundOnlyDeath: 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.
* SpiritualSuccessor: Though they're very different in theme, Spielberg considers this film to be part of a loose "Alien trilogy" with ''Film/CloseEncountersOfTheThirdKind'' and ''Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial''. All of them detail the very different ways that an encounter with extraterrestrials could turn out, and [[WordOfGod Spielberg has said]] that he believes that all three species could very well exist in the same universe.
* TanksForNothing: Tanks are no match for the aliens.
* TheTheTitleConfusion: Unlike [[Literature/TheWarOfTheWorlds the novel]] and [[Film/TheWarOfTheWorlds the 1953 film]], it dropped the article to be only ''War of the Worlds''.
* TripodTerror: Naturally.
* TooDumbToLive
** Robbie has an obsessive interest in going to fight the aliens, despite Ray's repeated attempts to tell him [[OnlySaneMan exactly how stupid this is]]. Even after seeing the explosions occuring from over the hill and the military forces clearly losing the battle, Robbie is insistent ''[[LeeroyJenkins he still wants to go.]]''
** Rachel suffers from this as well. She is TheLoad, AnnoyingYoungerSibling and possibly the EntitledBastard given her SpoiledBrat attitude during most of the movie. While Robbie is more of a LeeroyJenkins, Rachel takes incredibly dumb choices like [[LetsSplitUpGang going to pee alone]]. This action alone would spell instant death had InfantImmortality not been in effect.
* WaveMotionGun: The Warrior tripods have them, and use them against artificial structures and against the military, with [[CurbStompBattle devastating results]].

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