[[caption-width-right:350:Ever wonder what an ant goes through under a magnifying glass? These people are about to.]]

''Note: This is about the 2005 adaptation. For the 1953 one, see'' '''Film/TheWarOfTheWorlds'''''.''

A 2005 film directed by Creator/StevenSpielberg, written for the screen by David Koepp and Josh Friedman, and starring Creator/TomCruise, Creator/DakotaFanning, [[Film/DragonballEvolution Justin Chatwin]] and [[Film/TheShawshankRedemption Tim Robbins]], narrated by Creator/MorganFreeman and very loosely based on the Creator/HGWells book [[Literature/TheWarOfTheWorlds of that name]].

Cruise stars as Ray Ferrier, a divorced, estranged father of two kids, Robbie (Chatwin) and Rachel (Fanning), living in a New Jersey suburb. After about twenty minutes or so showing family life with his children, metal Tripods with lasers start rising up from underground and strange red weeds begin to grow in abundance on the Earth's surface. Soon, a war between alien life-forms and humanity breaks out, and Ray has to keep himself and his kids safe. Action ensues between attempted [[ActionFilmQuietDramaScene 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''.

%%* ActionSurvivor: Ray
* AdaptationalVillainy: Harlan Ogilvy shares the name of Ogilvy the astronomer in the book, who isn't around for long but is portrayed as a more sympathetic and amiable character. This is because the character was combined with those of the artillery soldier (who rambles about an underground resistance but is inept and lazy) and the curate (who acts as TheLoad and goes insane, after which he is killed by the aliens).
* AdaptationInspiration: As with all of the movie adaptations of the book, this one updates the setting and time period, and frames it in the tensions of the day. It also draws down the focus to a single family and takes on something of a war documentary feel.
* AdmiringTheAbomination: When the aliens are looking around the basement, Rachel seems intrigued by them and spends several moments watching what they're up to.
* [[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.
* AmbiguousDisorder: Rachel shows signs of this. Her way of speaking is a bit strange for a 10-year old, and when there's no danger present, she speaks in a rather emotionless voice. She frequently has panic attacks and comes off as rather needy and dependent, even for her age. It's also stated that she has claustrophobia.
* AmicablyDivorced: Ray and his ex seem on fairly good terms, despite things obviously not working out between them.
* ApocalypseHow: On the lower end of the scale, but still an example.
* AxCrazy: Ogilvy descends into this, [[spoiler: and Ray has to kill him to prevent him from attracting the aliens' attention.]]
* BadassBystander: The soldier who 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.
* BerserkButton: Don't threaten Ray's kids.
* BizarreAlienBiology: The aliens are made three-legged, to tie in with the appearance of their machines.
** Or, more likely, the aliens built their machines in their own image.
* 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 soldiers (first time around); 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 she 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''.
* CoverInnocentEyesAndEars: [[spoiler: Ray blindfolds Rachel, claps her hands over her ears, and has her sing her favorite lullaby to herself so she won't see or hear as he kills Ogilvy]].
** Earlier, after a plane crashes into the house where they were staying, Ray directs Rachel to keep her eyes on him as he carries her out.
** When Rachel sees a river full of dead bodies, Ray covers her eyes and gets her out of there, but only after she sees it.
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: Robbie starts out as your typical lazy and delinquent teenager, but when aliens invade Earth, he fearlessly (or stupidly, depending on your view) insists on fighting them rather than escaping.
* CryingLittleKid: Played with when Ray is distracted by an argument with Robbie and doesn't realise that Rachel has wandered off. An elderly couple try to take her with them, assuming her parents are dead. Fortunately Ray realises what's happening and stops them in time.
* CuteButCacophonic: Rachel. Also on a meta-level, Dakota Fanning's scream when she sees the alien probe reportedly forced several sound technicians to rip off their headphones.
* {{Cyborg}}: The Tripods are a very unusual example, being machines with living parts (that even need [[ImAHumanitarian to be fed]]). This turns out to be a heavy disadvantage, as they get sick right alongside their alien pilots.
* DeflectorShields: Although without them, the Tripods [[NotSoInvincibleAfterAll will go down to hand grenades and LAWs]].
* DespairEventHorizon: Rachel hits this when she's captured in the tripod basket. When Ray finds her, she's just sitting in shock, clearly thinking she's about to die.
* 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 led to believe Robbie dies during one of the alien attacks, but hooray, 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: an instrument of ''total'' war. It works, but cars can be repaired with the right know-how.
* EmptyFridgeEmptyLife: Divorcee Ray Ferrier's fridge is this.
* FailedASpotCheck: The mechanic who orders Ray and his family to get out of their stolen car does not notice a Tripod destroying everything and ultimately gets vaporized.
%%* FirstFatherWins
* FiveRoundsRapid: "No effect!" "Keep firing!" Justified since they're only trying to delay the invaders until the civilians are evacuated.
* HellIsThatNoise: InUniverse. The loud, foghorn-like cry that the Tripods occasionally give out makes them sound as much like a living creature as a machine (and it's obvious they do have a biological component to them). 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.
* HeroicBSOD: A lot. Ray has a severe one after seeing the attack start, to the point that he collapses on the floor in front of his children, and takes a minute to shake himself out of it.
** Rachel has a lot of these, such as when she sees the dead bodies in the river and when she's captured in the tripod basket.
* HeroicSacrifice: The military attempts to defend the civilian refugees, 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 Miss Exposition]], but stops to ask Ray if he was on the crashed plane because "It would have been a great story."
* IronicNurseryTune: Rachel singing "Hushabye Mountain."
* JumpScare: When Rachel wakes up in the basement to find ''an alien probe right in front of her face.''
* 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.
* LittleMissSnarker: Rachel has quite a few snarky lines (it helps that she's played by Dakota Fanning).
%%* TheLoad: Rachel is this for the most part- granted, she's a 10-year old girl. However, there are times where she's useful, such as often being the first one to notice signs of danger. In the ferry scene, she's the only one who realizes an attack is coming and manages to alert everyone else to this.
* 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.
* MissingTrailerScene: The neighborhood scene from the first [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrCnXLlhuls trailer]] is never shown.
* 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 vaporizes people, but leaves 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 vaporization 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.
* OhCrap: Ray when he realizes there's more than one tripod, and that the first attack wasn't an isolated incident.
** Ray briefly has this expression when he realizes Ogilvy isn't going to quiet down, and [[spoiler: realizes that he's going to have to kill him]].
* OnlySaneMan: Ray, especially in his interactions with [[TooDumbToLive Robbie]].
* PapaWolf: Ray pulls a gun on a mob of crazed people after Robbie disappears. He also hurls a grenade at a Tripod that's just captured Rachel.
** And don't forget [[spoiler: he's willing to kill Ogilvy rather than let him endanger Rachel's safety.]]
* PineappleSurprise: Ray 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: The movie follows the plot of the novel, only updating the setting from 20th-century England to early 21st-century New Jersey (but one of the screenwriters 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.
* RealityEnsues: For both the humans ''AND'' the invaders. First and foremost, any alien race capable of interstellar travel, coming here to exterminate us before ''we'' can have our own CoolStarship, is going to just roll right over us. [[spoiler:But, they quickly discover that our planet is actually not suitable for their needs, and they start getting killed by microbes and germs we humans are immune to once the crews start exiting their war machines to explore.]]
** Happens again in the span of two minutes towards the end when one Tripod is caught in an urban environment, with its shields down, by infantry packing heavy anti-tank weapons. But while the military is very quick to haul their carcasses away from the tripod the moment one of their missiles delivers the killing blow [[note]] As per the training of Javelin teams [[/note]]... several civilians who stay and watch the CurbStompBattle find out that where ''they'' are standing is [[OhCrap where a 100-ton mech is about to fall like a tree]], and get smashed because they couldn't run away fast enough.
* RemakeCameo: Gene Barry and Ann Robinson, who play leading roles in the 1953 film ''Film/TheWarOfTheWorlds'', appear as the grandparents of Dakota Fanning's character.
* RideTheLightning: The aliens ride lightning into their Tripods which are buried beneath the ground.
* RippedFromTheHeadlines: Rachel's first reaction to the heat ray is "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]].
* ShootTheDog: [[spoiler: Ray has to kill Ogilvy to stop him from attracting the aliens' attention.]]
* 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''.
** The aliens' rampage abruptly halted in front of a church in the 1953 film. Here, their rampage commences in front of one.
** Rachel is flipping through the channels and the first thing you hear is [[Anime/SailorMoon "Moon Gorgeous Meditation!"]] According to Creator/StevenSpielberg, one of his daughters is a huge ''Franchise/SailorMoon'' fan, so she gave the idea for a ShoutOut.
** The use of hand grenades may well be a ShoutOut to ''Literature/TheTripods'', a trilogy of novels inspired by (and would be considered a sort of SpiritualSuccessor to) the original novel.
** The arriving roar of the Tripods also seems to be a more tonally appropriate update of the ''"Ooh-Laaa!"'' sound effects the Music/JeffWayne [[Music/JeffWaynesMusicalVersionOfTheWarOfTheWorlds version]] of the Tripods make, only much more terrifying.
** Ray's posture just after Rachel is reunited with her mother at the film's end, is the posture taken by Ethan Edwards just after he reunites the abducted girl with her family at the end of ''Film/TheSearchers''.
** The film starts in Bayonne, New Jersey, which is only about 50 miles from the setting of the [[Radio/TheWarOfTheWorlds 1938 radio play]] of Grover's Mill.
* SingleTear: Ray when he sings a lullaby to Rachel.
* 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.
** [[spoiler: Ray killing Ogilvy. Rachel sings with her eyes closed so she won't hear the murder sounds.]]
* SoundtrackDissonance: Major example. [[spoiler: Rachel sings a calming lullaby to herself as Ray murders Ogilvy in another room]].
* 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''.
* ThousandYardStare: Rachel has this expression when she's captured and put in the tripod basket.
* TripodTerror: Naturally. The aliens attack in tripod machines which efficiently lay waste to much of the world.
* 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 occurring from over the hill and the military forces clearly losing the battle, Robbie is insistent ''[[LeeroyJenkins he still wants to go]]''.
** Rachel generally has more sense, but she plays this completely straight when she's so scared by the alien probe that she runs out of the relatively sheltered basement into the open, where she's easily captured.
** The aliens themselves. They get out their tripod in an alien planet, wearing no protective gear, rummaging through dirty stuff in a damp basement, and one of them even drinks water from a broken pipe. No wonder they all got sick.
* WaveMotionGun: The Tripods have them and use them against artificial structures and against the military, with [[CurbStompBattle devastating results]].
* WhamLine: In-universe, for Rachel: "Get in, Manny, or you're going to die!"
* UsefulNotes/YanksWithTanks: The US Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force feature prominently throughout the film.