I went to see War of the Worlds last night. Is there really anybody who doesn't know how the story ends? Ted claims he didn't know but he wanted me to spoil it for him anyway.
I give it a thumbs down. I thought I could forget that I knew the story but it simply wasn't possible. I had serious problems with the casting of pretty much every major role. I like Tom Cruise (Ray), Dakota Fanning, and Tim Robbins but I didn't buy any of it except for the performance by Justin Chatwin (Robbie).
The other major problem was just that I knew the story and had a very hard time with the unsurprising ending. Spielberg and Josh Friedman did a passable job at trying to look at the story from a new angle (father will do anything to save his kids in face of alien invasion) but once you know how this story ends it really takes the climax away. The reunion of the family at the end did little to appease this because of plot problems in the middle of the story.
The major character developments were completely unbelievable. In Cruise's case I think this just wasn't in his acting range which is defnitely limited. In the case of Chatwin I think it was just a bad script - he made a good attempt and it was close to believable.
To make things worse I went to the drive-in alone and paid $15 bucks and I didn't even stay for the second feature.