After suffering the DVD release a friend bought, my advice is to skip it. Save the money to buy another DVD or go see King Kong.
I thought it would be Tom Cruise that would sink this movie. What this movie needed was Tom Cruise to rescue it with his star name, unfortunately this movie is beyond redeeming.
When the aliens land, they are not called Martians in this remake of H.G. Well's story of Martian invasion, electricity fails, cars fail, clocks fail but a digital camcorder keeps working to record people being disintegrated. In The Day the Earth Stood Still everything stopped and that is what the directors wanted conveyed. Instead in this movie, we get this neat shot of the camcorder recording the attack, concocted by people behind the cameras who can not exercise their brain to execute simple common sense.
Oh and I like how Ray[Tom] steals from work a Dodge Caravan that mysteriously still works. Seems the garage replaced something so it worked. Now for it to work that item needed to be packaged in such a way to resist such things as EMP shocking it into junk. And I am really surprised that the van was not comandeered while it raced down the highway by panicky people. Though later on the mob did swarm and take the van, and somehow Tom and his children escape alive. See in the background as they settle in a diner, people using handguns on each other to steal the van.
Later on while Tom and his daughter hide in a house's storm cellar we get to see how the aliens are trying to transform the Earth into something they could use. So in order to shock the audience we are treated to a really stupid scene. We see one of the tri-pod war machines hold in a metal tentacle a human being. Then another tentacle decends down and pierces the human's body and we see far more blood than a human body has flow up and into the war machine which in turn regurgitates it over the land. I guess the tabloids had run into the ground the concept of ETs strapping humans to a table and experimenting on them so we are shown this inefficient method of exsaguination to shock the audience. And we also see cattle mutilation scenes.
Tom, when you hear your daughter scream in that house why did you go out that door? There was strange material stretching across the door so she could not obviously have gone through it. But you went outside anyway while knowing the aliens were still around. Just to see your daughter get snapped up by a war machine which forces you to get captured also.
I did mention previous children which is plural of child. It seems Tom's older son cant decide how to act. One moment he is acting strong and taking care of his younger sister. In another moment he is cowering in fear. Or he is impetuously brave trying to rescue someone hanging off the ramp of that ferry. And finally he decides to go see what the aliens look like while Tom is screaming at him to get away and for him to help get his sister to safety.
In the end just like in the book and George Pal's movie adaptation, it is the microorganisms of the Earth that finally kills off the alien invaders. Roll credits, stop the DVD player, remove DVD and put back in case. Then put the DVD on eBay for $1. Or throw it out.
Now to address a couple of other problems this movie has. In seeking to be different the logical buttressing to the story is destroyed. In the Extras on the DVD we hear the people behind the camera discussing how this movie was made.
In George Pal's version of War of the Worlds, the Martian war-machines and their crews arrive in meteors. So the crew had the bright idea of having the war-machines buried in the ground and it is only the pilots who arrive in bolts of lightening. This begs the question if the war-machines arrived so long ago then why didn't the aliens attack then and be done with it, be far easier to knock off Neanderthals than Homo Sapiens. Also if these machines were buried for so long and the aliens studying Earth for so long, one would think the aliens would be aware of all the diseases floating about and taken counter-measures. Though this argument can also be leveled against H.G. Wells' novel.
Now onto creature design. In keeping with the original novel they did create the tri-pod war machines. George Pal, when he made his version, could not figure out a good way to model such a walking gait and use it convincingly in a film so his war-machines floated. Again to be different from what George Pal had shown the aliens to be, this team took another tack. They made the aliens' body trilateral so they moved on three legs. Then they did something that broke with the whole concept of Maritan three-ness, they made the aliens vision binocular like humans and not trinocular like the Martians are in Pal's version. And as they made their aliens have binocular vision, their heads ended up looking very much like the aliens seen in Independence Day.
As you can see from the above I did not enjoy this movie at all. George Pal's version will remain in the library while this movie will never grace my collection.