Across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this earth with envious eyes.. and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us.
The ultimate earth invasion story gets the big screen treatment from the Stephen Spielberg / Tom Cruise double whammy, with Tom Cruise playing a regular American hero forced to spring into action when Martians decide to pitch up on earth and start blasting everything with their heat ray.
Things start off pretty well, with a tense set-up as strange electrical storms sweep the globe (Independence Day anyone?), but Spielberg pretty much skips to the end from about 20 minutes in - once the Martians have appeared. After that it’s just one long finale, as walking machines decimate everything in their path and Tom races to Boston to drop off the kids with his wife. Houses are blown away, fly-overs are annihilated and cars flip over in an endless display of stuff-we-can-do-with-computers-these-days. It’s not rubbish, and in fact it even gets a bit tense and scary in places, but it suffers mainly from being an obviously rushed production - put on a fast-track after the collapse of MI:3 left Tom's summer tentpole a bit pint-sized. Somehow it just seems a bit hollow and totally forgettable.
Now, “if you’d read the book" on the other hand… you’d know that isn’t all that satisfactory either - particularly with the ending - but it does have a lot more suspense, some awesome set-pieces and a much more universal appeal.