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War of the Worlds (2005): Spielberg’s Best Sound Design Now in 4K Ultra HD [Review]

War of the Worlds was the movie I anticipated more than Munich back in 2005. Yeah, I’m that guy. But, who wouldn’t dig it? Spielberg doing H.G. Wells and doubling up on releases. It worked out so well in 1993, it was bound to do well here. Well, we got was about 2/3rds of a great movie. The other 1/3rd felt like Spielberg’s brain already moved over to Munich.

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When Spielberg finally got his hands on 9/11 imagery, he drained that mother like Dracula on a dick. Between the Tripods blasting people into ash and the specific early attacks on the East Coast, one wonders why go this direction? The easy answer is that it allows a master filmmaker to tie into shared visual trauma and inform it into fantasy. But, much like the George Pal version associated Communists with the Martian other, this time it’s a general outsider terrorist.

Tom Cruise entered the third age of his stardom with War of the Worlds. Starting to buy into his increased age, Spielberg was able to stage Cruise properly. He’s an absentee father that means well, but also has to reassure that he’s a manly man. After all, how is Dakota Fanning go to eat dinner at a table covered in a reconstructed muscle car engine? See that messy engine, it’s code for manly man who doesn’t have room for kids.

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Justin Chatwin’s survival in this movie might be Spielberg’s worst creative decision in decades. He survives mainly because we have to conclude Cruise’s arc of becoming a real father. But, the teen guy charges a hill into a Tripod onslaught. He should’ve been vaporized and left with one kid to return to Miranda Otto. But, Spielberg wants us to sympathize with a grown-up Cruise having enjoyed the benefits of domestic normalcy.

Still, given the current climate…there is one scene in War of the Worlds that remains super strong. The legendary sound design in the film helps to sell the authenticity of the scene without having a Tripod in sight. Plus, watching this car jacking out of desperation shows that Spielberg can still bring it when the material lines up perfect. Not everyone is going to enjoy it, but damn if it isn’t effective cinema.

The 4K UHD disc comes with every single special feature ever made for the prior home releases. I swear I think that Paramount financed enough special features for a decade on this one. The A/V Quality is superb. We rigged up our 4K capture setup to make sure everyone can see a direct look at the disc’s presentation. However, I did want to announce we are moving closer to a truer 4K presentation on site for those that have made the 4K jump on their personal computers. Pick this one up if you’re a fan.

War of the Worlds 4K Ultra HD is now available from Paramount Pictures

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