The Source for Parents

Movie Reviews
by Jonathan McKee

War of the Worlds (11/22/2005)

Rated PG-13 For frightening sequences of sci-fi violence and disturbing images.

Directed by Steven Spielberg (JAWS, E.T., Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park…)

Starring Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins…

Jonathan's Rating: Theatre Worthy

E.T. is back… and boy is he pissed!

Yes, this is another tale from Spielberg about extra terrestrials. But don’t expect Elliott’s little friend looking for a phone booth…War of the Worlds is much darker.

I admit, when War of the Worlds was first released, I wasn’t that excited for another “end of the world” or “the world is under attack” film. From the previews it didn’t seem like it included the comedic elements of Independence Day that I loved so much.

But I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised with War of the Worlds. It was much more than aliens and spaceships. It was well written and full of clever action. Sometimes these films have one extreme or the other. Too much action and a lame story, or good characters, but . . .yawn. War of the Worlds had the best of both worlds. And very convincing performances from Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning didn’t hurt either.

The story is about Ray Ferrier (Cruise), a divorced working class man living in New Jersey. His kids bounce back and forth between himself and his ex with all the expected conflict that brings. But these problems soon are overshadowed by the arrival of aliens plowing through the country, destroying everything in their path. Ray must rise up to be the father and leader that he never was and lead his children to safety. Meanwhile, the people of earth try to figure out if their future offers the hope for survival or the incomprehensible - complete annihilation.

War of the Worlds worked in every way. As bleak as it was at times, the film offered glimpses of hope and redeemable characters that kept me dialed.

The only thing discouraging to me was that its realistic glimpse of human nature was pretty depressing. The way that humans respond in these situations is far more terrifying to me than any alien. And Spielberg nailed the mob mentality. Very frightening.

Not younger kids. The film is pretty intense and has scenes where people are being “disintegrated” by the aliens. In addition, there are a handful of explicatives that would be expected if people were being killed left and right. There were no sexual situations or nudity of any kind and no immitatable behavior. I let my 12-year-old son watch it with me and had no regrets.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

  1. What are some of the messages or themes you observed in this movie?

  2. How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?

  3. How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?

Jonathan McKee Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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