War of the Worlds (1953/2005)

D: Byron Haskin
Paramount (George Pal)
US 1953
85 mins

Science Fiction

W: Barre Lyndon [based on the novel by H. G. Wells]
DP: George Barnes
Ed: Everett Douglas
Mus: Leith Stevens

Gene Barry (Dr. Clayton Forrester), Ann Robinson (Sylvia van Buren), Les Tremayne (Gen. Mann), Robert Cornthwaite (Dr. Pryor), Sandro Giglio (Dr. Bilderbeck), Cedric Hardwicke (narrator)

Fifteen years after Orson Welles terrorised the airwaves with his narration of H. G. Wells' prose, the classic science fiction novel earned its first big screen appearance. 
It's quite a low-key approach to the material, focusing solely on a Martian invasion of the American mid-west. Alas, it's all a budget could afford at the time of release. Technically dated now, the film has the feel of an old-style 1950's B-movie, with a build up of tension better than most.
The War of the Worlds
The War of the Worlds

D: Steven Spielberg
Paramount/Dreamworks (Kathleen Kennedy & Colin Wilson)
US 2005
116 mins

Science Fiction

W: Josh Friedman & David Koepp [based on the novel by H. G. Wells]
DP: Janusz Kaminski 
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: John Williams
PD: Rick Carter

Tom Cruise (Ray Ferrier), Dakota Fanning (Rachel Ferrier), Miranda Otto (Mary Ann Ferrier), Justin Chatwin (Robbie Ferrier), Tim Robbins (Harlan Ogilvy), Morgan Freeman (narrator)

Technically advanced, but narratively inferior remake of H. G. Wells' classic, particularly in the final third where the plotholes are simply too big to ignore.
Tom Cruise, miscast as an everyday man, stops at nothing to protect his children when a Martian attack sees huge tripods rise from beneath the surface of the Earth, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake and causing a wave of public panic just as hazardous.
The first half of the film actually does an excellent job in building up tension, helped with state of the art visual effects and an excellent use of sound editing. Unfortunately this all falls apart shortly after the hour mark, when our main protagonist and his young daughter seek refuge in an abandoned house where another survivor (Tim Robbins) has gone stir crazy. Mankind's "victory" over the invaders also seems like a copout, but nothing is more insulting than some characters seeming to rise from the dead. 
Considering this is a Steven Spielberg film, it really ought to have been better and many of the problems lie in the second half of the script.
War of the Worlds
War of the Worlds