In a word: Wow!
This was a great movie! I *really* dislike Tom Cruise movies for the most part. His movies are usually nothing more than him walking around with the annoying grin of his, acting all cool. Ugh. Useless. This one was different. Fortunately we were only subjected to that damn grin for one brief moment at the very beginning of the movie. After the beginning, the movie gets so dark, so fast, it's jarring.
I have to say that I was impressed with this movie. At the same time it had a modern 'disaster movie' feel to it, and it also reminded me alot of the classic 50s style alien movies. The alien 'tripods' were very reminiscent of the type of aliens you would see in a 50s alien attacks movie. It was a very different kind of disaster movie though.
Most disaster movies fall into the stereotype of having big elaborate CGI scenes of famouse landmarks (New York, Washington DC, etc.) getting destroyed by aliens. This one did not. Everything that got destroyed in this movie was just typical 'small town' kind of things. Just generic buildings, homes, churches and the like. The movie also did a very good job of centering on one family (Tom Cruise's character and his kids), rather than wasting time with lots of unrelated scenes of death and destruction. All the death and destruction were immediately around him. Its as if the aliens were only attacking were he lived, and not the whole world. A nice touch.
This movie was certainly not without the violet images. DO NOT take young children to this movie! I have never seen a movie that more blantantly referenced the events of September 11th, than this one did. In this movie, the alien death rays would instantly incinerate people, turning them into a puff of ashes. There was a long sequence of the aliens attacking, and the people running and getting turned to ashes. By the end of the sequence, Tom Cruise's character is covered with ash - he is literally covered with the remains of the dead! This is very reminiscent of 911. As you will recall, there were many photos of people covered with ash after 911. Another disturbing reference to 911 was the scene of a massive wall covered with homemade 'missing persons' signs. This again, was very similar to 911. The other reference to 911 was when the aliens attack and the kids kept asking 'Is it terrorists?". Very disturbing stuff.
Go see this movie, but don't bring the kids...