By casting Tom Cruise as the lead in War of the Worlds, Steven Spielberg has shoehorned himself into something of a dilemma. If he remains faithful to HG Wells's classic sci-fi novel, then Ray Ferrier (Cruise) is reduced to simply running away from the invincible alien machines; if he changes the story to allow Ray influence events and help stop the invasion - and a mainstream audience expects no less of a superstar hero - he shoots the story's big twist in the foot. Thus we get a two-pronged story: the alien invaders get on with marmalising the planet unmolested, while an unusually helpless Cruise does his best to ensure his kids (Chatwin and Fanning) stay out of harm's way. Personally, we could have done with a lot less Cruise and a lot more of the spectacular devastation wreaked by the marauding tripods. In terms of sheer spectacle, War of the Worlds is an adrenaline-charged rollercoaster ride when Spielberg does let the machines off the leash, and there is at least one incredibly haunting scene of bleak devastation that could be chopped out, framed and hung in a gallery. Unfortunately, there's also a scene which stays in a basement for a good 25 minutes. Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Miranda Otto and Tim Robbins also star.