The capsule review of the movie from the Christian Science Monitor has this say:
War of the Worlds (PG-13)
Director: Steven Spielberg. With Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins, Justin Chatwin. (117 min.)
Earthlings battle alien invaders who wreak deadly havoc until they’re stymied by … you know what, if you’ve read H.G. Wells’s influential 1898 novel. Spielberg gives the story his full high-tech treatment, building great scariness with help from first-class music and camera work. The picture gets repetitive, though, since its terrors are pretty much the same from start to finish. Cruise is in good form and Fanning is still the best child actress around.
I certainly agree with most everything the reviewer says with the exception of the repetitive part. this was a very intense film, and though I have taken my daughter to other pg-13 films, I feel that this one is way too intense for her at this time. The special effects are incredible, and the scene where the alien tripod ascends from under the ground is simply amazing.
My only complaint about the film is not about Tom Cruise (even given how irritating as he has been in public recently), but about the ending. Like the novel and the old black and white film version, the movie simply peters out with a whimper. I don’t know what Speilberg could have done differently, but after almost two hours of thrills, the ending is a dud. I give it 7 out of 10 stars.