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E.T. kill home

Nickey Hernandez

As far as I’m concerned, Tom Cruise can freak out on Oprah’s couch, embarrass Matt Laurer on “Today,” or worship the corpse of L. Ron Hubbard, so long as he keeps rocking at the box office.

The little Scientolgist-that-could not only rocks, he rolls and kicks total butt in War of The Worlds, by far the best sci-fi-terror ride in a decade.

Of course, what else can one expect from hit-making mastermind Steven Spielberg.

War of the Worlds has the nail biting panic of “Jaws,” the intense action of “Jurassic Park” and the alien-making mayhem of “Independence Day.”

But this flick is better than all three combined.

Based on the well-known novel by H.G. Wells, the story centers on an alien invasion of Earth. The tale caused panic in the streets in the 1930s when Orson Welles crafted a realistic radio play from the yarn.

Now Spielberg has done better by using his special effects brilliance to terrorize us by putting the audience at the center of the aliens’ kill zone.

We watch thousands of humans get vaporized by heat rays, then see hundreds more snagged by the tentacles that fall from massive, tripod-like space ships.

Ray (Cruise), a self-absorbed, blue collar loser, finds himself in the middle of the madness after an intense storm lingers over New York City. Ray is supposed to be on babysitting duty, playing reluctant nanny to his estranged children. At first, Ray comes off as a lame-ass grease monkey, who is far more interested in his Mustang than offspring.

All that changes when the tripods burst from the ground and tower over mankind.

Spielberg gives us about 10 minutes of character development, before the monsters break ground. From here, we’re into a visual bonanza that plays out like Sept. 11 to the 10th power.

Wave after wave of humans get zapped and turned into bloody fertilizer by the alien hordes.

That cute little ET character, who meant no harm and loved Reeses Pieces in another Spielberg classic, is quickly forgotten. This time, he’s replaced by the slimy Gollum-like warriors that spill out of their tripods and troll for human flesh.

Meanwhile, Ray turns into a reluctant father figure and hero as he does what must be done to keep his clan alive.

Cruise more than carries his own amid the special effects magic. He is the straw that holds steady in Spielberg’s swirling drink.

Tim Robbins adds nice spice to the flick as a semi-crazed cellar dweller who has survived the alien’s initial onslaught.

Robbins soon cracks under the pressure, leaving Ray to go medieval on his ass.

Spielberg’s brilliant direction and creation are the real stars here. But Cruise deserves credit for delivering another solid performance as a man determined to outlast the apocalypse.

For once, a summer blockbuster actually lives up to its hype.

Until next time, Mr. Hernandez has left the theater to attend the Church of Scientology.

” Nickey Hernandez is a former private investigator who is also madly in love with Katie Holmes.


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