What I liked: The initial contact scene was truly terrifying. Tom Cruise realizing that he's covered with dead people reminded me a lot of what I heard after 9/11 that a lot of the dust that was falling in NYC contained the remains of 2000 people. The scene where Tom Cruise loses his van to the mob was more terrifying than any zombie movie I have seen. The flaming ghost train was also very effective (although not very plausible).
What I hated: The scene where Cruise is fleeing the city was total bullshit! Imagine if every car suddenly stopped on a busy freeway. How the hell would you be able to drive 50 MPH through all those stalled cars and make it completely out of the city. And when Tom tries to run against a fleeing mob, people part to let him through. I'm sorry. I have been in crowds in Beijing and you do NOT go against a moving mob. You are swept up and carried like a leaf in the current. Also, Tom's ex-wife is in Boston and she just stays there waiting for her kids?!? She's supposed to love them more than anything and she does nothing to look for them?!? Also, everyone is fleeing the cities and here is the family in their nice townhome coming to the door like they just finished Sunday dinner. And having the son survive just fine was the ultimate Hollywood bullshit.
Little things also irked me. All power is supposed to be lost as the machines start to rise, battery operated things as well. So how is someone able to have a functioning camcorder as the attack begins? There is a mass exodus of humans that need to get across the Hudson. If cars are dead, why are you taking up valuable space on the ferry with non-functioning vehicles?!? Why does it take so long for people to realize that they should be pushed overboard?
Roger Ebert brought up some good points. What was the purpose of the alien invasion? Conquest? Fine. Why did you wait thousands of years to do it? Wouldn't it have been easier to kill a few Stone Age humans rather than wait. Was the invasion to use humans as food? Great! Why are you vaporizing millions of potential meals?!? The whole basement scene dragged on waaaaaay too long. The monster in the basement has been done over and over. There was nothing new. Even the probe searching for Cruise and family was right out of Jurassic Park with the velociraptors.
WotW is one of those movies that when you get home and start to think about it, plot holes get wider and wider. I personally hate that because I tend to over-anylise science in movies. What sucks is that it wouldn't take much to plug those holes, but it would cost a special effect or add a minute of explanation. How un-Hollywood!
The one thing I liked about the movie was that it tried to maintain the idea of not knowing what was going on. Since there was no news media, people would have no idea what was happening. It would be nice to have a whole movie like that based on an original idea. Have something happen where it would be told from a first-person point of view that would lead to a total surprise ending. I would recommend the little-known movie "Miracle Mile." It's a story about a random phone call which starts panic about a possible nuclear attack. You're never sure what is real and what is rumor and some rumors may end up being self-fulfilling prophecy.
Should you see "War of the Worlds?" Yes. It is a Hollywood extravaganza that should be enjoyed on the big screen. It doesn't suck ass like "Independence Day." It's good Summer movie fare.