Sure, I am overoptimistic at times, but this movie was the definition of jaw dropping when it came to special effects. My expectations were not that high, which always helps when watching a movie. The beginning of the movie was somewhat slow, but it kept me interested enough to fill the lame character buildup. At times I was too aware that I was a movie theater, which I dislike when I am watching a movie. As I started to wander if it was just that I think Cruise is a bad actor at time, the first tripod burst out of the ground and for the rest of the movie every single action sequence had my full attention. *Spoilers*
The acting was good overall. Dakota Fanning did an excellent job; Tom Cruise was actually very convincing at being scared poop-less. The bad mark came from the son in the movie; his performance was forgettable and left me almost upset by the fact that he actually survived. The ending was somewhat anticlimactic, it was nice to know everyone made it alive until the end but nothing about how the invasion really affected their lives, the world, what did we learn? I guess if the character buildup had been a little better it would have granted a better explanation of how their micro cosmos as a dysfunctional family was changed.
The movie really left me with no clear messages. I got the sense that as long as we know that we have earned the right to be in this planet by years of evolution, everything will be ok. I also learned that bacteria could be the ultimate sentinel. I am not sure what kind of movie message that is, it does not make me reflect on my own existence at all. I guess I expect a little too much out of sci-fi movies and I should watch movies thinking of battlefield earth as a start point.
Alien themed movies are in my opinion supposed to be somewhat existential. Heck, even Men in Black has more substance in this department. An Alien invasion movie really needs to give some answers as to why we deserve or not to live. Maybe I am totally missing the point; maybe reading the Taking by Dean Koontz gave me a different bar to judge alien invasions against.
The movie was visually superior in many aspects and I could not detect CGI, everything looked amazingly realistic. It was fun, and it looked beautiful in the big screen. I am not sure it is just a rental because the big screen does make it justice. Overall I found it a very pleasant roller coaster ride.