The War of the Worlds (1953)

Movie review by
Carly Kocurek, Common Sense Media
The War of the Worlds (1953) Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Some grisly and scary parts. Not for young 'uns.
  • NR
  • 1953
  • 85 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 12 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
Violence

Although not gory, a large portion of the movie is filled by alien attacks and loud explosions.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking and smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie is apocalyptic in its nature. The film deals with an attempt by Martians to invade and colonize the planet. Much of the film focuses on alien-on-human violence and the aliens' attempts to eliminate Earth's human occupants. There's a grisly off-screen murder. Characters drink and smoke.

Wondering if The War of the Worlds (1953) is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 17-year-old Written bySircjalot July 12, 2018

A classic sci fi movie!

This was the first alien film on which the aliens are taking over the world. The graphics were amazing for the time, though of course it has aged, it still look... Continue reading
Parent of a 12-year-old Written bySpeirto January 27, 2019

Fine for kids today

I watched this movie in the 70s when I was about 7. The alien ships scared me but not to the point of nightmares, if anything it left me a pretty solid fascinat... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byRC62 July 17, 2018

The Tom cruise one is bad. So watch this one! Its better

It was rated G for a reason! Its a family friendly thrilling alien movie. Its sure a classic 50s movie! While it may not have the star cast the new one has. Thi... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byBlueBen1111 February 23, 2016

Know your child...

Although now I enjoy watching this movie, when I was younger, I had bad dreams for months just from watching this movie. Before you let your child watch this, t... Continue reading

What's the story?

When aliens touch down in sunny California, it's bad news for the planet -- especially when they start destroying cities and shooting at everything that moves. WAR OF THE WORLDS explores what might happen if some of our intergalactic neighbors proved less than friendly. The action starts when a strange meteor lands outside a small town. Noted scientist Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry) comes in to investigate and quickly teams up with Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson). When almost everyone returns to town for a square dance, the "meteor" opens up, revealing itself as an alien spaceship. The visitors quickly demonstrate they're not looking to make friends with the neighbors by killing the three men who try to greet them. What follows is the "war" of the title, as the human race tries to defend itself, and the alien visitors fly around zapping everything in sight.

Is it any good?

Although this original War of the Worlds has woefully dated production values, the movie really is top-notch when it comes to telling a story. The special effects, which were cutting-edge in 1953, now seem hokey, but for viewers who have an appreciation of older films, or who are interested in film history, this sci-fi classic is a must-see.

When Orson Welles did a radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, people thought aliens really were invading. While director Byron Haskin's film version is nowhere near as convincing, it's still a great example of the science fiction genre.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the "science" of this science-fiction film, particularly if some viewers have an interest in outer space. Other possible topics for discussion might include the film's Cold War historical context or the concept of colonization. How might the Martians' attempt to take over the entire planet compare to the empire-building of nation-states? Why don't the Martians attempt to communicate with the people of Earth?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sci-fi

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate