Dock worker and divorced dad Tom Cruise is in for a close encounter of the most devastating kind when aliens invade.

First, there’s strange lightning bolts in the sky and then huge flying tripod machines rise out of the ground, glide overhead and lay waste to everything in their path. And so, with his teenage son (Justin Chatwin) and little daughter (Dakota Fanning) in tow, Cruise runs for it.

Director Steven Spielberg’s epic adaptation of the HG Wells classic boasts some shattering special effects as the aliens demolish whole city blocks at a time and throw out creepy tentacle probes into every hiding place.

However, it’s with the human drama that the film scores best, as Spielberg emphasizes the strain of simply trying to stay alive as Cruise and his kids wander through a teeming wasteland of panic, pain and destruction.