continues his longtime collaboration with Steven Spielberg in this adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel of the same name (previously filmed in 1953). Considering that the movie depicts a gigantic Martian invasion, you¹d think Williams would have fully gone into his familiar bombastic mode, but he's refrained from doing so. While the composer makes full use of the outsize orchestra at his disposal, he prefers juxtaposing layers and building atmosphere rather than hitting you over the head with dramatic arias. "The Intersection Scene," for instance, begins slowly and minimally, then progressively builds into an ominous pounding; Williams then inserts spooky, otherworldly banshee-like effects that escalate into a frenzied pitch before abruptly disappearing as the track begins its descent back towards calm. The sound is genuinely scary and could lead to a spike in blood pressure among impressionable list eners without the help of visuals. "Probing the Basement" is another example of Williams masterfully building anxiety. War of the Worlds
culminates with "Escape from the Basket," in which Williams methodically builds tension over close to ten minutes. And refreshingly, even when the action picks up, he mostly avoids the clichéd thundering timpani that often plague this type of score. --Elisabeth Vincentelli
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