One thing nobody will be seeing before the film’s release, if Spielberg has his way, is his interpretation of Wells’ alien war machines: The tripods are the production’s biggest secret. Dennis Muren, the legendary visual effects supervisor, promises they’ll have menace to spare.
…it wasn’t until last year that [Murren] got the scoop on The War of the Worlds from a friend of its original production designer. “They wanted to do tripods in 1953, but they couldn’t figure out how to make them walk,? he reports – so they switched to hovering saucers, then built models and suspended them above the soundstage on wires so they seemed to float above the ground. “Now we have the technology to do it.?
Instead, Spielberg tells the story of an average Joe and how he deals with this threat to Humanity’s survival:
"Audiences can always wrap themselves around special effects – huge sequences of destruction and combat and people fleeing for their lives," he says. "But that’s a spectacle, instead of a story about people you know in real life. Especially with science fiction, I’m always looking for a way in for the audience. So I don’t populate this movie with generals and presidents and secretaries of defense. I wanted this to be about real people" – like Ray Ferrier, a Newark, New Jersey, dockworker who until recent events spent his days uneventfully operating the cranes that load and unload container ships. "I wanted it to be about how far a father will go to protect his family."
In December 2003, after discarding one script, Spielberg summoned David Koepp, the screenwriter behind Jurassic Park and The Lost World. They agreed not to set the film in the 1890s, because if aliens had invaded then we’d know about it, and not to identify the aliens as Martians, for the same reason: We’ve been to Mars and nobody’s there. As for Ferrier, Koepp imagined him as a high school athlete who was going to have it all – until he hurt his shoulder, married young, had a couple of kids, and watched his future slip away. He’s a lousy father, but from the moment he sees the explosions behind his house, grabs his two kids, and flees, all he can think about is supplying them with the most basic human needs: food, water, shelter, warmth.
This is going to be a real whopper, regardless of the geographical location of the main story. It is worthwhile checking out the Wired article. It contains quite a bit of really interesting info on the developmental cycle of the movie and some of the technologies used in the movie.