The '53 flick is, of course, a classic of B films, with all the earnest cheesy heavy-handedness of the times. You've gotta love how all the Martian war machines fall out of the sky en masse the very instant one of them tries to heat-ray a church. Subtlety was not on the menu.
Spielberg of course has another "modern day" version coming out, in which Tom Cruise defeats the Martians by using his high-level Operating Thetan powers. I'm not very interested in it, beyond the "throw it into my netflix queue when it's out on dvd then forget about it until it shows up in my mail, forgotten, months later" sense. I don't expect subtlety to be any more on the menu here than it was back then--though the explosions are likely to be prettier.
I'm hopeful in the "man, I hope it doesn't suck too badly" sense about this period-piece
attempt at actually filming the novel in its own period--which is the only way for it to really make any sense whatsoever--because the Martians in the book weren't particularly high-tech. Sure, they had heat rays and nerve gas, but no magical forcefields or the like. They basically shot themselves to Earth via a great big interplanetary cannon--which happens to, goddammit, rock
. They didn't really carve up humanity so well by dint of being an unstoppable force with god mode cheat enabled--they simply had a sufficient technological edge, and immediately fubared what passed for logistics networks at the time.
Part of the tragedy as shown in the book is the sense that the fight would have been much more close even if the Martians had arrived even a couple decades later. A few tripods get taken out by lucky cannon fire, after all, and an ironclad warship, the Thunder Child, manages to take down three of the bastards before being melted into slag--which latter chapter I'll personally consider to be one of the litmus tests of the allegedly-faithful film version linked above. It's a scene that really deserves a proper big screen airing.
The relative closeness of the technologies also makes the whole "succumbing to germs" ending much more sensible, of course. Which is a plus, as the tone of the book's take is much more "phew, that was lucky" than the fifties take of "they tampered in God's domain! And were probably Commies, too!" subtle nuancing.