Tag Archives: Steven Spielberg

West Side Story Review

A handful of interviews that surrounded the release of West Side Story boasted that it was the first-time director Steven Spielberg had handled a musical. That may be true, but why is that such a feat? Spielberg is a journeyman director, responsible for great popcorn movies and sincerely moving pieces that litter a strong filmography. But those days are over, and it now appears he has a mental checklist of genres and topics he hopes to cover and coat with that likeable charm that has been on the brink since Ready Player One. His adaptation and subsequent remodelling of West Side Story has little ground to gain on an original that wasn’t all that exciting anyway.

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Minority Report Review

Futuristic technology that can predict crimes before they happen is no new inspiration for film. Demolition Man did it, sort of. Freezing criminals, travelling back and forth in time to arrest them and slap them in a cryo tank to keep them rested, Steven Spielberg’s science-fiction piece from the turn of the new century certainly has smatterings of that Sylvester Stallone-led feature. Thankfully Minority Report manages to slice out the 1990s influence and the heavy new wave of bright colours and wildcard populism that oozed its way through the Wesley Snipes performance of old. Tom Cruise wouldn’t stand for that, the no-nonsense leading man at the heart of Minority Report is a good example of how dated science fiction can act and feel quite homely.

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Lincoln Review

What is consistent and almost inevitable with adaptations of presidential terms is that they live or die entirely on who portrays the incumbent. Lincoln does well to draw Daniel Day-Lewis into the fold. So great an opportunity it is for director Steven Spielberg to take on the life of the sixteenth President of the United States, the actual challenge of adapting Abraham Lincoln’s life and times in office is underrepresented. The highlight wheel whirs away, bagging Day-Lewis that inevitable Academy Award in the process. Lincoln will not struggle to win over those history buffs it so clearly appeals to, and it does segregate the market somewhat, casting out Oliver Stone and slapping his hands away from another adaptation of a monumentally interesting political figure.

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The Colour Purple Review

Although Steven Spielberg would not admit to it in his feature, the literal colour of purple provides a nice juxtaposition to the people he adapts from this Alice Walker novel. Purple is a colour of power and luxury. The harsh and frank irony is not lost on The Colour Purple, depicting forty years in the life of Celie Harris Johnson (Whoopi Goldberg). That is plenty of range, time and talent to explore life and use it to underscore the highs and lows of struggle. Spielberg immediately has the benefit of shocking interactions which were a norm for the 1910s but a horrifying set of scenes to depict in modern times. There is a glaringly obvious reliance on that as Johnson is put through the wringer of life, and the results are mixed.  

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Bridge of Spies Review

Cold War-infused drama is right at the core of American blockbusters. It allows creatives who are trusted by studios to paint a picture of American heroism and tie it to some vaguely known story that is now riddled with holes because of a prime-time adaptation. At least these names are seeing the light of day, and those few that are prompted to read more and discover the history behind Bridge of Spies will no doubt be fascinated by the characters portrayed in this Steven Spielberg feature. They are not portrayed poorly, that is impossible when Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance play the key parts, but something is amiss in this Americanised tale, one that rings rather sickly in a time of political blacklisting and self-proclaimed heroism of a war they joined late. 

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The Adventures of Tintin Review

Steven Spielberg, the directing journeyman, has covered nearly every genre one could want to. His foray into animation was not a necessity, but an inevitability. His work on The Adventures of Tintin was guaranteed a budget, a big cast and a bright future. There are few moments where we should feel sorrow for a lack of a sequel, but with the case of The Adventures of Tintin, there is room to grow the enjoyable notations that this all-star ensemble has to offer. But there is always room for that on a Spielberg project, or at the very least, there certainly should be. There is plenty to engage with here, but the elements we are meant to enjoy are far less interesting than the throwaway moments meant for comic relief.  

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Review

Time has not been kind to the mouth and mind of Steven Spielberg. His legless horse running in the grand, popular circuit, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull would surely not have been so poorly received had it not broken its way into the brains of a paying public all those years ago. It coined terminology for students of film, with the “nuking the fridge” a moment for writers and film philosophers to leap upon, but for audiences to tut at and shake their head with the same warmth and shame they have for children who chase squirrels in the hopes of sitting atop them like a bicycle.  

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A.I. Artificial Intelligence Review

Eventually, we will be overrun by robots. So many films are saying it will happen, and I am hard-pressed to agree with them. A.I. Artificial Intelligence sees the world in a panic. Rising sea levels have wiped out a good chunk of us, and in the place of these casualties, artificial intelligence is created and brought to the world. They struggle with their emotions, and cannot convey them whatsoever. That sounds like me, honestly. The key for A.I. Artificial Intelligence, then, is that director Steven Spielberg wishes to access the idea that these man-made machines will soon develop emotions. That is why humans are necessary, to depict those of us who are genuine, and those that are artificial, created to kindle happiness and efficiency. 

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1941 Review

Big names do not equate to big results. Duds are few and far between the filmography of Steven Spielberg. The appeal of working with the man that made Jaws was far too alluring for the likes of Christopher Lee, Toshirō Mifune and Warren Oates, all of whom appear alongside Saturday Night Live alumni Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. A weird and odd ensemble indeed, but it is what Spielberg does with them, or the lack of what he does within 1941 that is most concerning of all. With so much talent on display, nobody is inevitably going to get their fair share of screen time. At the very least, though, there is an expectation of quality from those involved. It is hard to provide quality when the actors do not gel with the content.  

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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Review

Biting off more than you can chew is common in filmmaking. We have seen and heard it all before. Those ambitious souls who wish to combine origin story with the representation of new characters, a punch down of a vehement group, all under the guise of adventure and family ties. Perhaps that is rather specific, but it is a wide enough collation of themes and ideas to raise an eyebrow or two. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade should have more than a handful of problems, yet circumvents them with such intense devotion to its new characters, returning familiarities and the only role Harrison Ford has any passion left for. It seems he is putting that passion to good use.  

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