A Fans Guide To Steven Spielberg

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‘The Color Purple’ Passes The Bechdel Test, But How Many Other Steven Spielberg Movies Do?

Navorski sleeps on gate chairs, bathes in bathrooms, dines on ketchup packets, and befriends airport employees. The escapade is never as whimsical as Spielberg believes it to be, Hanks' Eastern European-out-of-water shtick becoming increasingly grating with every passing takeoff. But my God, the airport set! There's something to treasure in every Spielberg movie. Not an easy bar to surpass.

The only filmmaker who has been thanked more than God at the Oscars

After his bomber plane explodes mid-operation, the spirit of aerial firefighter Pete Richard Dreyfuss returns to our plane of existence, to mentor a young ace who's falling hard for Pete's one true love Holly Hunter. Always strings together exhilarating forest firefighting, spry comedic work from Dreyfuss and co-star John Goodman, and Audrey Hepburn's final performance as Pete's otherworldly guide, but its gooey center keeps it from coalescing.

Hunter's no-bullshit heart redeems every flaw in this movie. Like the Ernest Cline novel it's based on, Spielberg's slick Ready Player One places a premium on name-checking and visually referencing pop-culture ephemera primarily from the s in service of character development. The logic likely goes that, while many people can tell you that, say, Williams Electronics released both Joust and Robotron: in the year , only a truly worthy hero can tell you off the top of his head that the latter arcade classic was designed by Eugene Jarvis and Larry DeMar, and that, by the way, Jarvis and DeMar also created two other Williams Electronic gems, Defender and Stargate.

The idea, I guess, is that we'll root more for someone if they can turn this trivia sludge into gold in a story set in a dystopian future where literally everything depends on knowing the most obscure and random minutiae from your childhood. But it collectively adds up to being more than just implausible; it's tiring.

Spielberg, who himself was a huge fan of arcade video games back in the day he wrote the forward to Martin Amis' long-out-of-print book Invasion of the Space Invaders , at least dazzles with special effects and Ben Mendelsohn shines as yet another seething baddie, but, like the book, it's hard to care much who wins the game in the end. There was no outdoing his original dinosaur thriller, so Spielberg pivoted in every way. Jeff Goldblum would take center stage, the T. While the opening scene, a girl chomped to bits by Compys, is a nasty bit of work, and a stampede sequence is heart-racing from start to finish, The Lost World indulges in all the wrong ways, the type of "why not?

Famed playwright Tom Stoppard adapted J. Ballard's memoir, chronicling his childhood years spent in a Japanese concentration camp, and Spielberg deftly orchestrated the large-scale drama, from upscale British life in Shanghai, to the horrors of invasion, to the mundanity of life inside the camp. A young Christian Bale is a revelation as Jim, who keeps his head above water after soldiers separate him from his parents.

The only spark missing is passion -- Empire of the Sun never makes a comment or challenges an idea. It's a movie obsessed with images: coffins floating down river, the flash of the atomic bomb, and the American P Mustang, aka the "Cadillac of the skies! In its haunting Middle Passage sequence, which chronicles the rebellion aboard the slave ship Amistad as it crosses from Cuba to the US, this historical drama achieves a terrifying and visceral quality that might convince you it's a great film.

Unfortunately, after that, there's courtroom drama to wade through, complete with lengthy speeches, top hats, and, most offensive of all, horrible Matthew McConaughey sideburns. By shifting the focus away from Djimon Hounsou's scene-stealing mutiny leader, Spielberg undermines the potency and radical power of the story he's telling, turning this tale of survival into a well-intentioned but not especially compelling history lesson.

It's easy to mock War Horse.

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The title and the premise -- a brave horse perseveres through WWI to reunite with the teenage boy he loves -- sound like a Spielberg parody cooked up in the '90s by The Ben Stiller Show. But the movie is an elegant, often majestic example of old-fashioned Hollywood hokum done right, especially in its many wordless sequences that examine the horrors of trench warfare through the weary eyes of a horse. Spielberg's reverence for the painter-like imagery of old masters like John Ford has never been more palpable, heartfelt, and intoxicating.

It's almost enough to make you forget you're an adult watching a movie called War Horse. Now, this is peak theme-park Spielberg. There's a pirate ship, lost treasure, a fighter plane, and even a cute dog -- and if you don't like any of that, something new will fly into your face a minute later! In 3D! Exhausting, sure, but worth the ride. In adapting Roald Dahl's whimsical, limber children's book, Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison stay faithful to the source material down to the last drop of green fizzy drink.

The tale of an orphan kidnapped by a large-eared giant the skillfully motion-captured Mark Rylance has a dreamlike quality that allows Spielberg to stage some of his trippiest, borderline psychedelic imagery, along with some really elaborate CGI-assisted fart jokes. Judging from the box office, audiences stayed away from the movie like it's a rotting snozzcumber, but they're missing out on a low-key treat.

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When viewed through the lens of contemporary politics, it's easy to celebrate The Post as an inspiring, nostalgia-soaked newspaper tale for the "Fake News" era. But as a Spielberg movie?

This tick-tock docudrama, which re-teams the director with Hanks while adding a game Meryl Streep to the mix for the first time, isn't exactly front-page material. The story itself is rousing -- The Washington Post's publisher Katharine Graham Streep must decide whether to publish revelations from the Pentagon Papers and potentially face the legal wrath of President Richard Nixon -- and the cast is filled with familiar faces like Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, and Carrie Coon playing dedicated journalists fighting for the facts.

But given the talent involved, it's hard to shake the sense that the movie is both too slight and too eager to please. Never blood. This Goldie Hawn action comedy is best viewed as a thought experiment: what if Spielberg didn't become Mr. We never really found out because Jaws capsized Hollywood, turning Spielberg into the wunderkind of a new special effects-driven era. But The Sugarland Express , a plucky counter-culture road movie, finds him working in the character-driven mode of fellow '70s auteurs like Martin Scorsese, Bob Rafelson, Terrence Malick, and Robert Altman.

As a debut from a year-old TV director, it's impressive, but watching it today, it's not so good that you find yourself yearning for the road not taken. For some directors, bigger actually is better. Anyone who knocks this prisoner-swap story as one of Spielberg's "boring" movies should be ashamed! Balancing the chill of Cold War-era paranoia with the paced warmth of a Frank Capra picture, Bridge of Spies again asks Tom Hanks to throw back to a different kind of leading-man role, where words got you everywhere and patriotism meant sticking up for your fellow American.

With little shared screentime, Hanks and Oscar winner Mark Rylance build a relationship that resonates through every turn in this accomplished drama. Just don't expect Spielberg to cater to your attention span. For all his technical wizardry, Spielberg has always been a gifted director of actors. In The Color Purple , an often clumsy but spirited adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer-winning novel, he knows when to get out of the way and let Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Margaret Avery, and, in her first film role, Oprah Winfrey, take control of the frame. Their faces tell the story.

While the film's lavish visual approach can threaten to overpower its narrative of abuse, the performances keep the film grounded and allow the movie to endure despite its flaws. Crane operator Ray Tom Cruise is mostly helpless when tripod war machines burst out from the streets; he might be the rare "good dad" in the Spielberg filmography, but all he can do to save his family is hold tight and run.

Steven Spielberg denies campaign to stop Netflix from winning Oscars

War of the Worlds is a visceral, chrome-filled nightmare, the language of popcorn entertainment weaponized for social commentary. You can tell Spielberg's uncomfortable dealing with the darkness. The anxiety translates to genuine shock after genuine shock. Instead of sequelizing Raiders of the Lost Ark , Spielberg backtracked to for the second installment of the Indiana Jones franchise and doubled down on the silliness. Indy's adversary, Mola Ram, the high priest of an ancient Hindu cult that loves human sacrifice, opened the door for mysticism and Disneyland ride set-pieces.

You can practically hear Spielberg giggling off-screen as he stages musical numbers, feeds chilled monkey brains to future wife Kate Capshaw, and dots each Harrison Ford punch with a Short Round observation. A kid's dream come true. Two filmmakers cannot seem more diametrically opposed than Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick: one is warm and sentimental; the other is cold and clinical.

Yet, perhaps because of those differences, this sci-fi fable about an android a chilling Haley Joel Osment on a Pinocchio-like quest for humanity, developed by Kubrick for years before his death, is a haunting and fascinating work of cinematic alchemy. It's a Spielberg adventure with moments of Kubrickian horror, and a Kubrickian art film with Spielbergian heart.

Gold star for this robot boy. Modern blockbusters are filled with tough-guy musings about the moral weight of vengeance -- just watch any random 10 minutes from a Zack Snyder film -- but they rarely grapple with the outcome of violence in a self-reflective, genuine way. Munich , the story of a secret team of Israeli assassins led by Eric Bana, is a different type of thriller.

With the help of a complex, profound script by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, Spielberg delivers the white-knuckle tension of a spy film without letting his characters off the ethical hook. Instead of rah-rah patriotism, you get a queasy ethical conundrum awash in ambiguity, history drawn with the bloody tip of a knife.

Steven Spielberg & Kate Capshaw with Destry Allyn Spielberg & Jessica Capshaw greet fans at Hilton

Spielberg's World War II movie solidified itself as an American classic 15 minutes into its runtime, after a grave, pungent staging of the invasion of Normandy Beach. The rest of the film lives up to the sequence, with Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, and an unimaginable list of big-name actors playing out a universal band of brothers. When a life is worth saving, backstory matters, and Spielberg's direction does as much to enrich the lives of his men as it does to enact the terrors of war. A triumph that would be a full-blown masterpiece if it weren't for those weepy bookends with older Private Ryan.

It turns out Indiana Jones got his name from a dog and has a cranky dad. Did we really need all this information? Probably not. But Last Crusade is an eternally rewatchable sequel with more than enough exciting set pieces, one-liners, and caustic Grail Knights to justify watching Spielberg and Harrison Ford's fedora-wearing hero work through their daddy issues on screen.


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On the surface, Minority Report is yet another sci-fi film from a master of the genre, but look closer and you'll find something else: a canny neo-noir about a detective on the run. This mind-bending whodunit finds the famous director and the even-more-famous star bringing out the best in each other -- Cruise underplays Spielberg's sentimental impulses, and Spielberg turns Cruise into a crew cut-rocking blunt object -- and nearly every other element, from the costumes to the effects to the music, is perfectly executed.

Well, except for the mawkish last few minutes, which force this movie into the "great movie, bad ending" category, a specialty of late-period Spielberg. Coincidentally, she had a tiny part in The West Wing later on in , which of course Richard Schiff starred in.

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Deal with it. The name comes from a Indian myth about a brave warrior facing a different execution on each of the five islands: burning, drowning, crushing, hanging and beheading. The most recent one looks like this. Sorry about that. New Zealand was considered at one point, but eventually dismissed for cost reasons. Bowman, with her high-pitched voice and natty hat, is played by Cyndi Strittmatter, who you may have recently seen as Maurine Dunne in Gone Girl.

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