Tag Archives: Steven Spielberg

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) Review

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The Lost World - Jurassic Park

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains violence & coarse language
Cast:
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Julianne Moore as Dr. Sarah Harding:
Pete Postlethwaite as Roland Tembo
Arliss Howard as Peter Ludlow
Richard Attenborough as Dr. John Hammond
Vince Vaughn as Nick Van Owen
Director: Steven Spielberg

John Hammond along with few other members try to explore the Jurassic Park’s second site. However, things get complicated when the dinosaurs go wild and everyone is forced to run for their lives.

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Jurassic Park became an instant classic when it released in 1993, becoming both a critical and box office success. However, all the sequels following did not seem to have been received favourably. The follow up was again directed by Spielberg, and some people viewed it as a disappointment. However I ended up really liking it, even if its not quite as good as the first movie.

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The Lost World is distinctly different from the Jurassic Park, but in a good way. The movie is larger in scope, and the concept and set up of having a different island where dinosaurs roam free was exciting. It’s a nice way to make it stand apart from having yet another dinosaur outbreak like the first Jurassic Park was. Storywise, it definitely has more flaws than the first movie, its certainly not as memorable. It also seems to have a stronger focus on excitement and thrills over its story, and leans more into being a rollar coaster ride. With that said, it succeeds as such, with some entertaining and thrilling moments. The Lost World is a darker movie than Jurassic Park, yet also manages to be sillier and on the more absurd side, so it can be tonally inconsistent at points. Characters in monster movies making bad decisions isn’t exactly an anomaly, however The Lost World has a lot more of it than Jurassic Park, and for whatever reason its more frustrating. Its probably because these people really should know better, especially Julianne Moore’s character. There’s also some moments where the plot gets a little far fetched and doesn’t make sense. There are some very silly moments that are over the top, including one involving a dinosaur being taken out by gymnastics of all things. Finally, the third act has a notable setting change that’s out of place from the rest of the movie, even though I enjoyed it.

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The cast of characters aren’t as good as the characters in the first movie, they weren’t as memorable or as interesting, and I say this even though I don’t even think the collection of characters of the first movie were all that great. However, the characters of The Lost World still work in their parts and are performed well. Jeff Goldblum was a scene stealer as Ian Malcolm in the first Jurassic Park and he returns here in a larger part, taking the lead role this time. While I do feel like he works better as a side character than a protagonist, he is still good, fun to watch and has some memorable lines. Julianne Moore, Richard Attenborough, Pete Postlethwaite, Vince Vaughn and others are good, though I will say that Moore does feel a bit underutilised, and Vaughn randomly disappears from the final act.

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Unsurprisingly, Steven Spielberg’s direction was one of the strongest parts of this movie, with strong technical elements. The cinematography is polished and energetic, it is a visually stunning movie. The majority of The Lost World is set at night, and is darker and rainier than even the first movie. The sets are grand and spectacular with some stellar production design. The visual effects and sound design are on top form too. Some of the CGI aren’t quite as strong compared to the first movie, but its nonetheless impressive, and the animatronics still hold up. The set pieces are riveting, entertaining, and very tense. Once again, Spielberg exceeds at the tension and suspense. One moment which stands out particularly is a scene where the main characters are on the edge of a cliff, it is incredibly well crafted. The deaths in The Lost World are interestingly more violent and brutal than the last movie’s, as if Spielberg was carrying over his mean streak from Temple of Doom. The score by John Williams is great as to be expected, and this time has a comparatively darker tone, fitting for this movie.

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The Lost World was a decent follow up to the first Jurassic Park. Once again, it has problems with the characters, and the writing is a bit of a mixed bag. Otherwise, the cast are pretty good, and the direction from Steven Spielberg really made it something worth watching. At the very least, The Lost World is the best of the Jurassic Park sequels.

Jurassic Park (1993) Review

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Jurassic Park

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] 
Cast:
Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant
Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler
Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm
Richard Attenborough as Dr. John Hammond
Bob Peck as Robert Muldoon
Joseph Mazzello as Tim Murphy
Ariana Richards as Lex Murphy
Samuel L. Jackson as Ray Arnold
Wayne Knight as Dennis Nedry
Martin Ferrero as Donald Gennaro
B.D. Wong as Dr. Henry Wu
Director: Steven Spielberg

John Hammond, an entrepreneur, opens a wildlife park containing cloned dinosaurs. However, a breakdown of the island’s security system causes the creatures to escape and bring about chaos.

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With the third Jurassic World movie coming soon, I thought I’d rewatch the movies in the Jurassic Park/World series. To be blunt, I have no nostalgia for Jurassic Park. I didn’t watch the original until I was later in my teens, and I’m pretty sure I saw the second or third movies before it. While I liked the original, I just wasn’t as attached to it as much as others. Having revisited it, that remains the same case, but I still quite liked it and can appreciate the fantastic work here.

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While I do have problems with it, the script of Jurassic Park is solidly written and well crafted; I was on board from beginning to end. The film is 2 hours long, but doesn’t waste time in setting everything up. The first half sets the mood by introducing the park, explaining why it was set up and how the dinosaurs are back. It allows many of the characters to be in awe seeing these dinosaurs brought back to life. Then in the second half, it turns into a thriller when the dinosaurs get loose. As that, Jurassic Park works. I do have issues with the film, nothing movie breaking but enough to prevent me from liking it more. It potentially might be an unpopular opinion, but the characters here weren’t all that interesting, and were a bit thin. That being said, it still has the best set of characters from the Jurassic series thus far. Whenever the dinosaurs are on screen, I think the film really works and succeeds, but a lot of the human drama is rather forced. I think it succeeds more with spectacle and chase scenes over the character moments, which is unfortunate because stronger character moments really would’ve made it so much better. Otherwise, it is a solid script.

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As I said earlier, the characters aren’t all that great, but the performances make up for them. The main trio of Sam Neil, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum are great and make their characters memorable. Richard Attenborough is also great as John Hammond, the creator of Jurassic Park. Out of all the characters in the film, Hammond is given probably the most amount of depth. The rest of the cast including Samuel L. Jackson and Wayne Knight also bring it to their parts. The only acting that doesn’t work that well for me were the grandchildren of Hammond who were a little annoying, but I think most of my annoyance came from how they were written.

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Steven Spielberg directed Jurassic Park and his expert craft is on display here. The cinematography is stunning, and everything is perfectly filmed. The visual effects are fantastic, especially with the blend of practical effects, animatronics, and CGI together, which today appears more fluid than you’d initially think for a movie released in 1993. Speaking of which, the presentation and presence of all the dinosaurs were incredibly effective. Something that Spielberg does incredibly well is build up suspense, things which he brought over from his earlier movies like Duel and Jaws. There are some very memorable and iconic sequences, including but not limited to the introduction of the T-Rex. Finally, you can’t talk about Jurassic Park without talking about the memorable score from John Williams, ranging from triumphant and epic to tense and thrilling. I can’t imagine Jurassic Park without this music.

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I will admit that Jurassic Park is not one of my favourite Steven Spielberg movies and I have some issues with the film, mainly with some of the writing and the rather lacklustre human characters. As I said, I don’t hold the same love for it like most people do. Still, it is undeniably an iconic and monumentally impactful and influential film, and was truly a technical achievement.

West Side Story (2021) Review

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West Side Story (2021)

Time: 156 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Ansel Elgort as Tony
Rachel Zegler as Maria
Ariana DeBose as Anita
David Alvarez as Bernardo
Mike Faist as Riff
Rita Moreno as Valentina
Director: Steven Spielberg

Love at first sight strikes when young Tony spots Maria at a high school dance in 1957 New York City. Their burgeoning romance helps to fuel the fire between the warring Jets and Sharks — two rival gangs vying for control of the streets.

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I’m not familiar with West Side Story, the musical. Nor have I watched the 1960s adaptation from director Robert Wise. So I wasn’t exactly interested in the latest West Side Story adaptation. What did have my attention however was that the fact that this most recent adaptation would be directed by Steven Spielberg, in fact it’ll surprisingly be the first musical directed by Spielberg. I’m not sure that I would put Spielberg as one of my favourite directors of all time but there’s not denying how impactful and influential of a director he is. So I was curious to see how it would be. I have to admit, his West Side Story turned out to be a lot better than expected, it was actually amazing.

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As someone who wasn’t familiar with the musical beforehand, I quite liked the movie. It was over the top, theatrical and cheesy at times, yet endearing, entertaining and emotional at points. I was quite interested with the story and the characters and how it played out (for the most part), and it helps that in each scene it felt that there was so much care put into it. I almost feel like it’s hard to critique the writing of the film here because it’ll probably be closely based off the source material, yet I’m unfamiliar with said source material so I can’t judge it as an adaptation either. As far as flaws with the writing go, I will say that I wasn’t invested in the love story at the centre with the main two characters (as played by Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler). Any story which has two characters instantly fall in love at first sight is immediately going to turn me off (large reason for why I just don’t care for Romeo and Juliet), and I don’t particularly like the way it plays out here either. However, I do feel like this’ll be a problem I’ll have with every variation with the story, and not necessarily an issue with how Spielberg presented it. West Side Story is a very long movie at 2 hours and 40 minutes, and despite that length it had me invested and entertained from beginning to end.

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A notable strength of the film was the powerhouse performances from most of the cast. One of the main leads is newcomer Rachel Zegler as Maria and she’s really good, effectively portraying her character’s innocence and vulnerability, and her singing is particularly great. Other actors like Mike Faist, David Alvarez and Rita Moreno are also fantastic in their parts and sell their characters exceptionally. Even the more background characters make strong impressions in their screentime. The most memorable character and performance for me was Ariana DeBose as Anita, she felt very real and was amazing. There’s just one outlier in the otherwise strong cast in the form of one Ansel Elgort, the other co-lead as Tony. I wouldn’t quite say that he’s terrible, but he’s mostly just passable, and his performance could most charitably be called a charisma vacuum. Compared to all the other characters in the story, Tony is relatively boring, but its really not helped by the fairly bland portrayal here. I wasn’t invested in their romance at all but this really isn’t helped by the scenes between him and Zegler lacking the chemistry and believability needed. In fact, the way that Elgort plays those scenes gives his character a weird and creepy undertone at times that wasn’t intentional. Otherwise, the rest of the cast are fantastic.

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Steven Spielberg is a more than accomplished director, and even though most of his recent movies have been just okay to me, his technical work is always strong. However, this genuinely might be one of his best directing works. His direction of West Side Story is constantly fluent and fluid, and there’s a lot of energy throughout. The sweeping cinematography and camerawork from Janusz Kamiski is just perfect. From beginning to end, every shot is composed perfectly and so much thought was clearly put into every frame, from the lighting to the colour. The song and dance sequences are fantastic; the dance scenes are next level with outstanding choreography, and the scenes with singing are beautiful to watch too even if some are more memorable than others. Other details like the costume designs are strong too. However, I think it’s the production designs and environments that really sell the setting of the film, everything from the barriers, ladders, stairs, flags and destroyed building really works in making it all feel believable.

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West Side Story is a vibrant, entertaining and excellently made musical, with greatly directed song and dance sequences, and a mostly fantastic cast of performances. This really is Steven Spielberg’s best film since Munich, and it is possibly among his best movies. I highly recommend checking it out, it’s among the best films of 2021.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) Review

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Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] contains violence
Cast:
Richard Dreyfuss as Roy Neary
François Truffaut as Claude Lacombe
Teri Garr as Ronnie Neary
Melinda Dillon as Jillian Guiler
Director: Steven Spielberg

Although aliens begin to make their presence felt to humans, the government denies their existence. However, when Roy (Richard Dreyfuss), an electrical lineman, encounters a UFO, he is drawn to the Wyoming wilderness.

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I have heard of Close Encounters of the Third Kind for a while. I knew that it was one of Steven Spielberg’s first movies, it’s about aliens coming to Earth, and it is known as a sci-fi classic. So, I’ve been wanting to check it out for some time. Eventually I did, and unfortunately it just didn’t work for me like it did for many other people. There were some things I liked but I couldn’t get into it overall.

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Close Encounters of the Third Kind actually started off quite well, I do like how Spielberg decided to focus on how people would realistically react to first contact from alien life forms rather than the aliens and the visual spectacle of it. However, after the first 20 minutes the movie really fell off for me. Although the movie is sort of about aliens coming to Earth, most of the movie focuses on main character Roy, played by Richard Dreyfuss, and what happens as a result of his close encounter with aliens. That sounds interesting on paper, but it basically just boils down to him going crazy and having a breakdown, begins throwing garbage into his house, stealing from his neighbours, and all around just driving his wife and kids away from him. The movie went from fun, creepy, eerie alien scenes to Richard Dreyfuss heaving dirt through a window and losing his mind. The story didn’t suck me in at all, if you remove Richard Dreyfuss’s storyline, the movie is mostly just constant scenes of people just discussing UFOs and aren’t particularly engaging. None of the characters are interesting or likable so it’s pretty hard to follow along with them, and unfortunately we are stuck mainly focusing on the worst character of them all. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is also known for its special effects and the majority of these big moments are in the third act, which is when stuff actually starts happening. While it was nice seeing these effects, it didn’t feel satisfying. What happens in the climax didn’t really make sense, and it leaves many questions unresolved. I’m all for ambiguity for the end of a movie, but after sitting through 2 hours’ worth of vague science fiction stuff and the protagonist going crazy, I was hoping for more of a payoff beyond a pretty light show. The movie is very slowly paced, and it came across as rather drab and uneventful, probably because not much actually happens in the movie. It’s not helped by the movie being way too long, well over 2 hours. There are a few engaging scenes, but it feels like much of the movie has a lot of filler.

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There’s not a lot to say about with the acting, it’s generally fine albeit forgettable and one note. Richard Dreyfuss is alright in the lead role, again the character he plays is rather annoying and unlikable, but that’s more to do with the writing than him.

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As I said previously, Steven Spielberg directed this movie, and in all fairness, the technical aspects are definitely the most impressive part of the movie. The visual effects are impressive, especially for the late 70s. It certainly would’ve been a spectacle to watch in 1977 and considering the time it was probably the best that cinema had to offer visually. The effects throughout the whole climax were particularly standout. There are also a few eerie and thrilling scenes that were actually directed quite well. The score from John Williams is good as to be expected from him.

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Unfortunately, I’m just couldn’t get into Close Encounters of the Third Kind at all. Despite some great visuals especially for the time, the story was rather dull and the characters were bland or annoying, both of which were trying my patience throughout. It was one of my least favourite movies from Spielberg. With that being said, with it being considered a classic I do think it is probably worth watching at some point, and I’m aware I’m in the minority of people who didn’t really like the movie.

Duel (1971) Review

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Duel (1971)

Time: 90 minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Dennis Weaver as David Mann
Director: Steven Spielberg

David (Dennis Weaver), a businessman, passes by an old tanker truck in a dessert while travelling for a meeting. The driver of the truck is a psychopath who finds David’s overtaking offensive and decides to kill him.

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I knew of Duel as being an early Steven Spielberg movie where a man is chased by a truck, and it turns out to actually be his debut film. Honestly I wasn’t really expecting much from it despite the director attached, given that it is a TV movie and seemed low budget. It actually turned out to be a lot better than I thought it would be, simple, yet very tense and effective.

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The plot is rather simple, a business commuter is tailed and terrorized by a psychotic truck driver for no specified reason, typical cat and mouse plot. Really its strength lies in its simplicity, its minimalistic but also so tight, effective and suspenseful, and is all around a well crafted thriller. The story is mostly told visually and makes minimal use of dialogue throughout. There is an eerie atmosphere and horror overtones that it retains throughout its runtime, which works as you really get caught up easily in the protagonist’s paranoia and anxiety. In much of the plot, logic is thrown out the window for pure emotion, and this actually works in favour to the movie because it really does feel like a nightmare that never ends. The movie isn’t particularly deep, and there’s not really any themes to delve into here, but that’s really not an issue at all. In terms of issues, even at 90 minutes, the movie can get repetitive regarding the scenarios at times. The pacing is mostly perfect, except for a diner sequence that drags on a bit too long. That’s really it though.

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Dennis Weaver delivers a very good performance as the terrified motorist being chased by the mysterious tanker truck, whose driver remains mostly unseen throughout the film. You really see Weaver slowly losing his mind as the film progresses. As said earlier, there isn’t much dialogue, so often times he has to just convey his character’s feelings all by himself, and he definitely succeeds at this.

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As said earlier, this is Steven Spielberg’s first movie, and it’s quite impressive considering that there was a lot of pressure on him while he was making it. It had multiple limitations too, it was made for TV production, it had a budget of about $450,000, and the filming was completed in 13 days. Despite all that, the end result is quite good, and quite a strong debut film overall. Spielberg manages to successfully let his creativity and flair run wild despite those limitations. It’s not necessarily identifiable as a film of his when you look at the rest of his filmography, but it’s still remarkable seeing what he was able to achieve, especially when taking into account that it is his first movie. The cinematography is incredible here, the use of camera angles and wide angle shots are clever. That paired with the masterful editing creates this strong atmosphere that only gets more tense as the film progresses. The chase scenes are particularly tense and shot incredibly well. Something that also needs to be talked about is the truck. The truck in this movie is a menacing and unstoppable character in itself, and what Spielberg manages to accomplish here with such limited resources is nothing short of impressive. You never learn what his motive is, and you don’t even see the truck driver or his face, adding a sense of mystery to him, and putting the audience in the same view as the protagonist. In some ways you can see the DNA of Jaws being laid here, especially with the role of the truck in this movie. Jaws may have been his big breakout film, but in some ways without Duel, Jaws may never have existed. The one technical aspect I wasn’t so keen on was the use of voiceover, mainly in the aforementioned diner scene. Out of nowhere this voiceover comes to explain what the lead character is thinking in that moment, and it’s not needed given that Dennis Weaver does enough to convey that.

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Duel is a really good debut from Steven Spielberg. It’s not one of his best movies by any means, but it is an incredibly straightforward yet thrilling movie, with a solid lead performance from Dennis Weaver, and a direction that elevates the movie to a much higher level. It may be hard to find, but check it out if you can, especially if you are a fan of Spielberg.

Minority Report (2002) Review

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Minority Report

Time: 145 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language and sex scenes
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Chief John Anderton
Max von Sydow as Director Lamar Burgess
Colin Farrell as Danny Witwer
Samantha Morton as Agatha Lively
Director: Steven Spielberg

It is the near future, a future where murders have become so common, that a system had to be established. This system is called “Precrime”, where 3 physics can predict murders before they happen, allowing police to stop the murders. This system is in production in Washington D.C. where police officer John Anderton (Tom Cruise) has stopped numerous murders in his career. One day, he found out that he is the next person to commit a murder. Now, he is running away from a system he helped become successful, and trying to find out why he was set up to commit murder.

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I watched Minority Report for the first time a long time ago and I remembered liking it, but I only remembered a few things about the plot. So I rewatched it and it’s much better than I remember it being, a very smartly made sci-fi movie that is gripping from beginning to end.

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Minority Report is a unique sci-fi film that’s very complex, creative and thought-provoking. The story is captivating and the characters are well developed and fleshed out, with a smartly written script that’s so well put together. I loved the world-building and the concept of being able to see and prevent crimes before they occur. In fact, the whole futuristic setting I thought was established and set up very well. It was clearly in the future, yet actually felt like a believable setting. At the same time, the film doesn’t wallow in explaining how everything works in the future. Despite the long runtime, it does get onto the main plot reasonably quick. There are plenty of twists throughout and the story is engaging for every minute. It also does have some interesting themes and moral questions, as you would expect from a movie about seeing possible futures and changing the way things play out. Those elevate the movie from just being a pretty thrilling sci-fi movie. It is also pretty fun and has some entertaining moments, even if the story is quite bleak throughout, Spielberg really does balance the tones quite well. The ending does feel a little too neat and optimistic especially considering the rest of the story. Though it does feel like an ending that you could expect from Spielberg at this point, and I thought it was a decent enough conclusion.

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The cast are all great and give everything to their performances. Tom Cruise was great in the lead role of John Anderton, the police officer who goes on the run after finding out that he’s the next person predicted to commit a murder. He does very well with the stunts (yes he runs a lot) but he’s also he’s far more emotional in this role than you would expect. It’s a great performance and possibly one of his best. The supporting cast also do their parts well, including Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Peter Stormare and Max von Sydow.

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Steven Spielberg directed Minority Report and he’s reliable as always. Spielberg is no stranger to the sci-fi genre and uses some of the skills from those past movies to great effect here. I really loved the portrayal of the future. It’s high tech and futuristic as to be expected, yet very grimy and gritty at the same time. The technology was also futuristic yet believable, the portrayal of precrime was also really great and well thought out. Even the personalised advertisements in the background really added a unique aspect to it, yet remaining believable to this world. The cinematography really gives the movie a unique look and neo-norish ambience to it with the use of desaturated colours, high contrasts and lighting, and the production design is great too. The visual effects are generally top notch as to be expected. While there’s a good amount of it here, they’re used to enhance the experience by a great deal while never overshadowing the actual story. The action is great and full of energy, very well choreographed and intense. The editing relentlessly paces the whole narrative and John Williams’ score fits the movie well. In terms of technical flaws, there are some outdated visual effects, though this is the early 2000s so that’s to be expected. Also the glossy cinematography can get a little grating at times, and the movie looks a lot better whenever that look isn’t used.

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Minority Report is a great movie that’s directed excellently, with some commendable performances, and is well written, going way deeper than most sci-fi films at the time. Even looking past its deeper layers, it’s still a gripping, wildly entertaining and thoroughly satisfying experience, and likely one of my favourite films from Steven Spielberg. If you haven’t seen it already, I do think that it is worth watching.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) Review

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium Level Violence
Cast:
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
Cate Blanchett as Irina Spalko
Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood
Ray Winstone as George “Mac” McHale
John Hurt as Harold “Ox” Oxley
Jim Broadbent as Dean Charles Stanforth
Shia LaBeouf as Mutt Williams
Director: Steven Spielberg

In 1957, archaeologist and adventurer Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford) is called back into action and becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls.

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Despite the original trilogy being received very well, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull got a lot of hate when it was released, especially from audiences. I always remembered liking it across the few times I had watched it, but I hadn’t seen it all that much, and it was just under a decade since I last saw it. With my recent rewatches of the other movies, I knew I needed to get back to the fourth one, and I’m glad to say that I still like it quite a lot, despite its very present issues.

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Storywise, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull wasn’t as strong as Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Last Crusade but I was still interested in the adventure and was entertained from beginning to end. To a degree it plays things rather safe, it doesn’t do too much differently and it could’ve tried to stand out more among the other films. With that being said, it is the only Indiana Jones movie to features aliens. Some people don’t like the movie ultimately being about aliens, as you quickly find out. While I can certainly understand why plenty of people aren’t so that into that, thinking about it, I don’t really have that much of a problem with it. I do like the new setting, it’s a couple of decades later after the last movie, and so it’s during the Cold War, with Russians being the main source of conflict. With this being an Indiana Jones movie, it does have its silly moments as to be expected. Although there is the scene where Shia LaBeouf is swinging on vines with monkeys, the biggest one where Indiana Jones survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a fridge. This scene is beyond infamous, even many long time Indiana Jones fans hate on it. Honestly though, I found it absolutely hilarious and kind of enjoyed it. Considering this is the same series where Indiana Jones and two others flew off a plane in a inflatable raft onto a mountain, sliding off it and falling onto rapids without sustaining any injury, I think this isn’t that unexpected. With that said there are some parts that they could’ve toned down, as in some scenes (especially towards the end) there were certain things I would’ve preferred them not showing.

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Harrison Ford reprises his role from the last time since 1989. Some say that he wasn’t up at the level that he was in the other movies, mainly that he was too old for the role, but I thought that added to his performance quite well. At the same time, in his performance here I still saw an older Indiana Jones and not just older Harrison Ford (especially after seeing the other movies more recently). The line delivery, the comedy, the energy, all of it was here. Some people really didn’t like Shia LaBeouf in his role of Mutt Williams here, but I actually thought he was pretty good on his part. Considering what his role sounded like on paper, it could’ve been way worse. I do have a feeling that much of the dislike of the character might’ve come from the fact that it was LaBeouf playing him at that time. Karen Allen returns to reprise her role of Marion Ravenwood, and while she and Ford don’t have quite as strong of a dynamic as they did back in Raiders of the Lost Ark, they still had some great chemistry and it was still nice seeing them back on screen together. Ray Winstone and John Hurt also worked quite well in supporting roles. Cate Blanchett is the villain, and is actually probably the most memorable of the Indiana Jones villians, albeit being a bit cartoonish. However she works because of the dedicated and reliable performance from Blanchett, campy and entertaining, yet threatening enough as an antagonist.

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Steven Spielberg returns to directs this, and I still think he did a pretty good job. On a technical side it all works, it’s a great looking movie too. The action is pretty good on the whole, with some entertaining sequences that aren’t quite as memorable as the action in the rest of the series. There was a fight scene with Indiana Jones and a Russian later on which was sort of weak, but most of it is fine. The use of CGI has been criticised quite a lot, honestly most of it isn’t so bad, the biggest problem is the overuse of it (you can really feel George Lucas’s hand on that part). Even a gopher is created using CGI early in the movie for some random reason. Some of the action scenes do have this weird CGI feel to it, as if some parts of the background had digital effects thrown in for some reason. The third act without spoiling anything has some CGI which doesn’t look the best and in fact looks very goofy. I do agree that they should’ve had more practical effects, generally the use of CGI was unnecessary. With that said, when it came to the practical effects and production design it was all handled very well. The score by John Williams is good, there aren’t many distinct or memorable themes compared with the other movies, but the score as it is was worked. It’s always satisfying hearing these iconic themes in a movie again.

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As a return to the series almost 2 decades after the last film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is just a little bit disappointing. Nonetheless, on its own, I can’t deny that enjoyed it a lot. It has plenty of silly moments, it used a lot of CGI unnecessarily, and did play things a bit safe. However it was entertaining from beginning to end, the cast was great, and I enjoyed being on the adventure. I’m glad that it exists and I have problem placing it alongside the original Indiana Jones trilogy.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) Review

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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence127
Cast:
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
Denholm Elliott as Marcus Brody
Alison Doody as Elsa Schneider
John Rhys-Davies as Sallah
Julian Glover as Walter Donovan
Sean Connery as Henry Jones, Sr.
Director: Steven Spielberg

In 1938, after his father Professor Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery), goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. (Harrison Ford) finds himself up against Adolf Hitler’s Nazis again to stop them from obtaining its powers.

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The main Indiana Jones trilogy is one of the most iconic cinematic trilogies of all time. After Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones goes back to familiar territory with the third instalment with The Last Crusade, but this leads to possibly the best movie in the entire series (at least close to it). Everything from the writing, direction and the performances are great, it is really entertaining and among my favourite movies.

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The movie starts off on a high note with its introduction featuring a young Indiana Jones played by River Phoenix, and it only gets better from there. It keeps you constantly entertained from beginning to end with a great adventure that never has a dull moment. With that said it, it really picks up in such a massive way from the moment that Indiana Jones meets with his father, then it’s pretty much perfect all the way right to the very end. It is also the funniest of the movies by far, with some effective comedy that hits every time, and never gets annoying like how it got to at many points in Temple of Doom. Even the slapstick really ends up being quite funny. The biggest source of comedy in this movie as I’ll get into later is the interactions between Jones and his father. One thing with Raiders of the Lost Ark is that the third act while not bad wasn’t quite as strong as the rest of the movie. The climax of The Last Crusade on the other hand is creative and exciting, and by far the best of the series.

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Harrison Ford is effortlessly great in his role of Indiana Jones, as to be expected. He sells every part of the character well, including the action and the comedy. Sean Connery was great as Jones’s father in one of his best performances (possible his best). It’s an unexpected casting considering Connery’s past roles with the likes of James Bond, but he works perfectly in here and was a perfect contrast to Ford. The dynamic and chemistry between these two just works excellently, which is good because they are a big focus of the movie from the first act onwards. The rest of the cast are good, including returning actors from the first movie with Denholm Elliott and John Rhys-Davies, and the main villain played by Julian Glover. It’s also worth noting that River Phoenix plays younger Indiana Jones for less than 10 minutes, but yet he played that part pretty much perfectly in his screentime.

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Steven Spielberg’s direction was great, it’s got a very good look throughout at the various locations. There are some great set pieces from start to finish, in great locations. From a boat chase through Venice, to a tank battle with Nazis, all of these set pieces are fantastic, and are even just slightly a step above the action from Raiders of the Lost Ark (and that’s saying a lot). The score by John Williams was great as to be expected, it’s more upbeat and triumphant compared to the other scores in the series, and it’s very memorable.

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My favourite Indiana Jones movie jumps between this and Raiders of the Lost Ark, for now I’ll put them on the same level. The direction is great, it is witty and entertaining from beginning to end, Harrison Ford and Sean Connery are excellent, and overall it very well balanced. This and Raiders of the Lost Ark are firmly among my favourite movies, and are definitely worth watching (as is the whole series).

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) Review

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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
Kate Capshaw as Willie Scott
Amrish Puri as Mola Ram
Roshan Seth as Chattar Lal
Philip Stone as Captain Philip Blumburtt
Jonathan Ke Quan as Short Round
Director: Steven Spielberg

In 1935, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) arrives in India, still part of the British Empire, and is asked to find a mystical stone. He then stumbles upon a secret cult committing enslavement and human sacrifices in the catacombs of an ancient palace.

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Raiders of the Lost Ark released back in 1981 had made a big impact on pop culture and cinema as a whole, and it made Indiana Jones a household name. The first and third movies are my favourites of the series by far, while Temple of Doom has always been a little weird to me. Even when I was younger,, there were some parts I really wasn’t sure about despite me liking this movie. Re-watching it again, I feel pretty much feel the same and have a ton of issues, but at the same time there’s a lot of good parts to it.

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From the very beginning you can tell that this is a very different movie to Raiders of the Lost Ark, and indeed it is different from the other movies. First of all, it is noticeably darker on many levels. People who know me know that I really like darker movies, however the way things are handled here wasn’t exactly the best. I’m not one to get overreactive over dark this movie should or shouldn’t be, nor would I complain about it probably not suitable for children or anything. At the very least though, the way it seems like the movie is trying to be more reactive and edgy than actually organic for the story when it comes to these darker aspects. Child slavery, pulling hearts out of chests, and even the attempts at gross out elements at certain points with bugs feels like it’s trying way too hard to get a reaction. However the problem is not just that, Temple of Doom is also quite an annoying movie, and it takes quite a lot for me to be annoyed with a movie, especially with an Indiana Jones film. Whether it be Kate Capshaw’s character, some certain silliness with the plot, and the humour, which to be blunt was mostly dumb and annoying. Because of this, this just makes it hard for me to get invested in the movie. However even if you just look at it on a plot level, it just wasn’t very interesting, and honestly it was rather weak. Jones happening to come across this poor village and needing to retrieve a sacred stone to restore things for them, and that’s it. And now the topic I’ve been avoiding for a bit, the racism. I’m not going to go too much into it given that so much has already been said about it, except that there’s quite a lot of it in this movie, and it’s pretty hard to look past it. I will say this about the movie, as it approaches the climax in the third act it does get better and much more entertaining, even with its more annoying and silly aspects.

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Harrison Ford has still very much got it when it comes to the role of Indiana Jones, and plays his role very well as to be expected. However it’s worth noting that given all of the movie’s issues (and there are many), Ford manages to carry the movie throughout. Kate Capshaw plays the love interest in Willie Scott. I haven’t really seen Capshaw in anything and I don’t blame her for her performance here, because the character is beyond terrible and annoying on so many levels. Willie screams a lot, has to be rescued a lot, and basically does nothing throughout the movie save for like two times. I get that she’s meant to be in contrast to Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but they really overdid it, and she’s absolutely insufferable from beginning to end. It doesn’t help that she’s basically a tag along, she has absolutely no reason to be there (compared to Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Irina in The Last Crusade), and Indy could’ve even ditched her way earlier in the movie (no idea why he kept her around to begin with). Even Capshaw said found the character to be nothing more than a “dumb screaming blonde and a damsel in distress”. Honestly when I think of the movie she is one of the first things I think of, and that’s not a good thing. There’s also the character of Short Round played by Jonathan Ke Quan, who can honestly be quite annoying at points, but compared to Willie wasn’t so bad (and he actually did some things at points). The villain of the movie is Amrish Puri as Mola Ram, a cult leader basically. He’s alright enough as an antagonist but outside of him being different from the other Indiana Jones villains and him pulling hearts out of peoples’ chests, I don’t think is very memorable.

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Despite some very questionable stylistic and directing choices that don’t work all that well, generally the direction by Steven Spielberg is good. On a technical level it is great, from the production design, the costumes, the effects, the way it is shot all of it is done rather well. As I said the 3rd act is where the movie really picks up, and a big part of that is the action. There are some quite effective action sequences, the stunt work is impressive, and there are some effective and tense moments. Indiana Jones has never been known as a realistic series, and when it comes to plausibility it’s as silly as you’d expect it to be. The only bit that really stuck out as being particularly dumb was one of which was a scene early on that involves falling out of a plane. John Williams’s score is great as usual, and has some very memorable themes.

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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a bit of an odd movie. It has its strong moments for sure, much of the direction from Spielberg is still good, and of course Harrison Ford is great as Indiana Jones. However it had some issues, so many parts of it were really annoying when it came to the plot, characters and humour, the story just didn’t interest me all that much, and of course it had the racism and sexism. With all that said, all of the Indiana Jones movies are certainly worth watching and that extends to Temple of Doom.

Ready Player One (2018) Review

Time: 140 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tye Sheridan as Wade Watts/Parzival
Olivia Cooke as Samantha Cook/Art3mis
Ben Mendelsohn as Nolan Sorrento
Lena Waithe as Helen/Aech
T.J. Miller as i-R0k
Simon Pegg as Ogden Morrow/the Curator
Mark Rylance as James Halliday/Anorak
Director: Steven Spielberg

In the year 2044, on his death bed James Halliday (Mark Rylance), the creator of a wildly popular virtual reality utopia known as the OASIS, begins a hunt for his fortune and ownership of the whole VRMMO world with puzzles and riddles based on Halliday’s obsession with pop culture of decades past. After years of searching for Haliday’s “Easter Egg,” one average teenager named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) solves the first clue, he sparks excitement and hope back to the hunt, and throwing him into a world of people willing to kill for the information he has, changing his life forever.

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Ready Player One was a movie I was cautiously optimistic about. It had a lot going for it, it was based upon a book with a very creative premise with a lot of potential, a great cast including Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke and Ben Mendelsohn and it’s directed by Steven Spielberg. But at the same time I had some reservations. Steven Spielberg, while a great director, has been putting out some mostly fine movies but nothing that I found really great. Also from the trailers and premise, it seems that RPO would rely only on nostalgia and just end up being okay. Still, I knew I was going to see it, and I was just hoping that it would be better than I thought it would be. I have to say, Ready Player One really surprised me. Steven Spielberg has created his best film in many years and it’s honestly one of the biggest surprises of 2018 so far.

Ready Player One is quite a long movie, at 2 hours and 20 minutes. However, when I was watching it, it didn’t actually feel very long to me. Honestly the only thing that kind of was out of place and didn’t work all that great was the first 10 minutes which had a whole lot of exposition dumping, looking back it’s hard to picture how else Spielberg could’ve integrated all that information into the film but there was probably a way. Aside from that and some at times cliché dialogue, I didn’t find myself having many issues with Ready Player One, at least after my first viewing. It is a very entertaining movie and had my interest from start to finish, I was really wrapped up in the story that was being told. One of my favourite sequences involved ‘the second key’, I won’t spoil it at all because it really was a surprise. Once you watched the movie you’ll probably know why I liked it so much. It is worth noting that the stuff that happens in The Oasis was more entertaining and interesting than whatever happens in the real world but that’s to be expected. The film really shows you why so many people are obsessed with The Oasis. There is a lot of pop culture references, and that was one of my biggest worries about the movie, because it could easily fall into the trap of just relying on the audience to like the nostalgia. However, a lot of the pop culture references are for the most part brief or in the background. Like there might be characters in the background and we might see characters from franchises like DC, Halo, or whatever. This is because one of the key parts of Ready Player One is nostalgia and it is appropriately used here for the story. It’s not like the movie is shoving The Iron Giant in front of the screen and expecting you to love the movie because you recognise it. Honestly if you don’t recognise any of these franchises or references, I don’t think it’ll really matter.

The talented cast involved does quite well. Tye Sheridan is quite good and likable as the protagonist and Olivia Cooke is particularly good here, the two of them share great chemistry. Ben Mendelsohn is quite an effective antagonist, the role is a little generic all things considered but Mendelsohn elevates the role and does some different things with it. Other supporting actors like Mark Rylance and Simon Pegg also play their roles quite well.

I have to say that it’s great seeing Steven Spielberg doing a sci-fi movie again, it’s been over a decade since he last did it. It’s no real surprise that his direction is fantastic, nothing new, but his direction here is a big part of why Ready Player One works so well. Visually, this film is stunning and immersive. Yes, in the real world the effects and look were all pretty great, but it’s the visuals in The Oasis that really stands out. Nothing is meant to look real, it’s a virtual gaming world after all, where people can change their avatars to look different and some of the things that happen and are seen are deliberately exaggerated at times. Spielberg has definitely taken a lot of inspiration from video games both old and new and it is very apparent here, he did such a fantastic job. The score by Alan Silvestri also added a lot to the movie.

Ready Player One was much better than I thought it would be and is Steven Spielberg’s best film in years. On top of the pop culture references and the general entertainment factor, I was really wrapped up in the story. Spielberg’s direction really brought the concept to the big screen effectively, with the visuals, the style, everything. It was a lot more than I thought it would be. If you are sceptical about the movie, I’d say give it a go because I myself was doubtful and I was blown away by what I saw.