Spotlight On…..Steven Spielberg part #1

Posted by David On July 10, 2011 2 COMMENTS

I’ve seen quite a few movies in my lifetime and like a lot of people I enjoy sharing my opinions on these films. This is partly why this website and the podcast were born.

So, in order to convey my opinions in an orderly way, I will focus on a particular section of my ‘watched’ list. Namely, a particular Director, Writer, Producer, Actor, or even Genre/Theme.

To kick things off I’m going to start with Steven Spielberg, in his capacity as Director. His producing list may come another day.

This list is by no means definitive, and will only include films that I have seen. A full list of his many works can be found at IMDB

I chose Mr Spielberg because he is undoubtedly one of the most influential film makers in the history of cinema, and a great many of his projects fall into the ‘nerd’ category.

DUEL

Released: 1971

Starring: Dennis Weaver

Plot: This made for TV movie sees Weaver’s business commuter pursued and terrorized by a malevolent driver of a massive tractor-trailer after passing him. No reason is ever given for the animosity. Very Twilight Zone like. The ultimate Road Rage movie!

For: Great escalating tension and craziness. And you never find out exactly what the truck driver’s deal is.

Against: No character development. Main character bit of a dick.

Favourite Scene: The snake zoo.

Rating: 2.5 Lukes

 

JAWS

Released: 1975

Starring: Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw

Plot: When a gigantic Great White shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity during its busy tourist season, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman, defy the local bureaucracy and set out to stop it.

For: What can I say that hasn’t already been said? This film has it all, great characters, gripping plot & a haunting score, and set the benchmark for the summer blockbuster. ‘You’re gonna need a bigger boat.’

Against: The shark looks terribly fake in some scenes.

Favourite Scene: A distracted and bored Brody gets the shock of his life while chumming.

Rating: 4.5 Lukes

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND

Released: 1977

Starring: Richard Dreyfuss

Plot: After an encounter with UFOs, line worker Roy Neary feels drawn to Devil’s Tower South Dakota, where something spectacular is going to happen and his life will be changed forever.

For: Spielberg’s 2nd greatest film and one of my all time favourites. When I first saw this film my life was changed and I still get shivers of excitement watching it today.

Against: I know that he is compelled beyond his will, and who wouldn’t want to travel the stars with a race of benevolent aliens, but I can’t help but criticize Roy’s willingness to abandon his family, especially the kids, with only a half-hearted attempt to win them back.

Favourite Scene: Can I only have one? Ok, everything from when Roy first encounters one of the UFO’s to when the lights come back on.

Rating: 5 Lukes

1941

Released: 1979

Starring: Dan Ackroyd, John Belushi

Plot: Hysterical Californians prepare for a Japanese invasion in the days after Pearl Harbor.

For: A great cast go all out in an effort to entertain. Good to see Spielberg try comedy.

Against: It’s not funny and, while it does pick up half way through, the first half is so unbelievably boring that its really hard to stick with it.

Favourite Scene: It has to be the Ferris Wheel.

Rating: 1 Luke

 

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

Released: 1981

Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen

Plot: Archeology Professor and Adventurer, Indiana Jones, battles against Nazis and a rival antiquities finder in his quest to locate the Ark of the Covenant, while reuniting with the former love of his life.

For: My favourite Spielberg film and one of my 2nd favourite film of all time! This movie has everything. I have to stop typing or the rest of the post will be about how awesome this movie is.

Against: Nothing. I’m serious.

Favourite Scene: It’s too hard to pick just one so I’ll go with the entire opening sequence (‘Throw me the idol. I’ll throw you the whip.’) & the entire pursuit of the Ark along the Nazi truck convoy. Genius.

Rating: 5 Lukes

 

ET the EXTRA TERRESTRIAL

Released: 1982

Starring: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore

Plot: A group of Earth children help a stranded alien botanist return home.

For: The SFX still stand up today. The template for kids summer blockbusters.

Against: I’m probably going to shock a lot of readers here but I have to be honest. This film doesn’t do it for me. Even as a kid I didn’t tear up when ET left. All I kept thinking was, And? Another Against is the fact that Spielberg felt the need to digitally remove the guns of the government agents (and replace them with walkie talkies) in the re-release. Why? Their presence doesn’t advocate gun use for impressionable young ones. The government agents are clearly the bad guys. You want them to be threatening don’t you? A small point but it irritates me (but at least it isn’t Greedo shooting first level of annoying!).

Favourite Scene: ET successfully phones home using a modified Speak & Spell

Rating: 3 Lukes

 

That’s all for now. To be continued in Spotlight on…..Steven Spielberg part #2

2 Responses so far.

  1. RJR AKA Rev Jack Russel says:

    Morning all how about having a look at old soviet bloc sci-fi films I’m looking at them myself and their good for a giggle

    DeanO

    • David David W says:

      Hi DeanO!

      Thank you for the comment. I have seen some Soviet era sci-fi, particularly The Amphibian Man, Battle Beyond the Sun, Stalker & Solaris so I may do a post on them in the future. Do you have any recommendations?

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