Archive for the ‘Spotlight On….’ Category

Spotlight On…..Steven Spielberg part #3

Posted by David On July 24, 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Welcome to my Spotlight on Steven Spielberg part 3. Last post we finished up the 80’s so now we move into the 90’s, in which Spielberg produced what many believe to be his finest work, and no doubt contributed to his receiving of a Lifetime Achievement Award at ComicCon San Diego yesterday.


Released: 1991

Starring: Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts

Plot: When Capt. Hook kidnaps his children, an adult Peter Pan must return to Neverland and reclaim his youthful spirit in order to challenge his old enemy.

For: Interesting concept, Dustin Hoffman looks like he is having the time of his life playing Hook, & some cool action sequences.

Against: Boring, Robin Williams dominates every scene he is in (great in Aladdin, bad here), the whole film has a sense of smugness about it.

Favourite Scene: The final battle

Rating: 2 Lukes




Released: 1993

Starring: Sam Neil, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum

Plot: During a preview tour of a new theme park that exhibits living cloned dinosaurs, a major power breakdown allows the dinosaurs to run amok.

For: Unbelievable special effects (that still hold up today), combining CGI, puppetry & sound, bring the dinosaurs to life. Good story.

Against: Acting is a bit weak.

Favourite Scene: Too many to have just one, so I’ll have the Velociraptors stalking the kids, & the introduction of the T-Rex

Rating: 4 Lukes




Released: 1993

Starring: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Sir Ben Kinsley

Plot: In Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazis and resolves to help them.

For: A masterpiece. Every actor brings their A game, but Ralph Fienne’s performance is extraordinary.

Against: the ‘I could have done more…’ scene is a little over the top.

Favourite Scene: Every scene Fiennes is in.

Rating: 5 Lukes




Released: 1997

Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Peter Postlethwaite

Plot: A research team is sent to the Jurassic Park Site B island to study the dinosaurs there, while another team approaches with a different agenda.

For: Dinosaurs, Jeff Goldblum.

Against: Fighting a Velociraptor with funky gymnastic moves.

Favourite Scene: The Velociraptors in the long grass converging on the hunters.

Rating: 2.5 Lukes




Released: 1997

Starring: Djimon Hounsou, Mathew McConaughey, Anthony Hopkins

Plot: A court-room drama set in 1839, concerning the trial of Cinque, who led a revolt aboard a slave ship that was traveling towards America from Cuba.

For: Great performance from Hounsou, interesting story

Against: Court room dramas not my thing

Favourite Scene: Cinque’s family

Rating: 3 Lukes




Released: 1998

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Matt Damon

Plot: Following the Normandy Landings, a group of US soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.

For: A masterpiece in all areas.

Against: The end scene at the grave is a bit forced and unconvincing.

Favourite Scene: The Normandy landing is one of the best scenes in film.

Rating: 5 Lukes



Well, that’s it for the 90’s. And what a strong decade it was for this great film maker. Next up we hit the 00’s and the final installment of this series of Spotlight On. Let me know what you think. I would love to read your opinions.

Spotlight On…..Steven Spielberg part #2

Posted by David On July 11, 2011 ADD COMMENTS

Welcome back to my Spotlight on the films directed by Steven Spielberg.

Last post we had just entered the 80’s so lets see if we can finish up that awesome decade.


Released: 1983

Starring: Dan Ackroyd, Albert Brooks, Vic Morrow, John Lithgow

Plot: Four directors team up to tell 4 different stories in the vein of the classic TV show Twilight Zone. Spielberg directs segment #2 which is a remake of the episode ‘Kick the Can’, which involves the residents of an old folks home who encounter a new resident who promises them something no one of this Earth could possibly give them.

For: The performances are very good. Some really sweet moments that aren’t too smaltzy.

Against: Pretty boring and overshadowed by the other segments, especially #4, the Gremlin.

Favourite Scene: Don’t really have one from his segment. Lithgow’s first visual of the gremlin in #4

Rating: Steven’s segment – 1 Luke, Film – 2.5 Lukes



Released: 1984

Starring: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Amrish Puri

Plot: The second installment in the Indiana Jones story (but occurring before the events of Raiders), Temple of Doom sees Dr Jones aiding a desperate Indian village retrieve their children and sacred stones from an evil Thuggee cult.

For: Darker than the other installments, Temple of Doom sees a drug controlled Indiana attempt to sacrifice his love interest and slap his young side kick around. It also has a great villain in the form of cult leader Mola Ram

Against: Wille Scot – ’nuff said.

Favourite Scene: The minecart chase

Rating: 4 Lukes


Released: 1985

Starring: Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey

Plot: The life and trials of a young African American woman named Celie, growing up in the early 1900’s. Impregnated by her father at 14, beaten by her husband and generally treated like crap all of her life.

For: Every single actor in this film brings their A game, including an excellent Oprah Winfrey.

Against: Sometimes too depressing. With the amount of crap Celia goes through its amazing she doesn’t become a serial killer.

Favourite Scene: Celia stands up to her piece of shit husband

Rating: 3 Lukes



Released: 1987

Starring: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson

Plot: A young English boy is separated from his parents and struggles to survive under Japanese occupation during World War II.

For: Great cinematography by Allen Daviau. Moving story. Christian Bale’s brilliant debut.

Against: Can’t think of anything at the moment

Favourite Scene: Jim saluting the Japanese pilots as he watches them prepare for take off.

Rating: 4 Lukes



Released: 1989

Starring: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery

Plot: When Dr. Henry Jones Sr. suddenly goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, eminent archaeologist Indiana Jones must follow in his father’s footsteps in order to rescue him and find the Grail before the Nazis do.

For: Connery as Jones Snr is genius. The origin of Indiana’s name, scar, aversion to snakes & outfit.’He chose, poorly.’

Against: Elsa is quite clearly a baddie from the moment she appears. Other than that, nothing.

Favourite Scene: The entire young Indiana sequence.

Rating: 4 Lukes

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.


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



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


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


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



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



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