Posts Tagged ‘Spielberg’

If you weren’t old enough to have seen the original Star Wars trilogy and The Phantom Menace was your first introduction to Star Wars then many will envy your fresh eyed look at the films from 1-6.

Yoda Movie Poster (11 x 17 Inches - 28cm x 44cm) () Style A -(Mark Hamill)(Carrie Fisher)(Harrison Ford)(Billy Dee Williams)(Alec Guinness)(David Prowse)“That face you make.
Look I so old to young eyes?”



For the rest and the die hard, extreme countless legions of Star Wars fans you maybe disappointed with the Blu-Ray release.
Star Wars 3.75 Vintage Figure Boba FettI’ll always remember going with my dad to the dankest cinema watching the original films back to back – it was a highlight, even coming out flee bitten it didn’t seem to matter. Recreating Hoth in a kitchen bowl with snow (as it was too cold outside), getting as much play in before it melted, using paper cups to build new spaceship oh the joy of and innocence of Star Wars. The only thing that I remember about disliking the original is that the Millennium Falcon was a horrid uncool looking ship, lacking sleekness, however, overtime that seems to have dissipated.
BLADE RUNNER HARRISON FORD 11X14 PHOTOVHS came and went, then George Lucas began his tinkering with the record breaking classic(s). The 1997 re-released special editions had their faults, some of which the 2004 DVD tried to correct. Now you probably think I’m going to join the legions that are boycotting the Blu-Ray release, not a chance. And between you and me they’ll still buy it. They’re Fanboys. They wont be able to resist the power of the dark-side.

With remakes flooding the market at least Lucas controversial revisiting has saved fans from that. Contentiously regardless of tinkering much of what Lucas has done simply enhances the films. And looking back at the original, originals (no, not a typo) as ground breaking at they were I’m content with the digital corrections and replacements. In the same vain as Blade Runner corrections, lip-syncs, removal of wires and stunt doubles to names few it helps solidify the film, even igniting new interest for an new generation with the publicity that comes with it.

King Kong (Two-Disc Special Edition)Watching Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future complete with it’s original optical effects in tact; would a digital bastardised version have destroyed the story? or make the film better? There was a missed opportunity that would have been more fitting than Steven Spielberg’s E.T from guns to walkie-talkie incident but it was Zemeckis and Spielberg’s call respectively. Should 1933’s King Kong be digitally replaced? Well if Directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack were still alive and wanted to do so, why not eh? If Spielberg replaced Bruce with a photo realistic shark I must say I’d be happy with that as he’s simply now a distraction from the great performances.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (Two-Disc Widescreen Enhanced and Original Theatrical Versions)If the creators are still alive and decided to undertake arguably unorthodox changes let them I say. So long as studios have their blessing.
Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes I-VI) [Blu-ray]In Star Wars case you could say the studios and George are missing a money making opportunity especially by not releasing the original trilogy unaltered but is there really a need to go as far as saying Lucas “raped my childhood” as countless bloggers have posted. There’s a lot of hate there.
If you are that cut up about it go and track down the bonus DVD released in the 2 disc special edition. As Yoda put it, “Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Meanwhile the rest of us can watch blinking Ewoks, Vader shouting ‘Nooo’, new monsters and an array of slight correction in peace.
Although box office spectacles, summer extravaganzas and leaps in special effects Jurassic Park was fairly unrealised compared to Michael Crichton novels. The three films in total grossed a whopping $1,902,110,926, that’s a lot of dino-dough. Here are ;some thoughts on the franchise so far…
In 1993 after queueing forever I watched the much hyped film and left the cinema unfulfilled, I still feel the same way. The effects still hold up well, although the seams between C.G.I, animatronics and puppets are even more apparent it was a mile stone.
Jurassic ParkAlthough Michael Crichton’s book wasn’t fully realised Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation has some fantastic set pieces, notably the T-Rex attack, raptor kitchen action and closing finale.
Sadly, even though superior in scope it’s not as balanced as West World,the in between segments feel like gap fillers and the characters are given little, albeit some witty dialogue, usually from the most developed character Ian Malcolm played by Jeff Goldblum others are are wasted. Laura Dern is good but the script let’s her down at times making her unnecessary dated feminist fodder. Sam Neill is on form but is given some cringe-worthy dialogue usually involving the kids.
The supporting cast are fine, even the child actors are likable and superb. Samuel L. Jackson Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck are solid and Wayne Knight as crook Dennis Nerdy is memorable. Nevertheless, characters fleet in and out, either killed or never seen again. There are a too many cliffhangers and throw away gags. Events appear as just that, events and it doesn’t flow as well as it should. In addition, the editing doesn’t compliment the earlier action or the dialogue scenes as much as in the later half. Too much happens off screen and I don’t just mean the dinosaur shenanigans.
Jurassic Park (Widescreen Collector's Edition)John Williams score is simply wonderful, and the location feel gives it a unique atmosphere. Even with a lack of blood and an archetype hero to root for Jurassic Park still manages to thrill but these magic moments are few and far between compared to Spielberg’s other works.
An entertaining benchmark in effects history but as a dino-bite of cinema but I prefer the flow of Joe Johnson’s third instalment.
Four years after the disaster at Jurassic Park on a nearby island (site B) dinosaurs roam free but InGen a plan to capture and bring the dinosaurs to the mainland.
The Lost WorldSteven Spielberg’s follow up to Jurassic Park bears little resemblance to the novel and is more reminiscent of King Kong. Missing an opportunity to include Dodgson from Crichton’s novel and the first film, both Joseph Mazzello as Tim and Ariana Richards as Lex briefly return. Like Richard Attenborough’s John Hammond they are welcomed, although simply throw away cameos. There’s far too many unnecessary characters in The Lost World, that said, hunter Pete Postlethwaite and Vince Vaughn are notable. Jeff Goldblum returns as Ian Malcolm, but paranoid after the events of the first film and must rescue his partner Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore).
The Lost World: Jurassic Park - Original Motion Picture SoundtrackIt’s welcomingly darker and pacier than Jurassic Park but unfortunately it’s less consistent in tone and feels rushed which is surprising for Steven Spielberg. Nevertheless, the sound and John Williams score is on the money, the practical and visual effects are superb there are some stand out scenes, including the capturing of the dinosaurs, the raptor attack in the long-grass and the T-Rex cliff assault. Aside from the jarring and disjointed closing act set in San Diego, the set pieces flow making it as satisfying as its predecessor.
Overall, The Lost World: Jurassic Park is packed full of dinosaurs but is also full of peaks and troughs.
An odd couple with ulterior motives convince Dr. Alan Grant to go to Isla Sorna (InGen’a dinosaur site B) to find their missing son.
Jurassic Park III: The Original Motion Picture SoundtrackSteven Spielberg’s hands over the directing reigns to Joe Johnston who does a great job at mixing the feel of Jurassic Park and the velocity of the Lost World. The events of The Lost World are mentioned briefly, which is a nice nod and link for fans of the second but it also allows the action to swiftly move on. Jurassic Park 3 injects some surprises, however, they’re mostly reworked, unused segments from Crichton’s first novel. Despite, Téa Leoni annoying character Amanda Kirby, the other players are entertaining enough including reliable William H. Macy and the welcomed return of Sam Neill in the lead role and Laura Dern (in a cameo).
Jurassic Park III (Widescreen Collector's Edition)Although many ideas and themes are regurgitated from the Jurassic Park novels and movie predecessors, it’s all done slicker by ILM, Stan Winston and Johnston. Topped with John Williams original theme and some great dinosaur setups, including a boat attack, the Pterodactyl aviary and T-Rex battle Jurassic Park 3 doesn’t miss Spielberg’s directing magic but isn’t perfect either, it lacks depth. That said, it’s still a tight entertainment ride.

If history has taught us anything it’s that father of three director/ producer Ridley Scott knows how to make a gripping movie.

Self proclaimed perfectionist born in 1937 Tyne and Wear, nominated and winner of Numerous Oscars, Scott is now surprisingly in his 70’s.

Rid’ Scott started in the TV commercials and become known for his stunning visuals, weeping landscapes and backdrops, at times coupled with a close-up of a character’s face in foreground. Scott has an array of films under his belt covering many genres which include The Duellists (1977), Legend (1985), Black Hawk Down (2001), Hannibal (2001) and Body of Lies (2008) to name a few.

While not part of the 70’s 80’s Hollywood in-crowd like heavy weights Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola and Scorsese, Scott’s seems to be the dark horse, a British, dry, witty guy and above all intelligent with a good business sense who loves a good cigar.

He has personally brought me hours of entertainment and if you are reading this he’s probably captivated you too.

Below are my thoughts both good and bad on a fist full of Ridleys finest moments.

Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Possibly one of Scotts most intricate and underrated films. Orlando Bloom plays Balian of Ibelin who after a committing a murder travels to Jerusalem during the crusades of the 12th century. Soon he finds himself defending the city and its people.

Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut) [Blu-ray]With a fine cast including the likes of Philip Glenister, Liam Neeson and David Thewlis to name a few it’s a casting directors dream. Marton Csokas performance as Marton Csokas is exceptional and Michael Sheen has a small part and pivotal part (especially in the directors cut). Eva Green, Jeremy Irons and an unrecognisable Edward Norton are a great support. However, Bloom desperately wrestles with the substantial script and size of the film appearing a little uncomfortable at times. That said, even though he is the main character, the story, really revolves around the other characters. Balian appears more as a narrative tool.

The locations are breathtaking, from the misty woods and shores of France – to Holy sites of Jerusalem. Again Ridley, incorporating amazing sets and utilising visual effects, production designer Arthur Max, set decorator Sonja Klaus and crew painstakingly recreate the period. Janty Yates costumes are fantastic. Weapons, flags and props look authentic, all this attention to detail coupled with Harry Gregson-Williams score and John Mathieson Cinematography give the film a wonderful look and atmosphere.

All in all, one, if not the best crusade film ever.

Alien (1979)

Space, spaceships, androids and aliens, and no it’s not Starwars or Startrek…

Alien (The Director's Cut)Alien is a perfect blend of characterisation, visual effects, sound and score. What separates this from the two franchises above is the gritty realism, a brooding atmospheric and claustrophobic feel that has given the film both cult and classic status. So much so it spawned its own franchise.

The acting is provided by a perfect heavy-weight cast that includes John Hurt, Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt. Dan O’Bannon’s screen-play, coupled with Ridley Scott’s visuals stop this becoming just another monster alien movie or space film. The subject matter is delivered completely seriously and you become immersed in the dread, fear and uncertainty as even the main characters get killed off (which has become common place these days). Who will be the hero or the heroine?

H.R.Giger creature designs of the face huger and Alien is the ace in the hole and Jerry Goldsmith score mixed with the sound effects gives the film a nightmarish feel that build up the tension to breaking point. Scott’s direction is outstanding, creating the most fantastic and memorable moments in film history which push your fear threshold.

Compulsive viewing for Sci-fi fans who want story over action or in this case a steak to digest instead of fast food. If you’ve never seen Alien what it treat it will be to watch it fresh.

Blade Runner (1982)

I must admit I’m a huge fan of Ridley Scott’s and Blade Runner is one of his finest moments, panned by critics and by most on its release, it was ahead of its time on every level.

Blade Runner (Five-Disc Complete Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]Whichever version of Blade Runner you prefer, it has atmosphere, great costumes and a mood of gritty realism about it. The neo-cityscapes, the dark street life and polluted air; all paint a grim futuristic picture complimented by a Vangelis score; which is touching and haunting. The lines are memorable and there are fantastic performances from Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos. Harrison Ford is perfect as the moody ex- Blade Runner and Joe Turkel should have won an award as the Frankenstein -like creator.

Blade Runner is quite a simplistic tale that is complicated by the fantastic visuals and effects. Lying beneath the plot that many writers contributed to, there’s heart and soul, questions of what it means to be human and even delves into our own mortality.

Its edgy hi-tech art-house that brings science fiction to life and while it’s not the most fulfilling sci-fi film it certainly is a fantastic visual experience.

American Gangster [Blu-ray]American Gangster (2007)

Consistent Ridley Scott recreates 1970s America in the true life story of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), a heroin kingpin from Manhattan. Russell Crowe plays Richie Roberts, an incorruptible detective, who works to bring down Lucas’s drug empire.

An interesting and contrasting character study on many levels, Russell Crowe performance is excellent, his personal life is in turmoil, yet he is totally focused on his work. Where as Washington’s character is in control of both his personal and ‘work’ life. Washington is on top form, equalling if not surpassing his Oscar winning performance in Training day (2001).

The costumes and makeup are excellent. The supporting actors give weight to the production and there are some memorable performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin and Ted Levine to name few.

I’ve seen both the theatrical version the 175 min extended version that includes approx. 19 minutes of additional footage. While the extra footage doesn’t jump out at you, the ending is notably different but just as captivating. For a lengthy film America Gangster zips along at a fast pace, accompanied by a great music soundtrack and a enhancing score by Marc Streitenfeld.

The 1970’s is painstakingly created with amazing realistic set design. Scott’s direction coupled with Harris Savides cinematography captures the feel and tone of the time. Scott not only recreates Manhattan but also Vietnam and the war is at it’s height. Credit deservedly should g to Steven Zaillian’s

A perfectly crafted film and gratifying cinema.

Robin Hood (2010)

I hold Ridley Scott in the highest regard, one of the most creative and demanding directors of his time. However, Robin Hood is an unequivocally unnecessary prelude to a timeless folk tale of a man who fights against the Norman invaders. The direction, subtle effects, locations and so on are remarkable and are what you would expect from the director of such films as Gladiator and The Kingdom of Heaven to name a few.

Robin Hood [Blu-ray]The cast is superb, a mix of old greats and new comers that include Max von Sydow, Cate Blanchett, Scott Grimes, William Hurt and Russell Crowe as Robin the legend himself. With a heavy laden script for the seemingly padded out story the high calibre actors’ graft their way through the latest incarnation of Robin Hood with ease. There are a few droll moments but the screenplay appears unsure if it wants to be another Disney, Costner Robin Hood or a serious war movie tackling issues of the time of corrupt politicians, generals and monarchy.

With an estimated budget of $200,000,000 and the acting talent and creative people behind Robin Hood, you’d thing Scott would have suited to tackling a period piece not centred around the rise of Robin Longstride. Due to this it leaves the viewer unsatisfied.

It’s a lengthy movie and there is much to enjoy, the score, performances, cinema photography, action scenes are admirable. However, as a Robin Hood film it’s a bit of a miss, and you can’t help feel that as the last reel runs that that’s where the story should have begun.

Gladiator (2000)

Despite it’s historical inaccuracies Gladiator without a doubt deserves it’s 5 Oscars. The story follows Maximus, a Roman general who’s family is murdered after he is betrayed and left for dead. While the story is echoes The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Gladiator revenge theme is far more ambitious and poignant.

Gladiator (Sapphire Series) [Blu-ray]Meticulous portraying the social and political issues of the time, proved director Ridley Scott united with David Franzoni story and screenplay single handily bring back the sword and sandal epic prompting a flurry of copycat films. The opening scene is astounding, the fights are incredibly choreographed, however, Gladiator is far from perfect, let down by a variety of CGI shots, the lack of grandeur that other epics have and several hollow palace scenes. That said, Lisa Gerrard and Hans Zimmer score is exciting, emotionally moving as much as the actor’s performances.

Thankfully, Mel Gibson turned down the part of Maximus that Russell Crowe portrays with such conviction and energy. Even though it was Oliver Reeds last great performance and one of Richard Harris finest, as Marcus Aurelius, the new comers hold their own and are just as effective. Juaquin Phoenix. Connie Nielsen, Derek Jacobi and supporting actors are perfectly cast. Aside from the magnificent sets and locations to the cast credit it’s the ability to render the viewers concern for these characters is what separates Gladiator from being an run of the mill flick.

It’s no masterpiece but far from a gladiatorial coup de grace. Scotts compelling Gladiator is impressive, moving and exciting.

Prometheus (2012)

The near future 2089 Earths historical artifact’s and ancient paintings prompt an expedition into space to find our makers but puts the crew of the Prometheus in grave danger when they land on LV-223 in 2093.

Veteran director Ridley Scott gives Prometheus its own unique look and rightly so as the action, suspense takes place on LV-223 not LV- 426 as in Alien(s). Without getting bogged down with Alien (2122A.D) comparisons, this is a science expedition not a mining vessel. This change in location allows Prometheus to sit as a stand alone film.

Questioning our origins in a reasonable intelligent way the story written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof is intriguing and makes this film stand above your average sci-fi. That said, Prometheus does raise more questions than it answers yet it’s ambiguity is what makes this film special and allows set-ups for future instalments.

It’s excellently cast and includes international actors Guy Pearce (who is sorely underused) Idris Elba as everyday man Janek and Logan Marshall-Green to name a few. Charlize Theron is astounding as Meredith Vickers, a hard nosed corporate mission director. Notably is Michael Fassbender as David who is every bit as interesting as Bishop and Ash with added a quirky ‘fondness’ for Peter O’Tool. Main protagonist Elizabeth Shaw played by Noomi Rapace is not your typical Ripley clone and carries much of the emotion for the film.

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The effects are first rate, with the Space Jockeys, scenery, ships and Aliens wonderfully realised and rendered. Some of the effects are practical and look organic for the most part. The location and environment feels real and makes everything more palatable. A nod should go to Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography and Pietro Scalia’s editing.

Scott delivers a few standout creepy scenes some particularly gut turning, notably the arm breaking, infection and decontamination scenes- it captures some xenomorph magic.

Marc Streitenfeld’s music score is an effective mixed bag although is a little over used. Both writers and Scott ensure to include a few character twists and wisely incorporate some elements from the Aliens series (in keeping with that world) whether it be a vehicle, a line or setup to possibly appease die-hard fans but for the most part it feels fresh.

Prometheus tackles themes of origin, mortality and biological warfare to name a few and although it feels a little rushed it’s a grower just like the spores themselves.