Tag Archives: spielberg

#27 ‘Jurassic Park’ (1993)

"SO, HOW D'YOU LIKE YOUR EGGS IN THE MORNING?"

“SO, HOW D’YOU LIKE YOUR EGGS IN THE MORNING?”

Cast:-

*Sam Neill

*Laura Dern

*Richard Attenborough

*Jeff Goldblum

*Ariana Richards

*Joseph Mazello

Director:- Steven Spielberg

With its recent 3D release I thought I’d mark my return to reviewing with a recap of the 90’s belter – Jurassic Park.

Surprised as many may be, before this past week the last time I saw the movie was back in 1993 in theatre at the tender age of 7 years of age. Possibly being the most immersive and awe-inspiring movie experiences in my entire life. The fact I haven’t seen the movie in its entirety for 20 years gave me slight reservations on how the effects, the performances and some of the film’s plot elements would hold up with time. Well, let’s face it – it’s all nonsense really, huh?

—– As the story goes – zillionaire genius, John Hammond, creates an attraction park boasting real-life dinosaurs. Which he has created through the gift of SCIENCE!!!. Inviting archaeologists, Neill and Dern, Jeff Goldblum, plus his two grandchildren to vet the park during a special tour. And all shit breaks loose.

The great thing about Jurassic Park is that it hits the notes so sweetly, it is simply pure unbridled and crazy entertainment from start to end. At a 2 hour running time, the opening half is an oddly well-matched combination of dread and wonder, as we are taken off the Pacific Coast into Costa Rica via air, captivated by the world Hammond has created. While still feeling the uncertainty of just how much a dangerous game he is playing. Spielberg pulls this off with his own unique sensibilities of creating a real experience that’s palpable and emotionally alluring.

The first appearance of a dinosaur in all its glory is one of the most memorable moments in cinematic history – as Sam Neill’s Grant and Laura Dern’s Sattler almost look catatonic as the prehistoric creatures come into view on their arrival at Isla Nublar – with Hammond’s immortal words “Welcome to Jurassic Park!” soon following. It’s something I think most people seeing this film for the first time would relate to. The stunning work on visual and practical effects were and still are breathtaking, further enhanced by high-definition technology used to transfer the film onto blu ray form. There are some sequences that look slightly off-key but it’s nothing prominent or note-worthy.

The only issues I have with Jurassic Park are to do with its characters – A combination of stereotypical khaki wearing buffs, an old man with a God-complex, the ever-warning maths whizz and a whole host of generic cannon fodder park workers.

Grant and Sattler, while appearing well-intended and passionate about Hammond’s miraculous creations, eventually become an almost reluctant childminder and a constantly wailing unnecessary female lead respectively. Grant, being the prominent of the two, is our eyes and ears of the film. But the obvious awkward undertones of his suggested fear of relationships seem to prove he’s not the generic dashing hero that you’d expect. This is further accentuated through his interaction with Lex and Tim, whom incidentally are probably my favourite characters from the entire movie. And are respectfully portrayed by the actors in the film’s more frantically and dramatically terrifying sequences.

Ellie Sattler, on the other hand, is borderline annoying, stupidly self-assured and rather insignificant for the films narrative other than to be the representation of, what I believe to be, Alan Grant’s personal insecurities. If the character was far more of significant value in the Crichton novel – then I guess it’s a faux pas on the part of the screenwriters. I just couldn’t find anything remarkably likeable or screen time worthy about the character.

Goldblum and Attenborough deliver the token gravitas-laden performances with some clunky and groan inducing dialogue, and questionable motivations. That’s both of them, by the way ūüėČ

Spielberg’s direction is spellbinding. With the looming shots of the island filling us with a sense of foreboding and wonder, to the iconic T-Rex attack shots, this is really a movie that he obviously felt close to his heart. So much passion and attention to detail is apparent here, and with a timeless score from John Williams – I was really swept in with a real adventure ‘feel’ – but I honestly found it lacked a little bit in the adventure side as it blossoms into a survival/thriller/monster movie after the first half. Perhaps it would fair better, in this context, by focussing more on the kids as central characters. Deviating away from the frights and scares – opting for a more classic Spielbergian piece. But this just a major nitpick on my part. The creatures look beautiful, the lighting gives the daytime scenes a lush vibrance and tender tone to the more ‘friendlier’ dinosaurs. While the evening sequences, casted over by heavy storms and minimalistic score up the ante in tension and terror as we come to meet the more less favourable inhabitants. Makes for gripping stuff!

So yes, the answer is Jurassic Park still holds up as one of the greatest pieces of modern cinema. It’s issues are more noticeable these days, but it has not lost that wonderful essence that made us fall in love with the film all those years ago.

 

9/10


Trailer Tidbits #2 (September 2012)

Today, I take a closer look at the recent ‘Lincoln’ trailer, directed by¬†Steven Spielberg¬†and starring Daniel Day-Lewis. Also the latest Walt Disney animated feature – ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ and the highly anticipated ‘Looper’ – boasting Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis.

‘Lincoln’ – Dir. Steven Spielberg

After the backing out of Liam Neeson, another capable British thesp in the form of Daniel Day-Lewis features as the most popular President in the history of The United States. This first trailer, giving us an insight into¬†Abraham Lincoln’s turbulent few months¬†during the¬†Civil War. Speculated to be a massive hit – the trailer itself is played for drama, focussing on debating parties and briefly glimpsing at a troubled Lincoln. Interspersed with imagery from the Civil War, the plight of slaves and Lincoln’s allies rallying in support.¬† For me, this really feels boxed-in for Spielberg movie. I feel no overwhelming desire to take heed or even wonder at the prospect of seeing this film. It’s something I’ve never experienced before with this director. I sincerely hope I am proven wrong.

‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Dir. Rich Moore

Another hotly tipped movie, this time coming from the animation studios of Disney. ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ may be on paper a basic story of redemption, or ‘doing that bit more’. But it looks like a lot of fun with its endless video game character cameos that we’ve seen from the first trailer as well as this latest one. It’s a familiar plot outline, but executed in a way we haven’t seen before. Keep an eye out – I’m looking forward to this one.

‘Looper’ – Dir. Rian Johnson

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays¬†Joe¬†Simmons, a¬†mafia hitman and a¬†‘Looper’ that is tasked to travel back in time in order to kill an agent¬†on the condition that all targets must never escape. But, after realising that the target is a future version of himself, played by Bruce Willis. Shit conveniently hits the fan. Already receiving encouraging reviews, ‘Looper’ is said to be the best sci-fi film since¬†Duncan¬†Jones’ ‘Moon’¬†and one of the best overall of the year so far. Teeming with some striking visual flair and a host of tense action sequences. This is certainly one of the best trailers I’ve seen for some time.


#7 ‘An American Tail’ (1986)

Mousel tov!

Cast:-

*Phillip Glasser

*Dom DeLuise

Director:- Don Bluth

*MINOR SPOILERS*

Back in the late 80’s, early 90’s. Don Bluth was the shit.

From ‘The Land Before Time’ to ‘The Secret of NIMH’ all the way to his work on the ‘Dragon’s Lair’ game franchise – He was undoubtedly my favourite filmmaker. Though I didn’t know who he was in all honesty. But hell, the movies – were awesome! Emotional, hard-hitting, gritty and realistic. All that,¬†with some¬†inspiring and beautiful animation that still stand the test of time today against the likes of Pixar.

An American Tail – set in 1895 –¬†is a story of survival. It also plays out as an ‘all’s not lost if you have hope’ piece of narrative, which is probably some of the best, of this particular nature, that I’ve seen.

¬†The film’s¬†lead, is a young¬†Russian-Jewish mouse,¬†Fievel, voiced by Phillip Glasser. Who, after¬†being forced to leave their shack under a family home in Russia with his Father, Mother and two siblings – is swept away during a frightening sea storm en route to New York¬†City – Their potential new home. Fievel¬†is washed up ashore in New York, and is befriended by a French pidgeon, Henri. Who, willingly¬†gives him a¬†bubble bath in the¬†near-constructed Statue of Liberty¬†(the scene is crushingly funny and so heart-warming at the same time it almost seems impossible), and encourages him to look for his family – Who believe that their son perished during the storm.

Now, watching this almost 20 years after I last had the VHS tape, it’s really a completely different movie altogether. As a kid, I’d often pick up more on the ‘humour’ and the songs (Especially ‘Somewhere Out There’ – that¬†one is a killer). But maturity and age allowed me to broaden those horizons and read between the pages –¬†to find that this film is truly a classic piece of animated cinema.

In places – it does get rather depressing, Fievel¬†is taunted constantly by the loss of his family – though with companions at his side throughout, he’s never truly alone. But there are constant reminders and teases that his family are closer than he thinks. It actually becomes excruciating¬†to see how often it happens – all for Fievel just to wind up disappointed.

To be fair, it’s pretty heartbreaking. But Bluth’s¬†knack for delivering such human emotion and characterisation to rodents(?) is quite the feat. There’s laughs, there are tears, joy, sorrow, anger, resentment – All thrown in this little bag. The negatives, in this respect, outweigh the positives, however the conclusion is very endearing and totally worth the anticipation.

An American Tail is probably not your average kids flick. It’s abundant with adult-overtones. Such as war, immigration, cruelty, mass genocide and a host of others. I did find a lot¬†of similarity between this and Christian Bale’s plight in ‘Empire of The Sun’. Obviously his character’s situation was in the middle of full-scale war, however both himself and Fievel’s vulnerability and innocence are the heart of the two films. It’s what keeps you transfixed on the events to come, and encourages you to encourage THEM to get back to where they need to be.

There’s an amazing charm to Fievel, as well as his family. His oversized red jumper, his dopey tongue expressions, his dancing to his father’s violin-playing – Effective and simple. There’s not that much around these days. Where are you, Bluth? There’s a lot¬†of support characters in the film, the villainous ‘Warren T. Rat’, which is an amazing villain name. And ‘Honest John’, a reliable but often inebriated mouse politician living in the New York, to name a few. But it’s Dom DeLuise¬†as ‘Tiger’, the vegan cat – who steals the show in his few minutes on-screen. Channelling The Cowardly Lion character from The Wizard of Oz, DeLuise¬†delivers some wise-cracking wit as the cat who befriends Fievel¬†during his search. Capped off with a lovely bit of toe-tapping duet stylings from Glasser¬†and DeLuise.

In closing – it’s definitive animated excellence – However some wishing to show it to children¬†will find the content of the film slightly over the mark.

Very slightly.

8/10


5 Sequels That Ruined Their Predecessor

Ok, just a few picks that I, personally found suitable for this list. I’ll be giving a few thoughts on each one…

1. ‘Evan Almighty’ (Original – ‘Bruce Almighty’)

Awwww... Sheeeeet!

Let me be frank, Bruce Almighty (starring rubber face himself, Jim Carrey) was never a masterpiece, nor was it amazingly funny. But with the film being the jump start¬†for the film career of Steve Carell, it did stir some interest – As a big fan of Carell¬†in The Office, I decided I’d give this film a watch. The end result is a…ugh… ‘comedy’… that doesn’t even touch the sheer stupidity of Jim Carrey’s¬†multi-digited¬†limb. It’s just a damn miracle that Steve Carell is able to shine in other films and become lesser-known for this one.

2. ‘Alien Ressurection’ (Originals – ‘Alien’, ‘Aliens’ & ‘Alien 3’)

Oedipus Complex 101

¬†A disgustingly horrific way to fully kill one of the best sci-fi franchises of the last 30 years. Alien 3 pretty much ruined it all, but this one was the killing blow…. Actually no, I’m wrong. Alien 3 was the killing blow. This just beat its dead lifeless body down with a massive 40 inch dildo.

3. ‘Everything George Lucas has been involved with since 1999’ (Original – ‘Everything George Lucas was involved with before 1999’)

This picture, tells us exactly what George Lucas, as a filmmaker and what his films represented. Interest, excitement, art, honing a craft, inspiring.

Now, look at what he looks like now… Bloated, boring, egotistical, nonsensical¬†overbearing smugness, dishevelled, piece of crap. These are traits he shares with the films he’s produced in the last decade. George, you killed your baby.

4. ‘TRON: Legacy’ –¬†(Original –¬†‘TRON’)

"Anyone up for a game of S&M frisbee?"

TRON was one of those ‘kewl’ flicks from the 80’s that we all love. It’s not great now by today’s standards, but that shit was awesome 20 years or so ago. But it’s been slightly shitted¬†on by this long-delayed¬†sequel that would’ve been much better off being produced while technology was not as advanced as now.¬†The first one¬†just seems completely organic in comparison. Again, one of those CGI filled shit-fests that could’ve been so much more.

5. ‘Home Alone 3’¬†(Originals – ‘Home Alone’ & ‘Home Alone 2’)

Oh, John… John, John, Johnny, John, John…. I wish you could’ve died a happy man.


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