Tag: Steven Spielberg

MOVIE REVIEW | Super 8 (2011)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: Super 8 is pure nostalgia, but it’s nostalgia done right.”

Supr 8 1
“Stop talking about production value, the Air Force is going to kill us.”

JJ Abrams is the franchise king. Sure, Star Wars: The Force Awakens would have been huge without him, but would it have been as universally liked and become the highest grossing movie of all time without him? Before that, he did a pretty great job of rebooting the Star Trek series for the new millennium. And before that, his big screen, directorial debut was a Mission Impossible movie that I don’t think anyone knew they wanted, until they saw it, and then the franchise was all of a sudden alive and relevant again. In fact, there’s only one movie in the Abrams directorial canon that isn’t a reboot of a classic franchise. Which is what makes Super 8 the most unique Abrams joint.

After the death of his mother in a factory accident, adolescent Joe (Joel Courtney) and his father (Kyle Chandler as local the deputy, Jackson) struggle to figure out what life and family are without her.   When not at school, Joe and his friends make super 8 movies. The self appointed director of the group, (Charles Kaznyk as Riley) is determined to up the production values of their latest and convinces the group to film at a local train station after dark. With school friend Alice (Elle Fanning) roped in so they can add a romance level to the story, filming is interrupted when a train approaching the platform hits a car on the tracks, derails and chaos ensues. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #24. E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
“Maybe he’s not that smart. Maybe he’s like a worker bee who only knows how to push buttons or something.

Before I started writing Bored and Dangerous, I was pretty quick to dismiss Steven Spielberg. Sure, he’d directed the Indiana Jones trilogy which I grew up adoring. He’d produced things like Gremlins and the Back to the Future movies, which I loved even more than Indiana Jones. As an adult, I was a fan of things like Saving Private Ryan. And who doesn’t love Jaws? I always thought they were the kinds of crowd pleasing movies that would be good no matter who directed them. But the more of his movies I see and write about here, the more I’ve come to realise how versatile he is. Is there anyone else out there who could make Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List? A.I and Lincoln? Not to mention, possibly the most beloved family movie of the modern age, E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial.

In the woods just outside a depressing outer suburb, a group of aliens are taking plant samples when some shady G-men scare them away. As their ship takes off, one lone and sad alien is left behind. Later that night, balls deep in the depressing outer suburbs, 10ish year old Elliot (Henry Thomas) is scared by something strange hiding in his garden shed. His single mother (Dee Wallace) and teenaged brother, Michael (Robert MacNaughton) try to convince him he imagined it. Elliot is determined to prove them wrong, eventually finding the left behind alien and luring him into his bedroom. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***JURASSIC WEEK*** The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

Lost World

“Saddle up, let’s get this moveable feast under way!”

These days, when a franchisable movie is mega successful, it’s not a question of if it will get a sequel, but a question of how many sequels will be shit out before the studio reboots the series and starts again from the beginning.  But in the 90s, sequels were still a little more of a novelty.  And they never had the prestige of their series’ predecessors.  So when it was announced that Jurassic Park would not only be getting a sequel, but that Steven Spielberg would also be back behind the camera, it was a pretty big deal.  Not enough of a big deal for me to be assed seeing it apparently, but I’m here now, aren’t I?  So get off my back, because I just watched The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

After the debacle of his dinosaur filled amusement park, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) has lost control of his company that cloned said dinosaurs, and is now scared of how his nephew (Arliss Howard as Peter Ludlow) will wield his power as the company’s new head.  Especially in regards to Site B.  You see, the island of the original movie was just for the tourists.  There was an entire second island where the dinosaurs were bred.  After a severe hurricane, Site B was abandoned.  But it turns out, left to their own devices, the dinosaurs have spread, bred and built an entire prehistoric eco system. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***JURASSIC WEEK*** Jurassic Park (1993)

Jurassic Park

“Can’t just suppress 65 million years of gut instinct.”

For the last few months, it has seemed like people have been trying to convince themselves they were excited about Jurassic World.  Or at least, I felt like they were trying to convince themselves.  Then, a few weeks ago, it opened and broke the box record for highest grossing opening weekend ever.  So I guess people had been genuinely excited about Jurassic World and I just projected my own ambivalence about the movie on to them.  Then I realised that the reason I was so ambivalent while the rest of the world was getting excited, was because I’ve never seen a single movie in the Jurassic franchise.   I guess I had nothing to get excited about.  So, it’s time to join the rest of the world in getting excited about Jurassic World.  But before I can see it, I have to catch up, starting with the original, Jurassic Park.

Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neil) and Dr Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) are working on an archaeological dig for dinosaur bones when they’re summoned by eccentric billionaire, John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), whisking them away to a secluded island somewhere in Central America.  Joining them is mathematician, Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum).  Landing on Hammond’s island, the three doctors soon have their minds blown when they see that Hammond and his scientists have brought dinosaurs back to life. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #56. Jaws (1975)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.


“It’s only an island of you look at it from the water.”

I think some movies are perfect.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I love them or think that they’re up there with the all time greats.  It means that I think they set out to be a certain kind of movie, and they execute that perfectly.   The actors perfectly perform the dialogue, which perfectly matches the tone, which is created by perfect direction.  ‘Perfect’ in all of these instances is relative to the movie itself, not movies in general.  Jaws is a movie that’s not only perfect, it’s also a movie that I love and think is up there with the all time greats.

After a midnight skinny dip goes awry and a mutilated women’s body is found washed up on the beach, island holiday town Sherriff, Brody (Roy Scheider) tries to close the beaches to the public.  The only problem is, it’s the first days of summer, which is when pretty much every business in the island makes its money for the year.  The threat of losing tourist dollars is worse than the threat of whatever might be in the water.  Until a young boy is taken and killed by something under the surface, in the middle of the day, in front of a beach full of witnesses. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #66. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.


“You want to talk to God? Let’s go see him together, I’ve got nothing better to do.”

Here we are, about a third of the way through this countdown, and we’re only now just getting to the first super fun, rollercoaster ride style blockbuster.  Sure, we’ve had classic comedies like A Night at the Opera, song and dance frivolity with Swing Time, and kids’ movies that work well for adults too, like Toy Story. But the majority of this AFI 100 is so obsessed with drama and cinematic downers, Raiders of the Lost Ark simply sticks out more than pretty much anything else on there.  And any excuse to rewatch this movie is a good thing.

In what is one of the best and most iconic opening sequences in cinematic history, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) basically commits a break an enter on a South American temple, stealing a golden idol.  But just when he thinks he’s free and clear, rival archaeologist Rene Belloq (Paul Freeman) manages to claim it for himself.  But back home at his job teaching at a prestigious American college, he gets a new assignment that makes him forget about his stolen idol. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI 100*** #71. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.


“Hell, these guys deserve to go home as much as I do. They’ve fought just as hard.”

For the last 15 or so years, pretty much all war movies have been shot and edited in a very specific way.  And not just war movies and big battle scenes, but one on one fights in action movies as well.  The camera doesn’t just watch the action now, it’s in it, being rocked by explosions, knocked around by combatants, with shots edited to keep the viewer a little disorientated.  When done right, you get cool, visceral action like in the Bourne movies.  When done wrong, you get incomprehensible shit, like in The Transformers movies.  Right or wrong, they all stole their style from one man and one movie.  Steven Spielberg and Saving Private Ryan.

In one of the most famous scenes of the last two decades of movie making, Saving Private Ryan opens with the storming of the beach at Normandy, the beginning of the allies final push to take Europe back from Hitler.  I hail of bullets and explosions, we focus on the platoon of Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks).  Against all odds, they survive the invasion and are given their next assignment.  When a War Department Colonel (Bryan Cranston) back in America finds out that there’s one poor mother in Iowa who’s about to get four telegrams on the same day announcing the death of four of her five sons, he decides the fifth boy will be sent home safely. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***SWANSONG WEEK*** Always (1989)


“I love you, Pete… but I’m not enjoying it.”

For a director who’s made more at the box office than any other film maker, I’m surprisingly ambivalent towards Steven SpielbergJaws is undeniably awesome, the original Indian Jones Trilogy is great and Schindler’s List deserves every bit of praise it ever got.  Then there’s his clunkers, like The Terminal  and Catch Me If You Can.  But everything else in his immense filmography is just kind of OK to me.  Nothing too amazing, nothing too terrible.  Just a whole lot of watchable, if not re-watchable, average stuff.

But even with my disinterest in Spielberg, I’m still generally very aware of his movies and their existence.  So when I watched Always, based purely on it being Audrey Hepburn’s last movie, I was surprised to see it had a pretty great cast of big names, and that it was made by Spielberg.  How underwhelming must Always be for it to be so overlooked and seemingly forgotten in the Spielberg canon?

Pete (Richard Dreyfus) and Al (John Goodman) are firefighting pilots.  They fly dangerous missions dumping water on raging forest fighters.  In the control tower is Dorinda (Holly Hunter), Pete’s girlfriend.  After taking one too many risks and scaring her one too many times, Dorinda tells Pete he needs to settle down or lose her.  Coincidentally, Al is trying to convince him that they should take steadier, safer jobs teaching other pilots to fly these fire missions at a new training school in Colorado.

After a pretty spectacular incident (it happens too early to consider it a spoiler, but it’s unexpectedness did make it pretty great, so I won’t go into details), Pete ends up taking goofy young dreamboat Ted (Brad Johnson) under his wing.  All of this with a touch of the super natural that introduces Audrey Hepburn as Hap, basically God.

Being a Spielberg movie, a certain amount of sentimentality and sickly sweetness is a forgone conclusion.  But the beauty of Always is that it has a sense of humour to its sickly sentimentality.  Richard Dreyfus’ Pete is a smartass who, for the most part, keeps enough of a cynical detachment from the emotion to make sure it’s never too overwhelming.  And Goodman’s character is basically that of the loud mouth best friend who refuses to take anything seriously, so he keeps the edge off as well.

Always is a bunch of great actors giving pretty great performances, but I can see why I’ve never heard of it before, despite its pedigree in front of and behind the camera.  There’s just not much to it.  Sure, it wants to make some grand statements about love, life and happiness, but none of those statements are new, or nothing you haven’t seen in plenty of other, better movies.  I feel the same way about Always as I do about most Spielberg movies.  There are worse ways to spend a couple of hours, but I’m sure I‘ll forget about it completely soon enough.

Directed By – Steven Spielberg
Written By – Jerry Belson

Considering I watched this movie for Hepburn’s final screen appearance, she gets very little attention above.  Because her role here is basically a cameo.  But here are her swansong stats anyway…

Years Active:
1949 – 1989

Breakfast at Tiffanies (1961)

Selected Major Achievements/Accolades:                             
Academy Award, Best Actress (Roman Holiday, 1953)
BAFTA, Best British Actress (Roman Holiday, 1953)
Golden Globe, Best Actress Drama (Roman Holiday, 1953)
Golden Globe, World Favourite Female (1955)
BAFTA, Best British Actress (The Nun’s Story, 1960)
BAFTA, Best British Actress (Charade, 1963)
Screen Actors Guild, Lifetime Achievement Award (1993)

MOVIE REVIEW | A.I: Artificial Intelligence (2001)


“Stories are not real! You’re not real!”

You’d be hard pressed to find two more notorious directors who gained their notoriety for more different reasons than Steven Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick. With Jaws, Spielberg made the world’s first blockbuster, and since then, he’s gone to be the most profitable director of all time. Along with Alfred Hitchcock, Spielberg might be the most recognisable name behind the camera in the history of cinema, a director who even the most casual movie viewer knows. Then you have Stanley Kubrick. While Spielberg makes ‘moves’, Kubrick made ‘films’. Highbrow stuff that only a tortured genius and perfectionist could make. He even made a trashy Steven King book into a cinephile classic.

When Kubrick died and it was announced that Spielberg would be talking over one of his passion projects, movie snobs were not happy. How could this crowd pleasing hack possibly understand the depths of a story that a genius like Kubrick found so fascinating?   Here’s the thing, I’m kind of on the fence with both directors. Spielberg is an undeniable genius who can make crowd pleasing, mass appeal stuff, that still has real heart. Movies like E.T, Schinderl’s List, Jaws and the first three Indiana Jones movies. But he’s also made painful syrup, like Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal and War Horse. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***DIRECTOR DEBUT WEEK*** Spielberg: Duel (1971)

I’m not a big Spielberg guy.  He has a couple of movies I really love, a few I think are really over rated, and a whole heap I’ve never bothered watching and probably never will.  But as ambivalent as I am, there’s no denying the amazing impact he’s had on film making over more than four decades.  There’s a reason why he has possibly the most famous behind the camera name in Hollywood.  And you can see the beginnings of that future notoriety in his first move, Duel.

Dennis Weaver is David Mann, a dude in a car trying to get to a meeting.  Stuck behind a filthy oil tanker on the highway, he decides to over take.  For some reason. the tanker driver takes offense to this and starts a game of vehicular intimidation and harassment.  Is starts small with tailgating, over taking then slowing down, that kind of thing, until the truck tries to run Weaver off the road.

Shaken, he stops at a roadhouse.  Showing the kind of dead horse flogging subtlety Spielberg will go on to exhibit throughout his career, Weaver calls his wide and it’s revealed he let another dude cross a few lines with her at a party the previous night and decided to ignore it to avoid conflict.  I wonder if that will serve as any sort of motivation to his actions when he gets back on the road and the truck reappears?  Upping the anti of torment until Weaver knows this has gone further than just intimidation and his life is actually in serious danger.

Made for TV with a tiny budget, Spielberg makes Duel a much better movie than it has any right to be.  Four years before he’d invent the entire concept of the blockbuster movie with Jaws, it’s great to see what a truly great film maker he is.  A solid 90% of this movie is the car, the truck, the road and nothing else.  Apart from the odd awkward voiceover from Weaver, there’s hardly any dialogue and the most we ever see of the truck driver is his arm out the window once or twice.

In true B movie style, the entire movie is a build up to one big climax that probably represents most of the meager budget, but that doesn’t stop Spielberg from finding ways to ramp up the tension and suspense all the way through.  Especially through the practical stunt driving.

It was 1971, so there were no computers to fake anything.  And Spielberg uses a lot of long, wide shots, so you can see how fast these vehicles are going, and how close they are to each other at these insane speeds.  It’s hard to give a shit about stunts and action sequences when you know it’s basically just a cartoon made by a computer.  With Duel, the reality of everything happening on screen makes it that much more intense.

Watching Duel gave me a lot more respect for Spielberg.  Not in a way that makes me want finally to get around to watching things like War of the Worlds or The Terminal.  But in a way that makes me really wish he’d make something small and simple again.

Directed By – Steven Spielberg
Written By – Richard Matheson