Jurassic Park (1993)

690f7-jurassicpark1Jurassic Park was yet another smash hit for Steven Spielberg back in 1993 and it, as well as the animatronics, stand up pretty well over 20 years later. It might feel slightly underwhelming at times, but it definitely still carries the ability to entertain.

Without giving away too much plot, although most should have already seen it, Jurassic Park plays out like a modern-day King Kong story. John Hammond (played by actor/director Richard Attenborough) is a white-haired billionaire with an eye for spectacle. He has put his money to good use (so it seems) pouring resources into a new sort of attraction. This is no Disneyland and as such the stakes are much higher.

He calls upon the services of a paleontologist Dr. Grant (Sam Neill) and a paleobotanist Dr. Sattler (Laura Dern)  to give the seal of approval on his grand endeavor. There’s also a nosy lawyer who is curious for the sake of his investors. Round out the group with an authority on Chaos Theory (Jeff Goldblum) along with Hammond’s grandkids and you have all you need.

These lucky few are the ones who get shipped out to a remote island off Costa Rica to see first hand the majesty of Jurassic Park. But rather like Frankenstein, Hammond does not know what he has created. What was meant to be good, turned sour all too quickly, except in this rendition of the story he gets a little help from a pudgy programmer who is looking out for himself.

There’s not much character development to speak of, but if you have real life dinosaurs terrorizing an island you do not need much else. Accompany it with a truly epic and iconic score from John Williams and you have something quite special and quintessentially ’90s. If kids did not want to be paleontologists before they undoubtedly did after Jurassic Park.

As Dr. Grant so aptly puts it, “Dinosaurs and man, two species separated by 65 million years of evolution have just been suddenly thrown back into the mix together. How can we possibly have the slightest idea what to expect?”

That is the general intrigue behind Jurassic Park aside from the awesome fact that we get to see a T-Rex, Raptors, and many other dinosaurs recreated. This is not necessarily a kids movie due to the intensity at times, but it definitely is meant for the young at heart. Those are the people who unashamedly love dinosaurs.  But then again who doesn’t love dinosaurs?

4/5 Stars

The Best Films of Steven Spielberg

1. Schindler’s List
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
3. Saving Private Ryan
4. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
5. Jaws
6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
7. Jurassic Park
8. The Last Crusade
9. Lincoln
10. Catch me if You Can
11. Minority Report
12. Munich
13. The Adventures of Tintin
14. Duel
15. The Temple of Doom
16. The Color Purple

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

c1b38-saving_private_ryan_poster

Telling an amazing story of bravery, Saving Private Ryan is both inspiring and moving. Beginning with the invasion of Normandy on D-Day June 6, 1944, the film follows a group of American soldiers as they look for a Francis Ryan. Since all three of his brothers are dead their mission is to find him and send the private home . Despite the dangers and the subsequent deaths of many comrades, they finally complete their mission after one last heroic fight. The movie flashes forward to the present day Ryan as he kneels at the graves of those brave men who saved him. Unsure he asks his wife if he lived a good life because those soldiers payed the ultimate price for him. With director Steven Speilberg, Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, and other good character actors, this is a powerful war film with great battle sequences as well as amazing heroism.

5/5 Stars

The Last Crusade (1989)

3299e-indiana_jones_and_the_last_crusade_aStarring Harrison Ford with Sean Connery, this is the exciting final chapter of the original Indiana Jones trilogy. The film opens with the young Indy and we discover more  about him. Then, in 1938 we rejoin him as he begins his quest for the Holy Grail. He is introduced to an avid artifact collector named Donovan who then tells him his father Henry Jones Sr. has vanished. Indy winds up with his father’s diary and then heads to Venice where he meets a beautiful Austrian colleague of his father. Indy uses the clues and his knowledge to advance the search. However, all too soon he realizes his father is in trouble and the Nazis are behind it. After a twist the Joneses get away and continue to Berlin. however, their foes are already headed for the Grail. Indy is once again put in a difficult place as he is forced to evade the traps on his way to the very dangerous artifact. This film has a lot of great moments full of action and great dialogue. Ford and Connery play well off each other and we are also given a bit of an origin story for Indy.

4/5 Stars

Raider’s of the Lost Ark (1981)

This film is a nod to all the old time serials and it put us face to face with one of the greatest cinematic heroes of all time . Raiders is wonderful because it is a pure and simple adventure with wonderful characters, a great score, and intriguing scenes. This truly is one of the best action films of all time.

*May Contain Spoilers

Introducing a great hero in Indiana Jones this movie is a blast every minute. With his whip, pistol, and iconic fedora, Indy travels the world in order to track down the Ark of the Covenant. However his arch rival Belloq is also searching for it backed by the Nazis. Indy’s search kindles an old flame in Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and reunites him with his friend Sallah. Jones has a knack for adventure and despite constant obstacles he is never truly beaten. However Belloq does seem to have the last laugh by testing the uncovered Ark. Its power is so great though it destroys all who look at it. So Indy and Marion escape narrowly with their lives. With its great combination of George Lucas and Steven Speilberg along with a great score, this film is a lot of fun. It is difficult not to like the adventures of this classic hero.

5/5 Stars

 

Lincoln (2012)

a8b03-lincoln_2012_teaser_posterDirected by Steven Speilberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis with Sally Fields, and Tommy Lee Jones, the film focuses on Lincoln’s 2nd term as the Civil War comes to a close and he fights to pass the 13th amendment.

At home Lincoln deals with his temperamental wife, argues with his older son about joining the war, and plays with his younger boy Tad. At the same time he must work behind the scenes to get enough representatives while also facing the prospect of a Confederate surrender. His life is beyond stressful, with cabinet meetings, speeches, inspections, and tough decisions to make day in and day out. However, despite the toll, he copes and in the process does great things. Within the film we also become familiar with William Seward, Thaddeus Stevens, and other leaders who must make their own difficult decisions on the issue of slavery.

Ultimately, the landmark amendment is passed but it is short lived with the assassination of Lincoln. He truly was “a man for the ages” and Lewis does a wonderful job of portraying his every aspect. His voice, his features, his parables, his political savvy, and even his frailty give us a crystal clear picture of the man. The supporting cast and the cinematography were both very good. It proves that a film full of drama and some humor does not need action to make it excellent. It is all about the characters and more importantly our very history.

4.5/5 Stars

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Directed by Steven Speilberg, E .T. follows the life of a young boy, Elliot, who befriends a timid alien who is lost on earth. Eventually this little alien becomes a foster member of their family, drinking soda, watching television, and taking part in trick-or-treating during Halloween. However the secret gets out and the government takes E.T. away. Elliot feels helpless as he slowly sees E.T. begin to die. However, miraculously he is revived again and Elliot with his brother and friends make a break with E.T. When it looks as if they will be caught their bikes take off allowing the peaceful extraterrestrial to escape and head home. This is one of Speilberg’s classics and it is a good historical image of life back in the 1980s aside from the alien.

4.5/5 Stars

Schindler’s List (1993)

This film is one of the best biographical films and it highlights one of the monstrosities of humanity in the form of the Holocaust. It may be hard to watch and it is overpowering but the fact is the types of events depicted actually happened and must be recognized. The characters of Oskar Schindler and Ammon Goth further make the story come alive serving as a sharp contrast to each other.

From the beginning this film opens in black and white making you realize there is something special here. With Speilberg behind the camera, Liam Neeson takes on the role of Oskar Schindler. Historically, this German industrialist aided over a thousand Jews from the Holocaust. Neeson skillful portrays his character revealing the turmoil and peril Schindler faced. The cast is rounded out nicely by Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes. The film effectively moves the viewer to ponder humanity and also causes us to praise Schindler. Fittingly the movie closes with many surviving Jews laying flowers on the grave of their savior.  

                                                         5/5 Stars

Jaws (1975)

This is arguably the first great modern blockbuster and it had such a tremendous cultural impact. Who knew a rogue shark, a wonderfully chilling score, and an isolated setting off the east coast could send so many shivers up the spines of audiences. Jaws is the classic man vs. nature story and proves how deadly it can turn out.

*May Contain Spoilers

The movie that kept millions of people from going in the Ocean in the 70s, Jaws tells of a shark terrorizing a tourist trap off the coast of Massachusetts. The policeman (Roy Scheider) must team up with a marine scientist (Richard Dreyfuss), and a hunter (Robert Shaw) to bring down the monster. Together they embark to try to hunt down and kill this menace of the deep. Little do they know how dangerous this creature is. When they finally meet they are in for a few unpleasant surprises. It is evident that either man or best must win or die. There is no compromise when man goes up against shark. This early Speilberg film was a glimpse of good thing to come and successfully began his great career.

5/5 Stars