Based on West Side Story by Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim & Arthur Laurents
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Rita Moreno, Rachel Zegler
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) An adaptation of the 1957 musical, West Side Story explores forbidden love and the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds.
I thought this film looked gorgeous. Steven Spielberg is a brilliant filmmaker so of course it was going to be good. Was it necessary when we already had a very good film adaptation in 1961 (which I briefly reviewed last month here)? Probably not, but I suppose it brings it to the attention of a whole new generation plus I think it fleshed out the story a tiny bit more. I still prefer the 1961 film as I like Natalie Wood & go for the more classic feel of that one, I guess. But it was never an absolute favorite of mine when it comes to movie musicals & it still wouldn’t make my top ten (but I did give it an honorable mention in this old list I need to update).
The weakest part of the film was unfortunately, for me, the two leads. Ansel Elgort had no charisma. Rachel Zegler was good but also kind of just a pretty face in a role that probably could’ve been filled by plenty of young actresses. That sounded way too negative! She was good. It was just unfortunate that there was zero chemistry whatsoever between her & Elgort. But, hey – I’d probably say all these exact same things about the 1961 film too. Made it harder to buy into this great big romance in both films.
I agree with what seems to be the general consensus that Ariana DeBose as Anita was the best thing about the film. But Rita Moreno as Anita was the best thing about the ’61 film too. Speaking of which, I also liked Moreno’s character in this version & think it worked well having her play that character. It’s fantastic that they got her into this film and, my god, she looks amazing. She’s 90! Can you believe that?! Anyway – Anita was great both times & Ariana DeBose is deserving of her Oscar nomination. I wish the lead characters had as much life in them.
Spielberg’s version of West Side Story is a very good film and I’m happy if it’s made some younger people get into musicals. But I’ll probably still stick with the 1961 film if I feel in the mood for a rewatch at any time. The songs are still the same either way (I think?! I’m no expert on this as I’ve not watched it multiple times like other musicals). But I did enjoy seeing Spielberg’s lovely vision of this.
Happy 75th Birthday (tomorrow, again, as I don’t post on weekends!) to Steven Spielberg. I thought now would be a good time to fully update & repost this old top ten list I first did years ago for The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger.
As there are SO many Spielberg movies I’ve seen and I’m obsessed with lists, I figured it was time to just go ahead & rank every single film of his that I’ve seen (leaving a few out that I really do need to rewatch before knowing where to rank them, including Saving Private Ryan before someone tells me I forgot to include it…). 🙂
Here are My Top Ten Steven Spielberg Movies:
The Rest That I’ve Seen:
17. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
15. Empire Of The Sun
14. Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
13. War Of The Worlds
12. A.I. Artificial Intelligence
11. Ready Player One
Fascinating story and excellent performances. I’d always known Leonardo DiCaprio was an underrated actor but, being the same age as him, it took until I saw this one for me to finally see him as a proper grown-up actor.
My controversial choice, maybe. I don’t care. I LOVED this movie when it came out and watched it over and over. So romantic and full of quirky, loveable characters – why don’t more people like this one?
6. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
This one doesn’t seem to get the credit it deserves. The mashed potato mountain, the entire ending and, of course, those musical notes: Classic.
5. Jurassic Park
This was mind-blowing when it came out. And it still looks a hell of a lot better than some of the CGI nightmares they’re giving us these days. This movie is pure fun.
4. Schindler’s List
Truly a masterpiece but very hard to place in a list like this. It’s not, as I like to call it, a “multiple watcher” for me. Too tough to watch more than once, I can’t “love” it in the same way I do the rest on this list.
Starts out a little slow (trust me – re-watch it) but when the three of them get on that boat to go find the shark, this becomes a true classic. And, come on – that MUSIC! John Williams is a genius. Which is why Spielberg uses him all the time. Spielberg is a genius too but the John Williams scores are just as much to thank for his films becoming the classics that they are.
2. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Number one and two are so close and, to be honest, I changed them around a few times. I don’t know what to say about this one… Who hasn’t seen E.T.? Who doesn’t know the image of that flying bicycle with the moon behind it? Who doesn’t like this?!?! It’s the first film I ever saw in the theater more than once. (Oops – showing my age!) E.T., like Indiana Jones, is such a great character and just thinking about this movie never fails to make me smile. 🙂
1. Indiana Jones Original Trilogy: Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Temple Of Doom, Last Crusade (I had to put these together as it’s perfect as a trilogy. Wish it was only a trilogy…)
Raiders: The film that introduced us to one of the all-time best movie characters – Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford was so awesome (and sexy) as Indiana and we’ve not had “adventure” films like these since. Why can’t they make movies like this anymore??
Temple Of Doom: Temple Of Doom, that crazy and violent one with hearts being RIPPED out of chests and chilled monkey brains!
Last Crusade: Fun fun fun! And I loved Harrison Ford & Sean Connery together in this. I’ve watched this film so many times!
Need To Rewatch These: Duel, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Saving Private Ryan, The Color Purple
Not Seen These: The Sugarland Express, 1941, Amistad, Munich, Tintin, War Horse, Lincoln, Bridge Of Spies, The BFG, The Post, West Side Story
And I should just mention that I loved the original Amazing Stories TV series created by Spielberg. The Mission, which he directed, was a great episode…
Happy March, everyone! I watched way too many movies in February. To be fair, though, I did have a week off of work so what else was I going to do?! 🙂
Here are my quickie reviews of every movie & TV show I watched (and two books I read)…
MOVIES WATCHED IN FEBRUARY (ranked best to worst):
– Les Diaboliques – I unfortunately saw the terrible 1996 remake of this starring Sharon Stone years ago. Rubbish! I thought I’d managed to completely put it out of my mind until halfway through this original French film, when I suddenly remembered the whole story. Damn. Well, it’s still a fantastic murder-plot-mystery thriller and I’d highly recommend the original film, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, to anyone who likes this sort of genre. (Seriously, do NOT watch the 1996 remake. Ugh.) The wife & the mistress of the same abusive asshole plot to murder him & make it look like an accident. But many weird & inexplicable things happen as the story unfolds. The actresses in this (Simone Signoret & Véra Clouzot) are fantastic and you are rooting for them (especially the poor wife) through the whole film. And do you know what happened when the credits came up at the end of this 1955 movie?! A warning to not spoil the ending of the film for others so that they could enjoy it too! Funny. So people were dicks about spoiling movies in 1955 just like they are in 2021. At least they could avoid Twitter in 1955. – 7.5/10
– Willy’s Wonderland – I was never a huge fan of Nicolas Cage but he’s finally growing on me since Mandy. Mandy grew on me a lot too – I wasn’t sure how I felt right away but now I love that film & its look and its amazing score. I now want every Nicolas Cage movie to live up to Mandy but I don’t think any ever will. I did enjoy Color Out Of Space & it certainly gave Mandy a run for its money on “weirdness”. I love weird. It was no Mandy but I’m loving that Cage chooses such bizarre films with cult movie potential. He’s done similar again with Willy’s Wonderland but in the horror comedy genre this time (a favorite subgenre of mine). I was so damn excited to see the trailer for a film starring Cage battling demonic animatronic characters. Love this idea! The film sadly didn’t quite live up to its amazing potential but I still had a lot of fun with it. And Cage was as bonkers as always, even while remaining silent through the whole film. It has a good ’80s slasher sort of vibe to it as well, so I appreciated that. The ’80s had some of the best “bad” horror movies & I’ll always happily watch this kind of thing. – 7.5/10
**Decided to up the rating to 7.5…
– The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things – Not gonna lie: YA books & movies are a guilty pleasure of mine. Think this one was just a short story instead of a full novel and I’ve not read it but I thought the movie was quite enjoyable. It’s a good story with likeable characters & that’s all I ask for from this genre. It’s also yet another “Groundhog Day” setup. How many times can this same thing be done?! I think it doesn’t matter as long as the story still manages to feel like it has a unique twist on having to live the same day over & over and this movie doesachieve that. Let’s see… Edge Of Tomorrow is still obviously the best film since Groundhog Day with this theme but I’d have to say I preferred The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things to the Happy Death Day movies & Before I Fall. Recommended if you do like the YA genre & a good story. – 7.5/10
**Decided to up the rating to 7.5…
– Palmer – I really enjoyed this movie, even though I don’t always go for dramas. It depends on the characters & I liked the characters in this. Justin Timberlake was good as a guy just out of prison who has to try to make a new start & I liked Alisha Wainwright as the teacher of the young boy Timberlake’s character finds himself stuck with when the boy’s troubled mother disappears. The true star is the boy, however, played by Ryder Allen. He’s adorable & super likeable. I think movies often don’t get kids’ characters quite right. They’re sometimes just so obviously saying lines written by an adult screenwriter so it feels awkward (see review below for an example). They don’t act like real kids that age would act. Or, more often, they’re made to be far too “bratty”, which isn’t very realistic either. Not saying kids are never bratty (because they certainly are!!) but I hate how it’s so exaggerated in movies. The boy in this seems real & you just want him to have the best possible life. Yes, the film may be quite predictable & it’s nothing we haven’t seen before but a predictable feelgood film doesn’t exactly do anyone any harm. I liked it. – 7/10
– All The President’s Men – I have a confession: This is NOT my type of film. At all. I just very rarely enjoy “historical dramas”. Same goes for true crime. Man, I hate true crime! I have no interest in all the true crime stuff on Netflix that people always go on about. I don’t know why. But I especially hate politics & crime & most of the crappy stuff that goes on in real life. I mainly watch movies for escapism so often go for sci-fi or fantasy or horror. Or, well, any genre really as long as it’s fiction. If I want a genuinely true story, I’ll watch a documentary.
I thought I’d give this one a chance, though, as it’s a respected classic and I really like Robert Redford & Dustin Hoffman. Yeah. It’s good. I guess it’s what you’d call a slow burn as you watch the story gradually unfold through the eyes of the reporters. It felt very “real” but, me being the person-least-interested-in-history-in-the-history-of-history, I haven’t got the slightest clue as to how accurate this movie is on the whole Watergate Richard Nixon thingy. Redford & Hoffman are great (as always). Everyone looks very ’70s which is also great (as always). I ended up playing on my phone through most of this, though, and only kind of paid attention when I realised they were talking to the Deep Throat guy (only porn movie I own!).
I’m sorry. I’m a terrible, terrible movie blogger. This is a classic & I lost interest & I played on my phone & I still have no knowledge of Watergate. But, hey – it’s super tame anyway compared to all the political bullshit these days! Watergate seems like child’s play now. I’ll give this movie a decent score but know it deserves an even higher rating. And speaking of child’s play, it certainly deserves a higher rating than what I gave the Child’s Play 2019 reboot! But I also gave that a 7/10 (it was fun)… – 7/10
– Level 16 – No, this movie isn’t exactly the best or most original thing ever made but it IS very much my type of story so I quite enjoyed it. It’s on Netflix & this is the plot synopsis from Wikipedia: “Level 16 is a 2018 sci-fi thriller by filmmaker Danishka Esterhazy. It follows a group of girls who live at a “school” which educates them about how to be perfect young women for families that they are told will eventually adopt them. Two girls work together to uncover the truth about their captivity.” By the way, do NOT look this up on IMDb if you want to see it. The images they show ruin the whole story! WTF? So I knew what was going to happen. But I still enjoyed it. Being someone who grew up loving The Twilight Zone from a very young age, I’d have guessed the ending of this movie anyway as it’s pretty predictable if you watch as much of this sort of thing as I do. I suppose you younger people may also know what to expect if you like Black Mirror. But this is still worth a watch if you like mysterious sci-fi thrillers. – 6.5/10
– I Care A Lot – I hadn’t planned on watching this until it ended up being so divisive on Twitter. Man, some people really hate this movie! But others seemed to really enjoy it. Well, movies with such a strong reaction always get me curious so I checked it out expecting to absolutely hate it as I usually despise hateful characters. I want characters to like & to root for!
I enjoyed this film. It’s not one I’ll ever watch again but I enjoyed the ride & thought the performances were good. It goes a bit overboard at the end but, whatever, it’s just a movie so that never really bothers me. And, with everyone going on about how evil these characters are, I thought they’d be far worse. Seriously?! Yeah, Rosamund Pike & Peter Dinklage are assholes. But that’s the whole point? We’re not meant to like them. And there have been many characters in movies just as bad & also much worse. Why such a strong reaction to these characters? Seems strange. I’d also point out that they both have one other person who they clearly love & do truly care about. That’s more than can be said for a lot of “evil” movie characters.
Anyway. I liked this far more than I was expecting so it was a nice surprise. I especially liked Dianne Wiest (always makes me think of The Lost Boys & Edward Scissorhands – she has a great filmography!) & Eiza González was very good as well. So there are two characters who are a little less evil if you really can’t handle Pike & Dinklage. I’d almost give this a higher rating but it’s not a “rewatcher” for me. I’d say just don’t necessarily avoid it based on people being all weird about it. – 6.5/10
– Greenland – This was a perfectly fine disaster movie. Not the best but certainly not the worst of this genre. The characters were more likeable than in some of them (I especially liked Scott Glenn as the grandfather). I think we’re all just desperate for blockbuster action movies during lockdown??? So everyone seems to be giving it slightly more praise than it may actually deserve. We’d probably be more harsh on it if we weren’t all stuck indoors with nothing but mediocre Netflix stuff to watch. Compared to most of the straight-to-streaming films we’ve had in the past year, this is one of the better ones. Still far prefer Deep Impact but this was at least less cheesy than Armageddon. – 6.5/10
– 9 – Somehow missed out on this when released even though its style is the type of thing I like plus I love anything post-apocalyptic. It’s a bit Tim Burton-esque. Which makes sense, as he produced it (he saw & liked the original 9 short film, so produced this feature length film). I wanted to like this one more, as I loved the look and it had so many great names involved. Here’s the synopsis & its stars from Wikipedia: “The film stars the voice of Elijah Wood as a small ragdoll-like robot who awakens shortly after the end of mankind, and must find eight other robots to figure out the mystery behind humanity’s destruction while tangling with the vicious creations of a massive soul-stealing machine, alongside other voices of John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Crispin Glover with Martin Landau and Fred Tatasciore.” I think the story just kind of fell apart plus I wasn’t crazy about the ending. Still a great looking film, though, and am glad to have finally seen it. – 6.5/10
– Malcolm & Marie – This was fine. Not sure how to go about reviewing it. It certainly had some issues & some of it came across a bit too “I’m a brilliant filmmaker and my movies are masterpieces and everyone else is an idiot”. Malcolm was hateful as hell as the pretentious filmmaker and complete asshole of a boyfriend. I don’t think I’ve seen anything else that Sam Levinson has done but, looking at his filmography, it doesn’t look all that impressive (does he see himself as Malcolm??). Movies that come across too condescending do annoy the hell out of me. I had the same issues with Marriage Story (I hated that). I didn’t hate this one but I can’t see myself ever wanting to watch it again. Zendaya is definitely the best thing about the film & she does a great job. It’s worth watching just for her performance. John David Washington is good as well, I guess, as he certainly manages to make you hate his character. And people moaned about the characters being too hateful in I Care A Lot?!? Honestly, the guy was a prick. I kind of wanted her to stab him. That would have been a fun turn of events! It would be cool for a movie to go from being all arthouse pretentious to some f*^ked up horror movie like From Dusk Till Dawn at the end. I want to see that version of Malcolm & Marie! I’ll be nice & give it an extra half a point for the good performances. It also made me want some good ‘ol American Mac & Cheese. – 6.5/10
– It’s Kind Of A Funny Story – This was… Fine? Man, I’ve seen so many “fine” movies in the past year. I’m bored!! Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A clinically depressed teenager gets a new start after he checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward.” Emma Roberts is in this. And that guy in the photo who I know from nothing else (Keir Gilchrist. Oops – looks like he was in It Follows, which I loved). And Zach Galifianakis, the dude everyone thought was the guy in the Robert Redford meme on Twitter. It’s a predictable but harmless film. Meh. – 6/10
– Finding ‘Ohana – This was fine too. Kind of Goonies-light. Very much aimed at kids, so it wasn’t really for me, but I could see why a kid might really like this one. The characters are fun and they mention “nips” a lot. And one of the girls loves Keanu Reeves, which is totally understandable. Cute movie but watch it with a kid of 11 or younger. – 6/10
– News Of The World – This movie probably deserves a higher rating. To be fair, I watched it knowing it’s not really at all my type of thing. I think I just feel like I should watch any big new releases that other bloggers are talking about but I’ve been underwhelmed with 90% of the newer films released on streaming services in the past year. Hanks was his usual Hanks-self & the girl was pretty good (Helena Zengel). And I was pretty bored. It ended well, though. So that’s nice. – 6/10
– Over The Moon – This started out strong but I lost interest halfway through (and may have fallen asleep for a while). It’s a cute movie with a likeable girl and fun younger boy and adorable pet rabbit. It’s also a musical but the songs aren’t very good. It may have actually been better without the songs. It’s also another movie very much aimed at kids (mine is a bit too old for it & seemed bored by the end). Am sure young kids would like it and the super cute pet bunny, though. – 5.5/10
– In Fabric – This was bizarre. I was very excited to see this on BBC iPlayer as it looked like just my type of thing. I like to watch these “Giallo-inspired” movies. But then they end up being really shit & I think I’d have been better off just watching an actual Italian horror from the ’70s instead of a very poor imitation. Hated that Suspiria remake too! What was the point of that?? Well, at least this was an original story instead of a remake, I guess.
I did like director Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio okay but this one didn’t really work. I’d say there were certain things I liked about it, though. The score & the look were fine (even though it’s ripping off the Giallo style – Again, I should have just checked out another Dario Argento film even though I know none are as good as Deep Red or Suspiria). There are also two stories in this weird “killer dress” movie & the second one sucks. The first one, starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste & Gwendoline Christie, actually wasn’t too bad & I’d be giving the film a higher rating if it had ended there. Why did they feel the need to add the second? Also, the movie is veeeeery slow & the first story dragged on for far longer than it needed to. I think this may have actually been a decent horror anthology instead with four or five movies involving the killer dress. I’d watch several really good stories about a killer dress! Why do one okay story & one completely rubbish one?? Well, I don’t recommend this unless you like slightly boring modern movies that poorly rip off ’70s horror classics (if you liked The Love Witch, which I thought was terrible, you’d probably like In Fabric). – 5/10
– Saint Frances – Didn’t like this one. This is just one of those movies where you don’t really care about anyone. The main character is boring & self-absorbed. The only decent characters are the cute young girl & her mother who has a new baby so needs to hire the main character as a nanny to help take of her. Where I mentioned in the review for Palmer above that a lot of writers don’t seem to know how to write child characters? This is one of those. The girl is super cute and I think 5 or 6 years old but talks like an adult sometimes. It doesn’t work. And I know I did a list of My Top Ten Period Dramas but there was waaaaay too much of that in this movie. No thanks. – 5/10
Shorts & Miscellaneous
– Wayne & Garth for Uber Eats – I’m a huge Wayne’s World fan. I (kind of) reviewed it HERE. I love Wayne and adore Garth and they’re the two movie characters I’d probably most like to hang out with. I couldn’t believe it when I found out there was a two and a half hour Wayne & Garth Uber Eats “ad”. There is! It’s HERE! And I watched all of it. It was the perfect thing to just stick on in the background – it really feels like you’re just hanging out with Wayne & Garth in Wayne’s basement. There are a couple of guest stars too (one of them is super cool but not a surprise to fans). Highly recommend leaving this on one day if you’re a fan of these guys & just want to hang out with them for a couple of hours.
– The Breakfast Club – It would have been the 71st birthday of John Hughes in February & we felt like rewatching a couple of his films. I also again shared all the links to all the guest reviews from the John Hughes Blogathon I had here. Well, I already reviewed The Breakfast Club at the above link so won’t do that here. I’ll just say that I still love it now as much as I did in the ’80s. It’s still my favorite Hughes movie. – 9/10
– The Matrix – Thought it was time to introduce this one to the kid. She loved it! She does love a really interesting concept. I have to admit I’d not rewatched it in years, especially after the horrible sequels. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this again & think it has aged very well. I’m now maybe a bit more excited about The Matrix 4 (even though the last two were huge disappointments). We’ll see. It won’t live up to the first film, though. It really is a modern classic. – 8.5/10
– Sixteen Candles – Watched this one too in honor of John Hughes. It’s another favorite (reviewed in full in my link). – 8.5/10
– Ponyo – Rewatching a lot of my Studio Ghibli favorites. Again, I won’t go into this as I reviewed it in full at the link but I love Ghibli & Ponyo is great. Am also very happy to have introduced another blogger to Studio Ghibli via this film, which she chose as the first one to check out. You can read Claire’s review of PonyoHERE at Cinematic Delights. Think we may have a new Ghibli fan! 🙂 – 8/10
– Catch Me If You Can – Still love this Steven Spielberg movie. Think it doesn’t get quite as much attention as his other films but it’s such a fascinating true story plus Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio & Christopher Walken are all fantastic. Highly recommend it if you’ve never seen it. – 8/10
– Tremors – Hadn’t watched this one in years after watching it many times in my teens. I remember this being on TV all the time in America. It’s unfortunately one that ended up being not quite as good as I remembered but it’s still a really fun monster movie slash horror comedy. – 7/10
– The Devil Wears Prada – I do enjoy this movie, despite finding Anne Hathaway annoying & not being a big “chick flick” girl and not being into fashion whatsoever (what a stupid waste of money). But the story is fun, Emily Blunt is entertaining, and Meryl Streep is great as a complete & total bitch. She’d get along with Malcolm! Hey, this character is super hateful but people don’t moan about this movie like they moaned about I Care A Lot… Oh, I also admit that I like any movie that has a makeover scene. Why?!? No idea. Oh, and I also like Stanley Tucci. This is one of the better “chick flicks”. I shouldn’t call it that, though. I hate that term. This is a good film. What do we call the equivalent male films starring the likes of Steven Seagal, etc? Those don’t get condescending names, do they?! And there are some terrible “bro movies”. – 7.5/10
– Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World – Another rewatch that wasn’t as good as I’d remembered. Still think it’s a fun film, though, and there’s nothing else quite like it so I like that as I watch too many movies that all feel the same. It’s very of its time, though, so can see its fans mainly being of the right age when this came out who have a thing for all the fairly big name actors in it. They’ll be nostalgic for it the same way that I am for ’80s movies that don’t necessarily translate to a new, younger audience. – 7/10
– The Maze Runner – I remember quite liking this when it came out. It even made me buy the books after so I could read them (even though I prefer to read the book before seeing the movie). Wow, those books were disappointing!! Maybe that’s partly why I didn’t enjoy this film as much on the rewatch, as I know how terrible the sequels were and how strange the books were. Too bad, as this first movie is still a decent film in the YA dystopian genre. – 6.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH
– Moon by James Herbert – Supernatural horror is my favorite genre to read. This book had been lying around the house for years so I finally read it since libraries have been closed for the past year. Also, I really liked Herbert’s freaky deaky book The Rats so decided I might as well try a second book of his. The Rats was more fun (but super gross). Moon is about a guy with a psychic connection to some psycho murderer & it’s exactly what you’d expect from this type of story. I’ve read loads of stories like this, so… I don’t have a lot to say. It passed the time & I’ll completely forget it years from now. Kind of like how all the Dean Koontz books I read all meld together in my mind & I honestly never know if I read one years ago or not but I still love to read his stuff… – 2.5/5
– Iggie’s House by Judy Blume – As I said, libraries have been closed for a year so I’m grabbing whatever books are around the house. I stocked up on Judy Blume books from charity shops for my kid years ago as I grew up on Blume’s books. I’d actually not read this one as a kid and I’m obviously not the target audience now (the kid is too old for it now too – Damn, I don’t think she read all the Judy Blumes I got her!). It’s about racism & obviously seems dated now plus it’s overly simplistic. But it’s also clearly aimed at very young kids so I suppose it’s a good introduction to this sort of topic for them. The kids in it are good characters & they don’t fully understand the adults & their behaviour. It’s written from the point of view of an 11-year-old girl & I think Blume does well to get inside the head of a kid this age. Like I said above, many adults don’t seem to know how to write kids but Blume does, which is why kids liked her books at the time (don’t think they’re as popular now, unfortunately, due to many probably seeming dated). – 3/5
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– The Muppet Show – Watched four or five of these when they showed up on Disney Plus. Loved how excited everyone was on Twitter! Everyone seemed to be watching them at the same time. This show is a classic & it’s amazing how much I giggled while watching these again despite being an adult (well, not sure I’m an adult but I’m old). I absolutely adore the genuinely funny family comedy in this show. It’s brilliant. The two best we’ve rewatched so far are the Rita Moreno & Mark Hamill episodes (obviously seen the Hamill one many times, though). Wish we had access to ALL of them but think certain episodes, such as the Johnny Cash one, have been pulled? Well, at least that 12 second message they’ve slapped onto the start of each episode of this amazing show gives you time to go grab a snack. Guess we just have to be thankful that they let us watch some stuff from the past still? It won’t last. Grab this stuff on DVD before they go fully Fahrenheit 451 on our asses.
– WandaVision: Season 1 Episodes 5-8 – Really been enjoying this even though I’m not a huge Marvel fan (seen all the MCU films, though). I do like how original this show feels as I was getting bored with all the superhero stories, which all end up being exactly the same in all the films. Although, the same thing is obviously happening on this show now as more is being revealed & they’re no longer on the “classic TV sitcom” thing, which was fun. Also, I’ve never seen an episode of Modern Family – it was more fun when I understood the references. The penultimate episode was a bit of a letdown but it needed to lead into the finale at the end of this week, so it did well in getting us all excited for the final episode. Really looking forward to it & will be sure to avoid Twitter on Friday until I’ve seen it.
– 21 Jump Street: Season 1 Episodes 1 (double Episode) & 2 – This is on Amazon Prime U.K., FYI. Being Gen X, I loved this show at the time & was of course in love with Johnny Depp. Forced my kid to watch the first few episodes. She likes it so far. Yay! I was surprised as it’s admittedly a bit dated. There was also a guest star in the first one whose acting was truly abysmal & we both had a good laugh over that. Hoping to watch some more, as I know it got better & also a bit more serious later on.
– Raising Hope: Season 1 Episodes 1-11– This is on Disney Star. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone! Am pretty sure we’re the only family watching it as clearly no one has complained about it yet to force a 12 second warning message onto it. I’d seen some of these at the time (off & on – I had a young baby). I’d kind of forgotten about it & how funny it was. We’re loving watching these (especially the kid as it’s borderline inappropriate). What can I say? I love sitcoms about dysfunctional American families. They’re the only types of sitcoms I’ve ever really gone for. I hate “perfect” families. Give me the f*#ked up ones! Can see why I like this, as it’s created by the same guy (Greg Garcia) who did My Name Is Earl. Loved that too.
– The Crown: Season 3 Episode 3 – Still seriously not feeling the new cast in The Crown, which is probably why we’ve slowed way down on watching these. Man, Claire Foy & Co were so much better!! Episode 3 of Season 3 (Aberfan) was really good. A very tragic story I knew of but didn’t know much about. Heartbreaking. Will try to watch more as want to get to the Diana years but am not loving the show currently.
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
I’m going to try to get back onto watching films for my 2013 IMDb Top 250 Challenge as I only have 34 of those 250 left to watch. I’ll post about that sometime soon & rank the 65 that I’ve watched for the project so far.
I’m also going to start a Best Picture Oscar Project & try to watch all the Best Picture Oscar Winners. Will post about that closer to Oscar-time. I just realised after watching It Happened One Night in January that I’ve seen a lot of the winners anyway (there are only 31 I have yet to see).
I’d also planned to stick a list of my favorite old movies recently added to Disney Star U.K. at the end of this post but it’s ended up long enough already so I won’t bore you with my weird taste in movies. I’ll just say that I’m super excited that Ladyhawke & Can’t Buy Me love are on there, so that gives you an idea of my Gen X tastes. Maybe I’ll bore you all with a separate post about it.
Let’s end with a classic clip from The Muppet Show…
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb) When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune.
Where do I start?? I really enjoyed this film and, yes, I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t realize so many people had a problem with the book until reading Twitter these past few months. What the fuck was with all the backlash?! Fucking hell, people. Get a grip. It’s a fun, harmless story that was written for nerds obsessed with 80’s pop culture. Not your kind of thing? Fine. Don’t read the book or watch the movie. Maybe just shut the fuck up and let people reminisce if that’s what makes them happy? I really enjoy Twitter but the self-righteous bullshit is very hard to handle sometimes.
Okay – I’m clearly in a bad mood! I’ll just talk about the movie now. If you’ve read and enjoyed the book, be aware that there are loads of changes. This normally bothers me but I kind of liked it this time. I felt like I was watching a whole new story involving the same characters and it was entertaining to watch & not already know what was going to happen every step of the way. I kind of feel like there are two completely separate Ready Player One stories now and both are enjoyable. I’ll stay spoiler free so won’t go into any details but the biggest things changed (completely!) are the challenges involved in finding each key. Being a big film fan, I loved one of these new challenges and I’m very glad that bit stayed a surprise for me. So try to avoid spoilers and watch this soon if you’re a pop culture nerd like me.
I’ll say this, though – the movie doesn’t stay as true to the “EIGHTIES!!!!” thing as the book. I understand this will have been done to please a more general movie audience but it’s kind of a shame. Don’t get me wrong – there’s still shitloads of 80’s pop culture but it’s not as in-your-face as the book. Which is good in some ways but I still feel that the 80’s kids are being a tiny bit cheated with the film version. And the movie goes more “movie nerd” than “game nerd”, which is definitely more my kind of thing so I’m not complaining. But I think the lovers of classic video games may be a little disappointed at them having a far smaller part in the film.
I’m still trying to sort my thoughts out on this movie. I know this is one where I really should wait a while before writing about it… Is it going to be an all-time favorite Spielberg movie of mine? Probably not but he has so many great ones that it would be hard for him to ever top his classic films. I did do my Top Ten Steven Spielberg Movies HERE and I can say that Ready Player One wouldn’t make it onto that list. But I’ll post an updated list sometime and it will probably make it into the ten since I’d count the Indiana Jones (trilogy!!) as one on my own blog.
Sorry – I know I’ve said very little in this “review”. I’m having to keep things short on the blog lately due to lack of time. Plus I think it’s important to avoid spoilers for this one, making it hard to discuss. Plus… I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed having a new Spielberg sci-fi thrill ride of a film. It was a lot of fun to watch and I’d forgotten it was 2 hours & 20 minutes long as it didn’t feel that way since there’s always so much going on. The characters, though changed slightly, are done as well as they need to be to keep the audience interested in their story and I think Spielberg improved things by focusing even more on their friendship.
Overall, the changes made for the movie were mostly improvements on what I realize isn’t exactly classic American literature. Yes, Spielberg “has done it again!”. I love Spielberg and I love him returning to this style of sci-fi. However, like the 80’s pop culture the story wishes to emulate, this movie will always just feel like a tribute to Spielberg’s best films as opposed to actually being one of his best. I really enjoyed Ready Player One, I’ll definitely watch it again, and I’ll buy it as soon as it’s released on DVD. But I’d still rather watch a genuine classic film from the Eighties instead.
My Rating: 7.5/10
Is There A Scene After The Credits?: No, there’s nothing during or after the credits.
I guess it’s about time I do two pointless reviews of two pointless remakes (well, I suppose Ghostbusters is a reboot). Here we go! Get ready for some bitching…
Directed by Paul Feig
Based on Ghostbusters by Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Charles Dance, Michael K. Williams, Chris Hemsworth
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat.
To be fair, this isn’t the worst movie ever. I’m a bit of a snob about remakes & reboots & all that, though, so I’m normally a total bitch about them. Especially when they f*^k with my favorites from the Seventies & Eighties!! And the 1984 Ghostbusters is a classic. However, it’s one of those I’d always seen as a classic in my mind but hadn’t actually rewatched it in years. Until a couple of weeks ago. Um… Will I get in trouble for saying it hasn’t aged well? More than anything, I was surprised at how much I disliked Bill Murray’s “sexist in that 1980’s sort of way that we all just accepted as the norm back then” character and the way he hogged so much screen time. But I do like Murray. I’m also not exactly going to complain about some outdated values in the original as I’d be a total hypocrite since my favorite thing about the reboot was Chris Hemsworth being funny & hot. But mostly hot.
Ghostbusters 2016 was okay. I don’t remember a lot of it now as I find most comedy movies to be throwaway, forgettable entertainment. I’m not saying I don’t like comedy films – I just like a very small number of them as I’ve found so few of them to actually be funny (especially nowadays). But comedy is probably the most divisive genre, followed very closely by horror, so you’re never going to please everyone with a movie like this.
Was this movie so hated because it rebooted a beloved classic or because it starred women? It’s a combination of both. I get really angry myself anytime they try to remake/reboot one of my favorites but I also can’t imagine there having been quite as much uproar if this reboot had starred whatever male comedians happen to be big at the moment. Yes, I’m totally out of touch & can’t even name any… Also, don’t forget that things like Saturday Night Live & a lot of other US TV shows that these comedians often come from aren’t shown outside of America. British hubby often has to remind me of this, even though I’ve now not seen SNL in 15 years, so you have to realize that things like the original Ghostbusters were probably viewed differently outside the US where these actors weren’t already loved. Or hated – It can also work in a movie’s favor to have no prior knowledge of an actor’s work. I don’t know what my point is here?! I think it may be that, in this case, it worked slightly in my favor to not know much about these stars’ TV careers.
I’ve of course seen a few Melissa McCarthy & Kristen Wiig films and I wouldn’t call myself a fan of either of them. Wiig is a bit “meh” for me while I hated McCarthy at first but she’s kind of grown on me thanks to times when she’s been a little less “outrageous”. Okay okay – and thanks to her lip sync battle on Jimmy Fallon where she did Colors Of The Wind. My kid is obsessed with that – I’ve probably seen that YouTube video 20 times. That was funny. She may be growing on me but I still won’t be watching shit like Spy, etc. Wiig & McCarthy were both perfectly fine in this film, probably since they were more subdued. I know almost nothing about Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones and I found them fairly funny as well. Especially McKinnon, who I have seen in some SNL clips online. We do at least get to see some YouTube clips! Oh, and I love McCarthy as Sean Spicer.
Okay, I’m bored with this review. I didn’t hate this movie but it’s not “good” and is still just another completely pointless reboot. I think I’m just annoyed with society in general these days. I love Twitter but some days I go on there and think “What the FUCK is wrong with people?!?!?!” and wish we could go back to a time when we weren’t exposed to so much disgusting hatred on a daily basis. I mean, we knew lots of people were assholes in the Eighties but they didn’t provide us daily written proof. My point is this: this movie is a bit sucky & pointless but the anger was over the top. My further point is this: Bridesmaids has a 6.8 IMDb rating & The Hangover has a 7.8. I don’t like either movie as that sort of silly, gross-out comedy isn’t my type of thing. However, they’re both good examples of that specific genre and are very similar. So why is one a whole point higher than the other?! Hmm. I wonder. Especially as, if I had to say which is the better written film of the two and if I was forced to admit which one made me laugh a tiny bit, Bridesmaids wins hands down in both cases. So… Huh? Therefore, I’m giving Ghostbusters a point more than it deserves because 1) I think it’s been rated slightly too low overall because it starred women so, fuck it, I’ll up it a bit and 2) Chris Hemsworth in glasses is the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.
My Rating: 6/10
**Also, I freaking loved Freaks And Geeks so guess I can’t hate Paul Feig too much…..
Directed by Gil Kenan
Based on Poltergeist by Tobe Hooper & Steven Spielberg
Starring: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris, Jane Adams
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) A family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces must come together to rescue their youngest daughter after the apparitions take her captive.
These were meant to be two quickie reviews but then I rambled on about Ghostbusters for ages so I’ll keep this quick: Poltergeist (2015) just plain sucks. No, it probably doesn’t help that I love the original Poltergeist (more than the original Ghostbusters) but, holy shit – let’s just take an absolute horror classic and water it down and make it boring as shit and just plain suck the fucking soul out of it!
This movie adds absolutely nothing new to the original. It’s just another standard, run-of-the-mill, predictable & forgettable PG-13 horror. And with a fucking weird final scene that I think is meant to be funny but feels totally tacked on & out of place. Just…. No. NO. Just stop. Just stop, Hollywood. Come up with some original fucking ideas. AND ALL OF US! STOP! We need to stop encouraging this shit. They keep making this shit because it makes money. We’re to blame! Oh, that’s right – Society sucks now. Fuck it! We deserve nothing better than Poltergeist (2015). Hell, it’s better than we deserve. We deserve to be forced to watch Battlefield Earth with our eyes propped open Clockwork-Orange-style until the day we all finally destroy each other.
My Rating: 4/10
**I’ve never actually seen Battlefield Earth. Also, if you want to see a great Sam Rockwell in something good, watch The Way Way Back. NOT THAT ANY OF US DESERVE IT!
Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Satu of Fairytale Pictures. Thanks for the review, Satu! 🙂 Now let’s see what she thought of Catch Me If You Can, IMDB rank 240 out of 250…
There are another 16 movies available if anyone wants to do a guest review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos at the top of any of these guest reviews.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
I originally wrote this review/summary for my scriptwriting course, so there’s more plot details that I usually include but change is good, right? I also added some points. Hope you enjoy reading it. Spoilers ahead.
Sometimes it’s easier living the lie
Catch Me If You Can is a crime dramedy based on a biography of Frank Abagnale Jr., American con-man who succeeded in forging millions of dollars of fake checks while pretending to be a Pan-Am pilot, a doctor and a lawyer, all that before his 19th birthday. The film is directed by Steven Spielberg. It was released 2002 and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a main character Frank Abagnale Jr., Tom Hanks as a federal officer Hanratty chasing him and Christopher Walken is Frank Sr.
I saw Catch Me If You Can for the first time when it was released in Finland in 2003. I liked it back then and I liked it this time even more, probably because I paid more attention to the details of the film. Spielberg knows how to do details, his films are always looking and sounding great. The film is not overly emotional, so, even though I’m quite emotional person, I didn’t cry during the film. Mostly I guess I was exhilarated and afterwards relieved and in the end, disappointed, at least a bit. The main character is likeable and a con-man, so it’s easy to get excited for him and feel relieved after he manages his mischiefs. Disappointed-part is debatable.
(SPOILERS IN THIS PART) “Sometimes it’s easier living the lie”, says Hanratty at the end of the film. The phrase summarizes the film. Catch Me If You Can is a story of responsibility, growing up and bringing up. It’s a story of owning up. The film might be an adventure to viewer but it also makes you think what is justified in order to get around in one’s life. But in the end, I figure that Catch Me If You Can is a bit too much of a “lesson” about what kind of life you should live. And that is what let me down; the film ended up being one those familiar stories; bad childhood, rebelling child, moral aberrations and again, happily ever after. I kind of wished a bit more demanding ending, I guess.
Even though Spielberg has yet again a child as his lead, Catch Me If You Can is very stylish crime thriller. It has this adult feel and I believe children or even teens would be bored while watching it. The film must be PG because there’s basically no violence and very little of sex and nudity but the story and especially how it’s told tells that the target audience is civilized, smart adults who has taste and style. Catch Me If You Can has jamesbondish vibe to it without the sexual content. One of the Abagnale’s alter-ego is even named Mr. Fleming.
All of the actors are great; obviously. What else would you wait from DiCaprio, Hanks and Walken? Amy Adams also makes unforgettable role in the film as Abagnale’s love interest. That must have been one of the bigger roles in the beginning of her career. Catch Me If You Can got two Oscar nominations for Walken as Frank’s dad, deservedly so, he’s heartbreaking in a small kind of a way, and un-surprisingly to John Williams who smartly scored the film, I liked the music a lot. DiCaprio was also nominated for the Golden Globe. All in all, the film is good, solid 8/10 but it misses the last punch.
Happy Halloween! I thought I’d share a few tidbits about three (of many!) things I loved in the Eighties: The Lost Boys, Amazing Stories & Ghostbusters.
First up is some fun Ghostbusters artwork. There was an art show in Los Angeles last night called “No Ghost Logos” in which artists paid tribute to the Ghostbusters logo creator, Michael C. Gross. Each artist did their own take on the Ghostbusters logo. You can check some of them out here: GeekTyrant.
Next is an interesting article I read about my all-time favorite vampire movie: The Lost Boys. You can read the article, “How The Lost Boys made vampires sexy way before Buffy or Twilight” here: gamesradar.
Finally, I just read some news that I’m very excited about! I absolutely loved Steven Spielberg’s TV series Amazing Stories and wish it had run much longer than it did. Luckily, it looks like it’s being revived all these years later by Bryan Fuller. Fuller is responsible for shows such as Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and Hannibal. Well, damn – I’ve not watched any of those shows. Also, Spielberg won’t be involved with this new Amazing Stories series. Hmm. Okay, I’m still excited although I really don’t know what to expect. (You can read the Geek Tyrant article about it HERE).
Amazing Stories was a collection of odd & often supernatural stories each week and while some weren’t great, the good ones were fantastic. The episodes had very big name stars and it looks like pretty much all of them are available to be watched in full on YouTube. Three that I’d recommend are The Mission starring Kevin Costner & Lost Boy Kiefer Sutherland (this is probably the most famous episode – watch it HERE) and a war one called No Day At The Beach starring Charlie Sheen (HERE) and a cute Halloween-y one called Mummy, Daddy (HERE).
Being the age I am, however, my personal favorite was Head Of The Class directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Christopher Lloyd, Mary Stuart Masterson & Scott Coffey (after which the two young stars were also together in a John Hughes favorite of mine: Some Kind Of Wonderful). It’s another one that’s perfect for Halloween! Here’s the IMDB plot synopsis:
In this hour-long episode, a teenage horror buff (Coffey) is so smitten with a sexy classmate (Masterson) that he helps her use black magic on their loathsome English teacher, with shocking and bewildering results.
Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from John of 501 Must See Movies Project . He also reviewed AmadeusHERE and Platoon HERE and A Beautiful MindHERE and BraveheartHERE. Thanks for the reviews, John! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on Schindler’s List, IMDB rank 8 out of 250…
There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.
Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.
As World War II begins, the Nazis move Polish Jews into the Kraków Ghetto. Businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a member of the Nazi Party, arrives in Krakow to make a fortune. Bribing local German officials and making connections with the local Jewish black marketeers through Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), Schindler opens a factory producing enamel ware. He hires numerous Jewish workers, who cost less than Polish workers, and saves those workers from being sent to concentration and extermination camps.
SS officer Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) arrives in Kraków to oversee the construction of the Płaszów concentration camp. Once the camp is completed, he orders the ghetto be liquidated, killing many of the Jews in the process. Schindler witnesses this from a distance, and shifts his priorities from making money to saving as many lives as possible.
This is Spielberg’s masterpiece.
There are very few films I’ve watched where I just have to sit and really let it soak in once the end credits roll. Movies like this really put into perspective how pathetic and petty my “struggles” really are. That’s been the case both times I’ve watched Schindler’s List.
Someone who makes a film about something as significant as the Holocaust has to be all in: directing, motivating performers, production, set design, etc. Though the full scope of the Holocaust can’t be completely explored in one movie, Steven Spielberg has probably come the closest to accomplishing this. Filming most of the movie in Poland instead of at a studio, using actors who work best in performing the complex emotions and actions of their characters are a couple of the things Spielberg nails spot on with Schindler’s List.
Stanley Kubrick was in production of his own Holocaust film, Aryan Papers, about the same time that Schindler’s List was released. He abandoned it, though, in part because of the broad scope of the subject matter. His critique centered on the fact that Schindler’s focuses on those who survived, a much smaller group compared to the more than 6 million who didn’t.
The black-and-white enhances the gravity of the subject matter. The way Schindler’s List is filmed conveys the human element that a documentary can’t quite capture while still having that documentary-type feel.
Liam Neeson gives one of the best performances of his career. He handles the various emotional stages Schindler goes through authentically. It’s interesting to see his transformation from a boozing, gambling, womanizing man living the highlife to a man hellbent on saving as many lives as he can. Witnessing the ghetto liquidation and Goeth’s heartless treatment of the Jews forces Schindler to stop keeping everyone at arm’s length and really take stock in his main purpose. Though he had done quite a few movies prior to Schindler’s List, he hadn’t had that one great breakout role. As a result, his star power doesn’t overshadow his performance as could have happened had a more accomplished actor been chosen for this role.
Having already won an Oscar for his role in Gandhi, Ben Kingsley is a grounded, purposeful character with wisdom, insight, and perspective. His nonverbal expressions provide a continuous reflection of Schindler’s character and his gradual transformation. Stern acts as Schindler’s conscience to a certain extent. He also offers perspective that Schindler has saved many lives when Schindler felt guilty for not sacrificing more to save more.
Ralph Fiennes gives an Oscar-worthy performance as the heartless and cruel Amon Goeth. His intimidation tactics with the Jewish prisoners works well in keeping them in line out of absolute fear. He seems like the kind of person who keeps pushing to see just how much he can get away with. It’s good, though, that he can be bribed and Schindler can help set some boundaries with his random and senseless killings.
“Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”
The final scene where the real life Schindler Jews placing stones on Schindler’s grave was especially moving. I can appreciate someone like Spielberg wanting to tell their story and show the lasting impact that Oskar Schindler had on those that he saved. The epilogue serves as a time capsule that reaffirms that tangible human connection to those who lived and survived something as horrific as the Holocaust.
Having seen Schindler’s List twice now, I highly doubt I could sit through it again aside from watching it with someone else. It’s one of those films that is so powerful and moving that it only needs to be watched once. It is most definitely deserving of the 7 Academy Awards it earned in 1994, and remains timeless as it explored one of history’s darkest events.
Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Drew of Drew’s Movie Reviews. He also reviewed InceptionHERE. Thanks for the reviews, Drew! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Jurassic Park, IMDB rank 247 out of 250…
There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.
Archeologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and archeobotonist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) are invited by John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) to visit Jurassic Park, Hammond’s unique prehistoric wildlife preserve, along with choatition Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), and Hammond’s grandchildren (Joseph Mazello and Ariana Richards). When systems start failing across the park, Grant and the other guests must survive on an island where dinosaurs are roaming free and causing havoc on the island.
Review Jurassic Park holds a special place in my heart. Not only because it was the first PG-13 movie my parents let me watch before I was 13 (rebellious, I know), but because it was one of the first movies I would watch over and over again. After viewing it more recently, I realized I had missed several of the finer points of the story when I was younger. I guess the kid in me just enjoyed watching dinosaurs come to life, like most young boys dream of. Even today that is one of my favorite parts about this movie, but now I appreciate more of the nuances of the story, as well as the fantasy of living dinosaurs.
At the time, computer-generated imagery (CGI) was still in it’s infancy. Several movies had dabbled with the it previously, but nothing really substantial. However, Jurassic Park completely embraced the up-and-coming technology, revolutionizing it, leading to the flashy and spectacular effects we see today in blockbusters like Avatar, The Avengers,Pacific Rim, and the recently delayed Jupiter Ascending. And despite being twenty years old, the effects don’t look dated. It looks almost as good as effects you would expect to see today. An amazing feat considering it is one of the earliest films to use CGI.
Before CGI became the predominant method for special effects, animatronics were used. I think this movie is a perfect example of how to use animatronics correctly, and is the pinnacle of the technology (which is funny considering it also ushered in the age of CGI). If the movie had been done completely with CGI, the dinosaurs would not have come life as well as they did. That is one of the reasons Steven Spielberg is my favorite director, because he understood how to use both CGI and animatronics side-by-side.
The Tyrannosaurus Rex is largely featured in the marketing for Jurassic Park. However, the “big baddies,” if you will, are the velociraptors. From the very first scene, literally, they are set up as smart, cunning, and dangerous. First, a worker gets pulled into the cage and eaten. Then Alan Grant (Sam Neill) talks about how they are pack hunters. Later, the characters go to the raptor cage and they discuss how “they don’t want to be fed, they want to hunt.” Then there is a break away from the velociraptors to focus on the T-Rex, but there is a mention about the character causing the power outages knowing not to shut down the power to the velociraptor cage. So finally, when the velociraptors appear on screen, it is well established how deadly they are. It was a fairly slow process, but it did well to establish the threat they possessed.
To me, a movie’s soundtrack and score is very important. It can almost tell you how to feel more than what is happening on screen can. John Williams, my all time favorite film composer, writes a great and memorable soundtrack. But honestly, what would you expect? Everything the man writes is fantastic. His score for Jurassic Park is up there as one of my favorite film scores. I mean, try not to become filled with emotion and wonder and awe when John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) says “Welcome to Jurassic Park” and Williams’ Jurassic Park theme starts playing. Go ahead, I dare you.
Some movies have one character who is just fun to hate. In this film, that would be Jeff Golblum’s Ian Malcolm. He’s annoying and obnoxious, but he has a charm to him that I don’t think many other actors other than Goldblum could portray so well.
One thing that surprised me about this movie is how funny it can be. It is by no means laugh out loud funny, but every now and then someone says something that made me smile or even chuckle a little. Even though it wasn’t much, this small amount of humor prevented Jurassic Park from becoming too serious or dark.
Here is your daily fun fact. Several times throughout the movie, Lex Murphy (Ariana Richards) refers to herself as a “hacker,” even correcting her brother (Joseph Mazello). Back in the day, the term “hacker” didn’t have the negative meaning it usually is said with today. Instead, it meant someone enjoyed exploring computers as a hobby. This included building, modifying, and creating either hardware or software or both. There is your little slice of knowledge for the day. Don’t say I never did anything for you.
Jurassic Park is special to me because it was one of the first movies I really go into. When I was younger, I enjoyed it because of the action and the fantasy of dinosaurs roaming the Earth once again. As I grew older, I started to appreciate it for the story as well. A mix of revolutionary CGI and amazing animatronics give this movie a unique look and feel, truly bringing prehistoric creatures back to life. From the beginning, velociraptors are set up as a dangerous threat, so when they are finally shown on screen, the danger they pose has already been established. John Williams’ Jurassic Park theme is very emotional and one of my favorite movie scores. Although not laugh out loud funny, there is still humor throughout the film that prevents the movie from slipping into a dark tone. No matter how old I get, I will never lose the sense of wonder I felt when I first watched Jurassic Park and believing that, despite this being a piece of fiction, dinosaurs once again roamed the Earth.
Cast & Crew
Steven Spielberg – Director
Michael Crichton – Screenplay / Novel
David Koepp – Screenplay
John Williams – Composer
Sam Neill – Dr. Alan Grant
Laura Dern – Dr. Ellie Sattler
Jeff Goldblum – Dr. Ian Malcolm
Richard Attenborough – John Hammond
Bob Peck – Robert Muldoon
Martin Ferrero – Donald Gennaro
Joseph Mazello – Tim Murphy
Ariana Richards – Lex Murphy
Samuel L. Jackson – Ray Arnold
Wayne Knight – Dennis Nedry
***BTW – Tomorrow is Drew’s one year blogging birthday! Or… Anniversary! Happy Blogiversary, Drew! And he’s having an anniversary celebration all week so head on over & check it out HERE. 🙂
Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Rob of MovieRob. Thanks for being a part of this, Rob! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about Saving Private Ryan, IMDB rank 39 out of 250… (as of 01/01/2013)
There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.
Thanks again to Ms. Mutant for giving us all a chance to review our favorite movies that are part of the IMDB Top 250!
Certain movies fade within your memory not long after you see them and then there are others that remain engraved in your mind for years, if not decades afterwards.
Saving Private Ryan is a movie that fits into the latter category in my mind.
I recall seeing it in the theater during the Fall of 1998 and being mesmerized and riveted for the close to 3 hours running time.
Steven Spielberg had given us all so many iconic movies over the years up to that point that spanned the whole gamut of Genres. From Jaws to Close Encounters to E.T. to The Indiana Jones trilogy to The Goonies to Jurassic Park and ultimately to his masterpiece Schindler’s List.
Few suspected that he would find a way to even top THAT endeavor, but he did. (or at least matched it)
Saving Private Ryan is truly a companion piece to Schindler’s List because they both deal with different aspects of the horrors of World War II. One deals with the inhabitants of Europe and how they had to deal with the cruelty of the Nazi’s, some due to their heritage and others due to their will to stop injustice from continuing. The other deals with the thousands of American soldiers who traveled far from home to help bring about the downfall of that cruel dictator and his nation that attempted to stop freedom and democracy from spreading.
In both of these movies, Spielberg didn’t hesitate to show the horrific face of war and in some instances strived so hard to show us the hurtful, but truthful shock and awe of those events in history.
I cannot think of any other movie that opens as this one did. To have close to 30 minutes devoted to carnage, despair, fear, trepidation, blood and guts (literally), action, and lots of other very descriptive and poignant moments has been unprecedented in film history, let alone during the first 30 minutes.
Basically this movie charges right in, showing us that war truly is hell. By the time the shit hits the fan, we don’t know any of the characters and (at least back in 1998), we only could recognize Tom Hanks and Tom Sizemore. The disorientation that the viewer was hit in the face with from the start was even greater because of the ‘shaky’ camera work that was purposely used to give us the feeling that we are within that very dangerous situation along with the soldiers themselves.
The rest of this movie follows suit and is amazingly done. The story is interesting, the characters are not just ‘stock’ soldiers like in many war movies, the dialogue between the characters and the action all add up to a movie worth seeing over and over again.
I don’t like spoiling movies, so I’m not going to go into much detail about the plot itself because I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few of you out there who have yet to see this.
Basically, like many ‘war’ films, this is an anti-war movie trying to show the futility of war and the importance of every person individually making whatever they do in life and in war count for something.
Once the story gets going, we get to know the characters quite well and each one is developed well enough that we care what will happen to them.
Spielberg purposely chose unknown actors so we wouldn’t be distracted by stars. Ironically, just about all of his “unknown” choices became very popular afterwards. Who doesn’t know the names of Ed Burns, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Matt Damon, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel and Jeremy Davies?
Shockingly, this movie lost the best picture Oscar to Shakespeare in Love which in my book is the biggest mistake ever made by Oscar voters. As much as Shakespeare was a fun movie, this one is clearly better in every aspect besides comedy (DUH!!). Spielberg himself was awarded the best director Oscar which was extremely rare 16 years ago to have a split between Picture and Director.
This is a movie that is best if watched on the big screen. I personally saw this twice in the theater and am grateful that I did so. Certain films are even more powerful on the big screen and this is one of them even if it’s also quite enjoyable at home.
I’m actually quite surprised that this movie is so low on the IMDB Top 250. I mean c’mon 35!!!!. How is that even possible?
I’ve done a little top ten guest list for the wonderful Zoe over at The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Zoe has an amazingly popular blog full of movie & book reviews and I’m sure you all know her already as she’s not exactly a “beginner” anymore. But if for some reason you DON’T, go follow her! NOW! 😉
And if you care to see the list of My Top Ten Steven Spielberg Movies, you can follow this link HERE. (Directed by, that is!). Thanks for letting me join in on the Top Ten fun, Zoe! 🙂