Posts tagged “Steven Spielberg

Cowboys & Aliens / The Dentist: Part 2


Cowboys & Aliens  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseFrom the director of “Iron Man”, comes an action-packed, sci-fi adventure starring Daniel Craig (“Quantum of Solace”, “The Golden Compass”), Harrison Ford (“Morning Glory”, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”) and Olivia Wilde (“Tron Legacy”) as the only posse who can save the world from alien invasion.  With cutting edge special effects and one-of-a-kind story, “Cowboys & Aliens” is a showdown you won’t want to miss!

2011  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
Rating Details: Frequent moderate action violence and scenes of intense threat
7.0 out of 10

Isn’t it funny when you spill food down your front?  Yes it’s really, really, hilariously funny, especially when it happens loads of times.  Last week I spent another 90 minutes at the dentist, having various things pushed inside my sore tooth, although I have to say it isn’t hurting nearly as badly now as it had been. Unfortunately its new best friend, (who we’ll call sore wisdom tooth), has taken over the role of Mouth Tormentor.  It’s not exactly painful in the normal sense, although there is an ongoing, uncomfortable feeling that I suspect is slowly getting worse with time.  Poking and prodding it causes no undue effects either.  However, I’m finding it very hard to open my mouth more than’s required to speak or drink cider; (or other beverages).  If I try to open it anymore it hurts, a lot.  I’m on antibiotics (and this is the only time I can recall ever taking any), but they don’t seem to be making the slightest difference.  Not only is this pissing me off, but trying to eat anything other than tiny amounts of flat-shaped food in one go, invariably results in some of it ending up all over whatever I’m wearing.  Given that my washing machine’s dryer still isn’t working, I can only conclude that there’s some sort of conspiracy going on between washing powder manufactures and aliens keen to discover how long it takes to make someone go mental.  I’m seeing the dentist again tomorrow, so I’ll ask her what she thinks about my theory.  This film’s got aliens in it, but there’s not a lot of washing powder around; although a bar of soap does make a brief appearance.

It’s got Indiana Jones, James Bond and aliens; and cowboys.  Steven Spielberg’s special effects people did the em, special effects, too.  How can it not be great?  I often ask myself the same about the England football team.  This is another case of the sum of the parts being greater than the whole.  I really wanted this to be a great movie too.  Daniel Craig spends a lot of time standing about looking mean and moody and the rest of it wondering about like he’s spent way too long watching Yul Brynner in “Westworld”.  I guess he was just a bit pissed off because they took his nice car way and gave him a horse instead. Meanwhile, Harrison Ford spends most of the film being grumpy and surprised by what’s going on. Welcome to real life Hans.  Other than an underperforming script and an entirely superfluous ‘annoying young kid’ character, this film get’s most things more or less right.  It’s nice to see a film that’s not Scary Nightmare Potter Weapon 9 or something too.  It’s just a shame it all felt a bit soulless.  On the positive side, James and Indiana manage to move cowboy – native American relations on quite a bit, although there is a certain irony in them needing the latter’s help to sort out an alien invader that’s trying to wipe them all out with its superior technology.

The soundtrack provides a satisfactory but underwhelming noise to accompanying things.  The pseudo-western sound just didn’t work for me.

The trailer’s okay.  It doesn’t give a lot away and makes out the film’s more of a horror than it really is.

Recommended for cowboys, Indians (of the native American kind), aliens (nasty and otherwise) and parents with annoying offspring.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  However, a number of aliens do get rather splattered, which includes their heads.

Top badass moment?  A device that looks like it fell off a passing Borg or Transformer gets attached to James Bond’s wrist and he manages to shoot down an alien aircraft of some sort with it, even though he has no idea what it’s for or how to use it.  When I first went 10 pin bowling I got a strike with my very first go.  That was badass too.

Cowboys & Aliens at IMDB (6.1 / 10)
Cowboys & Aliens at Wikipedia
Cowboys & Aliens at Roger Ebert (3.0 / 5)
Cowboys & Aliens trailer at YouTube

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Saving Private Ryan / Saving Everyone Else


Saving Private Ryan  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseInternationally acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” is an unforgettable film achievement that has had profound and lasting impact throughout the world.  Winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Director, the film also captured Oscars for Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound and Sound Effects Editing.  Saving Private Ryan was the top-grossing motion picture of 1998.  Seen through the eyes of a squad of American soldiers, the story begins with World War II’s historic D-Day invasion, then moves beyond the beach as the men embark on a dangerous special mission.  Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) must take his men behind enemy lines to find Private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat.  Faced with impossible odds, the men question their orders.  Why are eight men risking their lives to save just one?  Surrounded by the brutal realities of war, each man searches for his own answer – and the strength to triumph over an uncertain future with honour, decency and courage.

1998  –  Certificate:15  –  American Film
Rating Details:
9.0 out of 10

The Internet is awash with every possible analysis of this film.  So, let me just start by summarising its real plot.  Tom Hanks gets given a job to do with his team.  They have a few concerns and questions as to the point of what they’re asked to do.  The end.  Well, big deal.  Welcome to the modern world of employment gentleman.  I find myself in that situation a lot in my job, that’s just how it is.  It’s true, I’m not likely to kill many people or get killed if it all goes a bit pear-shaped, but as someone who’s employed to save the planet, it can get a bit onerous at times.  So here’s some advice for you Tom.  “You really need to visualise the big picture and stop looking at the details.  We’re all One Team and we’re all in this together, so stop giving bandwidth to our value chain and metrics that doesn’t concern you.  Just be happy to be a small piece in a big jigsaw and relentlessly concentrate on fitting yourself into the right place at the right time, for the greater good.  It’s other people’s challenge to sort out those sorts of mission critical, strategic goals, so you don’t need to quantify the methodology yourself.   Let them drill down, do the blue-sky thinking, and deal with the structural underpinning.  You’re good at what you do, so leverage your core competencies to provide locally focused, robustly broad-based solutions, as we incentivise our external stakeholders to strongly buy-in to our USP.  As a matrix organisation, your knowledge and experience as one of our best product evangelists and of interacting with a wide range of partners at a delivery level, is vital.  We know we can trust you to provide a flexible approach, as we move forward and in the current period harvest the low-hanging fruit.  Tom, it’s just a different way of working.  Allowing well-qualified colleagues to take the burden of decision-making away from you, should leave you time-enriched and in better shape to play your part, as well as provide you with a more focused environment in which to do so.  You don’t need to worry Tom, we’ve got everything covered for you, but I wanted to give you the heads-up on this.  However, if you have any other difficulties in living our values, let’s touch base offline and share a thought-shower; my office door is always open.”  As an unambitious nobody, it works for me.

This film is the 37th best ever movie, according to IMDB.  That’s pretty impressive.  Whilst I admire Steven Spielberg’s work, I sometimes find it makes me feel a bit queasy, as if I’ve eaten too many yummy sweets.  However, “Saving Private Ryan” is one of the good ones.  The battle scene at the start is 27 minutes of real movie magic and there are plenty of other parts that come pretty close to this too.  It’s essential viewing.  War is truly the biggest obscenity of all.

With a full orchestral score, music is used sparingly but effectively.  I think you can buy it on CD if you’re desperate enough.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Recommended for soldiers, politicians and middle managers.

Top badass moment?  Take your pick, there’s plenty of choice.

Saving Private Ryan at IMDB (8.6 / 10)

Saving Private Ryan at Wikipedia


Close Encounters of the Third Kind: 3.5 Stars


Close Encounters of the Third Kind  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (UK)Steven Spielberg’s classic film is back now on this never-before-released Ultimate Edition Blu-ray Disc, which includes all three versions of the sci-fi blockbuster.  Richard Dreyfuss stars as cable worker Roy Neary, who along with several other stunned bystanders experience a close encounter of the first kind – witnessing UFOs soaring across the sky.  After this life-changing event, the inexplicable vision of a strange, mountain-like formation haunts him. He becomes obsessed with discovering what it represents, much to the dismay of his wife and family.  Meanwhile, bizarre occurrences are happening around the world.  Government agents have close encounters of the second kind – discovering physical evidence of extraterrestrial visitors in the form of a lost fighter aircraft from World War II and a stranded military ship that disappeared decades earlier only to suddenly reappear in unusual places.  Roy continues to chase his vision to a remote area where he and the agents follow the clues that have drawn them to reach a site where they will have a close encounter of the third kind – contact.

1977  –  Certificate: PG  –  USA
Rating Details:  Mild language and scary scenes

In a departure from my normal viewing habits, I decided to take a look at some promotional films this week.  Quite randomly, I thought I’d start with this rather overlong ‘advert’ for the Devils Tower National Monument.  Looming more than 1,200’ above Wyoming’s eastern plains and the Belle Fourche River, it’s a one-of-a-kind natural wonder.  Northern Plains tribes have worshipped near this remarkable, geological formation for thousands of years.  Fur trappers, explorers and settlers alike were awed by the tower’s majesty.  In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt established Devils Tower as America’s first National Monument.  Certainly it’s an amazing feature; I’d love to visit it one day.  However, what really gobsmacked me what that this was the site of Earth’s very first contact with aliens.  How the Hell did I miss that?  Possibly the most important thing to happen in my lifetime and I knew absolutely nothing about it!  This promo, which to be honest is more of a documentary than anything else, describes the actual meeting and there’s even film of the aliens in it too, as well as a load of scientists and other people.  Apparently some French guy called Steven Spielberg, who worked for an electricity company and used to be a shark fisherman, first made contact with them when his young son ran away one night.  In fact he was nearly run over by a flying saucer.  What’s especially interesting is that the aliens’ culture appears to be almost entirely based on the music of the Electric Light Orchestra; even the design of its flying saucers is based on the cover of ELO’s most successful album, “Out of the Blue”; a strangely apt title under the circumstances.  Incredible!  What isn’t made clear is what the aliens actually came here for, other than to give us a load of stuff they nicked during the Second World War; maybe an alien child took it and his/her/its mother send him/her/it back to return it, I’m not sure.  The only thing they seemed to introduce us to is the concept of ‘sonic branding’, something that Intel has been using ever since.  I have to admit I’m still having difficulty coming to terms with all this.  I’ve tried Googling “aliens”, but there’re 133 million pages of stuff about them.  Totally mind-blowing.

Unfortunately, despite the game-changing news it contains, this promo/documentary itself isn’t that great.  A lot of things aren’t explained very well.  I wanted to know about the aliens, not the personal relationships of the people involved.  The film of the spaceships does look excellent on Blu-ray, although their grasp of music, based as it is on ELO, isn’t exactly going to set the charts alight, or burn-up any dance-floors anytime soon.  Their song really could do with a good remix.  The same goes for this film.  I imagine if they’d got someone in who knew what they were doing, it would have been a lot shorter, more to the point and made it far clearer what the aliens wanted.  I guess it was just put together by some local film company; a tourist board would hardly be in a position to hire a top Hollywood director.  Come to think of it, as a fan of cinema I’m surprised no one has tried to make a movie about this event.  It would make an awesome film.

Recommended for idiots like me that missed this bit of news back in 1977.  I guess I was too busy with punk to notice.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.  Though I imagine there were a load of ray guns and stuff on the spaceship and who knows, maybe some aliens pets too.

Top badass moment?  Aliens landing on Earth for real?  What do you think?

Close Encounters of the Third Kind at IMDB (7.8/10)