Steven Spielberg is my favourite movie director of all time. I always feel there’s a certain aspect within that relates to me somehow. The amount of money each of his films grossed or Academy Awards won simply have nothing to do with my admiration towards Steven. It’s the themes, the creativity and storytelling that stand out.
So here we go. I have only listed the ones I’ve ever watched and the ones he directed. This is what I analyse as the worst to best of Steven Spielberg’s movies. And I say this from both a viewer’s and critic’s perspective.
Welcome to the weakest link! That is Munich. I know, a lot of people love this movie; apparently Mr. Spielberg’s most controversial project to date, and yet, it covers an emotional topic; the 1972 massacre of Jewish athletes. But this film both doesn’t hold as well as The Color Purple or Amistad or even Schindler’s List. It’s too much like City Of God and District 9 mixed together. There’s not one showing of the tortures. If there is, I can’t really remember seeing that part. At least we saw that in Schindler’s List. That’s why it makes more sense. If you consider this Steven’s best, fair enough, but there’s plenty more of his works out there.
25. Minority Report
A little bit of an improvement to Munich (though technically, it was made 3 years before Munich), but still, I found the plot confusing and the music so depressing that it didn’t really network well with the atmosphere. I give this movie a drink for the monstrous visuals, but blockbuster or no blockbuster, how many people can remember this one?
Spirits levelled up! Always is quite unique for a romantic film, unlike When Harry Met Sally(!) which was released the same year. It’s not exactly E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and I need to give this another view. It’s a bit quiet in places, but Always is worth an admire.
23. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
If you’re familiar with the first film, you’ll probably not enjoy the sequel as much. In fact, prepare for a bit of confusion. You learned a lot from Ian Malcolm. I thought he was married occasionally! How did he come to have kids? And there’s quite a lot of settings. Oh well, just enjoy the dinosaurs parts; including the girl attack and the T.Rex at the swimming pool. At least some of the magic of Jurassic Park is still here.
22. War Of The Worlds
More like Independence Day than Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. But if Steven fancies a change, let him go ahead. Some of the acting’s not great, but Alfred Hitchcock’s probably turning in his grave. Bring on the suspense!
21. The Adventures Of TinTin; The Secret Of The Unicorn
Steven produced animated movies and TV programmes, but this is the only time he directed one,…with Peter Jackson – two blockbuster masters! The Adventures Of TinTin is one of them films which goes to show that especially computer generated cartoons need to make an effort with character details; forget Despicable Me. Though I may need another viewing.
20. Catch Me If You Can
After the abysmal Romeo ‘+’ Juliet and the epic snore-fest Titanic, but also the quite good Man In The Iron Mask, Leonardo Di Caprio acting career improves in this delightful crime caper. If you don’t believe me, you should also check out Martin Scorsese’s stuff, Gangs Of New York onwards. Tom Hanks is also great in this one. Of course, it ain’t the only time he worked with Steven as you will find out later.
Walt Disney would have been proud! In my world, this is ‘the’ sequel to Peter Pan. Hook recaptures the magic from the cartoon. Take a look at the set design for Neverland; you’ll wish you was spending a vacation there. Even the cast is great, well not completely. Dustin Hoffman is a badass Captain Hook! Honestly, you’d hardly recognise him. Robin Williams is the perfect choice for Peter Pan himself. If there’s one problem I have, it’s Julia Roberts’ over-acting portrayal as Tinkerbell. But aside from that, Hook is worth a look.
18. Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
Why do people hate this Indiana Jones prequel so much? Is it the post-WW2 setting? Is it the lovely special effects? Is it the fact that Indy has a son? Well what could be so wrong with them? Personally, I don’t mind any of that. One thing’s for sure, the nostalgia still remains.
Following two blockbusters, Steven Spielberg gives comedy a go. And what a delight this WW2 satire is! Seriously, I literally cannot quit cackling all the way through. Alas, not all of the cast are still with us, but I reckon the remaining guys should have formed an American version of the Monty Python team!
16. The Terminal
Another comedy. Yet, also a drama. Most of the humour occurs from Tom Hanks’ dialogue, but yet, you can’t help, but feel sorry for the Eastern European guy who’s trapped in a New York airport, due to his lack of authorisation to enter the country. Imagine having to camp in a terminal. Tom Hanks proves how well he can portray a foreigner. Please don’t stop acting Tom.
Jaws on the road! All Duel needs is a car, a car driver and a truck and the rest is cinematic history! Thus is born a new more-than-Alfred Hitchcock!
14. Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
Indiana Jones was definitely the son of James Bond! What we originally thought was the conclusion to the franchise is a definite back-story. We can see where Indy gets his whip-cracking habits from.
13. A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Boy, does Steven Spielberg have a thing about fairy tales. Based on a sci-fi story which is loosely based on Pinocchio, A.I. Artificial Intelligence is an adventurous and emotional experience about a robot boy who is harshly used by his family and wants to be loved, so he sets to find the ‘Blue Fairy’ in order to make him real. For that, we can’t blame him. The world around him is rather dangerous and full of mechanical-phobic (if there is such a word) humans. The film is rather disturbing, but hey, Pinocchio was rather disturbing at times. I strongly recommend this movie for a general viewing.
12. The Color Purple
The Color Purple shows what Steven stands for… democracy! Ye-mon! It was one of his first films to cover such social political issues including black culture and gay rights, oh and get this, the protagonist gives birth to a baby at an early age, caused by her own father. Added to that, she hardly gets much contact with her daughter! I wanted to strangle that man! Well, most of us would. We’re meant to feel like that. The film is an emotional, but also bouncy experience; I mean listen to Quincy Jones’ beautiful songs man! There are some tear-jerking scenes, but The Color Purple will put a smile to your face.
Another political drama. And Steven’s most recent. Daniel Day Lewis (the guy out of Age Of Innocence and In The Name Of The Father), who obviously looks younger than the protagonist in reality, ironically pulls it off. He is like the Dustin Hoffman of the modern era of cinema! Of course, it’s the basic biography of the famous 19th century US Republican president who was more democratic compared to the other Republicans. The scenes do not drag. No. Observe the voting scene, the “ay” “nay” bits etc, if you know what I mean. It’s emotional, but will bring joy and happiness to the viewers. It certainly did to me.
10. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
Starter from ten. Der, der, der, der, derrrr. Der, der, der, bom, bommmm! Yup, ten notes altogether. Well it’s a five note tone, but I’ve just repeated it two times. Two times five is ten. So that makes sense. Anyway, the reason for placing Close Encounters is not only the glorious music, but it’s a film with sharp visuals; you’ll see I ain’t wrong once you see the hovering car near the start. Roy and family are enjoyable to identify with; the kids choosing to play golf over Roy’s intention of viewing a re-release of Pinocchio, lol. You and your fairy tales Steven, lol again. The film is also all about communication. The Africans memorise the chant, Barry watches the aliens and Roy has trouble building the sculpture which the mysterious aliens are seeking for a landing pad, leading up to the spectacular epic ending…!
9. Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan has left a huge impact on many film-makers. Without the film, there would be no Black Hawk Down, no Pearl Harbor (oh no, not that one!), no Tropic Thunder, no Hurt Locker and no Call Of Duty. Oh and did I mention Mulan? I mean wow! The cinematography is epic, the effects are epic, it’s literally an explosive action thriller! Set during the events of the now 70 year-old D-Day, Saving Private Ryan begins with a Motion Master-style (that’s a cinema attraction based at American Adventure, an old British theme park) scene with missiles flying and soldiers getting themselves blown up. You ain’t just seeing it, you’re literally there! Even the sound plays the part. Yeah, there’s a most-star cast; Tom Hanks, Vin Diesel, Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon,… but the technicals are also the stars.
8. Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Many people love this movie. I’m certainly among them. I’ve got Raiders Of The Lost Ark on DVD, innit. Some of you may feel disappointed that I didn’t rank this number 1, but we’ll get to that later. Raiders is more than just an introduction to Indiana Jones, who let me add is a lot of things we want in a hero. It is an action/fantasy/adventure flick which was written by a dude with a stupendously logical brain! To include the various McGuffins (if I’m using the correct term) i.e. Indy’s fear of snakes, the use of the pole thing and dune, you name it. I dunno if that’s what you lot love about this movie, because that’s certainly me. Maybe it’s John Williams’ badass music or the occasional humour or even the famous props. Yeah, I enjoy them too.
7. Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom
This one is my favourite Indiana Jones film out of all the four I’ve seen. Yup, the Temple Of Doom is the sequel to and a bit like Raiders, except that it’s set on one location (by that, I of course mean country). It has more spells cast, more action and a thrilling finale involving two mine trucks and a bridge of death; no, not the one that requires you to answer the questions three and then at the other side one shall see, lol. Oh and who can forget the awesome scene where Indy retrieves his hat seconds before the door closes?
Along with To Kill A Mockingbird, Philadelphia and Rainmaker, Amistad is one of the most outstanding court dramas that has ever been produced. This was Steven’s first fact-based film since Schindler’s List and it only made $14 million more than its $30 million budget. How ironic. Amistad is the film that deals with a group of African slaves who revolt, because of the harsh treaty they received from the white idiots (sorry) and one of them ends up in court for starting the riot, leading to the case to be questioned. It’s another film that proves democracy a benefit! We see the horrifying beatings; that’s why Amistad is so much better than Munich. Not only that, but there’s also the important theme of communication; Cinque soon learns English from his American lawyers, and this also demonstrates that an eventual friendship among the two nations. Amistad is one of the most neglected ones Steven has ever directed. It’s so underrated. But it’s a film which I really recommend you check out. You won’t regret it.
5. War Horse
5, 4, not yet Jeff!
Saving Private Ryan set in World War 1 Britain and starring a horse. When War Horse came out, I couldn’t wait to see it. None of my mates seemed interested and to be fair, they sounded cynical about it. So I was like “bugger it, I’ll see it anyway”. After a screening, I regretted it not! I loved the film straight away. Of course, this is set during the time when the army used horses as part of their weapons due to a butt-kicking war and Joey the horse is among the ‘war horses’, so his owner battles to get him back, ensuring he survives. There’s occasional British humour, but it doesn’t get in the way of the emotions, and I felt them things. It’s only been a couple of years and I’m still in love with War Horse. I both smiled and cried at the ending; I won’t give anything away, but tears were literally pouring down my cheeks.
4. Schindler’s List
You thought Sin City was the first film to combine black and white with colour. Wrong! Schindler’s List was here first, but we’ll get there in a bit. It portrays an effectively well-scripted story based on the WW2 holocaust. I mean check out the prologue and the epilogue, oh yeah and the middle. It’s liberal, it’s emotional, it’s one of them films that proves that no human should be treated different no matter what their religion. The Jews’ lives are made a living hell by the Nazis, except one, that is Oskar Schindler. The British cast is superb; hell, the accents they use are well convincing and realistic and the dialogue is very conversational. Liam Neeson is Oskar, Ben Kingsley is his business partner Ishak Stern (stuff the Hood) and Ralph Fiennes is Amon Goeth, who is a complete fascist jerk; no wonder Ralph is better known for his villainous parts! And speaking of realism, even the cinematography is awesome. The camera-work scans round the crowd scenes so much, you feel like you’re there. Okay it ain’t exactly Saving Private Ryan, but you know what I mean. It’s kind of documentary-like, but it suits the historical atmosphere perfectly. Added to the cinematography, Schindler’s List flashes a cool mixture of colours; most of the film is black & white which blends in brilliantly with the historical aspect and the bleakness, also the same time when most films were filmed in black & white. But there’s one scene where you will spot a bit of redness; I won’t give anything away, though it is often mentioned. Plus, both the prologue and the epilogue are filmed entirely in colour and this is not the only reason why them scenes are so badass!
In conclusion, because I think I’ve said a lot about the film, Schindler’s List is a history lesson, a pleasant experience and will shed a tear from an eye, even I had that.
Okay, I’ve gone on enough about the film.
Before you say anything, the fact that Jaws was an ‘early summer blockbuster’ ain’t the reason why I ranked the film at no.3. Though I must admit I’m glad that it boosted a lot of money when it had the chance. My dad saw it at the cinema and even he’s enjoyed it, and he remembers the time when one of his mates freaked out when he saw the corpse’s head in that sunken boat. My God, I love that scene. I also love the suspenseful music; simple and sweet, I don’t mean to say it’s cute, but all it needed was two bass-notes in a continuous loop. When I saw Jaws, I was dumbly convinced that Bruce was real, but the fact that it’s in fact a robot is still enough to be convincing. I would’ve thought Jaws would cost way less than $12 million (probably Bruce’s manufacture), but what the hell. The film provides a lovely breeze. I bet Alfred Hitchcock was so jealous! Like I said, Jaws is very suspenseful for a horror movie. Stuff The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. It’s also a summery experience. It’s calm, then something scary enough to vibrates your insides occurs. Even the acting is cool, realistic and conversational dialogue and everything. It doesn’t have to be as simple as “oh my God, it’s…” or “I’m coming to get you” etc. The dialogue’s more laid back then, say, Nightmare On Elm Street (though I do like the film). Rest in peace both Robert Shaw and Roy Scheider. This film is the best in the franchise; Jaws 2 is okay, Jaws 3D is certainly not the best, the last one, I’ve yet to see.
2. Jurassic Park
Here is another suspenseful monster movie. I have fond nostalgic memories of Jurassic Park. It came out when I was three. I dunno if I saw it at the cinema, but my memory of my toddler years is pretty bad. Oh well, I can remember when we taped Jurassic Park off the TV back when I was an elementary school student and we had occasional fun viewings. To me, the experience was and still is like watching The Sword In The Stone of Spielberg movies. Why I say that? Well it’s because I’ve seen the film hundreds of times and because Jurassic Park is the most hilarious movie Steven has ever directed. Though it’s never been labelled as a ‘comedy’, there’s plenty of parts which are impossible to not cackle along to; Alan getting his seat-belts mixed up, the bureaucratic computers (I’ll only end up rabbiting on if I give the details, but trust me, it’s very amusing) and let’s be honest, that lavatory scene. Now some of you may be a bit annoyed that I ranked such a side-splitting adventure like Jurassic Park above a rather emotionally serious film like Schindler’s List. Yeah I know. But some of it’s due to the nostalgic themes. I’ve seen this one more times. Yet again, I would’ve been too young to watch Schindler’s List. Don’t get me wrong, they’re both very technical. There’s other things though that made me rank Jurassic Park higher. Speaking of the technicals, there are a lot of things that provide plenty of detail to Jurassic Park. Not only was it one of the first times we saw ‘real’ dinosaurs on-screen, but the CGI achieved responsibility, unlike them Garfield and Scooby Doo movies, yeesh! What I mean to say is that whoever constructed the dinosaurs provided full concentration on where each skin line is positioned and other things and was obviously not lazy enough to miss any of the details out. That’s art for ya. Even the sound is one of the best. The dinosaurs’ growls are just what I expected to sound like. The sound also creates the suspense for a sort-of horror movie, just like in Jaws, and also contributes to nature; spoon drops and car door closes may be quiet, but are certainly loud enough to attract the creatures’ attention.
Before I reveal the number one spot, here is a list of films I have yet to see
- The Sugarland Express
- The Twilight Zone: The Movie
- Empire Of The Sun
Quite few films, but I’m a huge Spielberg fan. Anywho…
- E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
And Thunderbirds are go! ET is the one I was looking the most forward to reviewing. It is in fact one of my favourite movies of all time. Wait till you see my top movies list of all time. Anyway, you may think the reason why I ranked three movies that broke the box office records at the very top, just because of that. Eih-Eiiiiih! For one thing, it’s the nostalgia; at school-age, ET is another film that was taped from the TV for occasional viewings. Yeah, you could say we’re total cheapskates, but I never really minded that. But it is actually the themes that made me fall in love with ET so much, I just had to label it no.1. I love the opening, I love the ending, I love the music, I love how the children provide the alien lessons on communication, hell I love the friendship between Elliot and ET. I also love theirs, Michael’s and Gertie’s dialogue which sounds so real (yeah I mentioned Jaws and Schindler’s List). The bond has a huge impact on me, because I know some people who struggle with social lives. This is why I sympathise so much with the boy/alien relationship and social lives can be really hard for children. I was so shattered during the ending; I couldn’t help myself with tears pouring down my face, but it also gave me a smile, because it’s a fairly happy ending… for those who have never seen ET, I’m personally surprised, but as an understanding bloke, I won’t give too much detail away. Though I’d really recommend you watch the film sometime before you die. It’s a fun and emotional experience. There’s some occasional humour, plenty of adventure, check it out folks. And if you have kids, introduce this film to them. They’ll love it!
Anyway, I have to go now as I’ve… got a meeting with… some alien… visitors. Sayonara!