Tag Archives: Steven Spielberg

Cinema Dispatch: Ready Player One

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Ready Player One and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Oh!  Do I finally get a chance to see this darn movie!?  I swear; it feels like EVERY OTHER CRITIC IN THE WORLD got an invite to an early premiere of this while I’m sitting over here waiting for its ACTUAL release date like a total chump!  Now I haven’t read the book so I won’t be going into this with much in terms of expectations, but the premise is on that could really get out of hand quickly if it’s not in the hands of the right director.  Just imagine how bad Scott Pilgrim would have been if it wasn’t in the hands of Edgar Wright, or if say Adam Sandler somehow managed to make a movie about classic video games attacking us in the real world.  GOOD THING THAT NEVER HAPPENED, AM I RIGHT!?  Was Steven Spielberg the right one to adapt this material, or will this be a larger misstep for the venerable director than The Lost World: Jurassic Park?  Let’s find out!!

The movie takes place in the year 2045 where society hasn’t really COLLAPSED, so much as it’s gotten really apathetic and there’s a whole bunch of trash everywhere.  For most people, they’re way of dealing with it is to go into the most EXPANSIVE AND BAD ASS online video game ever made (right after Second Life) called THE OASIS!  One such denizen of this virtual world is Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) who lives in one of the slums of Columbus Ohio (they literally just started stacking trailer homes on top of each other) but he has big dreams for the future that will get him out of his boring miserable life!  Okay, it mostly involves playing games in THE OASIS as his in-game character Parzival, but that’s proving to be more and more of a viable career path; provided he doesn’t start shouting racial slurs.  Like in real life though, he’s kind of stuck at the lower tier of THE OASIS hierarchy and spends most of his time either hanging out with his friend Aech (Lena Waithe) or re-reading the history of the inventor of THE OASIS James Halliday (Mark Rylance) who died about a decade ago.  Said creator by the way has stuck three hidden keys within the game that if found will get TOTAL control of his Chocolate Factory… I mean software company, but no one has been able to find even one of them so far; not even the EVIL corporation called Innovative Online Industries (IOI) which is head up by the EVIL Nolan Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) that plan to do EVIL things if they get control of the company!  So Wade/Parzival is just going along his day to day routine… that is until he meets Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) who is one of the top players in the game, and their chance encounter ALSO leads to him figuring out the first clue that James Halliday left behind which leads him directly to the first key!  Now the guy is on EVERYONE’S radar!  Art3mis is trying to find the keys for herself and wants Parzival’s help doing it, Aech is stoked that they get all the cool gear that comes with finding that first key, and of course the EVIL IOI is after him to either convince him to join them or DESTROY HIM UTTERLY!  Will Wade be able to resist the allures of corporate culture and embark on this noble quest to honor the memory of the greatest game developer of all time?  What reasons could Art3mis have for needing to find the keys, and does it have anything to do with IOI’s EVIL schemes?  Will Wade get the validation in the virtual world that he so desperate craves in his own life!?  THAT’S HOW THIS WORKS, RIGHT!?

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“You are the one!”     “YEAH!!“     “Now just pay $4.99 to see the TRUE ending.”     “WHAT!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Post

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The Post and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Oh good!  Now that it’s officially 2018, the rest of us can FINALLY see the best movies of 2017!  Because THAT doesn’t seem like a backwards approach to releasing critically acclaimed films; ESPECIALLY ONES BY THE MOST FAMOUS DIRECTOR OF ALL TIME!  Sigh… whatever.  My feelings about theatrical release schedules aside, there’s been a lot of buzz about this movie being yet another Awards Darling what with the big name cast, the legendary director, and the timely subject matter given the political climate we are currently and TORTUROUSLY living under.  That said, I’m not always the biggest fan of movies that seem so perfectly designed to soak up Oscars (*cough* The King’s Speech *cough*) and while I didn’t give it the most GLOWING review at the time, I do think that Spotlight is an unreasonably high bar for any film to try and reach which certainly seems to be the goal here given the topic at hand at hand the pedigree behind it.  Then again, how can you go wrong with Spielberg?  If your answer to that question is Hook by the way, you’re just flat out wrong.  HOOK IS AWESOME!!  Anyway, does Spielberg manage to eke out yet and another cinematic masterpiece to add to his collection, or is this simply relying on his name to sell it both at the box office and with critics?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows The Washing Post during the time The Pentagon Papers (a study of the likelihood of victory in Vietnam that indicated that the government knew there was no chance of winning yet still committed forces there anyway) were being released by The New York Times and Nixon’s Justice Department was doing what they could to stop it.  Now The Washington Post wasn’t doing so well as its owner Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) is seen as an ineffective leader for reasons that CLEARLY have very little to do with her actual abilities (I WONDER WHAT ELSE IT COULD BE!?) and was in the middle of trying to find outside investment when this all started to unfold.  The editor in chief Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) is itching to get his hands on some of the papers that The Times had gotten and were forced to stop publishing due to a federal court injunction (COMPLETELY unprecedented in American history), but even if he WERE to find the it’d be a huge risk for everyone involved; especially Miss Graham who has the most invested in the company.  Eventually though, one of the assistant editors Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk) manages to get his hands on not just the parts The Times obtained, but more or less the WHOLE damn report straight from the source itself Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys).  With Ben having EXACTLY what he wants and a staff of likeminded reporters to back him up, it all comes down to Miss Graham to decide whether or not the risk of publishing these documents in her paper outweigh the potential good that having such documents out there will do for journalism and first amendment rights.  Even then though, if they jump the gun and the Nixon Administration wins whatever court battle would certainly lie ahead, that could lead to an even WORSE seizure of unchecked executive power.  Will Kay find a way to get the truth out there without losing everything else in the process?  What can The Justice Department and Nixon do to this newspaper and its staff if these documents are released in spite of the injunction placed on The Times?  The REAL question is, will this movie win MOST of the awards or ALL of the awards?

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“Your Oscars.  Give them to me.”     “You better do what she says.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Dunkirk

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Dunkirk and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros

Directed by Christopher Nolan

I never got around to seeing Interstellar despite having the blu ray somewhere around here, so my last Christopher Nolan film was The Dark Knight Rises (a film that I’m not particularly fond off) which came even longer ago than Green Lantern.  We’ve had an entire DCCU build up in the dude’s wake since I’ve last seen one his movies, and he’s coming back to theaters with the most classic of prestige genres; the World War II epic!  Hey, it worked for Spielberg!  Twice in fact!  Even if I wasn’t a huge fan of his last Batman movie (and from what I hear, most people were rather put off by Interstellar), I’m still glad to see this guy continue to make films, and while it’s a bit of cliché now for RESPECTABLE film makers to make a film about how much Nazis suck, I’m sure the guy is more than capable of putting his own spin on it that will make the movie a standout of the year!  Does Nolan return with a decisive victory, or is this a tortuous war of attrition?  Let’s find out!!

So the movie is about the Dunkirk Evacuation where a whole bunch of Allied soldiers were trying to escape from France as it was slowly being overtaken by the Nazis.  Their only hope is to get a whole bunch of boats to France, load them all up, and ferry them across the English Channel to safety, but of course it’s not as easy as that considering how many submarines and airplanes the Nazis have in the area.  Things get so desperate that Churchill eventually calls for English citizens with boats to become volunteers and try to make the dangerous trek across the Channel to pick up however many soldiers they can carry; hoping the Nazis will ignore them for being civilian ships.  In the movie, we’ve got Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) on the beach with everyone else waiting for the boats, Mr Dawson (Mark Rylance) as one of the boaters taking his yacht along with his son and a local boy (Tom Glynn-Carney and Barry Keoghan) to help the war effort, and a Royal Air Force pilot (Tom Hardy) doing what he can to keep the skies clear despite being rather low on fuel.  Will our heroes manage to make it out of this evacuation alive?  Does Christopher Nolan manage to capture the magnitude of this historical event through his spectacular technical chops?  If they needed a ride so badly, why didn’t they just call Uber!?  Wait, do they have Uber for boats yet?

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“Does anybody know any good knock-knock jokes?”     “Knock Knock.”     “Who’s there?”     “Shut up.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Transformers: The Last Knight

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Transformers: The Last Knight and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Michael Bay

Good ol’ Patron Saint of all things wrong with cinema, Michael “The Boom Master” Bay!  For a lot of film critics, he’s become something of a symbol for the worst that summer blockbusters have become even if that characterization is somewhat unfair.  Heck, even I’m guilty of generalizing the dude to an extent as I’ve only managed to sit all the way through two of the Transformers movies (Revenge of the Fallen and Age of Extinction; neither of which were the least bit tolerable) and I do genuinely like a few of his films such as Pain and Gain as well as The Rock.  This is gonna be the first film of his that I will review for the site, so I don’t just want to parrot my usual talking points about Transformers being THE WORST THING EVAR (even if it’s probably true) and am gonna try to go into this with an open mind as well as a critical eye.  Is there SOMETHING in this latest entry of the series that will be worth talking about and even appreciating, or are here to say the same shit for a franchise that makes too much money to ever need to change?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) landing back on Cybertron (I think) where he meets the creator of all Transformers (I think) known as Quintessa (Gemma Chan) who… wants to destroy Earth I think?  I don’t know, but that’s where we start and we’ll get back to that eventually.  From there, we find out that the humans no longer trust the Transformers (again) and have set up the Transformers Reaction Force (TRF) to hunt down any remaining Autobots and Decepticons which usually isn’t a great idea, but whatever.  The few remaining Autobots from the last movie (including a few Dinobots) are being protected by Cade Yeager from Age of Extinction (Mark Whalberg) who’s now a fugitive from the law despite having a very visible base of operations in a junk yard.  Anyway, he’s being chased by the humans as well as Megatron (Frank Welker) but during an admittedly decent action scene where the three factions come to a head, a strange human sized robot named Cogman (Jim Carter) informs Cade that an artifact he found holds the key to saving the world or whatever and jets him off to the UK along with Bumblebee (Erik Aadahl) to meet with his master Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins).  The dude informs Cade that he’s got a destiny much bigger than his own, there’s a professor named Viviane Wembly (Laura Haddock) who ALSO has a destiny much bigger than her own, and there’s a Cybertron MacGuffin somewhere that they need to find in order to fight off the impending doom brought about by Quintessa and a brainwashed Optimus Prime.  Can Cade and his gang of rascally robot friend find the MacGuffin of Ultimate Destiny before it’s too late?  Can Optimus Prime be brought back to his senses before he does something he’ll truly regret?  WHY IS IT So HARD TO DESCRIBE THE PLOT TO A MOVIE ABOUT GIANT ROBOTS!?

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WHAT THE HELL AM I EVEN LOOKING AT!?

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Cinema Dispatch: The BFG

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The BFG and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures

Directed by Steven Spielberg

The fact that Spielberg hasn’t made a Roald Dahl film up to now seems like either an oversight.  That or maybe the guy thought that it would have been too obvious for the reigning king of cinematic wonder to adapt a story from one of the best children’s book authors of all time.  If you think about it, the really good Dahl adaptations come from unconventional places, whether it’s Mel Stuart who’s known for Willy Wonka and basically nothing else outside of television, Henry Selick who’s only done four movies in over twenty years (one of which is James and the Giant Peach and another is Monkeybone), and even Matilda which was directed by Danny DeVito of all people; a director known for The War of the Roses where Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner kill each other over spite, and Death to Smoochy which had Ed Norton in an awful Barney suit.  The most mainstream examples I can think of would be Fantastic Mister Fox from Wes Anderson and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from Tim Burton, the former proving my point as the most mainstream we can get for good Dahl is Wes Anderson and the latter probably being the worst Dahl adaptation pretty much BECAUSE of how Hollywood it was.  Now the biggest director of all time is stepping up to the plate to adapt one of Dahl’s books that has yet to have a major film adaptation, though there was an animated one that no one really cares about.  Can Spielberg work his magic yet again for material that seems perfectly suited for him, or will the magic of Dahl’s work be lost when adapted under the Disney umbrella?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows a young orphan named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who suffers from Insomnia… I think, and she stays up late enough one night to see a giant roaming the streets of her town.  Sophie tries to return to her bed but unfortunately it’s too close to the window and the giant kidnaps her to take back to his home in Giant Country which doesn’t seem too hard to get to as the secret portal or whatever is just off the northern coast of Scotland.  The giant is played by Mark Rylance (who will at some point be known as BFG which does NOT stand for what you think it does) and tells Sophie that he plans to keep her there so that she doesn’t blab to the world about the existence of giants.  Now normally this would be the setup for a horror movie, but BFG turns out to be a vegetarian which means she’s safe from being eaten, and that the giant is actually super sweet which makes this situation more like an adoption without that pesky paperwork.  Now of course the movie isn’t just about these two hanging out together as the main conflict arises when we discover that not only is BFG a rather small giant, but that the other giants are total pricks who like to eat children and bully and the kind old man for reasons that I’m sure make sense to the giants.  Can Sophie come up with a way to stop the other giants from picking on BFG?  Will the other giants discover that BFG has a human around which will set them off on a rampage?  Wait, why is BFG responsible for people having dreams?  Seriously, what does that have to do with anything!?

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“What is that dream about?”     “Eh… I’ll tell you when your older.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Bridge of Spies

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Bridge of Spies and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios and 20th Century Fox

Directed by Steven Spielberg

We’re well into the Oscar season by this point, but now it’s time for the BIG guns to strut their stuff, and you can’t get any bigger the Steven Spielberg!!  It also seems that he’s found a niche that he’s starting to get comfortable with considering this is his second historical film based on a bunch of lawyers and politicians arguing during a very contentious time in our country’s history.  Does Spielberg remind us once again why he’s one of Hollywood’s greatest living directors, or will this be one of those lesser films he makes that we’ll all forget about as soon as his next film is made?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins in 1957 with the arrest of Soviet Spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) and the media storm that surrounded it.  When it comes time to actually try the bastard, the US government hires a law firm to represent Rudolf so that at least it can APPEAR to be a legit trial instead of a kangaroo court.  Unfortunately for everyone, the man the law firm assigns to the case is James B Donovan (Tom Hanks) who actually believes in the constitution and won’t just let the legal system run all over this guy.  For doing the right thing, he ends up drawing unwanted attention from hot heads looking to see some Soviet scumbag hang as well as the ire of the FBI who want him to tell them everything that Rudolph has said in their meetings which would obviously be a breach of attorney client privilege.  While this is going on, we occasionally cut to Francis Gary Powers (Austin Stonewall) who is a US solider training to be a spy and will one day fly a stealth plane of USSR territories to take covert pictures.  Will fate conspire to put him in a similar situation as Rudolph Abel finds himself now?  What kinds of consequences will James incur for himself, his law firm, and his family for simply believing in and fighting for what the constitution guarantees?  Just how many awards will Spielberg win for directing a period piece political thriller starring Tom Hanks!?  Like… fifty?

“I’m willing to talk Mr. Spielberg down to forty-eight, but you need to guarantee us best picture first.”

“I’m willing to talk Mr. Spielberg down to forty-eight, but you need to guarantee us best picture first.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Jurassic World

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Jurassic World and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow

Two hundred MILLION dollars in the opening weekend!?  Oh I’m, sorry that FIVE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS when you include the international box office.  What exactly about this movie (other than it being a new entry in a franchise that has nostalgic appeal to multiple generations of people) could bring in that kind of cash!?  Jurassic Park was never really that important of a franchise for me (only got through the first one and half of the second one) which means this movie was barely on my radar.  The only thing that caught my attention was Star Lord driving a motorcycle with his personal posse of velociraptors (and of course this amazing gif).  Needless to say, the movie caught my attention after everyone starting to go nuts over it, so I went ahead and saw the damn thing to find out what the fuss is about.  Now big box office numbers are never a reliable indicator of quality (just look at the Transformers films) but there was still a bit of optimism what with the decent trailers and the undeniable coolness of dinosaurs WITHOUT feathers.  Also, Chris Pratt.

No matter what it is, just keep running.  Dinosaurs, cops, Parks and Rec fans, doesn’t matter.

No matter what it is, just keep running.  Dinosaurs, cops, Parks and Rec fans, doesn’t matter.

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