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Minority Report

Like PLANET OF THE APES, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and soon STAR WARS PART 2, MINORITY REPORT is a sci-fi picture that will mainly be discussed in context with the politics of the time. (the time being now. because it came out today.)

Again like the Yoda picture, it has been in the planning stages long enough that director Steven Spielberg (JAWS) and co-writer Scott Frank (I only remember him because he did OUT OF SIGHT. who knows who the other writer is) couldn’t have known how timely it would turn out to be. The movie takes place in Washington DC, 2056, where Tom Cruise is an agent in the flagship “Pre-Crime Deparment” – cops who use three water-submerged psychic “precogs” to track crimes of passion that haven’t even happened yet.

Minority ReportSo the most timely question the picture asks is – can you really bust somebody for something they haven’t even done yet? Is it okay to lock somebody up forever, with no trial, because you think they were GOING to do something? I mean, what if you’re wrong? And one thing I liked about the picture is that it doesn’t stack the deck. Of course you get an ominous feeling about the very idea of “Pre-Crime”, but you can see why the people go along with the system. As you see little Mr. Cruise at a day on the job, controlling windows of digitized precognitions like an orchestra conductor, you understand why he enjoys and believes in his job, even before you find out his backstory. And since the system has brought the murder rate down to zero without anyone knowing about any mistakes, it’s not an easy black or white question. So it’s a fair analogy to our current “lock people up if John Ashcroft says he has secret evidence about them” methods of “terrorism” “prevention”, or even the rising controversy about our country’s love of a good execution despite case after case after case after case after case of executed and almost executed individuals proven to be innocent.

These issues are so embedded into the premise that you almost wish they were explored more. But it’s more of a straight ahead suspense thriller that touches on these issues than it is an actual political treatise. My guess is that while MINORITY REPORT is getting all the political discussion right off the bat, STAR WARS will be more interesting down the road when we find that the Bush regime has slowly dismantled our system and become the Empire piece by piece, in such a way that at least the Jar Jars of the world didn’t see it coming. But we’ll see.

The real moral dilemma in MINORITY REPORT (which doesn’t apply as much to our times) is if you stopped them from committing a crime of passion, do they really need to be locked up? Now that they’ve passed that angry hey joe moment, maybe everything is cool now. You gave them a second chance, right? Nope, they just lock ’em up. In a matrix style coma chamber, not a prison. Which, I mean who knows how that’s gonna affect the culture at large, when you take away the subculture that creates many of the trends, such as wearing your pants hanging low, or saying that you made somebody your bitch.

Well the high concept type premise here is that the precogs have a vision of Tom killing somebody he never even heard of before. Does this prove the system is flawed? Is he being setup, and why? Or is this really his destiny, and he doesn’t know it? If he didn’t know about this vision and try to find out about it, would it still have happened? Or if he wasn’t going to find out about the vision, like if he was an ice cream man instead of a Pre-Crime investigator, would they have never had the vision in the first place? Well shit we could ask questions like this all day, and all we’d have is a live action version of Waking Life. What Tom does is run like hell and hope he can figure out which questions to ask and how to answer them before his buddies catch up with him and lock him up. Also he will have to have his eyeballs removed because everywhere you go these days your eyes get scanned to ID you.

The world of MINORITY REPORT is very detailed and clever, kind of like the underrated A.I. – THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL. All the technology, from the computer screens to the transportation is very believably designed. The best touch is personalized holographic advertisements that talk to you as you walk by them: “John Atherton – couldn’t you use a Guinness?” You think pop-up windows are annoying? When you drive down the freeway you fly through a 3-D hologram of Aquafina, and when you walk into The Gap a virtual saleswoman remembers your last purchase. It’s all so horrible and obviously inevitable that it makes me glad I won’t be around in 2056.

But is this movie a criticism of current commercialism based on its logical extension? Or will the advertisers get the idea from this movie and do it, even though they never woulda thought of it on their own? What if you went back in time and your mom got a crush on you, and you had to go back to the future? It’s enough to blow your fuckin mind, man.

Anyway it’s a very believable idea and it works for the mystery-suspense storyline because a fugitive especially doesn’t want to hear his name repeated from every direction everywhere he goes. Most of the movie is smartly thought out and designed. The cops have very interesting vehicles and equipment such as a “sick stick” stun gun/billy club which causes its victim to vomit. The Writers have figured out exactly how this Pre–Crime system would work and what would be needed to enforce it.

The movie has a great look to it, too, always overcast and a bit bleached out. But not over-the-top gothic gloomy like BLADE RUNNER and never wacky and CAPTAIN EOish like that middle section of AI. Some of the shots of the city and traffic look pretty much how life would look in this world. I especially like the shots of the hovering snail-shell shaped police cars. They even have real, non computer generated type cars with great futuristic designs, driving around on normal streets like they did in Truffaut’s FARENHEIT 451.

Isn’t that cool how I just drop Truffaut in there. Also did you notice how I used the word “flagship” at the beginning. That was awesome.

Some of the supporting characters are a little less realistic, sometimes resorting to lame comedy cliches like the sleazy virtual reality parlor manager who worries that the precogs can sense thoughts he had about his cousin, or the underground nurse who doesn’t wash her hands after going to the bathroom. (Yeah, but does she have a baboon as an assistant and perform surgery with a rusty can and a toilet plunger, like Dr. Benway in Naked Lunch?) And of course there is a BLADE RUNNER style eccentric creator to all this, an old lady who lives in a greenhouse of deadly genetically modified plants. My favorite Jurassic Park style standard-issue movie character was Wally, the hippieish science nerd who sits by the pool taking care of the Precogs, talking to them lovingly like they’re his pets. The first time you see him he’s wearing shorts and a hawaiian shirt and you get the idea that he’s basically a guy who works at Sea World. These three poor bastards have to dream of murder all day to keep the world running, but he thinks he takes real good care of them. They’re his dolphins, jumping through hoops for him.

I also liked Samantha Morton as the most talented of the Precogs, who he dresses up in pinstriped slacks and tries to take out into society. Luckily this does not lead to crazy fish out of water misunderstandings. But she does act a little Milla Jovovichy and it would probaly be weird taking her to the mall, as Tom does. Anyway it is nice to see Samantha Morton trying a different type of role. Unlike in SWEET AND LOWDOWN, she can talk. And unlike JESUS’ SON, she acts weird because she has been raised by a dolphin trainer, not because she is really high. You know now that I think about it this IS the same type of role she always plays god damn it. But it works.

The only times I really thought the movie was clumsy was in the action scenes. I don’t mind the occasional obvious blue screen or digitally removed cable. But it’s like Spielberg doesn’t have faith that anybody will enjoy this much hyped new “Dark Spielberg” style. He has to puncuate every action scene with wacky jokes, like a chase through an apartment building where a jetpack flame broils some burgers and other unexpected dinner time antics. Or another chase through an apartment building where husband and wife fight, then stop to have their eyes scanned by robotic spiders, then start fighting again. It’s just like The Lockhorns, only with robotic spiders!

I mean usually I like a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and at least he’s trying new territory for him, like some Evil Dead style slapstick when little Tom drops his eyeballs in a sloped hallway. But for this movie it’s all wrong, throwing off the rhythm of the chases, destroying the tension. Steven, we need some fuckin tension over here man. Remember Duel? Remember Jaws? Let’s erase 20 whatever years of filmmaking and get back to the basics there bud. thanks.

There are also a few of the ol’ “plot holes” that internet movie geeks think make a movie devoid of all merit. For example it seemed pretty stupid that the Pre-Crime unit would not cut off Tom Cruise’s security clearance once he was on the lam. But in today’s world it is easier to accept this kind of shit. Because you wouldn’t think suicide pilots who killed 3,000 people would get their visas renewed six months later, either. But they did. And for that matter you wouldn’t think they woulda been able to be suicide pilots in the first place after the CIA knew they were terrorists, they lived in the country under their own names with listed phone numbers, the FBI was investigating people they were connected to for suspicious behavior in flight schools like the ones they attended, and the white house was warned about impending terrorist action by the CIA, Israel, Russia, England, Germany, James Woods and everybody else. You see, modern society is full of plot holes. MINORITY REPORT is a product of our society.

And now for the overall comparison to AI. This is a more consistent use of the Dark Spielberg style. It does not have a long chunk that doesn’t work like that one section of AI, the one with Chris Rock in it. On the other hand its highs are not as high. It does not get quite as creepy as AI did in those first scenes with the family, or reach as boldly as AI did in those last scenes after the second ice age. And by the way buddy they were obviously robots and not aliens, that’s why they had tvs in their chests. Pay attention. TV in chest = robot, not alien. Or it could be a teletubby, I guess. But teletubbies are more like robots than aliens in my opinion, because they have tvs in their chests, like robots. Also they have antennas, like robots do, or aliens do also. Now you’re confusing me. Leave me alone.

Anyway I would say MINORITY REPORT is a pretty good one. Good story with mostly great execution. Remember that talking bear in AI that was cool also. the end

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Friday, June 21st, 2002 at 7:55 pm and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

65 Responses to “Minority Report”

  1. I like this movie, but I don’t consider it a classic or anything. It’s good Spielberg/Cruise Hollywood entertainment. Couple of random thoughts to add –

    – I agree with Vern that the levity in some of the action scenes messes with the darker tone that Spielbergs playing with. Like when Cruise exits his car on the freeway and crashes through a window in to a room full of women at a yoga class, bent in half like human pez dispensers. That wasn’t funny, just real weird.

    – Colin Farrell is a wanker.

    – Peter Stormare is not a wanker. But he does seem to be the go to guy to play fringe professionals who offer their services to people in crises. Kidnapper in FARGO. Snuff pornographer in 8MM. Eye surgeon in MR. Ass-Demon psychologist in BAD MILO. Steroid abused flaccid penis corrector/injector in PAIN & GAIN.

    – The action scenes are pretty good. I like the jet pack sequence, levity aside. The chase through the processing factory was going somewhere, until the silly fisticuffs between Cruise and Farrell on top of a conveyor belt. Seen it a bunch of times already.

    – WAR OF THE WORLDS is a much better Spielberg/Cruise collaboration.

  2. “– WAR OF THE WORLDS is a much better Spielberg/Cruise collaboration.”

    I couldn’t disagree more, not that I don’t like WOTW but MINORITY REPORT alongside A.I. are my favorite Spielberg movies of the 21st century and it’s a shame that he’s yet to top those.

    And while it pains me to say this, I have my doubts he ever will, there was something about the early 2000’s that still allowed Spielberg to shine, but starting with THE TERMINAL (nothing great sure but still a charming little movie) I noticed a backlash against him where for a while there almost every movie he came out with had tons of people take great joy in shitting on them, ya know, the people who just couldn’t get over the son surviving in WOTW and the people who said KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL “raped” their childhoods (not a very good movie in fairness but come on) and now it seems to me like he said “fuck it” and has more or less given up on the blockbuster.

    And in the years since INDY 4 he came out with WAR HORSE and TINTIN both of which were virtually ignored (despite being pretty good) and then LINCOLN which got some attention for Daniel Day Lewis’ performance but hardly set the world on fire.

    It just seems like in the age of Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERS and shit there’s no real room for Spielberg’s brand of blockbuster, or to put it another way we live in cynical times and Spielberg has never been a cynical filmmaker and that’s why I think he just kinda pisses people off these days, people would rather see the son ripped to shreds by Tripods or Indiana Jones crawl out of the fridge with broken bones, covered in blood than relax and have fun anymore these days.

  3. I thought he topped WAR OF THE WORLDS and MINORITY REPORT with MUNICH. That’s easily my favorite Spielberg of the 21st century, so far. It was dark territory, but unlike MINORITY REPORT and to a lesser extent WOTW, he didn’t throw in a bunch of Spielbergisms to remind us who was directing it. Which is very humble of Steven, because, with his heritage, it must have been a very personal story for him.

    I’d like to love MR more than I do, but I just can’t embrace it. I’ve tried once every couple years since it came out, but it kinda loses me a bit as soon as it becomes a chase film, with all the cliches that follow. The big reveal of Father Max Von Merrin, as the older mentor baddie, well, that’s been done to death. Shit, even in other Cruise films like MISSION IMPOSSIBLE. I’ll admit it, I love Tom (no homo), so MINORITY REPORT will stay in my collection for ever, but, on the Spielberg stand, it will always be below MUNICH, above ALWAYS, and in the guts of JAWS. Which is, I don’t know where that is….

  4. Honestly, I just realized that I really have to catch up with Spielberg’s 21st century output. I mean REALLY catch up! Basically the only post PRIVATE RYAN movies of his that I have seen, are CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, WAR OF THE WORLDS, CRYSTAL SKULL and TINTIN, although I own the rest of them (except TERMINAL and LINCOLN) as either super cheap blind buy or Pay TV recording. I guess I know what I’m gonna do in the next days.

  5. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 16th, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    CJ – sorry to say that I disagree with Griff. Looking at the likes of MINORITY REPORT, CRYSTAL SKULL, and even MUNICH (which I can’t say I despise, but I think it’s one of the most blatantly and unpleasantly manipulative films I’ve seen), I would have to say that you’re not missing much. It amazes me that these films come from the director / creator of JAWS, which contains one of the most famous child deaths on film. And talking of which…

    “people would rather see the son ripped to shreds by Tripods or Indiana Jones crawl out of the fridge with broken bones, covered in blood than relax and have fun anymore these days.”

    Nah we wouldn’t, Griff, not at all. The only problem I have with E. T. (and it’s a pretty huge problem) is the music. Yeah, I know a lot of people love that score; I don’t. It’s horrifically over-the-top, to the point where it makes these incredibly affecting and emotional scenes come across as just corny. But other than that, I think E. T was pretty damn brilliant in just about every way possible. And yeah, that one didn’t exactly have a happy ending, but Henry Thomas got to grow up, and that’s important, right?

    But this whole religious / anti-science / family values that Spielberg has been injecting into every single one of his films I’ve seen for the last twenty years or so (bearing in mind that I pretty much stopped watching Spielberg after MUNICH)… it’s intolerable. And yes, I put JURASSIC PARK pretty damn high on my “favorite action movies” list in the other thread; and yes, I stand by that, despite the fact that it has a full compliment of all Spielberg’s worst tropes: annoyingly precocious kids, anti-science propaganda, the whole lot. But what the likes of MINORITY REPORT and MUNICH taught me was that JURASSIC PARK was basically a fluke. He keeps using the same tired old tropes over and over and over again, and they’re ruining his films for me. I mean, holy shit, I shoulda loved MINORITY REPORT. A procedural mystery story set in an Orwellian dystopian future? Fucking hell yeah, sign me up for that! Except that’s not what I get with MINORITY REPORT. I get a family parable about psychic fish-people. Uuuuugh.

  6. I don’t think JURASSIC PARK is anti-science, the point was not that it was inherently wrong to clone the dinosaurs, but the arrogance to think that they can control them in a family friendly theme park is where they went wrong, John Hammond learns this lesson and that’s why in THE LOST WORLD he believes the dinosaurs should be left alone, not that they should be wiped out or never created in the first place.

  7. Griff- “the arrogance to think that they can control them in a family friendly theme park is where they went wrong”

    But, they could have if the whole thing hadn’t been actively sabotaged by this one moron who thought he wasn’t being paid enough. I mean, you can hardly blame a whole institution because one person deliberately shut down all the safeguards and then got himself killed like an asshole.

    I mean, I guess there’s a chaos theory element of “well, you can’t ever expect to really predict anything, so nothing is truly secure.” But it seems to me that you could say the same about almost any major social structure. I guess the true message of Jurassic Park is… don’t fucking hire Dennis Nedry. If they’d had anyone else, everything would have been fine.

  8. I much prefer this over WOTW. Spielberg had a great year between this and CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. Oddly enough the only two crime films I can think of that he’s ever done. Don’t want to spur this film into the discussion, but while I actually liked INTERSTELLAR a whole lot I really can’t shake thinking about how much better it would have been if Spielberg had directed it as originally planned.

  9. I agree that INTERSTELLAR would have been better if it was a Spielberg joint….but more on that later (hopefully).

    And CATCH ME IF YOU CAN! another great one from Spielberg’s pre-INDY 4 2000’s days, it’s weird how forgotten it is though, I mean there’s a Spielberg movie with both Leonardo DiCaprio and Christopher Walken in it! and yet I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone mention that movie on the net until now (or at least now for years), it also seems to anticipate 60’s throwback stuff like MAD MEN.

    But seriously, don’t you get guys think that KOTCS probably shook his confidence in the movie going public a lot? to have his return to old school form treated as if it were a literal filmed abortion must have really hurt his feelings.

    Now granted a lot of the anger was aimed more at Lucas than Spielberg, but still the guy is probably not too enthused by the idea of giving the fans “what they want” after they reacted like a bunch of fucking babies.

  10. For the record, I don’t think KING OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL was very good either, but the proper reaction would have been “it’s kinda hokey and cheesy and overall disappointing, but oh well, it was fun seeing Indy back in action nevertheless” instead of “BAWWWWWWWW LUCAS RAPED MY CHILDHOOD BOOOO FUCKING HOOOOO” that the interweebs sharted.

  11. God, just thinking of that movie gives me ‘Nam like flashbacks to the bad old days of the AICN talkbacks.

  12. Paul, even if those movies aren’t really good, at least I can still finally say that I have seen them.

  13. I’m another one who hasn’t seen a Spielberg joint since MUNICH. I did enjoy that one (though I agree with Paul on the manipulative nature of the filmatism) but truthfully I’m just at that age where I value my time above all else.

    As much as I love cinema I just can’t sit through shit that doesn’t interest me anymore just to keep up with a filmmakers resume. This is also why I didn’t bother with INTERSTELLAR (since you guys brought it up).

    So thanks for the classics Spielbergo but I’m sure life will be just fine without me having to sit through the likes of THE TERMINAL, LINCOLN or INDY 4 or any of the future oscar bait you’re currently setting up. Like that cold war era joint with Thomas Hanks.

  14. Mr. Subtlety – “Newman!” *makes right hand into a fist*

  15. I don’t think Spielberg takes it personally. He seems to think the people are right when they shit on his movies. At least that’s the case with TEMPLE OF DOOM and 1941. I don’t know of a case where he stood up for something of his that’s unpopular. I think he’s just pretty laid back.

  16. “Like that cold war era joint with Thomas Hanks.”

    Not even to find out what a Spielberg directed Coen Brothers script feels like?

  17. The Undefeated Gaul

    November 17th, 2014 at 3:02 am

    Broddie – not interested in Interstellar? It’s worth checking out though, one of the better films of the year (even if severely flawed in places). I wasn’t gonna bother with it until a co-worker basically forced me to go, and I’m really glad I did.

  18. Vern – I think in the case of KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL he did take it personally because Indiana Jones was such a beloved franchise and he worked for years to give people what he thought they really wanted, only to have them react in such a hateful way, you really don’t think that had some effect on him? Or at the very least if it didn’t hurt his feelings maybe make him say “maybe I don’t know what people want anymore”?

    I just want to say that I really love Red Letter Media’s review of KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, they look at the movie in a fair, articulated way and don’t resort to any “raping my childhood” nonsense and they credit Spielberg with what works and Lucas with what doesn’t.

  19. Some of the negative reaction to CRYSTAL SKULL was kinda dumb. With the criteria that was set up, a lot of stuff in the old Indy movies makes absolutely no sense either. You can´t survive a nuclear blast in a fridge, but you can survive a ten-thousand feet drop in a raft?

  20. INTERSTELLAR has plenty going for it, but at bottom I felt it was a “one step forward, two steps back” movie. I believe Mr. M has taken exception in the past with Christopher Nolan’s modus operandi when it comes to unfolding the plots of his movies: he doesn’t so much *show* you as he tells you, and that characteristic is very prominent in INTERSTELLAR. Given its running time (2 hours, 49 minutes), this is particularly heinous.

    Wooderson, Princess Bride, and Jessica Chastain all deliver strong, restrained performances, but someone truly needs to take Michael Caine out behind the barn and go all Old Yeller up & down his ass. No shit; he’s finally progressed from Venerated Actor to Doddering Old Thespian. He’s not quite as bad as Robert Duvall, but he’s gettin’ close. His work here, in INCEPTION, in the [REDACTED] movies are all interchangable.

    If that wasn’t bad enough, Nolan allows him the cardinal sin of fucking up the recitation of perhaps the manliest poem ever, Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”. You want to know who REALLY went to town on that poem and gave it the full value it deserves?— Rodney Dangerfield in BACK TO SCHOOL (no, I’m not kidding).

  21. (Princess Diaries, not Princess Bride. My bad).

  22. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 17th, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I was considering INTERSTELLAR but some of the reviews have been pretty mixed, and honestly I’m really, really not up for another three-hour borefest (especially after BOYHOOD – now there’s ten pounds and one-and-a-half hours that I’m never going to get back). It’s been two months since I’ve been to the cinema, and basically all of my “new ” movie experiences have been via DVD. I know this goes totally against what I’ve said before about looking for new movies, but the thing is, every time I see an interesting one on a site like this, I look it up and find it’s not coming to a cinema near me.

    I did see THE PRESTIGE recently, and much like DARK KNIGHT RISES (although it’s not nearly as bad as TDKR), it just left me cold. Even David Bowie playing Nikolai Tesla did absolutely nothing for me. (It also has a twist that requires you to not notice that a character, who keeps appearing for no apparent reason and is always seen in darkness, is actually the exact same person as another character but wearing false hair and whiskers. Oh, and it requires the characters in the film to not notice this either. Look, I can excuse a great deal of plot-contrivance – hell, I enjoyed THE DARK KNIGHT – but there has to be engaging characters and an interesting story first. THE PRESTIGE didn’t have those things. It also helps if you don’t treat your audience like utter morons who can’t recognise an A-list actor in a wig.) It wasn’t bad, it just completely failed to excite my interest. And the addition of the supernatural into a film about illusionists just about killed it stone dead also (please, filmmakers, stop doing this. It’s a cheap contrivance and a total cliche, and it never ever fucking works.) So Nolan, who was pretty much my favorite filmmaker at around the time I saw THE DARK KNIGHT and INCEPTION, has become seriously hit-or-miss for me.

    Seriously, I don’t know what goes on. It seems like all of my previous “favorite” filmmakers are suddenly making stuff that I find impossible to enjoy. Diablo Cody did it, Spielberg did it, Linklater did it, Nolan did it, even the freakin’ Coens have been guilty of it recently on one or two occasions. Who’s left… I guess Tarantino is still doing stuff that I mostly like?

  23. I always call THE PRESTIGE “The best stupid movie ever made”, because it is great directed, acted, not boring for one second, but has downright unbelievable idiotic elements. Like the fact that it is apperently VERY easy to find your exact doppelgänger in the world of that movie, that it was apparently supposed to be a huge surprise that one character, who looks like a certain actor with a wig and fake beard, is in fact really that certain actor with a wig and a fake beard or that the movie spends nearly all of its runtime to tell us that magic doesn’t exist and it’s all cheap tricks, only to pull a hard SciFi ending out of its ass in the last minute, just for the sake of ending the story with a cheap surprise.

  24. The Undefeated Gaul

    November 17th, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Copied from the other thread:

    Well, I guess it’s a risk going to see INTERSTELLAR since opinions seem to be very divided. And the ending is easy to hate, I have to admit. It’s not a complete movie-breaker though, and just for that chance you end up loving it as much as I do it would be a real shame to have missed it in the cinema. It’s gripping all the way through, it’s got another one of those world class McConaughey performances and it’s by far Nolan’s most emotional film (I teared up twice, which almost never happens to me). Cherry on top is the soundtrack, pure Zimmer magic.

  25. I don’t want to talk too much about INTERSTELLAR since I’m sure we’ll all get to it soon enough, but Anne Hathaway’s rambling monologue about how love can transcend dimensions may actually be the single most laughably moronic thing I’ve ever heard a character in a major movie say. And she really fucking commits to it, tries to make it work, really puts her all into it, weeping, etc. I’d say that about sums up the whole movie.

    In closing, these are probably the worst scientists since PROMETHEUS. Jesus, Hollywood, do you even know what a scientist is?

  26. Don’t want to say too much either till the official review, but I agree w/ Subtlety there’s a real Prometheus vibe all throughout Interstellar. It’s aggressively stupid but clothed in dialogue and “ideas” that sound really smart to cover up flaws in stuff like character development and basic storytelling. It’s also incredibly vague and abstract and kind of confusing one minute and then full of endless exposition the next. If you told me Lindelof/Orci/Kurtzman wrote this script I’d say “yeah that makes sense”. And yes, that speech that poor Hathaway has to give is so sappy and non-sensical even Hook-era Spielberg would veto it.

    To bring it back to Minority Report – everyone’s favorite tough guy Frank Grillo is apparently in this. No matter what anyone says about Spielberg, he really does have a knack for picking future talent.

  27. CJ – At this point I’m not interested in seeing what he does with anybody’s script. I am however interested in seeing what the Coens do with their own script in the one that they’re working on right now. Especially since they dug up Christopher FORTRESS Lambert from whatever hole he was in and gave him a prominent role. I haven’t seen the guy on the big screen since MORTAL KOMBAT so it will be worth the price of admission for that alone.

    The Undefeated Gaul – To be quite honest I just grew tired of Nolan’s schtick 2 movies ago. I think his hardcore fanboys who are possibly the most obnoxious subfanbase in movie fandom today also turn me off greatly from his work. You can’t critique anything he does even if you have a legit point without those assholes catching a titty attack.

    To me my main issue is that he’s just as formulaic as the guys they always like to bludgeon for being formulaic (like a Zack Snyder or now Justin Lin) but they love to front like he’s not.

    Sure his movies are technically very well done but once you lack any soul you easily lose me altogether for the most part and it’s difficult to get any repeat viewings from me so that I could process it all and discover new layers. I pretty much have that issue with every single one of his movies. Even the ones I liked like THE PRESTIGE, THE DARK KNIGHT and his INSOMNIAC.

    Though I will say one thing about INSOMNIAC remake; even if I don’t think it’s anywhere as good or interesting as the original. I do however think that the mechanical and highly detached nature of the “people” in Nolan’s movies at least works in it’s favor this time because we’re dealing with both a sociopath and a man who hasn’t had any sleep in days. For those archetypes being detached actually makes sense.

    At this point though I honestly can’t bear sitting through another 3 hour showcase that greatly breaks cinema’s “show don’t tell” rule without any regard and in the end is soulless and lacks any heart. Simply because none of the inorganic and highly mechanical caricatures that he writes ever really resonate with me and engross me enough to actually give a fuck about what’s happening on the screen.

    All I ever really get from his movies is “man that was some sharp cinematography there” or “this is some creative use of an IMAX camera” or on the flipside some great pet peeves of mine like “why doesn’t the musical score ever fucking stop and allow the scenes to breathe on their own?” or “why is the audio mix so damn imbalanced that I could only make out the overbearing score and have to struggle to try to figure out what is being said through dialogue?” (I’m looking at you BATMAN BEGINS and THE PRESTIGE). I never walk out saying “man I really loved that story they told there” though and that kinda sucks.

  28. As far as MINORITY REPORT is concerned. I never really liked this. The trailer showed promise but the actual feature was immensely forgettable. Verhoeven still remains the only filmatist who actually gets the subversiveness, irony and irreverence of Philip K. Dick’s style to truly make it work on the big screen. It was pretty disappointing not just as an adaptation of Dick’s work but also as both the follow up to A.I. and the first collabo between Spielbergo and The Cruiser. I definitely fall into the camp that preferred WAR OF THE WORLDS. It was the lesser of two evils and had more interesting and memorable shit in it.

  29. Paul Whose Computer Is No Longer Fried

    November 17th, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Broddie – I disagree with you on the movies you choose (my favorite Nolan movie is INCEPTION, although TDK comes close) but otherwise I agree with pretty much everything you say. I’m just worried that he “peaked” with INCEPTION and the first two [REDACTED] movies, and everything after them is going to be a letdown.

    And I was, until fairly recently, one of those vociferous fans (I won’t say fanboy – that term implies that I think nobody has a right to any opinion that differs from mine. I don’t think that.)

    Man, I feel like a whiny little S. O. B today. I’m not usually this negative. I gotta go see NIGHTCRAWLER or something. Everybody agrees that’s good, right?

  30. So, can we all agree that Spielberg lost some mainstream relevance after KING OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL?

  31. *KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

  32. Or am I just being cynical?

  33. The ones bashing KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL are nitpicking nitwits. I am not sure they are representative of a mainstream audience. The people I have talked to that could be categorized as “casual moviegoers” liked it well enough.

  34. Well, technically he lost mainstream relevance or more specific the amount of relevance that he had in the early 80s and early 90s, around WAR OF THE WORLDS. This goes NOT against the quality of his movies. He still is one of the most capable big budget directors these days*, but today he is mostly making movies, that are more aimed at “adult” and arthouse audiences (I won’t use the unfairly derogatory term “Oscar bait”) and of course a biopic about Lincoln or an adaptation of a stage play about some boy and his horse aren’t causing the same level of anticipation and hype among the popcorn loving average Joe of the multiplex, than his movies Scifi/Fantasy/Adventure stuff.

    And even those things became so normal in the every day movie landscape, that they lost the novelty factor that they had in the 80s an early 90s. WOTW was still some kind of event, but divided the audience too much. CRYSTAL SKULL was the last time, when the world was REALLY excited for a new Spielberg, but mostly because it was a new episode of a series that they loved.** TINTIN was kind of a non-event, because it a.)looked like a cartoon, so even if you print A FILM BY STEVEN SPIELBERG in giant letters on the poster, most people will assume he just produced it, like all the other cartoons he produced in his career. And b.) it’s based on a property, that doesn’t really haver any relevance outside of Europe and even there you have to be of a certain age to know about and have some feelings about it.

    In the end I think Spielberg is still fine. His movies still get a lot attention (especially from critics and award academies), his name is still able to sell movies and TV shows, even if he just produced them and although he is now entering his 4th decade of being a big shot director, his output is still far from being a disgrace for his legacy. But it’s a miracle that he had a that good going career that long anyway! Most director’s don’t. So I think it’s okay when after all these years, audiences are getting a little bit more excited for the stuff that the new kids make, than what Papa Spielberg does.

    *Most likely because he is playing this game long enough to still have enjoyed a “classical training”, with years of TV work and working in the old studio system, instead of making a low budget indie, dozens of music videos or some viral internet clip and then getting thrown right into the sharkpool of making his first 100+ million Doller tentpole movie.

    **And frankly, although the internet nerds seem to hate it for very nitpicky reasons, I haven’t met any “normal” person so far who didn’t like it!

  35. Yup, WOTW was the last non Indy Spielberg movie that I remember getting a lot of hype, I still remember how exciting the super bowl trailer was, I can’t believe that was all almost a decade ago….

    Well, here’s hoping he’ll have a comeback someday.

  36. Come back to what? Like I said, his career is still going strong, his movies still make money, he is just most of the time doing them for a different audience. I’m sure his version of INTERSTELLAR or that ROBOPOCALYPSE movie would have been some huge multiplex events, but I’m also sure that “untitled cold war spy movie” with Tom Hanks and a Coen Bros script won’t go straight to VOD either, but instead will be talked about for weeks during its release and award season. It just won’t show up in the list of the 10 most successful movies of the year.

  37. Casual moviegoers made PAUL BLART: MALL COP a blockbuster franchise. Do we really give a shit what casual moviegoers think?

    Is it nitpicking nitwittery to think CRYSTAL SKUL sucks because it’s full of shitty characters, bad performances, and lame writing, not because of aliens and CGI gophers and nuked fridges?

  38. Yeah don’t count Spielberg out – Lincoln is incredibly talky and about as “uncommercial” as you can get – yet it still made $180 million – that’s summer blockbuster money, not Oscar bait money. His name as director still carries weight with the average filmgoer.

    HOWEVER, I have to admit his name as a producer carries zero weight now. Used to be when you saw his name as a producer on stuff like Poltergeist, Gremlins, Back to the Future, etc… you knew you were in for something special. Now he’s slapped his name on everything from regular garbage like Cowboys and Aliens to offensive garbage like the Transformers movies. Under the Dome may possibly be the worst show on TV in the last 20 years – it’s almost experimentally bad; incoherently scripted and incompetently executed, it’s easily the most deliriously “so bad it’s good” viewing experience I can remember, and seeing Spielberg’s name on the credits every week makes me a little sad, since I’m 99% sure he doesn’t even watch the show.

  39. “Casual moviegoers made PAUL BLART: MALL COP a blockbuster franchise. Do we really give a shit what casual moviegoers think?”

    Well see, this is why I want another Spielberg movie to be a huge runaway hit on the level of (dare I say it?) JURASSIC PARK so it can maybe remind the masses what a good movie is again.

    “Is it nitpicking nitwittery to think CRYSTAL SKUL sucks because it’s full of shitty characters, bad performances, and lame writing, not because of aliens and CGI gophers and nuked fridges?”

    Oh yeah, the movie is shit, no doubt, in fact that’s why I love Red Letter Media’s review of it because it analyzes why the movie doesn’t work without resorting to just saying “nuke the fridge”, but I still think the nerds went a little too far with talk of “raping their childhoods” and whatnot.

    “HOWEVER, I have to admit his name as a producer carries zero weight now. Used to be when you saw his name as a producer on stuff like Poltergeist, Gremlins, Back to the Future, etc… you knew you were in for something special. Now he’s slapped his name on everything from regular garbage like Cowboys and Aliens to offensive garbage like the Transformers movies. Under the Dome may possibly be the worst show on TV in the last 20 years – it’s almost experimentally bad; incoherently scripted and incompetently executed, it’s easily the most deliriously “so bad it’s good” viewing experience I can remember, and seeing Spielberg’s name on the credits every week makes me a little sad, since I’m 99% sure he doesn’t even watch the show.”

    You are right about that, I was looking forward to UNDER THE DOME when it was originally supposed to be a miniseries because I felt that the King book was at least good enough that it would be interesting to see brought to life, but then I learned they wanted to make it into Stephen King’s LOST and I was like “huh?”.

    Isn’t Spielberg also the producer on some shitty Halle Berry in space show? he really needs to just hang it up when it comes to television.

  40. “Casual moviegoers made PAUL BLART: MALL COP a blockbuster franchise. Do we really give a shit what casual moviegoers think?”

    I apologize for this slander, but that´s AMERICAN casual movie goers that made that happen. Leave the rest of the world out of this out of this! I seriously doubt movies with shitty comedians like Kevin James or Larry the Cable guy make a profit overseas. You are barking up the wrong demographic tree here, Mr Majestyk

  41. And although I disagree on the subject that CRYSTAL SKULL being an entire shitfest, I wouldn´t argue about it. It´s a dumb movie I happen to find enjoyable in it´s own right. It´s an Indiana Jones adventure that moves along nicely with some decent action in it. I don´t think it is full of shitty characters ,the over-the top Russian femme fatale as played by Cate Blanchet fits in nicely in terms of cliched villainy that the kind of “Flash Gordon”-esque serials are famous for.

    Come to think of it. I wonder if they would have gotten away nowadays with the kind of Asian stereotype that Emperor Ming is.

  42. Honestly, PAUL BLART was a huge success in Germany too. Nobody knows LArry The Cable Guy here though. All his movies went straight to DVD here and nobody rented them.

  43. Shoot, may I remind you that the last incarnation of Emperor Ming on the big screen was Swedish. And surely someone as politically correct as the Swedes would never stoop to sterotypes?

  44. pegsman- Somehow I knew it would come back and bite me. I mean who played Charlie Chan?…A Swede. *quietly sneaks away*

  45. There is no overstating the awfulness of UNDER THE DOME, and I only just watched the first season. Initially I supported the idea of CBS doing a limited summer series, foolishly thinking it might compete with cable as far as quality. I’ll even go as far as to say that a few of the episodes were good television but about midway through it was clear I was only watching it so I could rag on it immediately after on AV Club’s review of it.

    The final straw for me was in the last episode, when it featured a long lingering shot of a clock with the minute hand near 12 and the hour one between two digits.

  46. At least FALLING SKIES is watchable. Granted, it often challenges THE WALKING DEAD in terms of plot holes and moronic character behaviour, but just like TWD they manage to keep the story interesting enough to make me tune in every week.

  47. Thinking about it, the only Spielberg produced TV series that were actually good, were all those cartoons that came in the 90s. (Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, Pinky & The Brain and of course motherfucking Freakazoid!)

  48. I don’t think CRYSTAL SKULL is an *entire* shitfest. I like the first half: the Red Scare stuff, the nuclear test, the fifties feel. It’s when they head off to the jungle that it falls apart. Indy has *four* sidekicks, none of whom are interesting or have anything to do (Karen Allen is particularly awful), and the big setpiece is the film’s *third* car chase where Indy climbs on and off of moving vehicles. It feels airless and phony and soundstagey. It’s just yelling and running around and carrying on in the most perfunctory, rather-be-making-a-real-movie-but-I-promised-George manner possible. It didn’t do anything inappropriate to my childhood but it’s still pretty bad.

  49. Ok, trying to post again. (I’m wondering if I’ve been accidentally banned for spamming or something, or if it’s just the frequent name changes that are doing me in.)

    Majestyk, I think you hit the nail on the head with the sidekicks thing. The only ones who stick in my mind are the possibly-treacherous guy, Shia, and Karen Allen, and honestly I can’t tell you a single thing about them.

    My favorite scene in CRYSTAL SKULL was a tranquil conversation between two elderly college professors. It felt like an honest-to-God human moment. I kinda wish the film had featured more of those.

  50. Yay! My posts are actually appearing! Can’t even remember what I was trying to say before, but I doubt it was important.

  51. I’m kind of surprised Short Round, Sallah, and the 3D hologram of the late Denholm Eliot didn’t show up to throw in a few wacky reaction shots.

  52. Nah, wacky reaction shots were more the thing of LAST CRUSADE. (The real, bad Indy movie.)

  53. Mr. Majestyk – that’s exactly how I feel about it too, it starts off ok, in fact I remember thinking in the theater “hey, this is actually not bad” after being worried by some early negative buzz, but the further it goes the worse it gets until the wet fart of a climax.

    Why did Spielberg even bother if his heart just wasn’t in it? he should have made INTERSTELLAR instead.

  54. I’m going to do an about-face on what I said earlier about wishing Spielberg had directed INTERSTELLAR, after reading about some of the differences between the shooting script for that and the final movie. I really don’t think “aliens and evil robots” would have made this any better.

    TINY TOONS was my jam as a kid, btw.

  55. TINY TOONS, ANIMANIACS and FREAKAZOID! are all the shit, it’s too bad Spielberg got out of the cartoon game.

  56. I loved TEMPLE OF DOOM as a kid. It was a ton more pulpy and fun than RAIDERS was. The “Anything Goes” segment in the opening of DOOM is a classic, with Indy chasing the poison antidote around the club. And as annoying as Kate Capshaw’s character became as as the film progressed, she was really great in that musical number. DOOM is closer in spirit to a ridiculous James Bond adventure. Where else would they have gotten the inspiration for that inflatable raft stunt?

  57. PAUL BLART: MALL COP is getting a sequel so therefore it is excellent. I will have to see it one day.

  58. Anything after the nuclear explosion in CRYSTAL SKULL is fair game, I might point out. But up to that point, it´s a pretty damn impressive opening. I love the reveal of Indy. Vintage Spielberg. Also when the Russian villain bows to tie his shoelaces and reveals machine guns behind him is also great filmatism. The action that ensues is great and how Indy ends up in a fake suburban America is great fun. he seems so out of place.

    I do like most of it after that. But I can see the flaws. My personal beef is Ray Winstones double/triple/quadruple crossing treachery. Was all of that convoluted bullshit necessary? We don´t need plot twists in an Indiana Jones movie. Or maybe it´s because it takes place during the Cold War and you need to have some spy shit in there.

    Most Indy revisionists tend to hate TEMPLE OF DOOM. But it´s so hilariously dark and unsuitable for kids which makes it a distinctive adventure of the 80´s. I love it!

  59. After the nuclear explosion, the rest of the movie is fair game. But up to that point, KING DOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL has a pretty damn impressive opening. I love the reveal of Indy. Vintage Spielberg. I also love the shot of the Russian bad guy kneeling down to tie his shoelace, revealing machine guns behind him. Good filmatism. The action sequence flows along and is good fun.It´s also great and weird to see Indy in a suburban environment (although it is fake). It´s really jarring but enjoyable. The shot of Indy and the mushroom cloud is also pretty good.

    ADDENDUM:

    *My biggest grief with CRYSTAL SKULL is Ray Winstones double/triple/quadruple crossing treachery that is a staple of spy movies, but unnecessary for an Indy movie. We don´t need plot-twists in an adventure-movie!

    *I have no problem with Karen Allen. I think it´s great to see Marion and Indy back together as a bickering couple.

    *I do like the jungle action sequence. It does feel “soundstagey”, but it´s not a problem for me. It´s a fun ride.

  60. Oh yeah, the human sacrifice and child-slavery in DOOM. But I had seen THE EXORCIST and AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON before my 11the birthday, so by the time DOOM came around I thought it was lightweight, but great fun. Says something about desensitization, I guess.

  61. “Most Indy revisionists tend to hate TEMPLE OF DOOM.”

    Wait, I thought Indy revisionists now LOVE that movie, because it was so universally hated when it came out, but now more and more people are like “It’s actually seriously good”! I don’t know anything anymore. Now excuse me while I yell at a cloud.

  62. I can only speak for myself. I loved that movie growing up and assumed everyone else did. And with my discovery of the Internet and diverse opinions assumed everyone else hated it retrospectively. Truth be told, my Indy-radar kind of broke during the 80´s as I was succumbed to the Cannon camp classic KING SOLOMONS MINES, I movie I also loved growing up. And later finding out nobody else did.

    I don´t know anything. Quite frankly, it´s possible my taste in films stink. I am confused.

  63. Shoot, I just rewatched the Cannon Quartermain films before they expired from Netflix. KING SOLOMON’S is good knockoff fun. LOST CITY OF GOLD is cheap and boring, but you’re not alone.

  64. I’ve always loved TEMPLE OF DOOM and always thought that the only reason it ever rubbed people the wrong way is because it’s so drastically different than RAIDERS, but that’s part of why I like it, it’s anything but a rehash as many sequels are.

  65. Finally rewatched this for the first time since theatres – some things like the weird structure and painfully obvious villain reveal go down alot easier now, and when you already know what’s going to happen, you can pay attention to other things like the amazing production design, Spielberg’s craftsmanship, another great Cruise performance, and the joy of seeing Patrick Kilpatrick in a classy production (plus early Frank Grillo!) I’m still not sure what to make of the “wacky” humor like the yoga scene and the eyeballs slamming down on the organ keys. The out-of-another-movie scene where Cruise blindly grabs a rotten sandwich and then accidentally washes it down with a spoiled bottle of milk was kind of hilariously random though.

    But the movie’s still pretty flawed – i still don’t like how this is a ticking clock movie (complete with a literal red ticking clock) where there’s like another 40 minutes or so after what is inarguably the climax and the clock runs out. I remember my audience kinda impatiently shifting in their seat and losing interest after the “murder” scene, like “where the hell is this going?” and my gf was doing the same last night. Also weird that the titular Minority Report doesn’t have anything to do with anything – it’s clearly stated that Anderton’s crime doesn’t have one (which makes the ending stronger since that shows people can change their minds and not commit a crime even when all 3 Precogs don’t see any alternate timeline), and the one minority report that was erased by the conspiracy actually was done to cover up a murder, not hide the existence of doubt. Speaking of doubt, the weird rushed ending with the out-of-nowhere voiceover explaining that all the precrime killers were released from jail – is this supposed to be a good thing? Maybe if the movie established the majority of arrests were basically the pre-crime unit kicking down your door and saying “you’re being arrested because we think you’re going to kill someone 2 months from now”, this would be a good thing. But the one attempted murder we see is a guy who is literally stopped mid-stab! There’s no way that guy was going to change his mind so the idea that we’re supposed to be happy he’s being set free is bizarre to me.

    To be honest, this rewatch actually makes me want to watch the cancelled show, since the movie feels over-stuffed with good ideas that are barely given room to breathe despite the 2 hr. 30 min. runtime.

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