Steven Spielberg - genius or outdated?

Posted:
in AppleOutsider edited January 2014
Here's a question. Is Steven Spielberg a genius at film making, or were his first four movies huge hits and classics mainly because they were the first to use the technology? Are they great or was it that we had never seen anything with such graphics? You can talk about his other movies, but I mainly mean Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., and Raiders of the Lost Ark.



Take Close Encounters of the Third Kind as an example. There really wasn't much to it. Back in 1977, they didn't have much special effects, and you really had to wait until the last 10 minutes of the movie to see the big deal you were waiting for. So you used your imagination more and anticipation built.



But really, looking at that movie, it is just nothing. Richard Dreyfuss sees some spaceship at the beginning of the movie, and has this dumbfounded look on his face. In the 1970s, that was a big deal, because you couldn't see the spaceship for the whole movie then. But the whole movie just amounts to people with dumbfounded looks on their faces implying "Wow, this is so amazing."



The point is that perhaps you only cared because you knew at the end you would see the kind of graphics never shown before, because the technology was coming in.



Or take Jaws. I saw it recently and was highly disappointed. There really wasn't much of a movie except waiting for the shark at the end. There really wasn't anything to it. Again, I remember being a kid and how exciting it was waiting for the end of the movie or show when something big would happen, like Bill Bixby turning into the Incredible Hulk. I'm not saying those times were dull. Perhaps using your imagination is more exciting than the films today where you can see all the graphics of a comet hitting the Earth and tidal waves, etc. but it's all too big to really process.



But the point is that I didn't see any magic about Jaws. You were just waiting until the end. That's fine and can be fun, but that doesn't make the director a genius.



Even E.T., which I remember thrilling as a kid, wasn't that great when I saw it again, but it did have better characters and lines than the other two.



So what does everyone think? Is Steven Spielberg an American genius or just someone lucky to have better technology available to him then everyone else. Do these movies stand the test of time or are they outdated?
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    Stephan Speilberg is an OUTDAGED SCOMBROID with A WeASEL UP HIS ASS!!!!!!!!!!
  • Reply 2 of 38
    dmzdmz Posts: 5,775member
    I've never seen much that he's done that impressed me -- except maybe for The Duel (E.T. was nonsense, although Raiders was a lot of fun). The thing that tipped me off was realizing that if Schindler's List were filmed in color, it would have been just another TVesque Holocaust movie.
  • Reply 3 of 38
    Thoughout the ages he has had TOTAL BOMBS and GREAT MOVIES. It's a hit or miss. It's not that he's loosing is edge or anything.
  • Reply 4 of 38
    midwintermidwinter Posts: 10,060member
    Jaws sucked. I mean, there's so much reliance on technology that YOU DON'T HARDLY EVER SEE THE SHARK. IT'S JUST A BUNCH OF PEOPLE BEING SCARED!!!

    Close Encounters sucked. THERE ARE NO LASER GUN BATTLES!!!

    Indiana Jones sucked. TOO MANY SPECIAL EFFECTS AND LASERS!!!

    "Amazing Stories" on TV sucked.

    The Color Purple sucked. TOO MUCH CGI.

    Empire of the Sun sucked. TOO MUCH CGI JOHN MALKOVICH AND 10 YEAR OLD CHRISTIAN BALE.

    Jurassic Park sucked. I like that part with the dialogue.

    Schindler's List sucked. TOO MUCH CGI.

    Amistad sucked. TOO MUCH CGI.

    Saving Private Ryan sucked. WHAT A STUPID STORY PROPPED BY BY TOO MUCH CGI!!!

    AI sucked. I liked the part with the robot, though.

    Minority Report sucked. I liked the part with the running.

    Catch Me If You Can sucked. I liked the part with DiCaprio.

    The Terminal sucked. I liked the part with Hanks.

    Munich sucked. I liked the part where it was on screen.



    Look. If you want to fault Spielberg, say that he's hopelessly sentimental in all of his movies, because he is. But to say that a movie like Jaws is dependent on technology suggests that you didn't watch the same movie I did.
  • Reply 5 of 38
    Heh, that part of Minority Report reminds me...



    Is it just me or is Tom Cruise the fastest man ever on film? Every movie that has him running, (The Firm, Minority Report, Collateral) that son-of-a-bitch could outrun a cheetah.



    Think I'm bullshitting? Watch one of them for yourself. Tom Cruise would smoke the Liquid Cop from T2 any day of the week...
  • Reply 6 of 38
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    Spielberg is wonderfull story teller that keeps you guesing and on the edge of your seat. I'm yet to see a movie by him where I didn't walk away satisfied.



    In fact there isn't a movie that he directed in which I wouldn't recommend.



    Not to mention the creator of one of the coolest games of all time "Medal of Honor".



    Munich

    War of the Worlds

    The Terminal

    Catch Me If You Can

    Minority Report

    AI

    The Unfinished Journey

    Saving Private Ryan

    Amistad

    Jurassic Park

    Schindler's List

    Hook

    Always <- well this one is iffy, but it did have it's moments.

    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

    Empire of the Sun

    The Color Purple

    Amazing Stories

    Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

    Twilight Zone

    E.T.

    Raiders of the Lost Ark

    Close Encounters of the Third Kind

    Jaws
  • Reply 7 of 38
    powerdocpowerdoc Posts: 8,123member
    Spielberg is a great movie maker, althought I don't like all his movie.

    I did not liked much AI, dispite some amazing special effects.

    Saving private Ryan is great, minority report is great and dark, empire of the sun makes me almost cry, the indiana jones trylogy is the best movie of this genre.



    If only I could direct so much crap
  • Reply 8 of 38
    I was not suggesting that special effects are what makes a movie good. Perhaps I just oculdn't find the groove when watching Close Encounters or Jaws, or maybe I'm not much into action. But Close Encounters just didn't seem to have that sci-fi feel to me, like The Day The Earth Stood Still or Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Perhaps I wasn't able to suspend disbelief enough. Probably my favorite horror movie is The Hills Have Eyes by Wes Craven. Not much action, but you are definitely caught up in it. I didn't feel that way about Jaws. Sometimes, though, when I watch a movie the second time I like it more because I have the intended feel subconsciously and then I have it from the start of the movie. I think I will watch Close Encounters again.
  • Reply 9 of 38
    He's got this really weird thing about fathers, and family. In every one of his films nearly without exception, when the last reel gets sentimental and ruins or nearly ruins the whole film, it's always a father-related reconciliation or self-discovery thing. 'Hook' is the worst. I think 'AI' is one of the worst films I've ever seen, ruined by sentimentality.



    Some of his other films are pretty great though. All the obvious ones.
  • Reply 10 of 38
    dmzdmz Posts: 5,775member
    I think the question in general, is whether or not he deserves the 'genius' monniker. All movie makers have hits and misses, but is his 'style' innovative or in any way unique as a director? Do we have people studying his films the way they do with Wells, Aronofsky, or Bergman?



    I think the answer is no; he's a slightly above-average director. I can't see anyone sitting down with Jurassic Park III, and then breaking up into discussion groups.





    (Although I did forget about Saving Private Ryan.)
  • Reply 11 of 38
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dmz


    I think the question in general, is whether or not he deserves the 'genius' monniker. All movie makers have hits and misses, but is his 'style' innovative or in any way unique as a director? Do we have people studying his films the way they do with Wells, Aronofsky, or Bergman?



    I think the answer is no; he's a slightly above-average director. I can't see anyone sitting down with Jurassic Park III, and then breaking up into discussion groups.





    (Although I did forget about Saving Private Ryan.)



    That's a great point.



    High vs. low art distinction.
  • Reply 12 of 38
    Speilberg is a genius.



    He's the highest grossing director of all time. He has never made a movie that lost money.



    That is what it's all about, right?



    If you want some really impressive movies, you'll almost always have to turn to indy films. Requiem for a Dream, for instance, is easily the most intense movie I've ever seen.



    I don't like a lot of Steven's stuff, but there's a certain upbeat magic to his films. Even in Saving Private Ryan, it seemed like a kids movie because it was so cartoonish and the acting so stylized. Not to mention the music in his films, which is often the only thing controlling the mood/tone of the scene.



    So kudos to Spielberg. Double kudos for not being a pretentious artsy freak (which is INCREDIBLY refreshing sometimes).
  • Reply 13 of 38
    giantgiant Posts: 6,041member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by dmz


    I think the question in general, is whether or not he deserves the 'genius' monniker. All movie makers have hits and misses, but is his 'style' innovative or in any way unique as a director? Do we have people studying his films the way they do with Wells, Aronofsky, or Bergman?



    I think the answer is no; he's a slightly above-average director. I can't see anyone sitting down with Jurassic Park III, and then breaking up into discussion groups.



    While Spielberg isn't a highly experiemental filmmaker, he's unquestionably one of the most influential filmmakers of the past couple decades, for better or for worse. His films are all classic ultra-commercial films for the masses and he's extremely good as making them. Without Spielberg, contemporary film would be completely different than it is today. Personally, I've been able to enjoy many of his films, but I also see them for what they are made to be: ultra-commercial blockbusters. He's certainly been highly successful in creating films of that nature, and that alone would probably warrant being called a "genius"...assuming you believe in the idea of "genius" to begin with.
  • Reply 14 of 38
    dmzdmz Posts: 5,775member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by giant


    While Spielberg isn't a highly experiemental filmmaker, he's unquestionably one of the most influential filmmakers of the past couple decades, for better or for worse. His films are all classic ultra-commercial films for the masses and he's extremely good as making them. Without Spielberg, contemporary film would be completely different than it is today. Personally, I've been able to enjoy many of his films, but I also see them for what they are made to be: ultra-commercial blockbusters. He's certainly been highly successful in creating films of that nature, and that alone would probably warrant being called a "genius"...assuming you believe in the idea of "genius" to begin with.



    I can see that, he does have an eye for compelling material, if nothing else.
  • Reply 15 of 38
    placeboplacebo Posts: 5,767member
    Hey guys, I like War of the Worlds. I'd like to argue please.
  • Reply 16 of 38
    dmzdmz Posts: 5,775member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Placebo


    Hey guys, I like War of the Worlds. I'd like to argue please.



    Thou Blasphemest!
  • Reply 17 of 38
    iposteriposter Posts: 1,560member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ShawnJ


    That's a great point.



    High vs. low art distinction.



    Judging 'art' is all about opinions, and we know what they are like....\





    Spielberg may not make artistically GREAT movies, but he never makes (IMHO) a BAD movie either. Just good, entertaining films. IMHO 'art films' are over-rated for the most part anyway. If I want to think deeply about something, I'll go read a book...keep in mind this is coming from someone who fell asleep about 1/3 of the way into The English Patient!
  • Reply 18 of 38
    slugheadslughead Posts: 1,169member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPoster


    keep in mind this is coming from someone who fell asleep about 1/3 of the way into The English Patient!





    My parents own that movie. I nearly fell asleep looking at the DVD cover.
  • Reply 19 of 38
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    I think it's fair to say the Spielberg is a "genius" of a certain kind of filmic pop fluidity and deeply cinematic story telling. He's not a great intellectual, but the same could be said of quite a few very fine directors. He's a through and through movie maker.



    As far as his films entering into the canon and being "studied", film history is notable for it's "entertainers" being reappraised as serious artists after the fact, as in the case of men like John Ford, Howard Hawks, Sam Fuller, etc. Indeed, it's pretty commonplace for the "great" directors to cite "pulpy" directors as direct inspiration. The entire French New Wave saw American slam bang movie making (as opposed to deracinated "cinema") as lodestone and spiritual precursor.



    Personally, I love Spielberg's camera and mise en scene. He is clearly a man who "thinks in pictures" and I suspect many of his set-pieces will be regarded as classics of the North by Northwest "attacked by a crop-duster in the middle of nowhere" type, that is: intricately worked out visual solutions to matters of plot, character and tone.



    What makes Spielberg interesting and problematic now is his evolution from sunny technocrat to "serious" filmmaker. There is something very self-willed and schematic about his forays into heavy material, I think, and a tension between his gifts-- how to move the camera, how to evolve and stage a scene, how to rhyme and elaborate visuals across time and space-- and what he "thinks" he should doing-- wrestling with the big issues, sans "trickery".



    His natural inclinations often seem jarringly out of context when yoked into service to "important" movies-- like the "nail-biting" montage of family in peril OMG there's a bomb in Munich or great swaths of Schindler's List.



    Part of problem is that Spielberg is certainly not a filmmaker with penetrating insight into human motivation-- he's replaced his Capra-esque optimism with a kind or sour vagueness, while still maintaining a weakness for clangingly wrong-headed moments of "uplift".



    On the other hand, that gets you things like War of the Worlds, surely the most downbeat summer blockbuster ever made and all the better for it, IMO.



    All the uneasy contradictions are on view in AI, which plays like a remake of ET by a man who has lost his faith in childish things but doesn't know quite what to do next. The "sweet" payoff of the final scenes, wherein the protagonist gets to hallucinate happiness before he dies, is almost entirely unintelligible, and serves as a brief for "grown-up" Spielberg.



    Still, he is a phenomenally gifted film maker and I will continue to go see whatever he does, because even his train-wrecks are more interesting the 95% of what gets made.
  • Reply 20 of 38
    midwintermidwinter Posts: 10,060member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox


    All the uneasy contradictions are on view in AI, which plays like a remake of ET by a man who has lost his faith in childish things but doesn't know quite what to do next. The "sweet" payoff of the final scenes, wherein the protagonist gets to hallucinate happiness before he dies, is almost entirely unintelligible, and serves as a brief for "grown-up" Spielberg.



    It's been a while since I've seen it, but are you doing what I do with AI? I just pretend that the movie ends with the robot under water, frozen, and staring at the blue fairy.
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