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diebitter 08-30-2007 04:54 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg

I agree he's very talented, and when he picks the right script, he's masterful. The problem he has is in script picking and maybe doctoring. He just lets some of his movies get a little shaggy, and of course sentimental.

I mostly agree with your list, but I'm move both SPR and Schindler's List down a few notches, and put Raiders as the #1. I'd also move the second Indy film next to the 3rd one, but otherwise it's sound.

I like the comparison of Stephen King as writer and Speilberg as director, I think there's a lot in that (however, I do think King will rank alongside Dickens in terms of stature in the future).

J.Brown 08-30-2007 05:39 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg

great analysis of a great director, but underrated might be a bit of a stretch.

i guess i have just always thought of him as one, if not the, premier directors of our time. is this not the general public and critics view?

your well thought out reviews of his movies were interesting because i loved some of the same movies as you (minority report, amistad), hated a few (et always rubbed me really wrong for some reason, war of the worlds was awful), had forgotten that he directed several (catch me if you can, lol, seen it several times, really liked it, for some reason never even thought about the fact he directed it, the color purple, totally forgot about him in that too, maybe the respective stars outshined him in both), forgot a few of the bombs (hook and 1941, can you even find them on dvd??!!), but.......

without a doubt he is so relevant, talented, commercially successful, and blessed with great vision that i can't see how he can be underated?

how do you think he could be more highly rated? this is muy interesante. J.

Peter666 08-30-2007 07:16 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
Pre-1982 Spielberg is superior to post 1982 Spielberg. His films become uneven after that. No doubt, he is a great action /adventure director. Jaws is infinitely rewatchable.

mrbaseball 08-30-2007 08:19 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
I 100% agree with you that he is terribly underrated. Not necessarily among main-stream critics, since they seem to appreciate his work, but by elitist cinephiles who pack the arthouses, read Filmmaker religiously, and genuflect at whatever Foreign or Indie director is en vogue.

They really have no legitimate argument of why they hate him. They just know they have to. It's hipster cinesthete law.

Spielberg is definitely one of the world's great filmmakers. His great talent is to take pop formula and transform it into art. Tarantino does the same thing with pulp. Fassbinder, Sirk, and Ray did it with melodrama.

Yet all those directors are relatively respected, but not Spielberg.

It's a shame.

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Great post! You hit the nail on the head.

BigPoppa 08-30-2007 08:34 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
Spoiler Warning

Minority Report is typical of later Spielberg work in that it was a beautiful, well crafted movie that could've been a great movie if he'd made a few different choices. It had the perfect ending, with Cruise frozen in stasis and the bad guy getting away with it, but that wasn't good enough. They had to ruin the movie by giving it the happy studio ending. There were also a couple of rather obvious holes in the plot big enough to drive a truck through.

Indiana Jones #1
Close Encounters #2
Jaws #3

Schlindler's List I find impossible to rate due to subject matter, but it's one of the most emotionally devastating films ever made.

Stagger_Lee 08-30-2007 09:26 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
Two decent movies stuck in amongst a pile of crap.

Take out Jaws and Saving Private Ryan and the rest is a testament to the ability of the public to swallow whatever junk is thrown our way.

Spielberg makes huge commercials - and we swallow them hook,line & sinker.

RIIT 08-30-2007 11:50 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
I'll respond with an honest account of how many times I've personally watched each film in it's entirety (theatre, tv, or dvd)

1975 Jaws
In my entire recollection no other film, besides StarWars, has created more significant box office ticket waiting lines and theatre seating waiting lines. It was the blockbuster EVENT for the summer of '75 and the number #2 summer blockbuster of all time.

1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark
Raiders permanently set, within the minds of the public, the expectation that a Spielberg action film will deliver a thrill beginning with the very first seen.

1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind
1982 ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
1993 Jurassic Park
1998 Saving Private Ryan
2002 Minority Report

1974 The Sugarland Express
1979 1941
1985 The Color Purple
1987 Empire of the Sun
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
1991 Hook
1993 Schindler's List
1997 Jurassic Park: The Lost World
1997 Amistad
2001 AI: Artificial Intelligence
2002 Catch Me if You Can
2004 The Terminal
2005 War of the Worlds
2005 Munich

1989 Always

Wynton 08-30-2007 11:56 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
I agree with much of the OP, with just a few exceptions.

I thought War of the Worlds was absolutely terrible. But I thought AI was pretty good, though it was kind of depressing. AI was originally a Kubrick project and it really does have kind of sterile, Kubrick feel to it.

Minority Report has a somewhat similar flavor in mood, but is much more fun.

The only problem I have with Spielberg is that he just can't often can't resist that extra manipulative, somewhat obvious heart-tugging scene. As terrific as Schindler's List was, I really dislike the scene where Oskar laments not selling his watch. Similarly, I loved Private Ryan, but could have done without the scene where Ryan tearfully asks whether he was worthy by the cemetary.

On the other hand, I enjoyed The Color Purple and Empire of the Sun more than Dom did, I think.

And Spielberg really should get more credit for his range. Not many directors can handle adventure, drama and comedy as equally well, as he can.

Marwan 08-30-2007 11:57 AM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
I'm more of a mainstream movie-goer than most that post here, but I like most of his movies.. The action/blockbuster types are entertaining, the sci-fiction ones like Close Encounters or Minority Report were really engaging, the drama/more serious pictures like Schindler's List, Munich are pretty highly regarded by most everyone, and the fluffy comedies like Catch me if you can or The Terminal are worth the price of admission.. I think he's got something for everyone (the casual moviegoer) and that's why he's popular.

Dominic 08-30-2007 01:00 PM

Re: Ranking Spielberg
The guy is technically brilliant but has poor judgement. You can never fault his cinematography, but the stories themselves can be banal. Take Saving Private Ryan. If you took that first third of the film it would be one of the best films of all time. Technically brilliant, breathaking, fantastic realisation of an awful battle. But then he goes off into his old routine. The film just wanders, drifts and loses itself in sentimental nonsense for a couple of hours, something he does in many of his films. Sometimes the sentimental thing doesn't matter, ET works, but then it's sentimental most of the way through. If he had an editor who could keep him on track his films would be consistently great, but many of them fall away. His self-indulgence lowers them by a few notches. But hey, the guy isn't a bad film maker [img]/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img].

Btw. I find it funny, you say he's under-rated then keep repeating that his films are either messy, or he made a "misstep".

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I'll have to disagree with you on SPR...I think it's great. Including the stretches between the two big battles. It's the personal, more "sentimental" moments which give the film its weight.

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