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For as successful a filmmaker as Steven Spielberg has become over decades of work, even his magic touch sometimes misfires. Despite the positive reviews that Bridge Of Spies has been accruing lately, it looks like the film is destined to sit in the dustier part of the Spielberg canon. If this comes to pass, fans of the film can at least take comfort that it’s in some pretty good company in that respect. Here now are the 5 Steven Spielberg movies that deserve more credit than they’ve been given.
The Lost World: Jurassic ParkSo Jurassic Park is a firing-on-all-cylinders thrill ride that pretty much continued Steven Spielberg’s reputation as a blockbuster filmmaker. There is no way that The Lost World: Jurassic Park could have ever topped that original film, and it never tries to in any way. Instead, Spielberg takes what could have been a studio mandated sequel and turns it into a safari picture for 75% of the time, with an homage to Godzilla movies in the other 25%. If you can look at it from that sort of perspective, instead of trying to compare it to its older, more successful sibling, you‘ll find that it’s a thrilling ride of a film. Besides, it’s not Jurassic Park III, so that should count for something.
A.I.: Artificial IntelligenceFor years, Stanley Kubrick bugged the hell out of Steven Spielberg to make A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, as he believed that Spielberg’s sensibilities would suit the story better than his. When we finally got to see the film’s vision realized in 2001, a lot of people outright rejected it - in particular because of its controversial "Spielbergian" ending structure. What rarely gains praise though is the mixture of Spielberg’s fairy tale notions with Kubrickian dystopia, as well as the performances from Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law as the main pair of robots journeying for a sense of meaning. Like it or not, Kubrick was right to pass this film onto Spielberg, and it shows in every frame – especially the final one.
The TerminalOutright comedy is something that Steven Spielberg rarely ever dabbles in. Perhaps the crash and burn that was the release of 1941 scared him off from ever going into a total comedy ever again, but at least he still has a humoristic side that comes out to play. Films like Catch Me If You Can and The Terminal have shown this over time. While the former film seems to have defined the Spielbergian wheelhouse of the last decade or so, the latter is a pretty daring feat for the legendary film director to tackle. Not only is the film in the extremely limited setting of JFK International Airport, but it asks us to buy all American good guy Tom Hanks as a refugee from a European country that temporarily doesn’t exist. Hanks, naturally, sticks the landing; and with a stellar supporting cast flanking his centerpiece of a performance, The Terminal is a feel good gem that should not be forgotten any time soon.
MunichMunich was Steven Spielberg’s answer to the geopolitical debate of just how far is too far when fighting a war against an enemy in non-traditional combat. While he’s shown that he’s more than comfortable making traditional war films, Spielberg went against the grain with the dirty, personal approach that Munich takes to the official response of Israel against those that executed the massacre at the Munich Olympics in 1972. While it’s far from the neat and tidy films that the filmmaker is normally associated with, Munich is an intriguing personal tale of a team on a mission, only for the mission to cause the team to question what that mission really means to them.
The Adventures Of TintinForget Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, THIS should be counted as the fourth Indiana Jones film – despite not containing Dr. Jones himself. The Adventures Of Tintin has all of the hallmarks of a traditional Spielbergian adventure. Mystical treasure, with a shady historical backstory? Check. A crusader hungry for truth and preservation of history, with a quirky sidekick who’s a little more harmful to himself than others? Double check. Amazing action set-pieces, with comedic relief that doesn’t draw away from the danger? You need not look any further. Throw in a mysterious antagonist that’s racing our hero for the same treasure, and you have a truly spectacular Steven Spielberg film. But if you go one step further, and praise the film for its motion capture animation prowess, then you’ve got a film that deserves not only our attention, but the two sequels promised from the start.