They call Steven Spielberg the Master of Mirth for a …
In Steven Spielberg’s continuous efforts to recreate historic wars on the big screen, he’s chosen a seemingly less visual war this time around. While the Cold War can make for compelling cinema, a substantial amount of effort is required to make a convincing and successfully engaging Cold War drama.
Few movies lend themselves to franchising as unnaturally as 1993’s blockbuster Jurassic Park.
The story’s theme of man suffering the consequences of using science to flout nature inherently involves the creation of a wondrous world—“Jurassic Park”, a theme park where dinosaurs were brought back from extinction to be gawked at by tourists—and then the destruction of that world. But record setting book sales and box office created the market, and Michael Crichton started to work on the first book of his that was written primarily to adapt into a movie.
“What have they got in there, King Kong”, quips Dr. Ian Malcolm as a computer-driven Land Cruiser slides along its railed path through a massive wooden gate that is designed to look prehistoric, welcoming them to “Jurassic Park”. Billionaire John Hammond has done the impossible and brought dinosaurs back from extinction—then built a park around them as cheesy as any zoo attraction or Disney theme park.
The original 1982 Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper, opens with an apt image: an extreme close-up of a television set. Not only does the object prove pivotal to the film’s narrative, but the close proximity of the camera to the screen imbues the television with a strange, almost alien quality. Though it simply plays the national anthem over patriotic imagery, the signature sign-off for most TV stations in the 1980s, the close-up distorts the pictures and renders them wholly indeterminable. For a film that explores the dark unknowns that lie beneath the seemingly innocent and ordinary, Poltergeist certainly knows how to prime its audience for what’s to come.