There's a new Spielberg in town. Many critics will cite Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan for evidence of his maturation. Many of the same critics lamented the often ambivalent sentimentality of Spielberg's previous feature, A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Most of the country missed the point on that one, and it looks as if they might not be quick enough for some of the twists and turns of this one. Or maybe they will. Minority Report marks the entryway of an entirely new playground for Spielberg. His sentimental days are over. He washed them down for good in a Kubrickian elixir with A.I. If Minority Report is any indication, Spielberg has grown up. He's battled his demons, showed us his dreams. He's given us some of the greatest films of all time. Now he wants to rock you. And rock you he will.
This film is a dazzling, startling rollercoster. It's an action film like no other, in tone and style. The opening scenes are patient even as modern audiences aren't. I submit that Spielberg has earned the right, the privilige, and the power to make films his way. Of all the players in Hollywood, he can call the shots and make a film that draws you into its narrative at its own pace, and not at the suffocated, trivial pace the average viewer has been conditioned to demand. Even the great technology postulated in this film, and employed in the execution of exemplifying these technological predictions, can cause the average viewer to become restless. I sensed restlestness from the viewers around me. But Spielberg is possibly the only director with the power to show these kinds of dreams at this level, and the result is far from boring. I sense that Scooby Doo is going to out-earn this one. Not a big deal, but it's the sign of the times.
With that said, Spielberg has moved on from sentimentality, and I for one applaud him for going over the top. Those who sensed an underlying hostility in his early work, whether it be the removal of a still-beating heart or a gremlin gnawing off the hand of a poor high school teacher (in one of Spielberg's Amblin offshoots), will be prepared for the sight of John Anderton's former eyeballs dropping out of their blood-soaked baggy and rolling across the concreted floor into a sewage grate. Also, the eye-surgery scene is bound to conduct the crawling of skin, but not in ways you'd expect. There are other touches here and there that seem to echo a demented, misanthropic Spielberg, rather than the kindly creator of ET. I don't know about you, but I take that as a sign of his growth as a storyteller. Good for him. I like dark touches, and there are notes hit here that are darker than any film he's helmed before.
Steven Spielberg is here to rock your world. He always has been. He's always done it his way, but from now on, nobody will be able to rationally consign him to the hell of Sentimental filmmaking. Sure, there are sentimental moments in this film, and it's not without the Spielberg touch. But this is a tough, hard-edged tale that will stand the test of time. Too bad it's more advanced than those that will decide its economic future, but hey, the action sequences are incredible, so maybe it'll make bank.
Those of us that grew up during his career have gotten to grow up with him. The films he made when we were children were perfect for us. ET, Raiders of The Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters Of The 3rd Kind, they were all tales told at our level. Now, at our age, we have Saving Private Ryan, A.I. and Minority Report. So we've grown up with him. Anyone who dismisses his commercialism is missing the point. You imagine a world without Spielberg's films, and I'll show you a world with less purity in its film history. Now that same creator has given us a film of seething, over-the-top darkness. And what a brilliant vision it is.