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  • Minority Report (2002): ***

    Directed by Steven Spielberg

    I give Spielberg all the credit for making this a good movie. In someone else's hands it could have turned into an awful mess. But Spielberg has turned this (pretty good) script into a gorgeous tapestry of the near future.

    I really loved the future world that Spielberg has created. It seems plausible, and just far enough advanced that it doesn't seem like magic (like Star Trek science). There are hundreds of tiny touches that completley immerse you into this world and make you belive it. It is damned spectacular.

    The story is also pretty good, and surprisingly morally ambiguous (an area which seems to be Spielberg's new stomping grounds, which is weird but nice). It flows logically, and there are some sequences which are written and directed so well that I was grinning and I said "Yes!" out loud once or twice (like during the Pre-Cog flight from the cops). The story is genuinely unpredicable (which is ironic because it deals with predicting the future) in many places. There are some standard twists, but they're directed in a way that makes them seem less standard.

    However, there were some major, major problems that kept me from getting really invovled in the story.

    Tom Cruise was the wrong person to play the main character, John Anderton. He strides around and poses the entire movie. His acting is all mannerisms. He never seemed the least bit beliveable. This character needed to be played by someone who can actually pull off the "everyman" type character and be belivably weak, and yet still plausible when it comes time for action. Tom Cruise never gives us any hint as to why his character can go from a lonely, drug-addicted cop to a Schwarzanegger-esque action hero (his drug addiction is also completely underused and never brought up after the plot starts going). One the way home in the car we were trying to think of who could have made this character belivable, and we realized that it should have been someone like Bruce Willis (the 12 Monkeys and Unbreakable Bruce Willis, not the Die Hard-style Bruce Willis), who can convey complex emotions without going googly-eyed, and can actually make us belive that he's vulnerable.

    Also, John Williams is a brialliant composer. But he SHOULD NOT write music for Spielberg anymore. John Williams is the master of simple, emotional themes, which suit movies with simple, direct, obvious emotions like the Indiana Jones and Star Wars movies, which are essentially cartoons. Spielberg has moved beyond that. His films are now extraordinarly complex emotionally, and Williams just can't do that with his music. As in A.I. Artificial Intelligence, there were many times when I was watching images on the screen which were telling me to feel a complex set of feelings, and yet the music was blaring away telling me to think something completely different. Awful.

    Both these facts kept me from getting drawn in and engrossed in the film. My heart never raced and I was never particularly worried about what would happen. However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fantastic supporting cast, each of whom manages to act more belivably than the strutting Tom Cruise. Especially nice are the inimitable Max Von Sydow as Cruise's boss and Kathryn Morris as his wife, who suddenly rises in the third act to become a major force in the movie, which was surprising and delighting. She more than holds her own opposite Max. Samantha Morton really kicks ass (not literally) as the Pre-Cog Agatha.

    The movie is also suprisingly funny, but in a very weird way. All the humor comes right out of left field, and makes us laugh out of it's shocking appearance more than the actual humor itself. I'll give one scene in particular away: During a tense scene in which Tom Cruise is trying to break into Precrime headquarters, he needs to use his eyes (which by this time have been removed and placed in a plastic baggie) to open a retinal-scanner door lock. Well, the eyes slip out of his hand and go rolling down the hallway as Cruise chases after them. It was like some Laruel and Hardy routine to watch him scramble down the hallway after his fleeing eyes. Hilarious, and completley out of the blue and unexpected.

    So I did enjoy this film quite a good deal. Tom Cruise and John Williams just prevented it from drawing me in and making it the GREAT movie that Spielberg was trying to make (he almost pulled it off).

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