Steven Spielberg is one of the most prolific filmmakers of all time. He rose to prominence in the New Hollywood movement of the 1970s when he defined the summer blockbuster. Unlike many of his New Hollywood peers, Spielberg remains just as popular and relevant today.
Whether he’s telling the story of a theme park filled with cloned dinosaurs, or a 7-meter-tall great white shark terrorizing a coastal town, or an archaeologist turned explorer in search of the legendary Ark of the Covenant, Spielberg tends to close his films. with large, spectacular set pieces that capture the public’s imagination.
The made-for-TV gem that put Spielberg on the map, duel, is essentially a long-running car chase, so the whole movie feels like a climax. A man commuting through the Mojave Desert on business – aptly named Mann – collides with the largely invisible driver of a tractor-trailer who begins to chase him relentlessly.
This cat-and-mouse chase comes to a head in the grand finale when Mann persuades the truck driver to drive over the edge of a cliff.
9 Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
The most exciting action scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is the minecart hunt, but the climax that follows is a close second. Indy, Willie and Short Round flee from the Thuggee cult over a rickety rope bridge that hangs above water full of crocodiles.
Then, just when they think they are safe, Mola Ram and his crooks corner them from both sides. Seeing no other option, Indy cuts the bridge in half and the heroes and villains dangle from the cliff.
8 West Side Story
Not just Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story manage to live up to the classic original; it actually surpassed it in many ways — including portraying the darkest scene in the musical. The highlight of Spielberg’s West Side Story is treated much more subtly and sensitively than the heavy-handed original.
According to the original, Spielberg’s revamp culminates in Tony dying in Maria’s arms. Rachel Zegler’s impeccable delivery makes the emotions of Maria’s final monologue ring true.
7 Bridge of Spies
Spielberg’s spy hairdresser Bridge of Spies culminates in the prisoner exchange. This is a pretty tense showdown, but it’s also an emotional one as Soviet spy Rudolf Abel bids farewell to his US attorney James B. Donovan.
The great thing about this film is that it starts off as a standard Cold War thriller and ends up telling the story of an unlikely friendship, played out with heartfelt sincerity by a perfectly matched Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance.
6 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The biggest, baddest, boldest set piece in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the tank yacht. The climax that follows isn’t very action-packed, but it’s still iconic and captivating. Indy races through the temple that houses the Holy Grail so he can save his father’s life, and comes face to face with the ghost of the knight guarding him.
As the temple collapses, Indy’s father inspires him to let go of fortune and glory and embrace what really matters: his family and friends. Riding into the sunset would have been the perfect ending to Indiana Jones’ story if Spielberg could have resisted the temptation to make a fourth film.
5 Saving Private Ryan
Nothing in Spielberg’s epic about World War II Saving Private Ryan meets the visceral opening sequence of D-Day. But the intense climax decor comes close. This scene features tanks and fighter planes, but never loses sight of the characters and their relationships.
Captain Miller gets one of Spielberg’s most poignant death scenes when he tells Ryan that he must earn the sacrifices his fellow soldiers made to save him.
4 Jurassic Park
The two most exciting sequences in Jurassic Park are the escape of the T. rex and the attack of the velociraptors in the kitchen. The climactic set brings these two monsters together and reinforces the film’s message: “Life… uh… finds a way.” As the survivors flee from the raptors, the T. rex arrives to take care of them.
After John Hammond played God and put the lives of his grandchildren at risk, nature found a way to organize itself. The roar of the T. rex is brilliantly interrupted by the falling banner “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth”.
3 ET The Alien
After the titular alien is captured by the government in ET the ExtraterrestrialElliott and his friends break him out and race their bikes to the mothership so they can send him home. Along the way, ET lets the kids’ bikes fly past a full moon in one of the cinema’s most recognizable images.
The real highlight is ET’s heartbreaking parting with Elliott. This scene is a real tearjerker. Only Spielberg could make the public care so much about a slimy alien.
2 Raiders Of The Lost Ark
In the terrifying climactic sequence of Raiders of the Lost ArkIndy’s first adventure, the Nazis arouse the wrath of God by opening the ark and unleashing the vengeful spirits within.
This scene pushes the boundaries of the PG rating with exploding heads and melting faces. This ending has been criticized because Indy herself has nothing to do with the resolution of the conflict. But it’s still an undeniably spectacular series.
Quint’s speech in Indianapolis serves as the “calm before the storm” in the final act of jaws. Shortly after, the shark returns to take down the killer whale. Quint is eaten alive, Hooper is locked in a cage at the bottom of the ocean, and Chief Brody is on a sinking boat with limited capabilities. He pushes an air tank into the shark’s mouth, climbs to a vantage point and shoots the tank down.
Brody signs off with a cool action hero one-liner: “Smile, you son of ab***h!” In the movie’s glorious cash shot, the shark explodes into a million pieces. Brody doesn’t just overcome the great white who terrorizes Amity Island; he overcomes his fear of the ocean.
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