In 1981, a little known company, titled after a small film of the same name, formed. Its founders — iconic film director Steven Spielberg and film producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall — have had their names attached to a magnitude of classic films throughout the years, and I can guarantee at least one of them is one of your favourites of all time.
Whilst the company is an independent production company, Universal Studios are known for producing a large chunk of their offerings. And in turn it’s only natural for Spielberg to also dedicate time as either a directing or producing credit. But what Amblin have supplied audiences over the years have grown into firm family favourites, and in turn rarely misstep in delivering the goods in plentiful proportions. Their features usually brim with adventure and magic, and often cater to wide audiences as well as harbouring the abilities to hack into that flair of child that may or may not be so easy to tap into. Of course that’s down to the director and writing team of that specific film, but when Amblin tend to release something, you can almost guarantee it’s worthwhile.
Their most recent picture taps that right on the head as Steven Spielberg tackles one of Roald Dahl’s most famous and beloved pieces of work, The BFG. The film, judging by the trailer alone, looks every bit as magical and heartwarming as both its original source and the typical norm from one of Amblin’s films.
Below are a handful of others that you should expect from the company.
Released in 1984, Joe Dante’s horror comedy has been a beloved favourite of millions for years. With an executive producer credit from Spielberg, the stories of Gizmo might have possibly given you nightmares as a child after the evil, destructive blighters are formed, but this was truly one of the original great horror-comedies that spawned a sequel which was just as enjoyable, though lighter in tone, as the first. And anybody who says they didn’t want a mogwai after this was released is just lying.
Another classic in its own right, The Goonies, based on a story written by Spielberg and a screenplay by Chris Columbus (who also wrote Gremlins), the film features a gang of tight-knit buddies who live in the “Goon Docks” and fight for their neighbourhood by chasing down the legendary tale of One-Eyed Willy, a legendary pirate whose treasures are apparently buried somewhere nearby according to an old Spanish map. Adventure and sheer hilarity ensues as a criminal family are hot on their trails. The film breathed life to the truffle shuffle and has since grown a massive cult following.
The directorial debut from usual producer Frank Marshall, Arachnophobia, crazily rated PG, holds firm as potentially one of the scariest family films of all time, tapping into that general fear of, you guessed it, spiders. The film, starring Jeff Daniels, follows a family’s recent move to a farmhouse, unbeknownst of the current infestation that has arrived from the exotic plains of Venezuela, and the town’s realisation after a series of unexplained deaths. If this film doesn’t make you shudder and quake, i truly don’t know what will.
The late, great Robin Williams stars alongside Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts in an adaptation of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan. A version of the story we’ve not quite seen before, the film, directed by Spielberg, is one many would have grown up with, encapsulating that feeling of adventure that truly makes these movies come alive. It might not be Disney’s version, but it’s sure just as entertaining.
Fresh off the director’s chair from Speed, adrenaline junkie Jan de Bont brought us Twister. With a screenplay from Jurassic Park scribe Michael Crichton and produced by Kathleen Kennedy, the film follows a group of storm chasers as they attempt to create a data-gathering instrument designed to be ingested into the funnel of a tornado. The film, whilst bordering on frightening for children, is something I personally grew up with.
These are just a handful of features that I adore from Amblin Entertainment. Whilst the company gave us other, more obvious, classics such as Back to the Future and Jurassic Park, it’s too hard to indulge in those other fan favourites that hold firm today. The company, and Spielberg himself, have unleashed The BFG to audiences worldwide and are set to head onto their next project, Ready Player One. Gear up, I can smell another classic family favourite!
The BFG is in cinemas now.