His filmography is peppered these moments, which makes it worth compiling and discussing.
Monkey Swinging in INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULLS
There's a few cringe moments in the latest Indiana Jones film, but none more awful than the moment Shia Lebeouf's character, during a hectic chase sequence through the jungle, starts swinging on vines like Tarzan to catch up to the baddies.
Gymnastics Routine in THE LOST WORLD (1997)
I could have put the moment in “The Lost World” – in general, the unfairly trounced Jurassic sequel – when we first see Dr. Malcolm’s adopted child emerge rambunctiously into the picture and run into his arms. I think there was a collective groan by everyone – throwing a child into the situation inevitably invites childish scenes. Indeed we get it at the end when Spielberg completes Kelly Malcolm’s (played by Vanessa Lee Chester) character arc by having her use her failed gymnastic skills on a conveniently placed high bar to kick out the oncoming velociraptor out of the shack.
Going Inside the Mothership in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
The story behind the multiple editions of Close Encounters is well known. Despite the enormous success of the film in 1977, Spielberg felt rushed and that he didn’t get his ‘director’s cut’. Spielberg managed to convince Columbia to give him money to shoot an additional scene inside the big ol’ mothership as an added bonus to get people into the theatres again. Even Spielberg admitted, it was a wrong decision, a scene which extends and essentially ruins the flow of the majestic otherworldly and spiritual finale.
“I am free!!” – AMISTAD
Who could forgot the moment in the final act court room trial when Djimon Honsou stands up so dramatically from his bench and loudly proclaims in broken English, ‘I am Free! I am Free!’
Kamikaze CPR in EMPIRE OF THE SUN
'Empire of the Sun' had the makings of a great movie. For two thirds, the journey of Jim Graham (based on author JG Ballard’s real experiences) from the upper class British privilege to Japanese war prisoner is a remarkable film, with some of Spielberg best scenes and characters. Until the third act… throughout Spielberg shows us a parallel story of a Japanese youth of similar age who like Jim is smitten with airplanes and thus recruited into the air force. After a failed Kamikaze mission Jim tries to revive the boy life’s from death resulting some awful over-the-top melodrama.
Skateboarding Lost Boys in HOOK
Easily Spielberg’s worst movie, a shameless attempt to rekindle the childhood ‘magic’ some had claimed he had lost while he was making more mature films in the 80’s. The introduction of his version of the JM Barrie’s lost boys just proves how out of touch his sensibilities were with the youth of then.
Alien/Robots in AI: Artificial Intelligence
You’d think he would have learned from his mistakes on Close Encounters, yet when he came to write and direct AI, Spielberg essentially ruined one of his best films by needlessly extending a fine two hour film by another 20mins. After Gigilo Joe is captured by the corporate robotmakers, David is left in the helicopter, which subsequently crashed into the water and floats to the bottom. If the film ended there Spielberg had a decent and profound revelation of David’s self-acknowledgement as a robot. The 4th act set years into the future with hyper-intelligent robots and David’s revived memories of his mother which only last one day is contrived nonsense.