Games – Other
Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair
Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair (Knowledge Adventure/Dreamworks Interactive) casts you as a neophyte film director working your way up through an oddly old-fashioned studio system (it seems to be pretty much understood that you and the studio will stick together for life). You’ll explore most aspects of movie-making, albeit in a simplified form, from scriptwriting and camera work to editing and sound dubbing. When you’ve finished your masterpiece, whip up a publicity campaign and then screen a preview. If the studio likes your work – and their standards are not terribly high – you’ll graduate to a remake of the same movie, this time with a budget. Your movie tells the story of a death-row inmate (played by Quentin Tarantino), his crusading girlfriend (played by Jennifer Aniston), and an evil duo of magicians (played by Penn and Teller). Mr. Spielberg himself steps into your computer, from screen left, to offer helpful advice at every opportunity. Play it as a comedy or a drama, tell one character’s side or two characters’ sides, give a happy ending or a sad ending. As you acquire more of a budget, you also get more choices in terms of camera shots and music. At its core, however, the movie doesn’t change significantly, which makes Director’s Chair a wee bit stale. Also contributing to the general malaise is the fact that the program captures the mind-numbing minutia of film-making, from long editing sessions to problems with the hair-dresser and costume designer, without really capturing much of the excitement (how exciting can it be when your participation in the creative process is limited to juggling the elements provided by the CD-ROM?). This three-disc set is interesting, even captivating for a while, and legitimately educational. Ultimately, however, it’s rather like NBC’s Thursday night lineup – the same motions are gone through over again and again, with only superficial variations. Speaking of NBC’s Thursday night, Jennifer Aniston possesses only slightly more presence than her co-stars on this disc, Mr. Tarantino and Mr. Spielberg, who should – as a rule – check their egos and stay behind the camera.
– December 1996