While some have criticized George Lucas' "Star Wars" prequels for serving up sophomoric sci-fi for the kiddie set, longtime pal and frequent collaborator Steven Spielberg is taking a decidedly different tact.
"We don't have flying cars. You can see that in 'Episode 2,' " Spielberg said.
At 56, the man who invented the summer blockbuster with 1975's "Jaws" and transformed Hollywood in the process aspires to something deeper. While his peers churn out popcorn flicks chock-full of sound and fury signifying nothing, Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report" delivers style and substance.
"I'm hungry for [movies] where I can take my brain as well as my stomach for the fast dips and turns and a fast movie ride," said the director, whose last effort was another futuristic think piece, "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence." "I want something a little more substantial. As I get older, I demand substance, and that's what I've tried to do."
Equal parts "Rear Window," "Memento" and "Blade Runner," "Minority Report" is a whodunit, a whydunit and a futuristic morality tale wrapped in a stylish noir package. Oh, and it stars Hollywood It Man (and brace face) Tom Cruise.
As Detective John Anderton, Cruise occupies a gritty but crime-free world of retina scans, magnetic levitation, pulse-wave stun guns and rampant commercialism. (Click for photos from the film.) Biological anomalies called Pre-Cogs (for "precognizants") predict murders in advance so that Anderton's jet-packed do-gooders can nab criminals before they commit a crime. At least that how the system is supposed to work, until Anderton himself is accused of a crime he hasn't committed.
"I wanted to set a future where we'd all say, 'Yeah, that's feasible,' but that [wouldn't be] like 'The Jetsons,' " Spielberg explained. "This could really happen."
According to Cruise, it already is happening.
"[When you're] surfing around the Web, people are doing character profiles on you and seeing how they can market to you," Cruise said. "And [there are] cameras going up in the streets now in New York and Washington. They have a computer program that they're developing that's going to try to predict human behavior and be able to spot terrorism in airports."
Sound paranoid? After seeing the flick you might be too. But it's a helluva ride. The creator of "Indiana Jones" and "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" still knows how to stage a thrilling chase. But once the adrenaline subsides, once the sweat dries, Spielberg is probing darker, completely current concepts like freedom and self-determination.
"[What will happen with] all these expansive powers that we're now allowing the CIA and the FBI to have to protect us with once this crisis passes?" he asked. "Are we going to be able to say, 'Now give it back to us the way it was before 9/11'?"
For more on "Minority Report," check out "Movie House Cameo: Fred Durst Interviews Tom Cruise."