Friday, June 8, 2001

Summer 2001: An In-Depth Preview of Things to Come

Though the summer movie season is widely considered to be a three-month excursion into blockbuster territory starting in June, it actually just recently began kicking off in early May, when Hollywood studios began to see how major motion picture releases during the month were quickly becoming major hits. For the past decade, major revenue began generating off of the Memorial Holiday weekend, and just two years ago, both “The Mummy” and “Star Wars Episode 1—The Phantom Menace” proved beyond a shadow of a doubt just how eager moviegoers were starting to get for their favorite movie season. Now it seems everyone wants a piece of the action; last year, Academy Award winner “Gladiator” was May’s hot ticket, and just these past two weeks, the highly anticipated “Pearl Harbor” ate up a good percentage of weekly box office receipts.

Friday, June 1, 2001

Summer 2001: Where Have All The Ideas Gone?

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that many of today’s filmmakers are losing their inspiration.

Those who share a similar opinion about Hollywood’s latest offerings need not to look any further then the schedule of summer movie releases that have been laid before us. Of the more than two dozen major releases being planned for the June-to-August calendar, around half of them are either sequels, remakes, or adaptations of existing source material. While familiarity isn’t necessarily a bad thing, too much of it can easily lead to a feeling of repetition that can quickly turn off many viewers. Now, with so many releases on the horizon devoted to revisiting far-too-familiar territory, many can’t help but wonder: where have all the fresh ideas gone, and are moviegoers even interested in all the retreads being offered at the movie house this year?

Bridget Jones' Diary / ***1/2 (2001)

We’ve always been told that it’s impolite to read someone else’s diary, but what if someone’s deep and personal secrets were unknowingly brought out into the open for a whole audience to see? That’s the essential situation utilized in Sharon Maguire’s “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” in which a British singleton in her thirties decides to lose weight, stop smoking and dive into the pool known as romance. After being dismissed by an attractive man at a Christmas party, the quirky and tempered sexpot vows to reshape the structure of her dead-end life, and one of the tasks on her “to-do” list is to keep a diary of all of her experiences under this new umbrella of reasoning.

A Knight's Tale / ** (2001)

"A Knight's Tale" tries very hard to be one of the year's most carefree good times, but its lapse in logic creates a deafening interference for the moviegoer to deal with. Few people have probably not heard by now about how the movie uses a classic rock soundtrack against a medieval setting, but even fewer might not realize just what kind of intense distraction this has on us, not just as sensible viewers but as moviegoers in the spirit of silly summer thrills. It's great to have fun, but even the most mindless occasions call for a little plausibility, and this is the kind of movie that has no interest whatsoever in at least operating inside respectable boundaries.

The Mummy Returns / ***1/2 (2001)

Stephen Sommers’ “The Mummy” is chiefly thought of as a lightweight and brainless action adventure, but that’s probably exactly why it became one of the biggest hits of the 1999 summer movie season. Filled with endless plot absurdities and cheesy CGI effects, the highly successful action adventure starring Brendan Fraser as an adventuresome grave-robber impeccably captured the proper essence of the conventional summer release: the movie where a plot doesn’t matter and characters are secondary to an incessant ride of surprises and thrills. Critics faulted it for being “silly” and “unbelievable,” but think about this for one moment: compared to the “Indiana Jones” franchise, just exactly how silly and unbelievable would you call it?

Pearl Harbor / * (2001)

The Randall Wallace screenplay that offers a romance-driven rendition of the infamous World War II disaster at Pearl Harbor serves as the newest in a long line of excuses for director Michael Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer to waste ambition, talent, money and time on a production built around loud noises, gigantic explosions, and not much else. Perhaps we would not be so willing to cave into advanced negative perception, though, had either of them actually done something halfway respectable somewhere in the duration of their incessant careers. The fact is that their adrenaline-pumped endeavors care about little of anything other than numbing the senses, and judging by the latest offering in their endless cycle of big-budgeted drivel, neither has any interest in taking one simple subject seriously either, never mind the fact that they aren’t just tinkering with emotions and special effects this time around, but history itself as well.