2001: A Summer Movie Odyssey wrapup

the thrilling conclusion
the thrilling conclusion

2001posterYesterday I ran my last review from the Summer of 2001 10th Anniversary retrospective series, so let’s go over our findings. I hope I didn’t ruin it by spreading some of the reviews out to the anniversaries of their releases. I actually watched them all close together in chronological order and wrote about them but I wanted to have an ongoing series throughout the summer. At the end of this post I have the links to all of them in order in case anybody ever wants to read them in one long chunk.

logo_summer2001Well, it turns out 2001 was not a particularly memorable or groundbreaking summer for movies. In many ways it was sort of a summer of leftovers, the dregs of dying movements and trends. It had the improbably late last CROCODILE DUNDEE movie, the middle of Sylvester Stallone’s pre ROCKY BALBOA quality drought, the end to the short period where studios thought they could replicate the success of TITANIC, the last JURASSIC PARK movie so far, the last John Carpenter movie until this year, the failure to restart PLANET OF THE APES movies until this year. On the other hand it was the start to the surprisingly long-lived FAST AND FURIOUS series, and as much as it sucked and failed I have noted the ways in which FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN foreshadowed many of the technological trends in today’s movies.

A couple of actors had multiple appearances during the summer. Newcomer Estella Warren had the hot-girl roles in both DRIVEN and PLANET OF THE APES. Her biggest movie since then has been KANGAROO JACK (and she was recently busted for a DUI where she hit three different parked cars). Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, the cruel villain of MORTAL KOMBAT and SHOWDOWN IN LITTLE TOKYO, showed up in both PEARL HARBOR and PLANET OF THE APES. Since then he’s continued to be prolific, but usually not in big studio movies (the biggest ones being ELEKTRA and MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA).

Did anybody notice that there were competing alien-ghost movies? FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN was about the spirits within post-apocalyptic earth that turn out to be ghosts of aliens that came down on a meteor. Who knew ghosts could be transmitted meteorically like that? We should start shooting haunted houses into space to get rid of the ghosts. Meanwhile GHOSTS OF MARS was about, you know, ghosts of martians. (On Mars, luckily.) This could’ve been a big showdown like the battle of the asteroid movies or the volcano movies or the Truman Capote movies if either of these two was worth a damn or at least not completely boring.

FINAL FANTASY also has a similarity to A.I.: both depict a post-apocalyptic New York. A.I.’s is submerged under the water from the melted polar ice caps, FINAL FANTASY’s is just trashed. A.I. actually shows the twin towers of the World Trade Center, in real life destroyed a few months after the movie’s release. PLANET OF THE APES has what could arguably be considered a post-apocalyptic Washington DC (or at least post-ape-alyptic) but nothing is destroyed and I didn’t spot the Pentagon if it was shown.

Few of the directors of summer 2001 have taken the opportunity to improve in the ensuing decade, and most have floundered. CROCODILE DUNDEE’s Simon Wincer went to TV, other than the Imax movie THE YOUNG BLACK STALLION. DRIVEN’s Renny Harlin continues to struggle to capture his earlier success, although some of us got a kick out of MINDHUNTERS and I kind of liked 12 ROUNDS. THE MUMMY RETURNS’s Stephen Sommers has only done two movies since, VAN HELSING and GI JOE, so he’s pretty much stayed exactly the same. EVOLUTION’s Ivan Reitman has also only done two, the poorly received MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND and NO STRINGS ATTACHED, where at least Natalie Portman isn’t wearing pants on the cover, so in my opinion that’s an improvement over EVOLUTION. LARA CROFT’s Simon West has stuck to TV and smaller movies like WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, but now gets to do THE EXPENDABLES 2. Since his remake of THE MECHANIC was okay he maybe improved, but not by leaps and bounds. FINAL FANTASY’s Hironobu Sakaguchi was the creator of the Final Fantasy video game. He didn’t direct another movie and his studio closed its movie-making arm after one short for THE ANIMATRIX. JURASSIC PARK III’s Joe Johnston made the blandly-passable HIDALGO and the already-ruined-by-the-studio-before-he-was-hired WOLFMAN. His CAPTAIN AMERICA movie this summer is his first solid movie since THE ROCKETEER, and maybe his best ever, but not exactly visionary. PLANET OF THE APES in my opinion marked the end of Tim Burton’s days as a visionary, personal director working within commercial movies and the beginning of his career as mostly a hired-hand who adds little quirks to other people’s half-baked projects. He hasn’t done any as bad as APES since, but also none as good as the ones before APES. I think he should stick to animation. John Carpenter had THE WARD this year and it’s his only feature film since GHOSTS OF MARS. JEEPERS CREEPERS’s Victor Salva has since only done a JEEPERS sequel and PEACEFUL WARRIOR, a weird inspirational Nick Nolte movie I kind of want to see.

The most prolific of the class of ’01 would have to be RUSH HOUR 2’s Brett Ratner. He’s since done one remaquel (RED DRAGON), one original (AFTER THE SUNSET), one comic book sequel (X-MEN 3), one more RUSH HOUR sequel, and one segment of NEW YORK, I LOVE YOU. Also he produced the TV show “Prison Break” and does lots of music videos and shit. He currently has TOWER HEIST in the can, is directing this year’s Oscar telecast and has 18 (eighteen) projects in development (details only on IMDbPro). None of this has gained him any more respect than he had back then, in fact he’s way more hated on the internet now than then, mainly because they didn’t like his X-Men part 3 I think. I don’t think he’s that bad, but he hasn’t given me any strong arguments to defend him either.

I guess the most surprising fate went to THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS’s Rob Cohen. He decided to leave the sequel when Vin Diesel did, and has been left in the dust. Since then he’s done xXx, STEALTH and THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR, all of which I find semi-amusing but none are a third as good as FAST AND THE FURIOUS. It’s interesting that the biggest surprise hit of that summer continues as a bigger and better series ten years later while the director is stuck doing part 3 to that same summer’s biggest, crappiest sequel. (And blowing that, too.)

Of all these directors the only one who has continued to thrive making big ass summer movies is Michael Bay. He’s since done BAD BOYS II, THE ISLAND (admittedly a flop) and the three TRANSFORMERSes. I haven’t seen THE ISLAND. In my opinion the others are all way more incompetently made than PEARL HARBOR, but I guess more enjoyable in that they don’t tastelessly mess with American history and are so excessive and ridiculous in both style and content that although they are absolutely terrible examples of their genres they are at least distinctive.

In his spare time Bay collects Ferrarris, Lamborghinis and the rights to make terrible remakes of everything that is important to anyone.

The winning director of the summer is, unsurprisingly, A.I.’s Steven Spielberg. I think he made the best movie of that summer and has the best track record since. His filmography this century is controversial – most people don’t enjoy MINORITY REPORT, WAR OF THE WORLDS or INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL as much as I do. But I think we can all agree that CATCH ME IF YOU CAN was fun, right? And I’m not gonna be timid on MUNICH at all. Of all the movies that all of these directors have done since 2001 I think that’s clearly the best one (also the only one nominated for best picture).

The summers of 2001 and 2011 ended up being similar in that both seem to be low on movies that will go on to be remembered as classics. 2011 probly has a higher number of pretty good also rans (X-MEN FIRST CLASS, CAPTAIN AMERICA, SUPER 8). Both summers had a FAST AND THE FURIOUS movie starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster as a highlight. 2001 had a PLANET OF THE APES remake as one of its worst, 2011 had a prequel to the same movie as one of its best. Another low-ranking 2001 movie was by John Carpenter (GHOSTS OF MARS), this year one of the best was heavily influenced by his work (ATTACK THE BLOCK). Joe Johnston in my opinion did alot better this year than back then (CAPTAIN AMERICA vs. JPIII). Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERSES 3D was definitely better received than PEARL HARBOR was.

I wish I could say that by watching all these movies I figured out something about what was going on in our culture right before 9-11, but to be honest I didn’t hit on anything real revelatory. You might argue that we were in a cultural lull, our popular entertainment of mediocre quality, alot of it sequels and remakes and video game adaptations and blatant rip-offs. Of my two favorites of the summer #2 was a blatant ripoff of POINT BREAK, #1’s originality was a fluke because it was a leftover project from a deceased director who was one of the best ever.

Have we gotten better since then, and if so, is it a good idea to say it’s a reaction to that tragedy, or the wars that came in its wake? I’d have to study the next couple summers I think to get an idea of the evolution. My first tendency was to think that pop culture retreated into fantasy to escape the harsh realities of what was going on in the world, because the big movies of the next couple summers were SPIDER-MAN, STAR WARS II, X-MEN 2, MATRIX RELOADED, HULK, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 2… but of course that doesn’t make sense, because every one of those was in the works long before 9-11. And furthermore the first HARRY POTTER and the first LORD OF THE RINGS both came out in 2001, kicking off the new fantasy boom.

We can all remember that for at least a year or two people worried that violence and destruction in the movies was passe because of 9-11. But it’s not like Summer of 2001 was all Roland Emmerich movies and shootemups. Actually far from it. RUSH HOUR 2 was the most traditional action movie, and the fighting is mostly done with hands and feet. Then there’s THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, where there actually is a little bit of gun violence but not much, and the cars are used mainly for racing, not chasing or crashing into each other. A.I. is big special effects sci-fi but it’s a very personal story about a little boy, and JURASSIC PARK III is monsters but they stay on an uninhabited island, no city attacks. PEARL HARBOR is the only one sensitive studio people might’ve worried about if it was coming out the next summer, but most likely it would’ve done better because it would’ve seemed more relevant.

So I don’t know. I don’t have the answers yet.

I would like to conclude with some lists and facts and shit.

if I was violently forced to rank the movies used in this study:

6. I hate to say it, but maybe PEARL HARBOR?

ranked by Rotten Tomatoes percentage, for comparison:

10. DRIVEN: 14%

by box office (figures rounded from Box Office Mojo)

1. RUSH HOUR 2 ($226 million)
2. THE MUMMY RETURNS ($202 million)
3. PEARL HARBOR ($198 million)
4. JURASSIC PARK III ($181 million)
5. PLANET OF THE APES ($180 million)
6. THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS ($144 million)
7. LARA CROFT RAIDIN’ TOMBS ($131 million)
9. EVOLUTION ($38 million)
10. JEEPERS CREEPERS ($37 million)
11. DRIVEN ($32 million)
12. FINAL FANTASY ($32 million)
13. DUNDEE 3 ($25 million)
14. GHOSTS OF MARS ($8 million)

note: all of these made more money than THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE, MULHOLLAND DRIVE and GHOST WORLD

top 3 quotes from Box Office Guru’s “Summer 2001 Box Office Preview

1. “Also opening on June 22nd is Universal’s drag-racing picture The Fast and the Furious which features lots of action but little starpower.”

2. “Launching solo on July 27th is Fox’s $100M remake of Planet of the Apes from director Tim Burton. This event film stars Mark Wahlberg and hopes to bring the beloved story of the 1968 hit to a new generation with the help of modern special effects.”

3. “Otherwise, the wide appeal of A.I. might allow it to become the film that most parents take their kids to in July and August.”

the retrospective, in order:

April 27th: DRIVEN
July 18th: JURASSIC PARK III (not an actual review)
August 3rd: RUSH HOUR 2
August 24th: GHOSTS OF MARS


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76 Responses to “2001: A Summer Movie Odyssey wrapup”

  1. Thanks again for doing this retrospective, Vern. It’s a shame you couldn’t gleam that much of a pattern from it, but your opinions on these things were as interesting and entertaining as ever.


    this made me laugh my ass off

  3. Come to think about it, PEARL HARBOUR would have been a logical one to dust of “PORT OF CALL” for.

  4. Ebert liked the Fast and the Furious. God bless you Ebert.

    Vern, Ebert, and Finke (deadline.com): all the entertainment bookmarks you need.

  5. –Summer 2001: I partied a lot, but it was mostly riding & smoking & mallgirls & house parties.
    –Summer 2011: I partied some, but when I did it was expensive liquor & ballerinas & skyscraper office rooftop parties.

    –Summer 2001: I got ready for college by reading Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods (awesome, a sustained nightmare that still impresses & creeps me out today), and a bunch of 17th-18th century colonial American literature (mostly written with the same Puritan spirit that withholds America today from her true potential greatness). I embraced my college campus’s hi-speed internet connectivity by illegally downloading Jay-Z’s The Blueprint, which I think officially came out on September 11, which was a day that changed the trajectory of my entire life (but on a delay because it was a few more years before I joined the fight, once I realized how committed to a long global war those crazy idiotic fucks Bush & Cheney were).
    –Summer 2011: I get ready to end my career as a federal employee. I’m reading The Quotable Hitchens and Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens, who is the refreshing opposite of a Puritan but who also supports the Global War on Terror and would have voted for Bush/Cheney in 2004 except he wasn’t yet an American at that time. I use legal internet sources to listen to the new Jay-Z hotness.

    –Summer 2001: I rocked a Nokia cell phone that I will always love, probably the same model Mr. Majestyk uses today.
    –Summer 2011: I rock 3 iPhones and 2 iPads.

    –Summer 2001: I came to know of a great hardcore rapper by the name of Fiddy Cent, probably the same guy Mr. Majestyk occasionally does business with these days.
    –Summer 2011: I walked by 50 Cent’s Manhattan office and I think I saw Big Boi on the sidewalk last week, and I feel like they should be asking for my autograph.

    I guess we agree that the movies of summer 2001 all sucked, though RUSH HOUR 2 was a good coupla hours and THE F & F was indeed “great trash” (Thank you Pauline Kael & Roger Ebert.) and call me crazy but I remember actually enjoying GHOSTS OF MARS and A.I. is actually a very good movie; its suckiness is utterly relative because I’ll always wish Kubrick directed everything.
    Summer 2011 movies have been fun (5AL DE5TINATION, Colin Farrell’s role in 5RIGHT NIGHT), awesomely ridiculous (FA5T), provocative (THE TREE OF LI5E), easy on the eyes (Freida Pinto in RI5E OF THE PLANET OF THE APE5), and all of the above (MID5IGHT IN PARI5).

    It’s been a transformative decade, and I commend Vern for facilitating a look back at an important interval in our lives. Now let us never think of the movies of summer 2001 again.

  6. Review JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS. Seriously. I’ll send you my DVD copy. Seriously. It’s GREAT. I promise.

  7. In fact, you can keep the DVD I’ll send you because I bought two copies. It’s one of my top feel good movies ever.

  8. JO5IE AND THE PU55YCAT5 is indeed pretty great. “Feel good” movie? I don’t know. It has a kind of ambiguous darkness to it. And somehow I wish it were 15 minutes shorter, but that’s a nitpick I have with like 90% of movies.

  9. Well, I feel good when I watch Rosario Dawson (before she lost too much weight), Tara Reid (when she was attractive for like 5 minutes), Rachel Lee Cooke (at peak attractiveness and performance skill), Parker Posey (who is equally funny and pretty, which is to say VERY) and frankly…Alan Cummings is just so virile that even as a straight dude, you can get a little contact high.

    But seriously, it is an really well written movie that manages to do the faux-girl power thing better than the actual girl power bands. The music is catchy and cool, the cast is stellar, Matthew Libatique shot the bejesus out of it, there are a million great injokes and it actually functions on a lot of the same levels as Fight Club.

    I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. I got shit for talking about it during class in film school, then I convinced a professor to show it as part of a film theory class and converted everyone…I never did get the school to screen The Holy Mountain, however…

  10. Agreed on all counts, Tawdry. Couldn’t say it better myself, though the FIGHT CLUB comparison is new to me.

    I can’t tell you how disappointed I was when Alan Cumming barely had a role in BURLESQUE. So underused. His character in Taymor’s Shakespeare’s TITUS is hauntingly delightfully fruity as well.

  11. Well, the film employs a lot of the same subliminal message gags and functions as a commentary on the loss of individuality in the consumer culture while using an inordinate amount of product placement to satirize product placement. I think Josie is kinda a tween version of Fight Club, though it only features lots of great tits and music by Meat Loaf as opposed to featuring Meat Loaf’s tits.

    For the record, my lascivious comments on this film don’t actually reflect my feelings, I just need to bunch up when I admit to loving a chick flick unabashedly. Except for my comments on Alan Cummings. I’m totally serious about that.

  12. “post-ape-alyptic” = brilliant. “remaquel” – wow. And I didn’t even notice the AND in the third time you listed A.I. until Griff pointed it out. But I did love the Crocodile Dundee Vs. L.A. the first time.

    I may have to check out Josie and Her Pussycats based on the recommendations of this board. That would be a rare opportunity to discover a past gem from my own lifetime that I happened to miss. They do a Meat Loaf song? How did I never hear about this before?

    I think what’s interesting about 2001 and 2011 is that exactly 10 years apart we have two of the worst summers in blockbuster movie history. And I liked Pirates 4 and Hangover II, but I’d say the only real winners are X-Men: First Class and Apes for sheer muscle if not actual artistic merit. See my comments in both threads for specifics.

    Why are both these years so bad? Well, both feature a lot of lazy thinking. I mean, I used to look forward to every summer sequel for a new adventure of my favorite characters. Indy, Martin Riggs, John McClane, Casey Rybeck, Ripley. I’m not even upset that we don’t have crazy originals that look as awesome as Speed or Universal Soldier looked. The original we got was Super 8 so you can keep it.

    But the franchises have been lazy. The comic book movies are all the same origin story, except for X-men which was awesome (and I was NEVER into that series. I liked The Last Stand the best before.) Fuck, even Spy Kids 4 is shot all on green screen and pasted together with ADR written after they shot.

    In 2001 they threw elements at Planet of the Apes that sounded good but made a mess. Stallone tried to remake Rocky as a race car driver instead of just doing actual Rocky and Rambo which he later did.

    Maybe it’s the cycle of laziness every 10 years. It’s also the CGI thing. Makes ’91 is a good summer to revisit for starting that craze with T2.

  13. They don’t do a Meat Loaf song, but there is a clever “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” gag.

    I don’t think this summer completely sucked at all. In fact, I think we had some great comedies this summer.

    Since April 29th we’ve had:
    Fast 5 (excellent fun, best in the series and CHARACTER BASED!)
    13 Assassins
    Cave of Forgotten Dreams
    Exporting Raymond
    The Beaver
    Hobo With a Shotgun (not my scene)
    Bridesmaids (SUPERB!)
    Midnight in Paris
    Kung Fu Panda 2 (didn’t see it. Heard it was good)
    Tree of Life
    Attack the Block
    Captain America
    Cold Fish
    Friends with Benefits
    Harry Potter 8
    Horrible Bosses (not my scene, but some liked it)
    Point Blank
    Devil’s Double
    WInnie the Pooh
    30 Minutes or Less
    Final Destination 5
    Don’t be Afraid of the Dark
    Rise of the Apes
    The Last Circus
    The Help

    That’s 31 films over just more than 4 months. Bridesmaids is a classic in my mind. Fast Five is a perfect sequel. Final Destination 5 is the best in the series. Rise of the Apes is on par with the original. Tree of Life was awe inspiring. Attack the Block was great fun. We got a new Herzog. A new Miike. A new Branagh. A new Allen. A new Morris. A new Foster (her first in 15 years!) A new Tamohari (his best in a decade). Star-making turns from Wiig and Timberlake. A bunch of cool foreign films and a couple cool docs.

    Not a bad line up at all.

  14. Fred – this will probably put you off because it’s me, but I would add to the recommendations for “Josie and the Pussycats”. Absolutely hilarious film on all levels, and it’s one of those films like “The Cooler” (Alec Baldwin) and “Drop-Dead Gorgeous” (Kirstie Allie) where an otherwise not-that-well-regarded actor comes out and just steals the whole show. In “Josie’s” case it’s Tara Reid, who owns this film and everybody in it.

    Although Alan Cumming playing possibly the smarmiest git to ever grace the big screen is pretty damn hilarious as well. Just throwing it out there.

  15. I’m sorry but what was the point? I thought that there was going to be one. That before you started this exercise you had a grand point. An illumination on where we have been as movie watchers before September 11 of 2001 and now, the moment before that date becomes a decade. What was the point Vern? If there is one I feel it’s been lost or worse forgotten. When you did the retrospective on the House Party films I gained a new understanding of the influence on pop culture those films had. I gained an understanding as a whole from everything you covered. It wasn’t perfect but it did give me insight that without your work I wouldn’t otherwise have had.
    When you started the retrospective on the summer of ’01 I expected the same kind of enlightenment. Each movie was fun to look back on. Hell, I’d forgotten that some of those movies had come out that year (Dundee, Final Fantasy, Evolution, Jeepers Creepers) others almost seemed prophetic in the months after September (A.I., Pearl Harbor, heck even Ghosts of Mars.) Perhaps I should just stop and join in the critiques of the movies of 2001. Wallow in the movies that failed, the Directors who sucked, and the remakes or sequels that should never have been. I can’t though. At least two years or more before 9/11 a decision was made to give Micheal Bay the money to make a movie about the worse attack on the U.S.A to date at that time. Really? And a few months after the movie comes out BOOM!! goodbye World Trade Centers. What insight do you give us ten years later Vern? If Pearl Harbor had come out summer of 2002 it would have been a hit? Probably? Or would the answer still be “Bay Sucks and so does Transformers 3.”
    Maybe you should have reviewed the movies on the dates they came out. Given yourself time to think about the overall point of this summer of ’01 review. There is more here than this. Why did it take John Carpenter this long to do another movie? If you hadn’t loved Fast5 would you have re-reviewed The Fast and the Furious? I think there’s more here then summer 2001 movies mostly sucked, summer 2011 only kinda sucked. That’s it? When you reviewed Jeepers Creepers and did your best to leave your prejudice against the sicko director aside I got a great honest opinion of a very weird horror movie I rather like. I was hoping that it was leading to a great rap up of the whole summer in review. I’m sorry Vern but I thought I was gonna get one of your great insightful wrap ups but I didn’t. Wish it wasn’t so but I was expecting more. Am I wrong? Was this not about the world at large but instead another “movies are aimed at the lowest common denominator and 9/11 did nothing to change that.”
    Oh, that is THE point isn’t it? Never mind. I guess I understand now. Can’t wait for the reviews of the summer of ’02 and how much most of them sucked. Maybe as much as the movies of 2012 will too. But hey! At least with the summer of 2002 we’ll have a George Lucas movie to Shit on! Or Jason X, shitty sequel, The Scorpion King, another fucking Stephen Sommers Spinoff, Spider-man, Crap comic book movie, Insomnia, Christopher Nolan will never do another movie better than Memento, Sum of All Fears, fuck Ben Affleck, Alec Baldwin is the only Real Jack Ryan, The Borne Identity, Matt Damon can’t Act, My Big fat Greek wedding, Nia Vardalos is a one hit wonder, Scooby-Doo, come ON Really? Lilo & Stitch, Disney should have quit with Tarzan, Windtalkers, John Woo is over rated, Minority Report, Tom Curse! Oh Boy! I can’t wait!

  16. The end of the nineties and the beginning of the aughts were indeed transition years. You could probably say the same thing about popular music or television. The culture of the nineties were relatively centralized. The internet was around, but it had yet to pull everybody’s attention into a million different directions. I think this started to happen at the end of the 90s and beginning of the aughts. Media moguls weren’t quite ready to grapple with that yet. After the internet became lodged into America’s consciousness, all forms of media had to evolve. The movies in particular became more dependent on certain techniques in order to get a hold of people’s attention and wallets, an increasingly difficult task. If you look at those movies of 2001, not too many of them were big special effects films like they are today. A blockbuster didn’t always mean huge spectacle. Now, it is impossible to create a blockbuster without also having the film bursting at the seams with CGI. The studios are also using name recognition, using sequels and remakes in hopes that the familiar title will make people more willing to take a chance on the film. Studios have learned to cut through all of the myriad number of distractions in order to, hopefully, catch a viewer’s attention.


  18. what i mean to say is i feel like you have overlooked a film

  19. Fantastic work Vern! I can’t wait for Summer extravaganza 2002. On the topic of pre-9\11 and post-9\11 Hollywood I don’t see a difference. Remember after the attack they said that irony was dead and Bruce Willis would never make an action films again but this all went out the window; irony is stronger than ever and we got another Die Hard.

    I wished you’d review Swordfish because this movie is wonderfully ludicrous. Also, if you could extend to christmas 2001 and review Black Hawk Down i’d be forever grateful.

  20. I saw KUNG FU PANDA 2 3D in the theatre with a bunch of little kids. It was awesome. Biggest non-Hemingway-related laugh I’ve had all year was when Mr. Ping, a goose, revealed to Po, a panda, the secret that they weren’t actually father & son (spoiler).

  21. Vern gives us all a bunch of free entertainment and he’s not obligated to entertain us. So get off of his balls. That was some 2001 talkbacker reaction to Vern.

  22. Not obligated to educate us rather.

  23. The Kid n Play retrospective/legacy series was a once in a lifetime historic piece of academic journalism. We should just be glad Vern hasn’t yet used it as leverage to sell out to 60 Minutes or Frontline or any of the news & cultural outlets that could stand to gain a Pulitzer caliber filmatism expert on their team.

  24. RE: Kubrick directing everything. How much would you pay to see a version of Mannequin with Andrew McCarthy as directed by Stanley Kubrick?

  25. If you want an idea of what “Stanley Kubrick’s Mannequin” would look like, watch Kanye West’s 35-minute long version of Runaway. (It’s free on youtube). There’s some excellent filmatism in there.

  26. I really enjoyed Andrew McCarthy’s 1985-1990 stuff. Pretty in Pink, Mannequin, St. Elmo’s Fire, Less Than Zero, Weekend at Bernies, all good stuff. Its strange how in Weekend at Bernies he looked and acted nothing like the teen idol he was before. It seemed as if he shrunk about 5 inches and completely lost his teen idol looks within 2 years.

    Anyway, I have a feeling Kubrick’s Mannequin would be some kind of trippy Twilight Zone-ish kind of deal. Now that I think about it, there was a Twilight Zone episode about a mannequin who came to life. She didn’t get naked and dance like Kim Cattrall though. And it didnt have as good of a soundtrack (a little Starship goes a long way).

  27. I still feel Stephen Sommers is underrated. Deep Rising is a fucking classic, I love his Mummy movies to death and I enjoyed the hell out of G.I. Joe. His only real crime against humanity is Van Helsing, which is indeed a monstrosity, but in his other stuff there is always a certain sense of fun and adventure that keeps them from feeling like bland, soulless products without any type of vision. Compare The Mummy Returns to something like Clash Of The Titans and you can see my point.

    I can imagine people not liking his style, but I still think the hate that is generally directed his way is a bit excessive. This is not Uwe Boll we’re talking about, people.

  28. I guess maybe the moral of this whole story is “the more things change, the more they stay the same”

    we like to think of Hollywood really going downhill in the last few years (I mean remember in 2007 when everyone was obsessed with No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood?), but compare it to ten years ago and things pretty seem the same quality wise, the only difference is fancier tech

    the internet is such a cynical place that it’s hard not to have that ruboff on you, but it helps to put things in perspective, within my lifetime (1989 onward) has Hollywood ever been in a golden age? there lots of great movies over those years yes, but plenty of shitty ones that have been mostly forgotten too

    I remain optimistic because there will be SOMETHING movie wise that will come out in the coming decade that will blow everyone’s minds

  29. Mike: I too think that people are often a little bit too harsh on Sommers. Because you gotta admit that he IS pretty creative and his films have a certain kind of energy, that not many other filmmakers have. So that’s already two points that speak for him. It’s just that most of the time he seems to have no idea how to use his powers for good and therefore his movies usually end up unfocused and sloppy. And sometimes even downright annoying.
    I must watch G.I. JOE again, but I agree that DEEP RISING is awesome, though.

  30. Dan Prestwych – there was no “American Pie 2”. In fact, there were no “American Pie” sequels at all.

    (See, if I say it often enough, it might become true.)

    It’s worth saying that “American Pie 2” is both a more cynical cash-in and a worse movie than ANY of those that are listed above by Vern. Except maybe “Planet of the Apes”, which I couldn’t stand half an hour of. That said, if I hadn’t paid for a cinema ticket for “American Pie 2”, I probably would’ve turned that one off as well, so there you go.

  31. Harvey – I’m sorry you were disappointed. Do you think there was something deep there that I missed? Or do you think if I didn’t find out something deep I shouldn’t have posted any of the reviews?

    I thought it would be fun to re-watch the movies from one summer and analyze them. I was right. If I had come to some conclusion about what those movies said about us as a culture pre-9-11 or some general way that things have changed in movies then I would’ve written it, but I felt like any generalization would be a stretch, so I was honest about it.

    To be honest I’m most surprised that you felt that strongly about the Kid ‘n Play series, so thanks for that at least.

    But I would NEVER say that JASON X was a crappy sequel.

  32. yeah, but American Pie 2 has Lisa Arturo’s amazing ass, so it’s not all bad

  33. The Summer of 2002 really did kick ass. Even the big misfires like SIGNS and AOTC were more fun then most of the previous year.

    Let’s hope the pattern holds up given the promise of ’12.

  34. I can’t even remember anything from the first AMERICAN PIE apart from the scenes with Eugene Levy. Seriously, if the most memorable parts of your comedy have to do with Eugene Levy, you have a problem. I saw the teaser for that reunion movie and I couldn’t remember who any of those people were, except for Levy, Stiffler (even though I can’t remember anything he said or did) and Jason Biggs (I can’t even remember his character’s name). I even had to check imdb to see if Alyson Hannigan was really in it or if she was just added, because she is apparently in The Neil Patrick Harris Show, which is so popular right now.

  35. CJ – yeah that Show Starring the Dude from THE SMURFS is popular.

    (sorry, I forced that one.)

  36. “Even the big misfires like SIGNS and AOTC were more fun then most of the previous year. ”

    Hey I liked SIGNS, a quite decent thriller that unfortunately its success only inflated Night’s self-esteem to hubric ego extremes and well, I’m just saying you could blame SIGNS for why Night’s career is shit right now.

    As for AOTC, I still don’t care for the so-called “Human Element” in that narrative except for the obvious political manipulations by the villain. Come to think of it, did Episodes #1 and #2 (or more really #4 and #5) even tell us point blank that Palpatine was the Emperor? Because unless my memory is failing me, I don’t believe they did. Give Lucas* credit for not assuming the audience outside the Nerd Chic can connect the dots. Also the ILM-produced CGI is outstanding and I even enjoyed that early chase sequence.

    *=But do blame him for more random changes in the STAR WARS blu-rays. The nerds are crying about Vader saying NOOOOO! (audio lifted from Revenge Sith?), but I’m more puzzled by George’s decision to add more rocks to R2D2’s hiding place on Desert Planet (I can’t spell the name right, and I’m too lazy to use wikipedia.) His kids should stage an intervention with George’s re-cutting the same damn movies for the last 34 years.

  37. I meant to say “Give Lucas credit for assuming.” My typo, but damn I wish we had an option to edit our comments after they’re posted.

    Also I didn’t post the “*” because I trust you.

  38. Nice, Vern. Great overall analysis. I’ve not seen Munich. I think “Catch Me If You Can” was “cute,” “serviceable,” with good performances, but ultimately pretty forgettable. It was also the beginning of Spielberg’s foray into weird, soft lighting, which showed up again, much to my distraction and annoyance, in Crystal Skull. Also, Christopher Walken was overly made up and his lips looked like that Naked Gun scene where Nielsen and Kennedy are eating all of those red pistachios. Nit picking here, but you’d think Spielberg would have noticed in the dailies that this was just odd. End of bunny trail.

  39. but hey, look on the bright side, we can say that at least Christopher fucking Walken got to work with Spielberg

    shit, I should have suggested Vern review Communion, that movie is pure, concentrated insanity and it’s awesome, where else can you see Christopher Walken dancing half naked with aliens?

    “here I am, I’m naked, I’m naked!”

  40. Hey Vern, you mentioned Ghost World, what did you think of that one? I could have sworn you wrote a review for it but I can’t seem to find it.

  41. Walter, Verns Ghost World review is at aint it cool.

  42. RRA, at the end of the first prequel I’m pretty sure there was the big clue about the Emperor if people still hadn’t realized. Someone says who could be behind this shit or whatever, then it goes to a close up of him and he’s smiling a little.

    I LOVED Signs! I don’t know why it gets so much hate except for the supposed water issue which really isn’t…since nothing about the aliens is explained, how can anyone complain about plotholes or whatever? That movie was just so suspenseful, I love that kind of thing. And near the end where Gibson finally breaks down was awesome. Great flick. Too bad Night will never be the same again, apparently.

  43. I saw Signs in theaters and haven t seen it since, but I remember it having some good stuff in it, but it is flawed

  44. Vern! Yay! Whatever you say brother is scripture! I know I’m polluting your board here, but on cocaine and it’s all over my face and the cops have me and Tony Scott loves it! Tony Scott loves it! Tony Scott! Tony Scott! Tony Scott! Tony Scott! Tony Scott! Tony Scott! ONE OF Tarantino’s favorite directors…Tony Scott! Tony Scott! TonytonytonytonytonytonytonytonytonytonytonytonytonytonytonytonytonyTonyScott!


  46. For me SIGNS has it’s moments, that’s why I said it was at least more fun than the bad 2001 movies. There are also moments that are just too fucking stupid for me to overlook, but I’ll take it over most of the Summer of ’01.

  47. Griff – you’re always bringing the level of debate down to the level of “nice ass on that one”, aren’t you?

    And who the fuck said “Jason X” was a crappy sequel? That was the only one of the whole lot of “Friday the 13th” movies I’ve seen that I actually ENJOYED watching!

  48. @Harvey 1209- Thank you for that 2002 year in review blurb, I needed a good laugh.

    P.S. Ben Afflec was the bomb in Phantoms.

    @Vern-Hellboy 2 was releases in 2004 so looks like you’re going to be paying that motherfucking piper in a few years duuuuuuuude.

  49. I will defend JASON X to my last breath.

    “I LOVE premarital sex!”

  50. “This sucks on so many levels!”

    – JASON X

  51. Thank you Vern for this series, I wish I could be more near the net these days in order to join in on the discussions, but getting the chance to just read has been a real pleasure.

  52. In defense of Griff, an ass debate is always warranted (wasn’t there one about Mel Gibson’s ass in Lethal Weapon?).

    And Jason X was fucking hilarious.

  53. It’s too bad they never made a direct sequel to Jason X. I love the cyborg look (even have a Jason X action figure on my shelf) and would’ve liked to see more of it. But if I’m not mistaken, he never actually kills anyone once he transforms and the movie ends pretty quickly after that. Those girls in the sleeping bag don’t count as kills, those were computer simulations. That bit was pretty funny though.

  54. Was JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS a clever, inside-studio subversion of MTV commercialism? Or was it in fact clever MTV commercialism, cynically exploiting the the coolness of being subversive?

    When it first came out, I thought the former. Now (upon repeat viewing) I suspect the latter. Product placement is product placement, even if you make a “joke” of it.

    But Rachael Leigh Cook is very hot and very excellent in it. I keep trying to like the Stallone GET CARTER because of her (and also Mickey Rourke, and also a ruddy late phase Sly (and I guess a “virile” Allan Cumming (?)) but it keeps sucking.

  55. DocZ – from the product-placement standpoint, it took the position that if you’re going to do it, you might as well outrageously overdo it. And bizarrely enough, it worked. I can’t remember another instance of product placement improving a movie like that.

    Rachel Leigh Cook was great, though even she pales in comparison to the awesomeness that is Tara Reid. (Yeah, I never thought I’d say that either.) The scene where Josie is brainwashed into torturing Melody by telling her that puppies turn into dogs, grow old, and then die… I mean, that is simply one of the funniest things I have ever seen put to film. How the heck do you beat that for character-based humour?

    ThomasCrown – yeah, I was yanking Griff’s chain. I do that sometimes. Everyone knows I’m not really serious.

    And Jason X was indeed fucking hilarious.

  56. I’m not sure you can really say they are exploiting anything since they were not paid to put those products in the movie according to the commentary track. You can still argue that it is product placement, I guess. Though, as with WAYNE’S WORLD, I don’t see how you can make fun of pervasive product placement without actually putting products in your movie.

  57. Jake, I’m sad that my children will never truly understand the “little, yellow, different” joke in Wayne’s World. And I agree that there’s no getting around product placement, even when you want to joke about it. Commercial parodies like “Oops, I Crapped My Pants” work with a fake product because you’re making fun of the commercial and the product, but a joke about product placement just doesn’t work with a fake like “Poopsie Cola” in those generic TV-sitcom soda cans they used a lot in the eighties.

    Anyone who is a fan of Rachel Leigh Cook needs to see the horror film The Eighteenth Angel. It has Stanley Tucci in it and stars Shooter McGavin (Christopher MacDonald) as her dad. It’s got a slight Lifetime Horror Movie feel to it, and it is by no means a good movie. It’s just a little bit of fun trash to fill up a late night and a fun look at Cook just before she became an “It” girl for fifteen minutes. (And does anyone else think she kind of looks like Rachel Weisz as she ages?)

  58. Zombie Paul – here’s reminder of the ass in question and you’ll see why it’s the only thing worth talking about in reference to American Pie 2 (NSFW obviously)


  59. Paul, you should check out RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES. Brilliant product placement joke and that was before Wayne’s World. Also quite a good movie, early meta, Clooney is awesome in it. I don’t like it ironically, it’s actually good.

  60. David Cronenberg is just the coolest.

    Here he is with Fassbender, Knightley and Mortensen about his upcoming Freud/ Jung movie (Cassel’s in it too). Just listen to this genius talk.


  61. Vern, the Official Cast list for the Expendables 2 from Milennium Films is out!

    Apparently, JC and Chuck Norris are init. No official confirmation from Sly yet though.

  62. Chuck Norris is gonna be in it? holy shit

  63. That cast is almost as good as the cast for KUNG FU PANDA 2.

  64. I just wanna say that Demolition man came out on Blu Ray and it looks amazing. The dvd was one of the first and it looked horrible. So anyone who is a demolition man fan, which i’m sure is everyone here, should pick it up.

  65. Hey, that says Scott Adkins is in it! It also says Jet Li, who was last reported to be out. I’ll wait until they put out a press release to believe it.

  66. Same here. I heard that Jet has a reduced role here. He’ll only be shooting his scenes in China.

  67. Fred – it’s on my list.

    Griff – it’s entirely fitting that the most memorable thing about that slimy abortion of a movie would be someone’s arse (ass).

    Everyone on Expendables 2 – you are talking as though there is some kind of chance that this thing could actually be half-decent. With all of this news plus Scott Adkins plus Chuck Fucking Norris, it’s as though you’re trying to build up anticipation for this thing. I’m keeping my expectations in the gutter. I suggest you do the same, then if it actually turns out to be half-decent it’s a pleasant surprise rather than a crushing disappointment.

    Seriously… I thought Expendables 1 would be a brainless-but-fun explosion-fest with a load of action movie stars just doing their thing, and it didn’t even come close to meeting my (lowered) expectations. Although come to think of it, Expendables 2 has so little to do to beat its predecessor, it actually stands a good chance of looking good in comparison. If it can manage to have a score that isn’t played about twenty decibels too loud and isn’t completely generic and cribbed from various videogames, a lead actor that doesn’t look like he’s recently suffered a stroke, and action editing that isn’t apparently designed to induce epileptic seizures, then it’ll be a genuinely better movie. Scary thought.

    Anoni – I actually watched that one on TV not long ago. I could barely stay awake through it though. Sorry.

    Boy, I’m feeling like a buzzkill today.

  68. hey Tawdry, I got something funny for you


    witness how Josie and the Pussycats is not just satire, but the BLUEPRINT of the Mind Control Music Industry! (because we all know no one in Hollywood is capable of satire, it’s all propaganda man!)

    this article is taken from a hilarious and insane (aren’t they all?) conspiracy theorist website that focuses mainly on the media and how it’s all mind control to get us to accept our transhumanist cyborg Illuminati overlords! (seriously, that’s what this guy believes)

    also, he really hates Lady Gaga

  69. Yeah, there are big conspiracy theories involving Lady Gaga and Andrew WK…you’d think if AWK were involved with the illuminati he would be…you know…still successful. I mean, I love me some AWK, but I bet you 90% of the people reading this have no idea who he is, even though most of ya’ll have heard some of his songs.

  70. And if the music industry could hypnotize people into doing whatever ‘they’ wanted…why wouldn’t ‘they’ subliminally hint that you should stop downloading music? I mean, it IS a profit scheme, isn’t it?

  71. all that stuff is just the modern day equivalent of people looking for “backwards messages” in songs or finding clues that Paul is Dead

    whereas in the past people worried about musicians being devil worshipers, now they worry about them being members of the Illuminati

  72. No. Because the Beatles DID put hidden joke messages in their work.

  73. It seems weird to say this, but I really think that Steven Spielberg is one of the most underrated directors of the last decade. I think A.I., Catch Me if You Can, War of the Worlds, and Munich were some of the best films produced after 2000. I also think there is more to like in Indy 4 than to hate, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

  74. Dan – well the only one of those I’ve actually seen is “Munich”. I hated it, as did the only other two people I actually know who’d seen it. I thought it was shallow, manipulative, mean-spirited, at times ruined by Spielberg’s usual “family values” schtick that he can’t seem to leave out of any of his movies regardless of how inappropriate it obviously is, and at other times unpleasantly misogynistic. BUT Eric Bana gave a fantastic Oscar-worthy performance and, as much as I hated what Spielberg did to the story, I have no complaints whatsoever with his direction. So yeah, it’s a good example of Spielberg being a great director.

    Also the Illuminati were maligned heroes who tried to oppose the corrupt, venal power of the Catholic Church at a time when its main preoccupation was burning “witches” at the stake. Just throwing that one out there.

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