2002 in review

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Remo D
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2002 in review

Post by Remo D » Tue Dec 31, 2002 5:48 pm

And here we go again...

Didn't see EVERYTHING that came out in the field--just everything that played within my reach. So BELOW is disqualified, as are DAS EXPERIMENT, MY LITTLE EYE, 28 DAYS MORE, probably others. But I still got quite a good handful in there. 2002 wasn't a bad year, all told, but it had its highs and lows... no surprise there. So let's start digging.

THE BEST

BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF was quite unlike the film people tended to expect from its hype--it had a surprising jolt of philosophy to go with its action and gore... and those elements were quite uniquely handled, as well. Perhaps savate wasn't in vogue at the time--but would you rather have THE THREE MUSKETEERS done CROUCHING TIGER style? Oh, right--they already did that... Great fun.

REIGN OF FIRE split the masses (as did many films on this list)--I simply happened to think it was a terrific monster movie. The aerial attack sequences and the intelligent restraint used in the effects paid off quite handsomely. And Roger-Dodger never admitted that he completely misheard the last line of dialogue in the film (his misquote was used as part of his attack), so I've got an even greater stake in defending it.

SIGNS did the near-impossible: it made a "worldwide alien invasion" movie into an exercise in subtlety, of all things. Great mood, fine acting, satisfying finale--it's all there. Good Night.

And ONE HOUR PHOTO fulfilled the almost-kept promise of DEATH TO SMOOCHY, delivering an excellent, surprising psycho-thriller with the Robin Williams performance we all knew he had in him.

As for my pick for the very best of 2002? Well, BLADE 2 was right up there as the most flagrantly exciting, action-and-effects crammed monster mash of the year, no two ways about it. But there was one film that I found quite a bit more frightening...

Never mind the wraparound story or the attempts at "surprise twists"--if FRAILTY doesn't get to you with the setup of Bill Paxton waking his children in the middle of the night with news of the family's new special job, then nothing else in the film will work for you, either (and that was the case for some people whose opinions I continue to respect, I'll admit). But if it does get to you (and Midwesterner that I was born and raised, it got to ME, all right), then FRAILTY becomes the single most horrifying film of the year--and then some.

THE MIDDLE GROUND

Well, actually, there's one honorable mention that goes somewhere between "good" and "middle." And say what you will, but for me, it was HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION. Short version: while Michael Myers will never scare me again, I found this to be significantly more imaginative than the vastly overrated H2O--it tried very hard to do something different (even with the well-worn premise) and had the courage to try to literally burn down some series conventions and make things move in a different direction (whether it works or not remains to be seen). So even though I was never actually frightened, the fact that a HALLOWEEN sequel could actually hold my attention and interest throughout makes it legitimately special. Which is more than could be said for...

JASON X. That other masked madman finally showed up in his long-delayed space adventure. But the space adventure itself
was nothing more than yet another ALIENS clone, and the setting didn't really add much to the concept--heck, they had to create a VR Crystal Lake to give the people what they wanted! Still--an imaginative kill or two combined with a good laugh near the end gave it a little something it needed. And yes, I saw it on the big screen even though I'd watched a tape earlier.

RESIDENT EVIL had its moments, too, but it was still much too dry for a zombie movie. As was pointed out earlier, the film was okay, but the fact that BLADE 2 popped up and painted the screen red right afterwards set far too strong an example to ignore.

DRAGONFLY wasn't a bad little movie--it wasn't even a bad little Kevin Costner movie. One thing wrong, though--it wasn't even a horror movie... which didn't stop it from pretending to be one for most of its running time.

Remake where I didn't see the original: THE RING. Great opening, intriguing story and visuals, but a bit too slow in the middle for me--a little tightening would have bumped it up a notch.

Remakes where I DID see the originals: RED DRAGON was well-made and well-acted, but it was one trip too many to the "well" when it came down to it. Essentially, there was nothing here I hadn't seen before (save for the prologue)--including the pleasure of watching Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. And SOLARIS wasn't a horror film, but including it here brings the list to an even twenty, so there. Steven Soderbergh's attempt to boil SOLARIS down into a ninety-minute George Clooney vehicle gave us a film that was too mainstream for arthouses and too arthousey for mainstream audiences. Nice try, but a hopeless sell.

GHOST SHIP had a routine SHINING/EVENT HORIZON riff going for most of the show, but it boasted one hell of a great opening and a successfully shocking rapid-fire flashback sequence near the end. Enjoyable enough, but I wish Dark Castle would get to MR. SARDONICUS, already.

And the only thing that saved THEY from the slag-heap was the ending. Yes, the ending was that good. But the rest of the film was a weary, boring rehash that nobody needed.

THE WORST

Oh, where to begin? Where to end?

There was that embarrassing Goth leftover called QUEEN OF THE DAMNED. It wasn't Aaliyah's fault, but somebody needed to wake up and smell the decade.

I have rarely been so painfully, excruciatingly bored with a movie as I was with THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES. Sure, some people believe in it. Other people have seen the same things happen too many times before in TWILIGHT ZONE and X-FILES episodes.

EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS I wanted to love, but I felt the attitude was all wrong. I LOVE giant spider movies. But I can't enjoy giant spider movies that are much more interested in nudging people with cute jokes, in-jokes and all other manner of jokes than trying to scare the hell out of people with giant spiders. THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION was technically inferior. But THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION tried its best to scare people with spiders. And you know what? Back when I first saw it--it worked. This one didn't even make me twitch.

And the very worst? Would you think it was too easy if I were to single out SWIMFAN? Yeah, you're probably right--everyone knew going in that it was nothing but a FATAL MISTY MALICIOUS CRUSH deal... but this one didn't even give us anything worth looking at in the meantime!

No--much as it pains me to say so, the worst horror film of 2002 was one I was greatly looking forward to, as its director's previous film was my top pick for 1999. FEARDOTCOM was a hideously confused, painfully jumbled mess of a psycho/cyber thriller that thought that the mere inclusion of blatant Bava/Argento imagery would automatically win the awe and respect of fans. No way in hell. One needs to try one's best to write an original, coherent story to go WITH the razzle-dazzle. FEARDOTCOM went for the kitchen sink approach. Fetch the Drano.

Well, that's the horror year 2002. There was also plenty in the science fiction/fantasy department to mention: ATTACK OF THE CLONES was better than THE PHANTOM MENACE, while SPIDER-MAN, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS and THE TWO TOWERS delivered handsomely on their promises. MEN IN BLACK 2 was, on the other hand, only amusing for a while before it became yet another disappointing follow-up that need not have happened. MINORITY REPORT was excellent, by and large, but showed serious signs of compromise in its resolution. THE TIME MACHINE? Ah... no. THE SCORPION KING? It's what anyone who would want to see it would want to see, making it safely critic-proof. THE POWERPUFF GIRLS MOVIE? I prefer the TV show, but I'll stick up for it just to stick it to Ebert. Don't forget CQ, which wasn't science-fiction itself, but which paid wonderful homage to the BARBARELLA school of filmmaking. And then there was PINOCCHIO. Yes, dammit, Roberto Benigni's PINOCCHIO. See my Beaten Track review if you haven't already.

Oh, and let's not forget that restoration of METROPOLIS...

And as for direct-to-video? Frankly, I didn't see much. DOG SOLDIERS was great monster-movie fun, of course, but the DVD could and should have been so much more. (Whaddya expect from Artisan?) Other than that, there was yet another CORN sequel and a truly crappy HELLRAISER entry.

Agree? Disagree? Feel I left anything out? Say the word. In the meantime, have a great 2003!

Remo D.
My dog's breath smells like peanut butter...

...and I don't even have a dog!


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Post by Latte Thunder » Thu Jan 02, 2003 6:59 am

I always love these wrap ups...

I didn't make it out to the movies much this year. Saving for a wedding tied up most of my funds so I had to do a lot of rentals or cheat and just download some of the stuff I wanted to see.

Blade 2 was probably my biggest fave of the year. It was everything I wanted it to be. Style over substance. Sometimes I just need a solid dose of ass kicking and blood baths and that one delivered in spades. Guillermo Del Toro has won a lot of respect from me and I can't wait to see how Hellboy turns out. As it stands now, that is the one movie I am most looking forward to in the future.
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Post by Griff [Mola] » Thu Jan 02, 2003 11:00 am

Well, I'm hardly qualified to deliver a round up like our friend Remo here, I just don't get my cheeks to the cinema enough to contribute any sort of overview but I'll just mention a few titles, not necessarily horror, that spring to mind.

Firstly, let's get THE TWO TOWERS out of the way. Its no secret that I went ga-ga for this one which, while not as consistant as its first act, delivered some swashbuckling adventure and mayhem in spades. Simply the best time I'd had in the cinema for many years. If I was a kid, I would've shat. I should also mention the extended cut of FELLOWSHIP which made its debut this year. It improves the pace, beefs up the characters and adds to some of the action scenes, particularly the final battle which is re-edited for maximum impact. Forget the theatrical version - which has been described as a 3 hour trailer for the real movie.

BLADE 2 had me squealing in delight also. It had a vigor and brutality sorely lacking in the first one and definitely raised the bar in some departments. I'm not sure about the longevity of this one due to Goyer's unremarkable script but viscerally, I was certainly aroused.

Speaking of so-so scripts, SPIDER-MAN was good but not great, in typical David Koepp fashion. Raimi's direction feels derivitive - its a shame he didn't whip out his bag of tricks which he's obviously kept hidden in his broom closet since TQATD. As it stands, THE TOXIC AVENGER and Raimi's own DARK MAN remain as my personal birth-of-the-super-hero faves. DICKMAN AND THROBBIN' comes a close 3rd.

RESIDENT EVIL wasn't as bad as anyone thought it would be but is that really a compliment? Worth watching because its got fucking zombies in it - its just a shame Paul Anderson doesn't know what to do with them. There's either too many or too little with nary a sense of imminent claustrophobia or tension. Few directors could deliver a zombie carnage movie quite this bloodless however. Let's hope that he fails in that department for the sequel. Oh yeah, and the monster was fucking lame.

Brett Easton Ellis' THE RULES OF ATTRACTION hit the screen thanks to Roger Avary who's next stint behind the camera was long, long overdue. He deliberately follows the trend of casting hip young TV actors only to have them play shallow, self-absorbed and sexually rampant college kids in the anti-AMERICAN PIE. It certainly won't be to everyone's liking but Avary has fun with the pliability of moving pictures and Fred Savage gives the (brief) performance of his career. I look forward to Carrot Top's commentary on the DVD, especially seeing as he had nothing to do with the film whatsoever.

Despite its obviously low budget (one gets the feeling that Mathew Bright would've liked to have made the BOOGIE NIGHTS of serial killer movies) and some odd moments, TED BUNDY was a welcome addition to serial-killer-bio-pic sub-genre. Alternatively hilarious and horrifying, to coin a phrase, any movie that features Tracy Walter callin' out "Mama" has to be worth watching. Michael Reilly Burke nails it as Ted.

Like Remo suggested, MINORITY REPORT had alot going for it but the last half hour's wallow in convention (which is everything but Philip K. Dick) made me wanna grab Spielberg by the beard and say "Oh for fuck's sake, grow up. Challenge your audience for a fucking change! Walkie-talkies and now this?!" Roger 'Fatty' Ebert's unending orgasm over this movie is embarassing.

ATTACK OF THE CLONES proved that there's still adventure to be had in the franchise but that there's also still something seriously wrong with Lucas' brain. After two movies spearheaded by a unlikeable hero, Anakin's switch to the darkside will be anything but lamentable in EPISODE 3. Still, it must be said that the movie delivered on the serial-escapades of the original series and for that, at least, I am grateful.

That's about it for now. As for official boycotts, I can safely say that I'll never see MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING as long as I shall live. All other boycotts are unofficial and subject to change.

Cheers.

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Post by Darth Tanner » Thu Jan 02, 2003 9:49 pm

I didn't make it out to see as much this year as I had the past two years. IMO 2002 was a somewhat disappointing year for horror, but at least it was better than the dreadful 2000. Having said that most of my choices here will be more mainstream, but I don't feel like making a separate list for my "beaten track" picks.

I'll start out by saying that I missed the following films: BLADE 2, FRAILTY, REIGN OF FIRE, BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLVES, MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, FEMME FATALE, DRAGONFLY and ONE HOUR PHOTO. I purposefully avoided SCORPION KING, QUEEN OF THE DAMNED, THEY, MIB 2 and SCOOBY-DOO. The restoration of METROPOLIS didn't even play near me, so that is also disqualified. So here we go...


The Best:
ATTACK OF THE CLONES - not only did this entry have better story and acting that it's predecesor, but it also boasted some of the best CGI I had ever seen.

THE TWO TOWERS - what more can be said about this one that hasn't already been said. Like FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, TWO TOWERS is highly entertaining and every bit worthy of praise.

E.T. - all "special-edition" tamperings aside, this movie still tells a fascinating story even for those who are still kids at heart. Seeing it again on the big screen was definitely a magical experience.

RED DRAGON - there may have been no reason to remake MANHUNTER other than to give Anthony Hopkins the chance to play Lecter in all 3 installments, but this one still delivers the thrills and suspense in all the right places and is a good time-passer.

JASON X - I'm not even going to pretend like these movies are good since anyone who goes to see them already knows what they are getting into. I walked into this one with that attitude and came out pleasantly surprised. A must for fans.

SPIDER-MAN - Although a bit overhyped for its own good , this big-screen adaptation truly delivers in the right spots with Willem Dafoe stealing the movie as the villain.

MINORITY REPORT - Yeah I enjoyed it regardless of all the criticism, so sue me;)

ROAD TO PERDITION - another classic film from Sam Mendes. Although I prefer AMERICAN BEAUTY a little more, this is still a masterpiece that deserves at least a look.

SIGNS - M. Night Shymalan works his magic again. Aside from some slow moments, this one really keeps the viewer interested throughout.

DIE ANOTHER DAY - Even after 40 years and 20 films, the 007 franchise still goes strong. Only complaint: Madonna should never be allowed to sing (much less act) on any film again.

8 MILE - semi-autobiographical film on Eminem's own life is very entertaining even if you are not a fan of his music.

GHOST SHIP - a decent horror offering from Dark Castle that was far better than TH13TEEN GHOSTS, but still not as great as HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL.

HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION - this franchise has long started showing signs of wear, but this entry still manages to be a pleasant surprise.

Without sounding too biased, I would name ATTACK OF THE CLONES my pick for "best overall film of 2002". Sure there may be other films that some would argue are more better, but AOTC kept me entertained throughout and was well worth the wait. But out of the small horror offerings I saw this year, GHOST SHIP would be my top pick for "best horror film".


Guilty Pleasures:
CROSSROADS - Britney Spears' first (and possibly last) motion picture was great trashy fun. Just don't call it a classic.

WALK TO REMEMBER - Some may write this off as fluff featuring a teen pop sensation, but I thought this actually told a good story and had great performances (hey, even I need a change of pace every now and then;))


Middle Ground:
INSOMNIA - this had a great cast and could have been an engrossing murder-mystering, but the boring pace kept this off of the "best list".

RESIDENT EVIL - while it was great to see a zombie movie on the big screen, this film could have used a few less cliches and a better story. Maybe the sequel will get it right.....

TRAPPED - this one died a quiet death at the box office. While it wasn't as bad as most people said, it wasn't exactly a classic either. Still a good time-passer.

THE RING - haven't seen the original, so I can only comment on the remake by itself. While this did have some atmosphere and a few good scares, the middle part dragged in too many spots.


The worst:
EIGHT-LEGGED FREAKS- the only thing positive I can say about this one is that I saw it at a drive-in. Other than that, it was a waste of time. The 50's films that this tries to duplicate are still much more entertaining.

ROLLERBALL - I skipped the theatrical release and held out for the R-rated version on video. Even with the added gore and nudity, this one was a huge disappointment and boring to boot. Rebecca Stamos was better off appearing topless in another film.

ABANDON - this one was so boring and confusing that I couldn't even tell you anything about it. Katie Holmes and Benjamin Bratt probably wouldn't even remember this one either.

SWIMFAN - entirely derivative and stupid. Not even the trashy fun it could have been.

FEARDOTCOM - I have to agree with Remo and give this my vote for worst movie of 2002. The thing that makes it even more painful to watch is that I highly enjoyed William Malone's HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL remake a few years back. But this one didn't even try to come close to that classic.


I just hope that 2003 will be a better year for horror fans, but there doesn't seem to be much hope in sight at the moment. Saw the trailer for FINAL DESINATION 2 the other night and it didn't really interest me in the least. It looked more like a remake than a sequel, but they say you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover so we'll see......
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Post by Griff [Mola] » Mon Jan 06, 2003 4:46 pm

Thought I should mention NARC, which I only just caught up with. Is this a 2002 film or a 2003 film? I guess it depends on where you're at so I'll include it here regardless as a heads up. Aethestically spot-on low budget cop drama that'll keep you second-guessing right up to the sucker punch conclusion. Touted as the perfect cop movie, I'd reserve that honour for DIRTY HARRY or... ROBOCOP(!) but really, you don't ask for much more than solid story telling and that's exactly what you get here, with emphasis on performance rather than theatrics. The brief opening sequence is pretty stressful so if you're a fat prick with a heart problem, look out Fucko!


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Post by Latte Thunder » Tue Jan 07, 2003 6:33 am

Narc was great. I caught that one the other day. I liked it immensely. Ray Liota is awesome in this and Jason Patrick is really good too. He's come quite a long way from his pretty boy Lost Boys looks.

The opening was enough to give me a seizure, though. That scene defines hand held camera work.
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2002 horror

Post by Scott » Wed Jan 15, 2003 6:06 pm

2002 was a disappointing year for horror. I thought the best of the bunch were Blade 2 and The Ring. Among the worst, Ghost Ship, Swimfan, Abandon, and FearDotCom. Here's hoping 2003 is better.


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