|legeros.com > Movie Hell > Comments > Comments|
By my count, some 60 films were released into Triangle theaters be- tween mid-May and Labor Day. Call it the Summer of Spew(tm), where enough blockbusters for a year were crammed into a single quarter. Blink and the film that *you* wanted to see would be somewhere else, moved to a different theater, or, even, a different city. The multi- plexes were packed, which was murder if you wanted to see a film on your favorite screen. ("Hi, are you showing JUDGE DREDD in THX?" "Do you really care, Sir?") The stuffed schedule sent studios scrambling. Producers rushed to finish films like DIE HARD and WATERWORLD and it showed in a some- times sloppy product. Advertisements were everywhere. I don't know which was worse: seeing the same trailers in theaters, or watching the same fast-food commercials on television. The audience ate it up in droves, of course. Lines were long, houses were packed, and the final figures would rival last year's boffo box-office. The season started early (May 12) with the release of Tony Scott's CRIMSON TIDE, a tense thriller that turned out to be *far* more even- keeled than almost anything that followed. One week later, Memorial Day brought out the big guns: John McTeirnan's dynamite DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE and Mel Gibson's bold BRAVEHEART. Both needed editing, sure, but they were solid counterpoints to such unexciting entries as CASPER, FORGET PARIS, and THE ENGLISHMAN WHO WENT UP A HILL BUT CAME DOWN WITH AN ARREST RECORD. June was bustin' out all over. Clint Eastwood's BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY was surprisingly touching, while JOHNNY MNEMONIC passed like a bad vowel movement. CONGO was bongo, but *still* managed to pull a record opening thanks to Taco Bell. The hyper, homoerotic BATMAN FOREVER was the in-joke of the season and one of *my* favorites. No duh. Disney's POCAHONTAS was a snooze, as was the next week's MIGHTY MORPHIN MUTANT NINJA TURTLE POWER RANGERS movie. Ugh. THE POSTMAN (IL POSTINO) was quaint, but BELLE DU JOUR was dated. Ron Howard's APOLLO 13 was a blast, while Danny Cannon's JUDGE DREDD was [choose one: blasted/dreadful/hardly Sly]. The storm eased a bit in July, with a host of underwhelming releases that included the cliche-ridden SPECIES, the dreary, non-musical FIRST KNIGHT, and the silly-but-not-arrestingly-funny NINE MONTHS. I also coughed on SMOKE, which others found far more addictive. One entry was so bad that it was good: the delightfully awful UNDER SIEGE II. (Stallone could take a cue or two from Seagal.) Two good finds were Amy Heckerling's clued-in CLUELESS-- a Jane Austen adaptation, no less!-- and Frank Oz's quite polite INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD. The largest hype machine, WATERWORLD, was actually okay. Kevin and Kevin pulled off some cool action sequences amid a production design to die-- or bathe-- for. After WATERWORLD-- which, in all fairness, should've stayed in the editing room another month-- the summer season calmed down con- siderably. August audiences didn't notice the difference, though, and they made hits out of such dreck as SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT, MORTAL KOMBAT, and DANGEROUS MINDS. The remaining weeks of the season were not without their rewards. August + Labor Day saw the arrival of several fine films from "the fringe." They starred pigs (BABE), kids (KIDS), Catholic brothers (THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN), big Mexicans (DESPERADO), free-associating fashion designers (UNZIPPED), and a bunch of THE USUAL SUSPECTS. And so it ended with a whimper. No FUGITIVE to chase grosses into the fall; no "300" club candidates ala FORREST GUMP or THE LION KING; and, most distressingly, no obvious Best Picture candidates. When do we get to see some *good* movies? Spring was lousy and Summer was the same, only more. Too much of too little. In fact, the most successful film of the season, BATMAN FOREVER, was more marketing than movie. With BATMAN 4 already on the boards-- and the promise of yet another self-perpetuating pop-culture event in 1997-- moviegoers may never need an attention span again.