Films '96+

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Films of 2002

# Film Title Date Rating Frogs One Word Buy at
1 Ocean's Eleven 5 January 2002 70% **** Vegas Buy!
Pretty good Las Vegas casino heist movie starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon and Andy Garcia. A clever plot smoothly executed by director Steven Soderbergh. An enjoyable movie.
2 Vanilla Sky 12 January 2002 90% ***** Dreamlike Buy!
This movie stretches the mind, imagination, and emotions. It is beautiful, stunning, and thrilling. Vanilla Sky is a must-see movie.
3 Behind Enemy Lines 13 January 2002 60% ***+ Orders Buy!
Owen Wilson plays Lt. Chris Burnett, a disillusioned Navy flight navigator who gets shot down over enemy air space. He's been a thorn in the side of his commanding officers, but when this event takes place, career Navy commander Adm. Leslie Reigart (Gene Hackman) goes above and beyond the call of duty to get Burnett back. It's Wilson's first action movie, but Hackman's an old hand at the high-ranking military officer jaunt. Wilson pulls it off surprisingly well, and the movie is quite enjoyable.
4 Black Hawk Down 22 January 2002 75% **** Graphic Buy!
This war (or perhaps I should say "military action") movie is based on activities of US troops in Somalia. It centers around an operation gone horribly wrong in Mogadishu. It is less centered around a plot and more aimed at giving an experience as close as possible to the reality of war. When things get hot, confusion reigns, people get left behind, everything goes horribly wrong. Even good commanders can be caught in a situation they can't deal with, and this movie gives us situations like that which leave the soldiers in them at the point of desperation and breakdown. Whether it is strictly factual or not (and I really don't know how factual it is) is really beside the point. It does give a pretty harrowing experience, and that seems to be what director Ridley Scott set out to do. My only criticism is that at some points it seems like it could have been less drawn out, and the movie could have been shorter, but perhaps this was necessary to carry across the emotions which are experienced by the soldiers involved.
5 The Royal Tenenbaums 26 January 2002 50% *** Pointless Buy!
I was really expecting more from Wes Anderson (director of Rushmore). This movie manages to be about a whole lot of things but really about absolutely nothing. I found it pretty vacuous on the whole. There were rare occasions for small amounts of laughter, but it was never particularly hillarious. Not a particularly recommendable movie.
6 Kate & Leopold 27 January 2002 85% ****+ Delightful Buy!
Kate & Leopold is an absolutely charming romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman. Director James Mangold really hit the nail on the head with this movie, spot on. Wonderful!
7 Ice Age 16 March 2002 85% ****+ Hillarious Buy!
This movie will have you rolling in the aisles (or, as the case may be, on the floor in front of your sofa) laughing. It's not quite up to the standards of Pixar in terms of CGI or in terms of rewatchability, however it is very very good fun.
8 Blade II 23 March 2002 90% ***** Reapers Buy!
Blade II is a worthy follow-up to its predecessor, Blade. It's got astoundingly good fight choreography, flawless effects, and a good story to boot.
9 Panic Room 29 March 2002 85% ****+ Intelligent Buy!
Panic Room is a thriller with a very large amount of intelligence. Where in your typical suspense thriller, you find yourself going, "No! Don't open that door!" ... and, of course, they do... in this movie, every time you find yourself thinking they should do something, they do, and when you think they shouldn't do something because it's stupid and going to get them killed, they don't. Very refreshing indeed. Great suspense and a clever plot. This movie takes what would seem a very limiting idea and expounds wonderfully on it, resulting in a rivetting film.
10 The Sweetest Thing 20 April 2002 65% ***+ Forgettable Buy!
Very funny in places, but kind of forgettable.
11 Changing Lanes 20 April 2002 70% **** Repercussions Buy!
An arrogant lawyer, Gavin Banek (Ben Affleck), flees the scene of an accident where he collided with the car of an insurance salesman, Doyle Gipson (Samuel L. Jackson), because he has to get to a court appointment in a big hurry. This event throws Gipson's life into utter chaos when he misses a court appointment of his own because of this, and results in a very high stakes game of legal finagling and shady illegal acts when Gipson realises that he is in posession of a very important file that Banek dropped at the scene. The plot is fairly simple, but the story is told well.
12 Murder by Numbers 20 April 2002 80% ****+ Suspenseful Buy!
Cleverly styled and slick thriller with some nice twists, starring Sandra Bullock and Ben Chaplin as homicide detectives Cassie Mayweather and Sam Kennedy, pitted against two highly intelligent but slightly over-cocky teens; the bookish Richard Haywood (Ryan Gosling) and the popular, bored rich kid, Justin Pendleton (Michael Pitt (II)). The tale is very well told, the acting is excellent, and it's overall a very worthwhile thriller. I saw it a second time, with friends who had not seen it, on 2002.05.17.
13 The Rookie 28 April 2002 75% **** Charming Buy!
The Rookie is a charming drama suitable for all the family. Despite it being a G-rated (General Admission) movie, it really is an engaging, heart-warming film. It's a rare occasion indeed that I go to a Disney movie (especially a non-animated one) at the cinema, but this was worthwhile.
14 The Scorpion King 29 April 2002 60% ***+ Mummies Buy!
This prequel to the Mummy [Returns] series was pretty thin on plot, and not exactly high on acting, but was fun and action-filled. If you go in looking for a fun, action-packed movie, and are not looking for depth, you'll be rewarded. It was enjoyable. Really, what were you expecting? If your expectations were wrong, you will be disappointed.
15 Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (DLP) 20 May 2002 85% ****+ Refreshing Buy!
After the travesty that was Episode I, it was extremely refreshing to see Episode II. This movie is truly a movie deserving of the Star Wars moniker. While dialogue is often cheesy as hell (that'll teach them; don't let George Lucas write dialogue!), the plot is quite intricate, things actually happen, it's actually relevant in the overall 9-movie scheme of things, and the action and effects are just wonderful. If you can ignore the cheesy candle-lit love scene (which was unintentionally hillarious), the giant rabbit-cows and rolling in the grass spouting cliches, this movie really is fun. It's well worth seeing, and it's a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours. Oh, by the way. You really do want to see this on a DLP (digital) screen if at all humanly possible. If you've missed your chance to do that, a good home DVD/Audio system should do a reasonable job.
16 Bad Company 7 June 2002 75% **** CIA Buy!
When Jake Hayes' brother is killed during a crucial CIA operation, he is recruited by the agency to take his brother's place. He doesn't fit in at all, but he's intelligent, catches on, and starts to fit in better than he or anyone else would ever have suspected in this alternative CIA spy movie. Enjoyable and rather clever.
17 Spider-Man 20 June 2002 80% ****+ Spidey! Buy!
Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe and Kirsten Dunst star in this very nicely produced super-hero movie. The effects are nicely done, the action sequences wonderful, and the story engaging. It was far better than the trailers lead me to believe it would be.
18 The Bourne Identity 22 June 2002 70% **** Ludlum Buy!
The Bourne Identity is a typical Robert Ludlum book (Ludlum's books are generally entertaining spy novels which don't require a lot of effort to read, often read in airports and on planes and so on) which has been rather surprisingly well rendered into movie form. I was impressed. It was indeed entertaining, full of action, and a fun couple of hours.
19 Men in Black II (MIIB) 4 July 2002 85% ****+ Side-splitting Buy!
The sequel to Men in Black is a worthy sequel. It could have been a pale immitation with all the same jokes, delivered badly, and no originality... but it's not! The same team of actors (Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Rip Torn, et al.) team up for another hillarious intergalactic romp. Men in Black II (also advertised as MIB 2 and MIIB) is worthy of your movie-going dollars.
20 Minority Report 5 July 2002 85% ****+ Justice Buy!
Based on a typically intelligent and dystopian Philip K. Dick short story, Minority Report is an intricate and twisted sci-fi thriller. Extremely enjoyable movie. The only bad bit is the nauseating fridge scene. If you've seen it, you know what I mean, and if you haven't, you will when you see it. Went to see it a second time on 2002.07.27.
21 The Sum of All Fears 9 July 2002 70% **** Clancy Buy!
The movie was fairly nicely translated from the book, with minor modifications to bring it a little more in line with current affairs... however the one big problem is Ryan! In the book, Ryan's been with the CIA and around the block and had adventures. In the movie, they depict him as totally wet-behind-the-ears and socially inept and a bit of a dork. What we know from the books and from movies like The Hunt for Red October (the one truly great rendering of a Tom Clancy novel into movie form) is that while Ryan may be thrown into a situation he wasn't expecting, asked to do something way outside the scope of what he signed up for, he is extremely intelligent, and he falls on his feet through quickly working out all the angles, thinking 10 moves ahead. In The Sum of All Fears, Ryan (played by Affleck) seems to be thrown into situations where he's out of his element, and he gets out of them by dumb luck. He goes through the movie seemingly bemused, confused, in over his head, and just lucky to survive. Ryan should be thrown out of his element, but should never be in over his head. It just doesn't ring true. Truly, the only film which depicts him at all properly is the aforementioned The Hunt for Red October. Alec Baldwin is the perfect Jack Ryan. He looks the part, he's the right age, and he plays the part in such a way that the character truly seems intelligent as he should. Harrison Ford, while I think he is a wonderful actor, just isn't suited to playing Ryan, at least not at the ages at which he played him. Affleck might be able to pull it off, but we will probably never know if it was bad directing or bad acting that caused him to fail so abysmally at being Ryan. I rather suspect it was bad directing. All that said, however, the movie was quite entertaining and I don't feel cheated out of the price of my ticket!
22 Lilo & Stitch 12 July 2002 90% ***** Cute Buy!
The best animated film to come out of Disney (directly) in ... well, ever! Hillariously funny, wonderfully endearing, and with jokes for children and adults alike, this movie is brilliant. I loved it!
23 Reign of Fire 14 July 2002 75% **** Dragons Buy!
Reign of Fire is an action-packed, special-effects fest about a post-apocalyptic world in which dragons have risen from their place in mythology, taken over and scarred the planet. A bunch of gung-ho Americans team up with down-trodden English people to battle the dragons and end their tyranical reign of terror. The movie is packed with fire and explosions, and is really rather fun, despite having acting of somewhat questional quality and questionable science too. It does do one or two slightly unexpected things, which is good, and it's actually quite funny in a couple of places. Not a bad couple of hours at the movies at all.
24 K-19: The Widowmaker 2 August 2002 75% **** Tense Buy!
This tense thriller is yet another great submarine movie. It is not the easiest movie to watch. It is somewhat draining, however it really is very good indeed. Harrison Ford is excellent indeed as the brooding Russian sub captain.
25 xXx 25 August 2002 80% ****+ Adrenaline Buy!
This movie is pretty much one big adrenaline rush. See it expecting an action movie with loads of cool stunts, cool effects, corny jokes, and a fun story, and you won't be disappointed. Vin Diesel fits the part just right. He even manages to pull it off while wearing an amazingly poncy coat. I mean, really. If you want a brain-relaxing action-fest, this is perfect. I definitely enjoyed it.
26 Signs 3 October 2002 80% ****+ Shyamalan Buy!
M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable) has written and directed another really good movie and, like in his other movies (although I had not previously realised this), he plays a character in the movie also. Signs is a suspense thriller, and it's a good one. It is a little slow at times, but it is nonetheless engaging. Definitely worth seeing.
27 Red Dragon 6 October 2002 85% ****+ Gruesome Buy!
The prequel to the The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, this is really very well done, and with stars Edward Norton, Anthony Hopkins, and Ralph Fiennes how could it not be good? Well, it is good. Very. It's cleverly written and has a few nice twists. It's occasionally really nasty, but one kind of has to expect that with this subject matter. If you can stomach it, you should see this movie.
28 Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away) 12 October 2002 90% ***** Stunning Buy!
Hayao Miyazaki has produced another masterpiece. Sen is visually beautiful and enchanting, with an engaging story which will pull you in, child or adult alike. Disney's English dub is really not too bad, surprisingly, and so kids or people who aren't used to subtitles may get to appreciate the movie better (not miss the beautiful animation) if they see it dubbed, but obviously for the true afficionado, you'll want to see it in the original Japanese and subtitled if you can.
29 Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever 13 October 2002 65% ***+ Mindless Buy!
Total mindless action flick. Lots and lots and lots of action and explosions and gun battles. Sometimes going way off the deep end and turning utterly ridiculous with slow-me close-ups of people firing guns (but thankfully not too often). It is, nonetheless, amusing, and if you want to turn off your brain, sit back, and relax for a while, it's really not a bad option at all. I needed precisely that on the evening I saw it, and so it fit the bill nicely!
30 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 15 October 2002 75% **** Amusing Buy!
It's a tad slow at times, but My Big Fat Greek Wedding has good characters, an amusing story, and funny situational humour. It is a very character-driven story, and the characters and the actors playing them are excellent. Well worth seeing.
31 The Ring 19 October 2002 90% ***** Petrifying Buy!
This is one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. It moves a little slowly at times, but I believe that that was very deliberate; part of constructing the atmosphere. The premise of this movie is that there is an urban legend that has been going around about a video tape where if you watch it, as soon as you finish watching it, you get a phone call and a voice tells you that you're going to die in seven days... and you do. The only thing is, the urban legend is frighteningly true. This movie is as much about what it doesn't tell you as about what it does tell you. It will have you hanging on the edge of your seat, crawling back into it, and leaping out of it. When you think it's over, it isn't. The effects are disturbingly realistic. This movie should probably have a warning from the Surgeon General... but if you like being scared, this movie will blow your mind.

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