Welcome to the Weekly Movie Thread, your place on the Avocado to discuss films with your fellow commenters. Want to make a recommendation? Looking for recommendations? Want to share your opinions of movies, both new and classic?
Today’s bonus prompt: what is your favorite movie of 2003?
It was, in a way, the seemed to be the end of some popular new franchises. There were two Matrix movies (Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Resurrections), which for a while pretty much killed all the goodwill for The Matrix. 2 Fast 2 Furious introduced Tej and Roman, but without Vin Diesel it seemed like the future for this new franchise was direct-to-video. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines seemed to be ending the franchise with Skynet taking over. And Lord of the Rings seemed to wrap up with Return of the King and took all the Academy Awards with it.
Little did we know that franchises never die, and none of these movies would end up being the last entries in their series.
It was also the beginning of some new franchises. Rob Zombie began his cult favorite series following the murderous Firefly family with House of 1000 Corpses. Len Wiseman would release the first Underworld movie. And Gore Verbinski would direct a movie based on a Disneyland theme park ride and somehow it because a franchise spanning five whole movies. And no… it wasn’t The Haunted Mansion, which was released the same year as Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.
Other franchises would continue to go strong. X2: X-Men United would go on to become the most highly regarded of the X-Men films. Then there was Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, a potential franchise whose entries stand at a total of one.
2003 would be a strong year for theatrical comedies. There seemed to be something for everyone. If your appetite was for dumb crap like Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, this was the year for you. If you wanted to see Mr. Bean as a spy, Rowan Atkinson has got you covered with Johnny English. Adam Sandler’s losing his cool over Jack Nicholson in Anger Management. Jim Carrey is playing God in Bruce Almighty. Jamie Kennedy wants to be accepted as a rap artist in Malibu’s Most Wanted. Lisa Kudrow also wants rap artists to be accepted in Marci X. Future Joker director Todd Philips would introduce the world to the Frat Pack with Old School. (One of them, Will Ferrell, would go on to star in the Christmas classic Elf later this year.)
Surprisingly, the most enduring comedy released in 2003 was the one that was never meant to be a comedy at all. Tommy Wiseau stole all our hearts when he tried to convince the world he was a tortured nice guy in The Room. It overtook the other 2003 movies that we were sure to be destined to be year’s “so bad it’s good” films. Like the one starring the two American Idol stars (From Justin to Kelly) and the movie that made everyone sick of Bennifer (Gigli).
Over in animation, the cel animation was starting to die down, at least with the major studios. The Triplets of Belleville would meet international acclaim. Disney released Brothers Bear, while Pixar still dominated the box office with Finding Nemo.
Park Chan-Wook would help to bring Korean action films to the forefront with his disturbing Oldboy. The Last Samurai introduced the world to the incredible skills of Ken Watanabe. John Woo would direct that buttoned-down-for-John Woo action film Paycheck and then leave Hollywood forever to direct Chinese films. Tony Jaa would find his breakout role in Ong-Bak.
2003 also made us ask some hard questions. beyond wondering what it was that Bill Murray said at the end of Lost in Translation. Was Kill Bill Vol. 1 a movie about female empowerment or just an excuse for Quentin Tarantino to mash-up all of his nerdy obsessions in one film? Is Bad Boys II needless cruel (as Roger Ebert said in his one-star review) or is it, as Patrick Willems puts it, “a pure artistic impression by a filmmaker working at the peak of his craft”? Is Ang Lee’s Hulk a secret masterpiece about distant fathers, or is it a boring slog where they tried to make Hulk Dogs a thing?
And finally, can a team of scientists fix the earth’s magnetic field by taking a heat-proof vessel down to The Core?