Fantasy fans were still reeling from the epic The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It proved to be one of those rare Fantasy or Science Fiction films to impress the Academy, but in the end turned only a few of its sackful of nominations into actual Oscar wins. It’s probably unlikely that Peter Jackson will win ‘Best Director’ for any of the chapters of his film, as each, with a narrative hanging open at one end or another, proves a less than totally satisfactory viewing experience.
A dumping ground for some below-par studio output in the US, with John McTiernan’s jaw-droppingly inept remake of Rollerball keeping viewers away from cinemas in their droves. The film’s drift around the release schedules, on both sides of the Atlantic, suggested that all involved at least had the good grace to feel ashamed. A second instalment of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles reached screens in the form of Queen of the Damned.
The wedding of the year was provided, or almost provided, this month by the Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode Hell’s Bells. Blade II, the sequel to Stephen Norrington’s ripsnorting 1998 Vampire hit, staked a claim to US audiences. Guillermo del Toro’s lightning-paced actioner lived up to all the promise of its predecessor. This tale of a battle with the deadly Reapers offered no real character material or subtlety to speak of, but proved a slack-minded delight to all those happy to substitute gadgets and a high death toll for needless emotional mush.
The tenth instalment in the Friday the 13th franchise, released in the US in April, received a rave review from Alan Jones when it reached the UK later in the year. ‘Easily the best of the sequels,’ he said. ‘Super scary and hilariously funny in equal measure.’
The nine-year run of The X-Files ended not with a bang, but a whimper, as the final episode aired on 19 May. While not so very special in itself, Star Wars Episode II received a warm response from an audience relieved to discover that at least it wasn’t as poor as The Phantom Menace.
Once again, Steven Spielberg delivered the year’s most intelligent and satisfying Science Fiction experience. Minority Report, based on the short story by Philip K Dick, wove a ingenious mystery plot and fascinating futuristic design into a crowd-pleasing blockbuster: demonstrating to all how this kind of movie should be done.