Twenty Years Ago. I was 15 and just starting on a lifelong obsession with cinema. The summer of 2015 hasn’t been too bad, but I’m older, pickier and that same “every movie is magic” feeling I had back then isn’t totally gone but it’s weakened quite a bit. In retrospect there’s not a lot from the 90s I truly love today (Experiencing Jurassic Park is one of my greatest 90s memories), but as a teenager in 1995 I felt “THIS is the best time to be alive.” So what did the summer of 1995 offer? Well beyond my parents giving me money for “movies or whatever” every few days and the good luck of having a multiplex that didn’t care about ratings, this was the summer when I learned that movie trailers are usually bullshit and movie critics knew what they were talking about.
There was Die Hard With a Vengeance or the Billy Crystal romantic comedy Forget Paris. Guess which movie I saw?
Die Hard With a Vengeance was actually the first Die Hard movie I watched. Heresy, I know but I quickly caught up, stopping at Blockbuster Video to pick up the other parts as soon as I left the theater. This one has aged well and I’ll still stop and finish it out if it’s playing on television. Oh there have been two more Die Hard movies since then but, like with Indiana Jones, it’s going to stay a trilogy and everything beyond that is superfluous material nobody really needs.
Braveheart or Tales From the Hood. Being a white kid in white suburbia nobody watched Tales From the Hood – and having gone back and watched it this isn’t a case of needing to “check privilege” because the movie really isn’t that good. Braveheart, on the other hand, went on to win Best Picture that year. We spent a lot of that summer screaming “FREEDOM!” and often at inopportune moments. In the years since with people calling Braveheart out for being inaccurate and Mel Gibson’s notable attitude in recent years it’s popular to hate on this movie. I won’t though. Sure it’s inaccurate, single-minded and, at times, even homophobic. But who cares? I enjoyed it in 1995 and I still enjoy it now. Well, kinda enjoy it now, the movie’s rather worn out it’s welcome and, in retrospect, there were more worthy contenders for Best Picture that year.
Casper or Johnny Mnemonic. I watched both. My friends and and I had been looking forward to Johnny Mnemonic because, based on it’s trailers it looked like a great sci-fi action flick (and after Speed the previous summer Keanu Reeves could do no wrong in our eyes). It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t exactly the action packed suspense we wanted. When I played the video game Shadowrun later I realized a LOT of similarities in the story and liked that game a lot better than Johnny Mnemonic. Still do – I want to play Shadowrun again but I’m not particularly motivated to watch Johnny Mnemonic any time soon.
Casper I watched alone which I could get away with at 15, if I tried to watch a kid’s movie by myself in a theater today I would be placed on so many watch lists. My friends didn’t want to watch any kids stuff nor did they share the same crush I had on Christina Ricci – she was the only reason I had for watching this movie. Really the only reason to watch this movie, Bill Pullman looks confused and if anyone wants Devon Sawa eye candy (he was really popular in the 90s) Final Destination will suit your needs much better.
The Bridges of Madison County. Oh hell no! Earthbound just came out on the SNES this weekend so it’s not like any of us were planning on leaving the house anyway. Okay, maybe to rent Clerks which everyone missed in theaters but just came out on VHS and was suddenly something EVERYONE needed to see.
Congo I watched with my family. We’d all been voraciously reading Michael Crichton novels since Jurassic Park struck big in 1993. As a book, Congo was not bad. As a film this thing is terrible. My sister and I still discuss watching Congo the way people talk about “Remember that time we were all horribly disfigured in that train accident?” To this day whenever we meet someone named Amy my sister and I will instinctively mock them to their face and say “Amy Good Gorilla! Good! Good!” along with the sign language. There’s a scene where gorillas are killed with a diamond powered laser gun, and this was something we chose to watch?
Batman Forever opened unopposed this week. I hate this movie, even more than Batman and Robin. We didn’t know until June 16th that this movie was going to suck, however. If anything positive can be said about Batman Forever it would be that this stands historically as a textbook example at movie hype and promotion. Since April Batman Forever was EVERYWHERE – from food franchises, to toys in stores, and the soundtrack was already selling out with its new songs in far too regular rotation on the radio. So when the film came out and we all watched it with eager anticipation, it was unsettling. No more dark tones and specific moods and colors that Tim Burton’s films had – Batman Forever was a mess of colors and sounds, ridiculous performances. It was visual noise and I remember just feeling drained and sick after watching the film. My sister watched it at least three times in the theater but they had the “dreamy” Val Kilmer and Chris O’Donnel to keep them motivated? Who did high school boys get? Drew Barrymore? Who needed Batman Forever when Poison Ivy was on Cinemax every single night of the week?
The following Autumn I briefly dated a girl who loved Val Kilmer – she enjoyed Batman Forever and, because I had priorities, I held my tongue and quietly judged her taste in film. It would be snobbish of me to say I broke up with her because of this movie. I didn’t. I broke up with her later in the year because I didn’t want to be dragged along to see Ghost and the Darkness starring Val Kilmer.
When school resumed that autumn and there was the perquisite “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay, My sister wrote “I saw Jim Carey throw a grenade and shout ‘Joygasm!’ I died a little.”
Pocahontas hit theaters this day and I wanted to see it as I’d never missed a Disney film during its theatrical run. I missed this one though because the source material didn’t motivate me, the songs seemed (and indeed ARE) sappy. Chicks liked it and the movie was immediately incorporated into pop culture as every Disney movie was and still is to this day. People still talk so highly of this movie I feel like an odd-man-out when I say that I’ve never felt motivated at ALL about Pocahontas. It’s not bad, it’s just not for me I guess.
This was a pretty big weekend. The was Apollo 13 and Judge Dredd – both movies that I wanted to see and then there was Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie which I had absolutely no interest in but was dragged along to, and hated, anyway.
Apollo 13 was great, worthy of it’s Best Picture nomination for 1995. That is really all I remember of it though… odd. Great cast including Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise and…. You know, the only thing in this film that really stands out in my mind is the beginning and we see Apollo 1 and the guys in it burning alive – that haunted me.
Judge Dredd was another instance where we were 15 years old and didn’t know this movie would suck. The comic was cool and the tie-in video game that game out a few weeks before was fun (well, as fun as a movie tie-in game could be). Do I really need to go on about how BAD this movie ended up being? The sad thing is, we WANTED this movie, we’d see the trailers and we’d see Sylvester Stallone doing all these awesome things and we would cheer and say “Yes! This is a movie we need!” I’d watch things like “At the Movies with Siskel and Ebert” for a glimpse at the awesomeness we all knew that Judge Dredd was going to have and while those critics would warn that this movie was total shit, my friends and I would just shrug and say: “What do you know? You’re old. Get with the times, Grandpa, this movie is gonna be the best thing ever.” We went in to the theater excited and left feeling underwhelmed, angry and cheated. We were LIED to – that trailer promised us something great and what we just watched was one of the worst things we’d ever experienced. So we played the tie-in video game again because, shitty as it was, it was still better than that movie.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers didn’t appeal to me. I guess 15 years old was just too old for this? All my friends liked it though and I had no idea why. Low production value, the shittiest of recycled stories, an untalented cast of bland people – there was no redeeming value in this. I slept through most of the movie which was okay since someone else paid for me to see it.