This was a summer like no other. The Hulk was a giant green dud, Ben Affleck and J. Lo couldn’t save Gigli from becoming the most ridiculed film since 2001’s Glitter, and sequels to Charlie’s Angels, Terminator and Legally Blonde went unnoticed by the public.
28 Days Later
Despite being a low-budget film thrown into a summer crowded with state of the art special effects, 28 Days Later shined as a simple horror movie with a strong message of hope and the strength of human perseverance. The film opened against what was then thought to be a sure hit, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, but when the dust settled, the zombie movie managed to steals some of the Angels’ kick. Unlike some of the prepackaged, glossed over flicks that filled the theaters this summer, 28 Days Later caused audiences to genuinely care about a group of people struggling to survive. This English import also helped to revive the zombie gore fests that for a long time were considered dead. In contrast with the flicks of the past like Night Of The Living Dead or Dawn Of The Dead, 28 Days Later puts the attention directly on the hardships of the characters rather than the flesh-eating dead.
— Pablo Saldana
The prophecy was that the chosen one was supposed to hold the box-office title, but an unlikely competitor by the name of Nemo short-circuited The Matrix. This family-oriented comedy surpassed all expectations when it recently became the highest grossing animated film of all time and the summer’s biggest ticket. Finding Nemo was a well-written story of a young fish lost in the vast ocean, but its clever humor was what kept Nemo selling tickets throughout most of the summer. Following the proven formula that has made Shrek and Monster Inc. appeal to adults as well as children, Nemo sticks to the successful mix of subtle adult humor and fully developed characters. With Finding Nemo, Disney and Pixar continues their lucrative partnership, which has already spawned groundbreaking films such as Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and A Bug’s Life — that is, when the distribution deal expires in December 2005.
Next March, it could be Seabiscuit running off with the top prize at the 2004 Academy awards. The only thing hindering its chances is its summer release date since the Academy seems to suffer from short-term memory. All the elements are there: a powerfully moving script, brilliant performances and direction that supports the story while still engaging the audience. Though summer is normally reserved for more light hearted, action-filled and explosion-packed flicks such as The Hulk, Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines and Bad Boys II, Seabiscuit, one of this summer’s few drama releases, captured audiences. Even if the film doesn’t grab Oscar gold, it should take pride in knowing it was one of this summer’s greatest cinematic moments. — P.S.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl
The big surprise of the summer, Pirates brings more than just action — it mixes adventure, love, ghosts and humor all into one movie. Johnny Depp breathes new life into the pirate hero. The seemingly bone-thin plot delivered more than just a kiddie movie and it was adults and teenagers that made it one of the biggest hits of the summer. The film is even now holding on to the glory. Still in the top ten at box office after seven weeks in theaters, Pirates is hauling booty from the loyal fans. At slightly over two hours, the film never drags. The plot is concise, the action moves along smoothly and humor accompanies almost every scene — all these elements coming together cause Pirates of The Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl to be one of the best movies of the summer 2003.
Johnny English, a seemingly unlikely candidate for the title of the best movie of the summer, is one of, if not the, funniest comedy’s of the summer. This spoof on spy thrillers, such as James Bond, stars Rowan Atkinson of Mr. Bean fame in what he does best — sketch comedy. The film exploits Atkinson’s amazing ability to make people laugh simply by using his face. Many sequences are based solely on Atkinson’s physical comedy. The film employs the classical British approach to humor and may not have hit the hot spot in the United States. The film managed to stay in the top five at box office for several weeks, but its main income came from overseas. Nevertheless, the humor is priceless and almost the entire movie is comprised of laughs. — O.R.