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The Movies

Culture | The top 5 movies in popularity as measured by box office receipts for the weekend of May 27

Issue: "Bush wins one," June 9, 2001
1
Pearl Harbor $75.1 million
1 week in release
$75.1 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett / Michael Bay (Armageddon) / Touchstone Pictures

PLOT
The Pearl Harbor attack and Jimmy Doolittle's raid on Tokyo are juxtaposed with a love triangle involving two pilots and a nurse.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for sustained intense war sequences, images of wounded, sensuality, and language.

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BOTTOM LINE
Key moments in American history are reduced to standard Hollywood formulas.

2
Shrek $54.2 million
2 weeks in release
$110.7 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Voices of Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy / Andrew Adamson and Victoria Jenson / DreamWorks SKG

PLOT
Reverse Beauty and The Beast animation about stupid king who sends an ugly ogre on a quest to save a captive princess.

CAUTION
Rated PG for language and crude humor.

BOTTOM LINE
This movie strip-mines the fairy-tale genre into postmodernist fantasy, tormenting characters from old Disney movies. What kind of childhood fun is that?

3
The Mummy Returns $19.1 million
4 weeks in release
$170.7 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz / Stephen Sommers / Universal Studios

PLOT
A couple of adventurers race to stop the dreaded Scorpion King from conquering the world.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for adventure action and violence. Contains lots of pulp-Egyptology: mummies, occult magic, reincarnation, etc.

BOTTOM LINE
This film begs not to be taken seriously. One action sequence simply piles upon another from start to finish.

4
A Knight's Tale $9.3 million
3 weeks in release
$44.5 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell / Brian Helgeland (Payback) / Columbia Pictures

PLOT
A brave swordsman pretends to be a noble so he can become a knight.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for action violence, some nudity, and sex-related dialogue.

BOTTOM LINE
Medieval history dumbed down for public-school teenagers. Jousting appears as an arena sport like football or soccer, and the era of chivalry has no disease, war, or religious conviction.

5
Angel Eyes $6.3 million
2 weeks in release
$18.6 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Jennifer Lopez, Jim Caviezel / Luis Mandoki (Message in a Bottle) / Warner Bros.

PLOT
Romantic drama about a cop who falls in love with a man who saves her life.

CAUTION
Rated R for language, violence, and a sex scene.

BOTTOM LINE
Publicity for this movie wrongly hints that it's a supernatural thriller. Instead it's a brooding melodrama about a woman's getting over her dysfunctional family history so she can love a man with his own tragic past.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
No, it's not that bad. But a subject like that of Pearl Harbor deserves better than this year's blockbuster. Action movie king Jerry Bruckheimer pounded the tale into something resembling Top Gun, mixed with touches of Titanic and some old war movies. The highlight of the movie is the 40-minute re-creation of the 1941 attack. Before that comes the lengthy build-up of a love triangle featuring two pilots, childhood friends who come to blows over a nurse (Kate Beckinsale). The Ben Affleck character is her true love, but the Josh Hartnett one is the father of her illegitimate child. Interspersed are scenes of sanitized Japanese commanders supposedly forced into war while the Americans cluelessly missed hints about Pearl Harbor. When the battle comes, the tragedy is weakened because of the story. The movie ends with Alec Baldwin as Jimmy Doolittle leading the raid on Tokyo. Pearl Harbor needed more sobriety and less melodrama. The thin screenplay is credited to Braveheart screenwriter Randall Wallace, but he told the New York Daily News that director Michael Bay brought in other writers to change his story to something more superficial. Wallace preserved his original version in a novelization.

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