Culture

The Movies

Culture | The top 5 movies in popularity as measured by box office receipts for the week ended June 17

Issue: "Trading places," June 30, 2001
1
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider $48.2 million
1 week in release
$48.2 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Angelina Jolie, Jon Voight / Simon West (The General's Daughter) / Paramount Pictures

PLOT
Movie version of the video game with the heroine battling a secret society looking for an ancient artifact.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for action violence and sensuality.

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BOTTOM LINE
Pulp escapism for computer geeks and teenage boys. Everyone else may be bored silly by the B-grade action.

2
Atlantis: The Lost Empire $20.4 million
2 weeks in release
$20.9 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Voices of Michael J. Fox, James Garner / Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) / Walt Disney Pictures

PLOT
A nerdy explorer gets the chance to find the fabled lost continent.

CAUTION
Rated PG for action violence.

BOTTOM LINE
This unexciting riff on Jules Verne will likely have kids squirming in their seats.

3
Shrek $12.9 million
5 weeks in release
$197.2 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy / Andrew Adamson and Victoria Jenson / DreamWorks SKG

PLOT
A stupid king sends an ugly ogre on a quest to save a captive princess.

CAUTION
Rated PG for bad language and crude humor.

BOTTOM LINE
This movie strip-mines the fairy tale genre into postmodernist fantasy, tormenting characters from old Disney movies.

4
Swordfish $12.2 million
2 weeks in release
$39.2 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
John Travolta, Hugh Jackman / Dominic Sena (Gone in 60 Seconds) / Warner Bros.

PLOT
A spy teams up with a computer hacker to try to steal billions from the government.

CAUTION
Rated R for violence, bad language, sexuality, and nudity.

BOTTOM LINE
This paranoid, trashy cross between The Matrix and Dog Day Afternoon is just another flashy exercise in postmodern moviemaking.

5
Pearl Harbor $9.5 million
4 weeks in release
$160 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, sensuality, and bad language.

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

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
How far, exactly, can Disney sink? Atlantis: The Lost Empire is an adventure story that comes up completely bland. At least nobody sings in this one. The hero is Milo Thatch (Michael J. Fox), who wants to live his father's dream and find the underwater city. A rich benefactor finds him and sets him up with a crew of explorers, who set out to find Atlantis. When they arrive, the group's leader (James Garner), who turns out to be a mercenary looking for the Atlanteans' power source, double-crosses Milo. While Atlantis happily discards the synth-pop musical score typical of 1990s Disney, it tries too hard to inculcate bits of the Indiana Jones movies and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Yet nothing engages. Atlantis winds up thin, with unsympathetic characters, too many pointless action scenes, an uninteresting underwater world, and a plot that turns into nonsense. The battle revolves around the movie's obligatory New Agey part: Everybody in Atlantis wears crystals that harness a mystic force that draws power from their ancestors. Hollywood is buzzing that Disney's animation studio is having problems-complete with cutbacks and layoffs-and Atlantis is sure evidence of trouble in the Magic Kingdom.

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