The Year In Film: 2004

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
When we talk the 2000's and the films that made them special, there are some years that go under the radar and surprise you with how good they were. 2004 is one of those years. When I first made the decision to write about this year, I thought that I would be disappointed by the releases of the year, but surprisingly enough, I found myself actually excited about the movies released. Whether it was the highest grossing film of the year, Shrek 2, the popular Spiderman 2, or even the controversial Passion Of The Christ, 2004 gave the viewer variety and a plethora of critically acclaimed and successful films. Today, I've gathered the team to talk 2004 and the movies we all enjoyed and watched, as well as a few that we would like to forget. Let's take a look at the year 2004 in film.

2004 was an interesting year for movies. Although the genres were all over the place from comedies to action to drama and horror, Hollywood covered their basis. While there were a ton of releases, this is another year I only liked a handful of them. Here they are.

First up, Kill Bill Vol. 2. This is one of my favorite sequels ever and that’s because Tarantino is a brilliant writer and clearly knows how to execute a sequel so well that it can be ranked above the original. I really appreciated the first one so I was thrilled to see a second and I was not disappointed. The characters were incredibly consistent only they were better developed here and Tarantino included so much dialogue, narration and backstory that the entire thing came together. This one is Beatrix Kiddo setting off with only one mission: to kill Bill. She goes through a ton of shit and sets off to learn from martial arts master Pai Mei, which is my favorite part of the entire film. Although we see her rigorous training regiment and her dedication, and we hear of this “five point palm exploding heart” technique which he never teaches to anyone, it’s only towards the end that we realize she’s mastered it! Much like any Tarantino flick, this is filled to the brim with blood, guts, violence and some intense action-packed scenes, but that’s what makes it so good and what cements Beatrix Kiddo as the most badass female ever. 

Another favorite of mine is Mean Girls. I think I enjoy this movie more than I should. I’ve seen it many many times and like other fans of the movie I’ve memorized most of it. Although this film is superficial and petty, I think it allows people to reconnect with high school (for better or worse). This is a lighthearted, funny movie packed with (exaggerated) lessons of social interaction. I thought the cast was well chosen and of course Tina Fey writing the screenplay makes this a whole lot better. I loved the characters, they each had distinct personalities that were developed so well and each played the roles perfectly. As much as I hate to admit it, Mean Girls is one of those movies that will always be fun to watch and will be enjoyed by future generations. 

A favorite of mine this year is Troy. This is one of my favorite movies in Brad Pitt’s catalog. I love that this is based on Homer’s Iliad but of course to please Hollywood you have to add a hero, a villain and pack it with gory death scenes and romanticize all the wrong things. With that said, I did enjoy it. I think Brad Pitt was the perfect person to play Achilles, as he had just the right mannerisms, arrogance and “heart” to execute the character well. On the flipside, I think Orlando Bloom was the perfect choice to portray a beta-male and Eric Bana was a dope addition to the cast as well as Hector. I love the battle scenes, I liked how they captured the details but it does take away from the story to humanize Achilles, Hector and the kings the way they did. I think it’s a big task to make a film out of The Iliad and while Troy isn’t a perfect rendition of it, it’s still very enjoyable even when watched a couple times. 

Of course, my last main choice is I, Robot. I love this movie and I watch it every time it is on TV or when I come across it on streaming sites. I feel people have such a fascination with the future and the concept of AI so it’s nice to see a well written and well executed movie depict it like this. I like that it’s easy to follow along for the audience, They establish the “three laws of robotics” so clearly and I also like that when the three laws begin to fail, it is also portrayed quite well. This movie is one of suspense, drama and has enough action to keep everyone engaged. I also like Will Smith’s character (of course), as I like that he is skeptical about everything and he follows his “gut” even though everyone tells him not to. I also appreciated how the videography in this film works to highlight the importance of subtle parts that would otherwise go unnoticed, like when Smith and Sonny shake hands. There is a slow-mo effect while the camera zooms in that is brilliant. Overall I, Robot is a very engaging and fun movie to watch and I like the incorporation of characters that aren’t all human. 

There you have it, my favorite films of ’04. I also have to mention that Man On Fire is a fantastic film and also Ocean’s Twelve which ranks on my top heist films as well. 2004 is also the year one of my most hated movies of all time was released, and that is Napolean Dynamite. I despised everything about this movie and am still salty that I can’t have my 1 hour and 36 minutes back. 

2004 was a great year for film. Every genre was being represented well. Out of the hundred that came out there weren't too many I actually disliked. The Village was an interesting film about a small group of people who have a certain set of beliefs about creatures who border their village and as long as they don't attempt to leave they'll be fine. The twist ending was dope and probably one of my favorites from M. Night. Napoleon Dynamite was my favorite comedy of the year. Everything about this movie was hilarious to me. The characters were all ridiculous or bizarre in their own way. 

The Girl Next Door was a cool movie about a girl named Danielle that moves in next door to Matthew who eventually hits it off with her but he soon finds out she's a porn star and afterwards his life becomes hectic. National Treasure was another Nicolas Cage movie I enjoyed. I like those films where a person is a historian and sets out on a mission to find lost treasure, civilization or artifacts and they run into danger along the way. Man On Fire is one of my favorite Denzel Washington films. As an assassin, he's developed a fondness for a little girl he protects who gets kidnapped. Now he seeks vengeance in a major way.

A few others I enjoyed:
The Bourne Supremacy
The Notebook
Wicker Park
Kill Bill Vol. 2
Harold and Kumar
Ocean's Twelve
Friday Night Lights
The Grudge
The Manchurian Candidate

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-I actually remember the first movie I saw during 2004 vividly. It was Along Came Polly. One of my favorite Ben Stiller films ever, Along Came Polly was my first 2004 movie and I remember laughing my ass off throughout the film. I haven't watched it in quite some time, but I still remember Philip Seymour Hoffman and his hilarious portrayal, which is my favorite part of the film. Along Came Polly is a highlight of 2004, and it's my first thought when I think of the year in film. Another film that I feel indifferent about, but also have memories of is You Got Served. It was essentially one of the first dance films to really bring forth that style before Step Up and other films really took the craze too far. The thing about this film that made it hilarious was the horrible acting. B2K and Marques Houston are far from the best actors and this movie will not change the perception of any of that. The storyline is pretty bad, but the movie still has an enjoyable quality to it, mostly based around the dancing and the shitty yet unintentionally hilarious dialogue. You Got Served is a highlight in a way for this year, but it's also a disappointment if you expected anything from it. Luckily, I didn't.

There were some films with black leads this year that I enjoyed from Barbershop 2 to The Rock's film Walking Tall, which is one of the few roles we even see Rock play a black man (though he's half black... but that's another story). Another highlight on the year film wise of course comes in the form of a classic Denzel Washington film, Man On Fire. The film is one of the most solid Denzel performances in his career from an action standpoint and I could watch that movie over and over just based on the action aspect of it. For the comedy crowd, you might enjoy the Johnson Family Vacation film, which starred Cedric The Entertainer, Steve Harvey, Bow Wow, and more. I wasn't the biggest fan of it, because it really just felt like an extended episode of a corny black sitcom, but it was definitely a decent family film in that respect. I actually enjoyed the Jamie Foxx and Gabrielle Union film Breakin' All The Rules, but mostly because the saga of Jamie Foxx's hair throughout. However, a film that I can't stand to watch is Soul Plane. It's one of the worst black films of all time and it was essentially the breakthrough role for Kevin Hart, but it really didn't make any impact as a film to me. It was poorly written and overly corny, which is a disappointment because they could have executed it better.

There were other films on the year like the disaster film The Day After Tomorrow, another Harry Potter sequel, The Chronicles Of Riddick, Napoloen Dynamite, Dodgeball, and even the infamous Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. For fans of cheesy and terrible chick flicks, The Notebook was released this year unfortunately. The hilarious cult classic Anchorman was also released this year along with the Will Smith hit film I, Robot and the solid Matt Damon sequel The Bourne Supremacy. Jamie Foxx would have a huge year, as he starred in two huge critically acclaimed and successful films, one being the Tom Cruise and Jada Pinkett assisted Collateral and of course, his huge role in the Ray Charles biopic, Ray. Add in The Incredibles, as well as Hotel Rwanda, Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator, among others, and 2004 is a very good year in film, perhaps one of the best of that decade.



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