The Year In Film: 2002

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-One of the best things about doing this year in film series is recapping and discussing the films that made an impact on vital years. There are some years that have huge films, both commercially and critically, and 2002 is definitely one of those. There were movies released during this year that aged very well and a few that got better with time. Starting off, I think it's only fair to discuss the blockbusters of the year. The biggest movies of the year commercially were The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, and of course, the beginning of the Tobey Maguire Spiderman saga. There were other big time successes like "Signs" with Mel Gibson, the 2nd episode in the New Star Wars saga titled Attack Of The Clones, and of course, the Pierce Bronsan 007 series began closing their chapter with Die Another Day. Jason Statham set himself on the path to become an action star with the first edition of The Transporter, and Jennifer Lopez had a double dose of hit movies with the decent film Enough and the awful Maid In Manhattan.

There would be no actor that had a year quite like Leonardo DiCaprio however, as he closed out 2002 with two big time films, Gangs of New York and Catch Me If You Can, both critical successes. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones returned for Men In Black 2, Jodie Foster released the slept in Panic Room, horror watchers got shook of video tapes via The Ring, Wesley Snipes reprised his role as Blade, and Beyonce decided to join the Austin Powers franchise for Goldmember. Finally, we got the hip hop movie that we were waiting on..... or so we thought. Leave it to the mainstream darling Eminem to come with a movie that showcased battle rap and hip hop culture in 8 Mile. Despite the cheesy execution in some spots, 8 Mile was a huge movie on the year and a favorite for many. All in all, 2002 seemed to be a solid year and that's what we are here to discuss. Let's take a look at the year and the movies that made it special.

I’ve always been a huge fan of everything that was released in the 90’s...the great, the good and the bad, it seemed the decade could do no wrong (IMO), but if I’m being fair, I would have to say the early 2000’s weren’t so bad. As a matter of fact, the films that came out were in the same caliber as the films I loved from the years before it. Today, we get to reflect on the best movies of 2002! As I recall the releases, I have to admit, this is one of my favorite years in film since the turn of the millennium. Here are the films that made my top ranks.

First, Gangs of New York. The infamous film duo of DiCaprio and Scorsese are at it again with this film that touches (albeit loosely) on some historical events that took place but does it in a way that engages the viewers. Much like most Scorsese flicks dealing with mobs or the head of a gang, it has a ton of killing, blood and guts. The opening scene is a bit intense as a young boy sees his father being killed at the hands of a gang leader (set in the 1800’s). I’m not one to predict events and outcomes in movies, and this one wasn’t obvious to me. I loved the way this one executed the concept of avenging a father’s death. The cast helped tremendously in the believability and well played roles of each character. Leonardo Dicaprio is fantastic and Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent and Brendan Gleeson were also great in their roles. Even though this film was very long and dealt with subject matter that wasn’t as “fun” or “glamorous” as say Goodfellas was, it was still a great piece of work and one only Scorsese could execute so well.

Of course, I have to mention Brown Sugar. This is hands down my favorite release of the year (yes even above Star Wars) because it was a best friend love story intertwined with hip hop. I don’t think it can get better than that! Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan are incredible for the lead roles because their on-screen chemistry is so believable. The film revolves around the simple question of “When did you first fall in love with hip hop” and features hip hop pioneers telling us what their moment was. I think the movie was clever in the double-entendre that “hip hop” had and of course I love that it also (briefly) touched on the decline of hip hop as well. There is no better way to incorporate all of these and Brown Sugar did it exceptionally. I have no bad things to say about this one. I loved and still love everything about it.

Another favorite was Martin Lawrence’s Runteldat. There’s not much to say about Martin Lawrence’s stand-ups because I can’t write all of the stuff I found hilarious but this was so funny and it was good to have a new release. I’m a huge fan of stand up in general so I thoroughly enjoyed this from beginning to end. His humor is crude, he’s vulgar and of course his humor is unfiltered so some may find it offensive. I for one did not. If I ever need a dose of comedy, this one is definitely on the list.

There was no way I could resist including Star Wars Ep. 2: Attack of the Clones here. I love Star Wars and make sure to watch everything associated with the franchise so any year that has an episode release is going to be great. In this episode, there’s a lot going on which makes it so exciting. The war is on between the armies of the republic and the confederacy of independents led by Count Dooku. If that wasn’t enough, Anakin sees visions that his mother is dying and sets off to Tatooine to prevent/avenge her death and thus beginning to give himself to the dark side of the force. We also see Mace Windu and of course he saves the day by leading Jedis and clone troopers to save the imprisoned Anakin, Padme and Obi Wan. What makes this a fan favorite is the incredible presence of all the key Jedis but specifically Master Yoda engaging in a lightsaber battle with Count Dooku. This is definitely a fun episode to watch and as expected a great continuation and midway point of the prequel trilogy. While George Lucas wrote the original story for this one, he had someone else (Jonathan Hales from the Indiana Jones films) to polish the draft and finalize it. Both of them did great because this was a very well-done movie.

One comedy I loved was National Lampoon’s Van Wilder. Aside from loving movies related to Mobsters/mafia, heists, black movies in general and Star Wars, I also have a thing for silly humor (Superbad is one of my favorite comedies) so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed Van Wilder. I’m not a huge fan of Ryan Reynold’s but as Van he was hilarious. What I liked about this is that Van Wilder with all his campus fame and clout uses it to do genuinely good deeds for things like the swim team and tries to popularize the “geeks”. The writers did a good job of making the audience like Van and wish him nothing but success in his attempts at graduating, with his love interest Gwen and in everything else he tries to do. Of course, this is a wild exaggeration of most colleges, it is definitely a film that entertains that particular demographic. Some scenes were a bit disgusting (the dog semen in the donuts which are consumed by the rival frat) but overall this is a very entertaining movie that is hilarious throughout.

Of course, I have to talk John Q.
Another one of my favorite movies this year and one of my top ranked in Denzel’s catalog is John Q. The storyline is a little far-fetched but the I love the message and I LOVE that it highlighted in such an extreme way the problems with unaffordable healthcare to the citizens in the richest country on earth. This movie is wildly emotional even though it’s not plausible and Denzel is exceptional in his portrayal of a loving father and husband who is just trying to do what needs to be done for his child. I’m not a parent, but I know for a certainty that any parent watching this could relate to the extreme measures they are prepared to take when it comes to the life of their child. This is a great story of a hostage situation, one that is obviously wrong but we can’t help but to side with John Q (Denzel) who is painted as a villain. I also like that this film makes us think about whether doing something wrong for a noble and selfless reason rooted in unconditional love is still wrong. Above everything else, I love that this film shed light on an issue that is STILL a problem in the US. John Q is an incredibly moving story and one that is sure to resonate with viewers.

A surprise gem was Minority Report. I must start off by saying I dislike Tom Cruise and Collin Farrell, I rarely love their films but I loved Minority Report. I had never seen a movie dealing with this futuristic, forward thinking concept. It’s a lot of things in one which is why I think it works so well. It’s thought provoking, it’s emotional and it’s a murder mystery in the most twisted way because….the murder hasn’t even happened yet. Steven Spielberg did a phenomenal job of incorporating CGI perfectly as well as camera angles, filters colors and everything else, while the writers created a perfect story that develops each key character and back story flawlessly. There is not one moment of confusion, or a second when you have to go back because you may have missed something. This film was surprisingly good and one that I’m always down to watch regardless of how many times I’ve already seen it!

Although 2002 had many many releases that were great, these are my favorites and films that I still watch over and over to this day!

2002 was a solid year. There was City of God about 2 boys growing up in the harsh ghettos of Brazil where one takes the path of being a drug dealer and the other becomes a photographer capturing the art in the poverty around him. This was definitely my favorite film this year. The Bourne Identity was the first installment to the Bourne series. A man is found drifting in the ocean nearly dead not knowing who he is. Once recovered, he sets out on a mission to find out who his really is, what happened to him, why assassins are trying to kill him and why he has these combat skills.

A Walk To Remember was another one of those sad Carolina stories with unexpected lovers going on an interesting journey together with ups and downs that captures audiences. Of course, there was Friday After Next, the sequel to Friday where Craig moves away to the burbs with his Uncle, step aunt & cousin Day Day(Mike Epps) while he tries to escape the drama in his old hood but trouble still follows him along with a bunch of hilarity. All About The Benjamins was another Ice Cube movie with Mike Epps teaming up together with him. Where can you go wrong with this duo? The Ring was a dope concept. You watch a creepy imaged filled video, you get a call that says "7 days", you become marked for death and you spend that time investigating and trying not to die.

8 Mile was loosely based on Eminem's story. I found this film to be way better than expected. Everyone's performance was good. The rap battles are classic in this especially using the Shook Ones instrumental. Lose Yourself came from this film also which is one of Em's top 5 songs. Moving on, The Transporter was action packed. You can't go wrong with a good Jason Statham movie. We also got Resident Evil this year. Although I'm not hyped about zombie films, I grew up playing this game so I had to watch the movie and it was actually better than expected. A lot of ill death scenes in here.

A few other films I liked:
Minority Report
The Lord of The Rings
28 Days Later

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-2002 happened to be a great year for black films. While not every film released was a critical success or commercially successful, 2002 showcased more power in black film. However, there were some rough moments in film for the year. No one had a tougher year than Eddie Murphy. The fall from grace was tougher than expected  and one had hope that it wouldn't turn out as bad as it did. As a longtime Eddie fan, I was really interested in seeing what he had to offer in 2002, but the end result left me puzzled and beyond disappointed. Starting with a film that seemed promising, Showtime, the end result was just an excuse to have Robert Deniro and Eddie in a film together. There are some interesting moments and comedic scenes between the two stars, but overall the film just missed the mark. Another Eddie film that disappointed was the Owen Wilson featured I Spy, but it wasn't the worst of the worst surprisingly. Yes, last week we discussed the horrid Holy Man from Eddie, and this week, we take a moment to discuss the worst movie ever, The Adventures Of Pluto Nash. This is possibly the most depressing movie I've ever sat through because it showed me that the fall from grace for Eddie was real and he might never recover. Truthfully, he hasn't.

That wasn't the only group of black films or black actor led films that missed the mark. Apparently, someone thought it was a good idea to make Juwanna Mann. Why? I don't know. At all. It was awful. Dreadful. Terrible. The same could be said for a film that starred Ja Rule and Kurupt, and Steven Seagal, Half Past Dead. It was a pointless action film that just didn't grasp my attention and it didn't work. Morris Chestnut also starred in the film. Now, I know many enjoyed the kids classic Like Mike, but I just never got into it. It was pretty cool seeing the NBA guys in the movie, but the concept was so stupid that I really couldn't get beyond it. Still, if you came up watching this movie you probably feel differently, and that's fine (just don't try to defend the sequel). While the beautiful Aaliyah had tragically passed away the year prior, her last film role would be released this year with the darker film Queen Of The Damned. While it was bittersweet to see Aaliyah for the final time on screen, the movie itself was rather subpar. Another subpar movie would end up being the first starring role for The Rock in The Scorpion King. Wesley Snipes and Michael Jai White had a standard and unimpressive film in Undisputed, which was a bit gritty.

The top films of the year for the black films featured Martin Lawrence and his Runteldat standup, John Q, Paid In Full, Brown Sugar, and Antwone Fisher is a very solid well together project as well. Other enjoyable black films include Barbershop, Drumline, and so many more. Overall, 2002 was a solid year in film and it should be remembered as one of the best years of the 2000s in film.



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