After receiving a bottle of 1997 Port as a Christmas present from my good friend CeeQue, I remarked that “’97 was indeed a Vintage year.” His reply was simply “Was it?” and I thought, “Well maybe not” but it holds a significance for me personally.
This was one of the most prolific cinema going years of my life. I was 18 going on 19 years old at the time, obsessed with film by this point and spent almost the entire year in and out of the cinemas, mainly the now defunct Warner Village Cinema at Pilsworth, Bury. England.
As well as film, 1997 was the year that I got my first real job, was very much into showing Super 8 and 16mm films, bought one of my biggest Super 8 movies, Return Of The Jedi (1983), all seven reels of it, bought a series of cheap, rubbish cars and wasted my money on a Saga Saturn that Christmas.
I also spent hundreds of pounds on Pepsi and Walkers products simply to keep the Star Wars packaging whilst finally putting my Sci-Fi collectibles business, Cosmic Collectables to bed, having been a small time dealer in Star Wars and Trek memorabilia since 1994.
So, the year is 1997 and let us take a look at the films which I was watching at the cinema that year, all 19 of them, four of which are 10/10’s…
- MARS ATTACKS! 8/10 “Tim Burton’s answer to Independence Day (1996), was influenced more by Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers (1957) and various other Sci-Fi classic. Still an enjoyable start to 1997.”
- LIAR LIAR 8/10 “One of my first experiences of a comedy in the cinema and a memorable it was. The atmosphere was electric.”
- DANTE’S PEAK 7/10 “The first and arguably better Volcano movie of 1997. Flawed but made at a time when Pierce Brosnon was still James Bond so it had some weight behind it.”
- STAR WARS: EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (SPECIAL EDITION) 10/10 “Maybe the beginning of dark chapter in Star Wars history but still the first example of Star Wars hype that I had experienced first hand, only being 5 when I saw Return Of The Jedi in 1983. At the time, this was the year of Star Wars.”
- STAR WARS: EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (SPECIAL EDITION) 10/10 “The second of the Star Wars special editions and it is important to remember that at this point, the concept was still cool…”
- STAR WARS: EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (SPECIAL EDITION) 8/10 “The final and least satisfying special edition, a feeling whcih I had at the time and has never abated…”
- EVENT HORIZON 6/10 “The last film whcih I would ever watch at the Odeon Cinema on Oxford Street, Manchester. A disappointment on more than one level. The film was not great and the ageing cinema, complet with Artex walls, was clearly falling behind its more modern multiplex rivals.”
- MEN IN BLACK 8/10 “A decent movie but not as funny as I was expecting. It is more significant to me, to remember the context of this film at the time of release. As it was made during the hype surrounding the X-Files and the conspiracy theory boom of the mid 1990’s.”
- THE FIFTH ELEMENT 6/10 “A real disappointment, saved primarily by Gary Oldman.”
- FACE/OFF 10/10 “Loved it. Other than that I cannot remember too much about the screening.”
- AIR FORCE ONE 9/10 “Defying all its ludicrous concepts to be a really entertaining action thriller and one of Harrison Ford’s last great action roles.”
- BATMAN & ROBIN 4/10 “There is nothing to say about this movie that has not already been said…”
- VOLCANO 6/10 “An enjoyable B-Movie, one which I can still happily watch today, though my biggest memory of the cinema is the massive and cool cardboard display which loomed over the Box Office at the Bury multiplex.
- ALIEN: RESURRECTION 5/10 “Can barely remember watching this, though I know I did. This was the one and ONLY Alien movie which I saw at the cinema, not being a huge Alien fan but there is no doubt that this is the weakest movie so far…”
- THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK 7/10 “I felt really let down by this one. It is not as bad as I first thought and I do like it but it was the not the Jurassic Park sequel that I had been hoping for, for the previous four years and when I think back to 1997, this film makes me feel that this was a year of duds. But then I went to see the next film on a bit of a whim…”
- L.A. CONFIDENTIAL 10/10 “For several years running, this has been my number one movie of ALL TIME. A movie which should have taken the Oscar in 1998, but last out to Titanic, which I do not entirely disagree with but L.A. Confidential is the better film, though Titanic is great too…”
- THE SAINT 5/10 “Again, can remember little about this beside my disappointment.”
- CONTACT 9/10 “This was a film which I came away from talking for hours about. A real cinematic experience which left the cinema with me.”
- SPEED 2: CRUSE CONTROL 5/10 “Obviously this is a terrible sequel and I can remember more about breaking down on the way home at midnight and having to wait for the AA to turn up than the film itself.”
Of course, hits such as Titanic, though produced in 1997, did not reach a U.K. audience until January 1998 so this does not count as I am only counting films which I WATCHED in the cinema in ’97.
The same applies to others such as Kiss The Girls and Starship Troopers, both of which I saw in 1998.
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