We’re continuing our series where we honour the films that have been released to us throughout the past twenty years – 2001 includes plenty of stand-alone films which made a significant impact to pop culture alongside the genesis of franchises that rocked the world and are still prevalent today. If you want to see our previous instalment to the series where we looked into the year 2000 then please click the link.
In no particular order, let’s break down five films that made 2001 a better year.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Chris Columbus
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is the first instalment to the magical world of Hogwarts, originally created in a book series by J.K. Rowling. Following the story of one wizard named Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), the film was released in November of 2001 and became the highest grossing film of 2001. It is also now the forty-fifth highest grossing film of all time. It then went on to become a major franchise with six more films, theme parks and stage shows. The reviews of the film were generally positive but for a personal anecdote, Harry Potter and all of its branches are my least favourite things of all time! Sorry, Potterheads.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Peter Jackson
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is another popular book adaptation that hit our screens in December of 2001 and went on to become a major franchise. Adapted from J.R.R Tolkien’s first instalment of The Lord of the Rings series (not including The Hobbit), the film tells the story of a young Hobbit (Elijah Wood) who finds himself thrown from his comfortable home and into a fierce battle against good and evil. It came just behind Harry Potter in the box office and was the second highest grossing film of 2001. However, it won many awards including Best Cinematography, Best Score, Best Makeup and Best Visual Effects. It is widely known as one of the most influential fantasy films of all time. As opposed to Harry Potter, this is my favourite film of all time!
Shrek, Andrew Adamson & Vicky Jenson
Shrek is the animated comedy which turns the classic fairytale onto its head when an ogre is tasked with saving a beautiful princess from the claws of a fire-breathing dragon. Dreamworks took a risk when they released the risque Shrek in April of 2001 but reaped the benefits as the green ogre voiced by Mike Myers became a globally recognisable figure for adults and children alike. What many don’t know is that this is another (loose) book adaptation of the fairytale by William Steig. It made history when it won the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature alongside other nominations. Similarly to the previous two films, it went on to become a franchise with multiple sequels, short films and video games.
Pearl Harbor, Michael Bay
Pearl Harbor is the romantic war drama which is semi-non-ficitional as it is set during the real attacks by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor. The plot focuses on the love story between a young couple (Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale) in their weeks together before the major attack which shook history. Released in May of 2001, the tear-jerker was a box office success but it received poor reviews which critiqued the story, length, dialogue and the multitude of historical faux pas. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said of the film, “[It] has been directed without grace, vision, or originality, and although you may walk out quoting lines of dialogue, it will not be because you admire them”.
Hannibal, Ridley Scott
Hannibal is the sequel to the horror series by the same name adapted from Thomas Harris’ novel. The plot again follows the terrifying Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) who is being pursued to be captured and brought to justice once more. When it was released in February, it broke box office records but was met with mixed reviews. Jodie Foster turned away the chance to reprise her role and was instead replaced with Julianne Moore; despite the fact Hopkins and Moore are both acclaimed actors, the chemistry just didn’t gel as well on camera as the original. But it is always important to try new things.
Other honourable mentions:
- Monsters, Inc., Pete Docter. This animated feature film presented by Disney’s Pixar tells the story of monsters who make their profession by scaring children. The studio reached new heights by creating new rendering techniques for fur and cloth to make it look more realistic.
- Ocean’s Eleven, Steven Soderbergh. This heist remake film is the first instalment of the recreation of the Ocean’s series and went on to become a massive franchise with sequels following through to 2018. It was the fifth highest grossing film of 2001.
- The Mummy Returns, Stephen Sommers. This adventure film is the sequel to The Mummy starring Brendan Fraser. Although it had mixed reviews, The Mummy franchise is one that many hold dearly in their hearts for nostalgia’s sake, even if they are a bit cheesy.
- Jurassic Park III, Joe Johnston. This sci-fi thriller is the third instalment of the Jurassic Park series and is the first one that wasn’t directed by Spielberg. Despite mixed reviews, the list of sequels paved the way for the Jurassic World reboot which followed in later years and is still running today.
- Planet of the Apes, Tim Burton. This sci-fi remake comes from the twisted mind of Tim Burton who couldn’t impress the critics with the convuluted plot and ending. However, the prosthetics created by Rick Baker were praised.