Although I was born in the 80's, the 90's were my formative years when I went from child to teenager, a time of girls, music, school and of course, movies. Whilst thinking this article over, it occurred to me just how many movies I saw in cinemas during that decade. It's a staggering amount, and I can pretty much remember each and every one of them, who I saw them with and where. Some of you might wonder where such classics as T2: Judgement Day are, or why I don't have Schindler's List on here. Well, this isn't a list of the greatest movies of the 90's. This is a list of the movies, good or bad, that left some kind of impression on me.
I grew up in Holland in the 90's and so saw a lot of films a bit later than when they were released in the US. Holland was a great place to grow up. Everything was so central and you could buy beer in the cinema foyer. There were three main cinemas, the major big one being Pathe Scheveningen which was almost on the seafront. There was a McDonalds in the same building and we used to sneak burgers in with us.
The other main one was Pathe Tuchinski, although now it's been renamed Pathe Buitenhof. This was smack bang in the centre of the Hague and the cinema I visited the most.
The other cinema of note was located in a shopping mall called 'Babylon'. This was also in the centre of the Hague, right next to the central station. I can remember seeing Aladdin (1992) here.
I was 7 years old in 1990. The first film I ever saw in cinemas was The Little Mermaid in 1989 and I was still too young to go to the cinema on my own during the first few years of the 90's so I dragged my parents along to see stuff like Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves (1991), Hook (1991) Jurassic Park (1993) and The Flintstones (1994). It's funny, I can remember loving Hook and The Flintstones as a kid, but I honestly can't sit through them now.
But there were a few movies in the early 90's that I went to see with friends. Whenever someone had a birthday it was the norm to go bowling or to the cinema or sometimes both, preceded or followed by a meal at Mcdonalds/Burger King. I have vivid memories of the hype surrounding Aladdin (1992). The Three Musketeers (1993) tried to recapture some of the success of Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves right down to having Bryan Adams on the soundtrack (along with Sting and Rod Stuart).
The first date I went on was with a beauty of a girl called Nicole. We saw Dangerous Minds (1995) which was mostly famous for the Coolio song (Gangsta's Paradise). The date never came to anything, but I'll always have a fondness for this movie.
There were three movies in 1995 that I never saw in cinemas, but can remember everybody talking about them. Braveheart was the Oscar winning entry and both the Batman and James Bond franchises were reinvented to huge success.
Robin Williams was all over cinema screens in the 90's - The Birdcage (1996) was another 'date movie' (different girl this time) and whatever happened to Alicia Silverstone? Also, am I the only one who feels really old when a movie like The Net (1995) makes the early days of the internet look horribly antiquated?
As the second half of the decade rolled on, 'Leo-Mania' was heating up with Baz Luhrman's awesome update on Romeo and Juliet (1996) and of course, Titanic (1997). I have a newfound respect for DiCaprio as an actor these days, but back then it was infuriating that every girl I knew couldn't stop talking about this guy. Scream (1996) became a staple of sleepovers for years after its release and I have memories of seeing Beavis and Butthead Do America (1996) twice in cinemas, although I have no idea why.
The 90's really carried on the tradition of big, dumb action movies left over from the 80's - ultimate case in point: Speed 2 Cruise Control (1997). Even as a 13 year old, I knew this was bad.
I've always found Batman and Robin (1997) a guilty pleasure. It's nowhere near as bad as some people make it out to be. Sure, it's completely over the top and goofy as hell, but I've always seen that as intentional. The Schumacher Batman movies are prime examples of 90's excess. The soundtracks alone read like some 'who's who' list of 90's bands: U2, Smashing Pumpkins, R. Kelly, Seal, R.E.M. etc. And the sheer celebrity ingredient of the movies can't be faulted. Again, whatever happened to Alicia Silverstone? Alien: Resurrection (1997) was the first Alien film I saw and I've been a fan of the series ever since. This was also back when Austin Powers used to be funny.
Nicholas Cage became a force to be reckoned with in the late 90's, starring in three actioners that I remember seeing many times on video before the end of the decade.
Sci-Fi/Horror films have been fairly common ever since Alien (1979), but I remember everybody being really freaked out by Event Horizon (1997). I'm probably one of the few people who really loved Starship Troopers (1997), a movie that managed to be both a funny satire on fascism as well as a damn good action/war movie. Before 1998, my idea of movies about WWII was of some dreary Sunday afternoon fare with John Wayne. Then I saw Saving Private Ryan...
Here's one of those funny instances where two films about pretty much the same thing come along in the same summer, in this case: huge meteors on a collision course with Earth. And that Aerosmith song just kept on playing on the radio...
My buddy and I had a habit of sleeping over at each other's houses, ordering pizza and renting stacks of old slasher videos. You can imagine how stoked we were when both Michael Myers and Chucky returned to cinema screens in late 1998.
1999 was a massive year for movies for me. I was in probably my first serious relationship with a girl and with nothing better to do once school was out, we saw pretty much every major movie that summer. The big one for me was Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which was the first Star Wars film in 16 years. Being born the year the last one came out, I had literally been waiting my whole life for this movie. It wasn't that great as it turned out, but that didn't stop me from going back to see it again, making one of only two movies I have seen more than once in a cinema (the first being Beavis and Butthead Do America). The Matrix was a phenomenon. I can remember when the DVD revolution came around, almost everybody had this in their collection.
Three creepy movies from late 1999 here. The Sixth Sense scared the absolute hell out of me. The Blair Witch Project less so, but I was impressed by its originality and remember plenty of people being convinced that it was real. The Haunting is a pretty ridiculous movie ruined by some awful CGI ghosts. But I remember jumping in the cinema at certain bits and the angelic carvings on the bedstead are genuinely freaky.
I can't think of a better movie to end the decade on. Ok, End of Days (1999) isn't a great movie, but my point here is symbolism. This movie concerns the end of the world on 31st December 1999. And the date I saw it? 30th December 1999. It was pretty cool to sit there in the cinema watching this and thinking 'wow, this is supposed to be happening... RIGHT NOW!'
Well, that was the 90's for me as far as movies were concerned. And this list doesn't even include the videos I rented. It is only now in 2010 that I am able to look back on the 90's with any kind of fondness or nostalgia. They were tough, rough years in a lot of ways and adolescence was no joke. But I have many fond memories of the movies I saw. These little pieces of cinema magic helped me through probably the toughest decade of my life, a decade that felt beginningless and endless when I was in the middle of it, and utterly massive in comparison to the 00's which, in all honesty, flew by.