Mega budgets. Huge stars. High concept stories. Merchandise tie-ins and chart-topping theme music. The 1990s produced some great blockbusters and here’s ten of the best.
The 1990s was an interesting decade for me. Although I had made a handful of journeys to the cinema at the tail end of the eighties it was the nineties that saw the trip to the local cinema become a regular activity. Therefore, it was the beginning of my movie anticipation. That wonderful feeling that occurs when you first hear about an exciting new project and can’t wait for it to arrive on the big screen. The 1990s saw the studios spend big money on big projects. Therefore, anticipation for sequels like Terminator 2, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and of course, Star Wars: Episode 1, and mega-budget disaster films Titanic, Armageddon and Independence Day, meant the box office was licking its lips awaiting long queues and significant ticket sales.
Of the best blockbusters of the 1990s, here’s the top ten.
10. Star Wars – Episode 1 (Lucas, 1999)
The film is rubbish. But expectation and a “new hope” are important factors in making Star Wars – Episode 1 one of the best blockbusters of the 1990s. Of course, the merchandising tie-in that is so often part and parcel of the blockbuster was sent into overdrive. Regardless of the film’s quality, no one could deny they felt butterflies in the stomach when “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” appeared on the screen.
9. Titanic (Cameron, 1997)
The name James Cameron must send shivers down the spines of studio executives. His films make a lot of money but he also likes to spend a lot too. Titanic was no exception as The Terminator director spent millions recreating the fated journey of the world’s most famous ocean liner. The film might feature a jaded love story but it touched the hearts of people worldwide.
8. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (Roach, 1999)
Austin Powers was a surprise hit for Mike Myers even though his comedy talent had already been assured with the Wayne’s World films. After a successful fire starter there was always room for a sequel and star Myers and director Jay Roach deliver with a film that rivals the original for best of the series.
7. The Lion King (Allers/Minkoff, 1994)
Theme-tune tie-in makes The Lion King one of the best blockbusters of the 1990s. Many will recognise the songs just as much as watching Simba and his Dad Mufasa. A family-friendly awe-inspirer from Disney, The Lion King was always going to get bums in cinema seats.
See also: Top 10 Traditionally Animated Films
6. Saving Private Ryan (Spielberg, 1998)
Steven Spielberg creates one of the most devastatingly cinematic re-enactments of the D-Day landings on France’s beaches during World War II. That would be enough to propel the film above all others but he follows the film’s brutal first twenty minutes with a thoroughly enjoyable journey of courage and honour.
See also: Top 10 Steven Spielberg Films | Top 10 Films Presents Classic Scenes
5. The Sixth Sense (Shyamalan, 1999)
M. Night Shyamalan announced himself as the master of the twist. No one expected the success The Sixth Sense would have but its twist ending had so many people bamboozled, word of its effectiveness quickly saw people flocking to the cinema to experience it for themselves.
4. Forrest Gump (Zemeckis, 1994)
Robert Zemeckis’ warm-hearted box of chocolates was handsomely digested at the box office. Tom Hanks’ wonderful performance as nice-but-dim Forrest Gump was the sweet filling to a film overdosing on sugar. But any film full of this much hope cannot fail to win the hearts of the masses. As the box office results show – it did just that.
See also: Top 10 Tom Hanks Films 1990 – 2010 | Top 10 Robert Zemeckis Films
3. Independence Day (Emmerich, 1996)
We love a disaster movie. Especially when the threat is an alien invasion and we can fight back. Great performances from Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum help the film add a little comedy to the action in this crowd-pleasing film from 1996.
2. Terminator 2 – Judgment Day
A sequel to The Terminator. Arnold Schwarzenegger to return. I thought Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton had already saved the world and destroyed the possibility of the machines rising up? Obviously not. Never mind, it’s only a movie! And if they had we wouldn’t have got this terrific sequel. And Cameron does a great trick in the film by hiding the motives of the two Terminators. The reversal of Schwarzenegger’s role is inspired.
See also: Top 10 Sequels of all time
1. Jurassic Park (Spielberg, 1993)
Merchandising tie-ins, teaser posters and trailers, re-branded source novel, huge budget, the utilisation of new special-effects techniques, a high-concept story with a grandiose premise. Everything was in place long before Jurassic Park was released to ensure this was the blockbuster of the decade. Not surprising since Spielberg started the trend back in 1975 with Jaws. Jurassic Park was awe-inspiring in 1993 and although special-effects have moved on since then its CGI dinosaurs still look very authentic. And unlike movies today, Spielberg was still using animatronics to complement the computer graphics and they are equally as effective. Jurassic Park is a terrific film from a genius filmmaker. Without doubt it is the best film about dinosaurs ever made.
See also: Top 10 Steven Spielberg Films
Written and compiled by Daniel Stephens.
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