The yr 1997 appears each impossibly way back and unusually current, and bears odd similarities to 2022 in that it was a giant yr for Nicolas Cage, Will Smith, and Batman. Costumed heroes battled in computer-generated landscapes and a lot of issues blew up.
Yet there are family title actors in 2022 who had been nonetheless in diapers then, and 1997 megastars who wouldn’t draw a second look now. Marvel was a comic book firm, and the web made loud noises once you related to it.
Looking again on the summer time of 1997, how a lot of an influence did it have on the Hollywood of 2022? Turns out, rather a lot …
Before 1997, Nicolas Cage was an actor. A very good one, too—he received an Oscar in 1996 for Leaving Las Vegas. After following that up with Michael Bay’s The Rock, he shocked everybody by delivering a one-two punch of wildly pleasant, extremely violent films that dominated the summer time of 1997: Con Air and Face/Off. These got here out a mere two weeks aside and propelled Cage into the realm of sh*t-blowing-up films. His filmography since then has been strikingly uneven—equal elements status and bargain-bin—however in 1997 there was no person higher at explosive kookiness.
Perhaps partly as a consequence of existential anxiousness stemming from the upcoming new millennium, a number of filmmaking eyes had been forged skyward in 1997. Men In Black, Contact, and Event Horizon supplied totally different takes on what could possibly be on the market. Contact—which, other than that one beloved mirror shot, hasn’t actually stood the check of time—provided a extra cerebral method, whereas Event Horizon mixed psychological trauma with physique horror; Men In Black, however, provided a cheerful, crowd-pleasing tackle conspiracy theories. (Also launched that summer time: Richard Donner’s paranoia-is-correct thriller Conspiracy Theory.) One summer time later, this existential dread could be made even clearer with the death-from-above double-whammy of Armageddon and Deep Impact, because the world collectively determined it was all in all probability over for us.
One yr earlier, Independence Day had launched the world to Will Smith, Movie Star. While that film was arguably an ensemble piece, it remodeled Smith from beloved sitcom star to main box-office draw. Men In Black gave him his second Fourth of July opening in a row, and it turned out to be a colossal hit each critically and commercially (and got here accompanied by successful single). This could be the Will Smith mannequin for just a few years, recreated for each Wild Wild West and Men In Black II, each of which form of sucked however nonetheless made a fortune.
In 1997, Hollywood didn’t know that comedian e-book films had been set to change into the cultural behemoth they’re now or who the viewers for them could be. (Men In Black was technically based mostly on a comic book, however it was a fairly obscure one and the film bore minimal resemblance to it.)
The Batman franchise breathed its final breath—for some time at the least—with the DayGlo codpiece-fest that was Batman & Robin, whereas two probably nice comedian e-book films, Spawn and Steel, didn’t hit. Spawn didn’t appear fairly sure about what it was attempting to be, flip-flopping between a brutally darkish revenge film and a farting-clown slapstick-a-thon; Steel, on the opposite, shed a lot of the particulars of its origin story, making Shaquille O’Neal’s helmet look all of the goofier. Both movies set issues up for 1998’s Blade, which primarily established the start of the fashionable period of comedian e-book films.
The yr 1997 was a fantastic one for taking familiar-looking character actors—the Danny Trejos of the world—and solidifying them in moviegoers’ minds as extra than simply “that guy.” In 1997 alone, Trejo was featured in Anaconda, Champions, Con Air, Trojan War, Los Locos, and Dilemma, in addition to a Sepultura music video and a documentary. Steve Buscemi was a identified title to the arthouse crowd, however his unforgettably odd efficiency in Con Air—a standout even in a film full of deeply odd performances—made him legitimately well-known. Viggo Mortensen and Jennifer Lopez, every of whom had been startlingly engaging sixth-names-down in just a few films, had their first main roles (in G.I. Jane and Selena, respectively).
The indie movie explosion of the early Nineties introduced with it a extra naturalistic, understated, delicate method to performing, however in 1997 everybody determined to throw that out the window. Sometimes by plot contrivances, different occasions by very particular choices, and different occasions nonetheless in a bid to out-act goofy costumes, it was a giant yr for chewing the hell out of all obtainable surroundings. Con Air is wall-to-wall exhibiting off. Face/Off is a feature-length who-can-act-the-maddest contest. Vincent D’Onofrio spends all of Men In Black making more and more foolish faces. Batman & Robin options Arnold Schwarzenegger bellowing ice-themed puns whereas laminated in glitter and Uma Thurman vamping about like she’s in a Nineteen Thirties silent film. John Leguizamo’s Spawn character shouts just about each line, whereas Jon Voight’s Anaconda villain is actually a cartoon character.
Larger-than-life stars who usually performed supersoldiers (or genies) spent 1997 presenting themselves as unusual individuals, a glimpse of the longer term the place we’re often anticipated to purchase The Rock as a suburban dad. Sylvester Stallone gained 40 kilos to play a beaten-down sheriff in Cop Land, however nonetheless appeared like he might benchpress a truck. Flashback scenes in Batman & Robin have Arnold Schwarzenegger portraying a cryogenics scientist the dimensions of a home. Shaquille O’Neal spends everything of Steel towering a foot and a half above everybody else as an engineer whose very enormousness in a piece surroundings have to be an OSHA violation. At the opposite finish of the spectrum, the late-summer entry The Edge requested us to facet with the sexagenarian Anthony Hopkins as he fought a full-size bear (accompanied by the very un-Anthony Hopkins line, “I’m going to kill that motherf***er”).
Twenty-five years later, it’s among the extra unlikely films of 1997 that also create ripples. A G.I. Jane joke on the Oscars this yr led to worldwide headlines. Two of the celebs of Anaconda (Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson) reunited for a rom-com, Marry Me. While it’s all the time 1999’s The Mummy that will get talked about, the web’s ongoing love affair with Brendan Fraser owes lots to 1997’s George Of The Jungle, by which he appears to be like about pretty much as good as any human being has ever appeared. Arguably, the film from that summer time that forged the longest cultural shadow wasn’t successful till it was launched on video—Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, which remains to be being poorly impersonated (and making individuals sexy, child) after two and a half many years.