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A Hollywood round-up

It was a year of sci-fi films, action, musicals, animations, comedies and dramas but not of successful sequels. ZIYA US SALAM takes a look at the good, the bad and the silly.

"Maid In Manhattan" ... a surprise hit.

WELCOME TO the jungle of Hollywood! In a dog-eat-dog world, some films managed to snarl and bark their way to the destination, while others fell by the wayside in 2003. Some failed at "Anger Management", others went looking for the "Black Pearl". And surprise of surprise, it was not "Matrix Revolutions" or "Terminator-3" which swept cinemagoers off their feet. A little fish made the biggest splash this year, telling us all there is a future for animation films here. Walt Disney's "Finding Nemo" had a touch of class to it, so much so that other animation films like "Jungle Book-2" and "Brother Bear" barely managed a ripple in comparison.

Yet 2003 was not such a fascinating year for sequels, which proved inadequate successors. The "Matrix" trilogy came to an end. But neither "Matrix Reloaded" nor "Matrix Revolutions" - which was released in India along with the rest of the world - could recreate the magic of the original. The action seemed to pale, the storyline was thin as wafer. The collections did not do justice to the hype.

That was also the fate of "The Lord of the Rings". The sequel, "The Two Towers" was a poor follower of "Fellowship" and people yearned to lay their hands on J. R. R. Tolkien's novel rather than watching the film. Incidentally, the third part of the trilogy is expected shortly.

Even "Bad Boys-II" and "Charlie's Angels-II" which registered decent figures at the box office could not reproduce the magic of the original. Just like "Harry Potter-II" and "Jungle Book-II," "Terminator-III" and X Men-II", each of which was a fine film in its own right yet paled in comparison with the first part. However, at the box office, "Charlie's Angels" went ahead full throttle in a digital delight, while Schwarzenegger was reliable as ever in "Terminator".

One film which had everyone swaying was "Chicago".

Rob Marshall's musical brought back that joy of "All That Jazz", box office answered, and the film won over many.

Then there were surprise hits. "Maid in Manhattan" to begin with.

The Jennifer Lopez-starrer was written off before being seen. And those impatient souls had to eat their words as the fetching actress came up with a credible performance.

Keeping her company was "Bruce Almighty" which took on the massive support for the innocent charms of Harry Potter and did not concede an inch.

"Chicago" ... this musical brought back the joy of "All that Jazz".

Similarly, "Welcome to the Jungle" which brought Rock back, solid as ever, grossed more than a crore in the first three days of its release in December and as the year ended was poised to improve upon the success of "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Shanghai Knights" which notched up impressive figures too.

Not everything clicked though. "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" pitting our own Naseeruddin Shah opposite Sean Connery, failed to appeal to either common men or extraordinary ones. Just like Lara Croft's "Tomb Raider". Or Ang Lee's "Hulk", which was a tepid and tiresome essay.

Then there were films, which failed here though they did well abroad.

"Gangs of New York" was released with expectations and withdrawn due to cine-goer's ennui.

The same fate met "The Transporter" at the turnstiles. The Jason Statham-film found no carriers for it.

"Dare Devil" with Ben Affleck did only a little better. Still Mark Johnson's film failed to find its mark.

Finally, there were some comedies, which attracted ridicule. We had "Just Married", "My Boss's Daughter" and "Intolerable Cruelty" vying with each other at springing least jokes and peddling corny humour. Probably, the "Boss's Daughter" carried more of the vile to win the wooden spoon.

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