21 Essential '90s Movies You Should Watch This Summer
The current summer movie season is still in full swing, but not everyone wants to deal with the hassle and expense of going to the theater every week. Instead, why not stay home and fire up some of the best blockbusters of the '90s instead?
'Home Alone' (1990)
"Home Alone" is probably best appreciated as a Christmas movie, but as far as we're cocnerned, there's never a bad time to watch precocious youngsters subject burglars to a gauntlet of pain. They sure don't make family movies like this anymore.
'Beauty and the Beast' (1991)
The Disney Renaissance was in full swing by 1991, as the studio crafted a princess movie that was an all-timer. And no '90s kid can resist singing along with the film's very catchy tunes.
'Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991)
Considering that "Terminator 2" is one of the first blockbuster action movies to rely heavily opn CG effects, it's pretty impressive how well this movie holds up after several decades. It doesn't hurt that the nonstop shootouts and car chases are backed up by a truly engaging story about fate and free will.
'Batman Returns' (1992)
"Batman Returns" is one of the only good comic book movies to hit theaters during the '90s. Fortunately, it still holds up (Batman killing a dude with dynamite notwithstanding). Batman and Catwoman's doomed romance nicely offsets all the gloomy holiday trappings and the campiness of the Penguin and Max Schreck.
'Jurassic Park' (1993)
"Jurassic Park" is one of the all-time great blockbusters of this or any decade. Even 25 years later, there's nothing quite like that scene where Grant and Sattler see living, breathing dinosaurs for the first time. We'll take a rewatch of this one over another "Jurassic World" sequel any day.
'Dumb and Dumber' (1994)
Jim Carrey had a year in 1994 that most budding actors only dream of. The best of his breakout comedies was and still is "Dumb and Dumber," which as we all know is about two of the world's most braindead heroes embarking on a ridiculous road trip.
'Forrest Gump' (1994)
You can dismiss it as trite and/or overly sentimental, but there's no denying that "Forrest Gump" is a fun (and sad) time at the movies. Tom Hanks is rarely more entertaining than when playing a good-natured, naive Alabama boy with a knack for stumbling into some of the 20th Century's most notable events.
We miss the days when action movies were content to tell simple stories and focus on delivering the most concentrated dose of spectacle possible. "Speed" holds up because it offers so much bang for the buck, making the most of what, on paper, sounds like a really dumb premise.
"Stargate" was a decent/modest hit when it arrived in the fall of 1994, but appreciation for this sci-fi gem has grown over the years. It eventually spawned a TV franchise all its own, proving just how rich this particular universe is.
'True Lies' (1994)
James Cameron and Schwarzenegger reunited one last time, in 1994, to give us yet another thrilling action blockbuster. Jamie Lee Curtis is the X-factor here that makes this particular collaboration shine, to the point where we're surprised she didn't embark on a new career as an action star after this hit theaters.
'Die Hard With a Vengeance' (1995)
At this point, it's clear we're never going to get another good "Die Hard" sequel, so you might as well settle for rewatching the only good one in existence. "Die Hard With a Venegance" manages to build on the original without blindly copying it, as in the case of "Die Hard 2." Adding Samuel L. Jackson to the mix makes the whole thing that much better.
Not many James Bond movies from the '80s and '90s hold up especially well today, but "GoldenEye" is one major exception. This sequel remains one of the best in the series, featuring some great set pieces, a terrific villain and debuting a great new Bond in the form of Pierce Brosnan.
'Toy Story' (1995)
If the early '90s were all about the animated Disney Renaissance, the mid to late '90s heralded the arrival of Pixar and a new generation of incredible CG animation. "Toy Story" may not impress on a technical level as much as it once did, but the lovable characters and engaging story remain as enjoyable now as they did in 1995.
'Independence Day' (1996)
"Independence Day" became one of the biggest blockbusters of the '90s for a reason. It delivers a satisfying blend of mindless carnage and feel-good heroics. It certainly stands the test of time better than its much more recent sequel.
'Mission: Impossible' (1996)
Some would argue that the "Mission: Impossible" franchise is better than it's ever been thanks to "Fallout." But others argue that nothing can top the original for sheer fun factor. The fact that it's still in the running after more than 20 years shows just how well this movie has held up.
'Star Trek: First Contact' (1996)
"Star Trek: First Contact" is notable for being the first (and really only) good movie to feature the cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." It's also one of the most mainstream-friendly Trek movies ever made, with a tightly paced narrative that combines deadly Borg battles with a hopeful look at humanity's near future.
'Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery' (1997)
While the late '90s made it clear that the James Bond franchise wasn't going to be able to maintain the momentum from "GoldenEye," at least we had Austin Powers as a backup. Mike Myers is pitch-perfect in this spy movie spoof as a randy, gaudily dressed '60s refugee and as his arch-enemy - a hairless evildoer with incredible delusions of grandeur.
"Escape From L.A." is undoubtedly one of the biggest disappointments of the '90s. Fortunately, Kurt Russell was able to redeem himself on the big screen the following year in "Breakdown." This taut thriller is another example of the lean, efficient type of blockbuster we see all too rarely nowadays.
No '90s blockbuster marathon would be complete without one of the biggest moneymakers in Hollywood history. For a while there it seemed like no one wanted to watch anything else. But after all this time it's easy to forget that "Titanic" is a truly great movie, one with great effects, a tragic story and two truly compelling romantic leads.
'The Matrix' (1999)
Maybe "The Phantom Menace" was a major disappointment, but it's hard to complain too much when spring 1999 also gave us "The Matrix." This sci-fi action movie gave us a revolutionary blend of digitized martial arts and cyberpunk philosophy. It's still one of the coolest blockbusters ever made, even if its sequels leave a bit to be desired.
'Toy Story 2' (1999)
We feared the worst from "Toy Story 2"given the track record of Disney's other animated sequels in the '90s. That's why we were pleasantly surprised to find that this sequel is actually superior to the original. A more ambitious film (both technically and emotionally), "Toy Story 2" enriches the universe and proves how far a fledgling animation studio can come in just a few short years.