The summer box office was a very different place in 1998. There were barely any superhero movies to be found, but plenty of remakes and movies about killer asteroids. Take a step back 20 years, as we reminisce about the best and worst summer movies from 1998.
'Deep Impact' (Best)
Summer 1998 was a time of dueling giant asteroid movies. Of the two, in terms of passable story, "Deep Impact" is the clear winner. It offers a more thoughtful alternative to the general Michael Bay-ness of "Armageddon," and casting Morgan Freeman as the President never hurts.
'Ever After: A Cinderella Story' (Best)
One thing that hasn't changed in the last 20 years is that studios never tire of remaking classic fairy tales. "Ever After" managed to put an engaging spin on the classic Cinderella story, however. It's a movie that thrived on the strength of Drew Barrymore's witty, independent heroine and Anjelica Huston's deliciously evil stepmother.
'The Truman Show' (Best)
The Jim Carrey of 1998 might not have been quite the huge, bankable force he was in 1994, but at least he was choosing more interesting roles. "The Truman Show" flexes both Carrey's comedic and dramatic chops as it tells the story of a man who's unwittingly spent his entire life as the subject of a reality TV program. The film was oddly prescient about the reality TV explosion, and it still holds up 20 years later.
The Disney Renaissance of the early '90s had ended by the time "Mulan" rolled around, but this animated epic still delivers the goods. More than any Disney movie of the time, "Mulan" showcased the studio's shifting priorities, giving viewers a heroine who'd rather suit up and fight than pine after a prince. The soundtrack isn't half bad, either.
'The X-Files: Fight the Future' (Best)
The first theatrical "X-Files" movie had a difficult task ahead of it, as it worked to both continue the long-running mythology of the TV series while also appealing to newcomers hungry for grounded, summer sci-fi. It managed that balance as it brought Agents Mulder and Scully several major steps closer to uncovering the truth they so desperately sought. It's just a shame the TV series started going downhill afterwards.
'There's Something About Mary' (Best)
"There's Something About Mary" wound up becoming the highest-grossing comedy of 1998, and with good reason. It was, and still is, a hilarious film that instantly turned Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller into superstars. It also paved the way for a new wave of edgy, gross-out comedies like "Superbad" and "The Hangover."
'The Parent Trap' (Best)
"The Parent Trap" is sort of a depressing watch in hindsight, serving as a reminder of a time when Lindsay Lohan was one of the brightest young stars in Hollywood rather than tabloid fodder. But that doesn't change the fact that this remake is a faithful, enjoyable update to a beloved classic.
'Lethal Weapon 4' (Best)
To be clear, no one is arguing that "Lethal Weapon 4" rivals the first two films in the series. But it's a heck of a lot more entertaining than the third movie. This buddy cop sequel also deserves credit for serving as Jet Li's big Hollywood debut. (But we give it thumbs down for its poor and stereotypical portrayal and treatment of certain Asian Americans in the film.)
'The Mask of Zorro' (Best)
Leave it to the director who saved the Bond franchise in "GoldenEye" to repeat that accomplishment with Zorro. "The Mask of Zorro" captures the spirit of the classic TV series and films while throwing in a stylish and distinctly modern flair. A nd with a cast that includes Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones, what's not to love about this swashbuckling epic?
'Saving Private Ryan' (Best)
Steven Spielberg invented the summer blockbuster, and he still showed a knack for dominating the big screen in 1998. "Saving Private Ryan" remains one of Spielberg's best, offering a harrowing look at the D-Day invasion and one embattled platoon looking for one soldier in a sea of chaos an bloodshed.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe was still ten years off when "Blade" landed in theaters. But without "Blade," the MCU might never have existed at all. This slick, stylish action horror movie served as an early example of how to do superheroes right on the big screen.
On paper, the idea of a big-budget American remake of this venerated Japanese franchise sounded pretty good. In practice, a whole lot was lost in translation. "Godzilla" couldn't even get the monster design right, much less the carnage or the crucial fusion of spectacle and nuclear-age paranoia. The marketing for this film was better than what we paid to see.
'Hope Floats' (Worst)
Sandra Bullock is usually dependable when it comes to romantic comedies, but not even she could salvage this disaster. "Hope Floats" is pretty much everything wrong with the genre in the '90s distilled into one sappy, sentimental, paint-by-numbers affair.
'Six Days, Seven Nights' (Worst)
With Harrison Ford starring and Ivan Reitman directing, we expected a lot more form this comedy-adventure. Needless to say, it didn't prove to be the next "Romancing the Stone." This is one 1998 movie better left forgotten to history.
'Small Soldiers' (Worst)
Clearly, DreamWorks was in the mood for some of that "Toy Story" money. If nothing else, "Small Soldiers" showed how far CG animation had come in just a few short years. But that alone isn't enough to justify this surprisingly dark and gritty look at a world where toys come to life.
"Armageddon" was certainly a crowd-pleaser, eventually becoming the highest-grossing film of 1998. But as always, money is no indicator of quality. The relentlessly fast pace, the paper-thin characters, and that obnoxious Aerosmith song (that WE STILL LOVE) all contribute to a blockbuster that's more grating than it is entertaining.