Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Best of the Best: 1999

One of the last great 2D animated theatrical films.

Year: 1999
Movie: The Iron Giant
Game: Wrestlemania 2000
Album: The Distance to Here by Live
Song: Higher by Creed

So 1998 turned into 1999, a new year, the last year of not only a decade, but a century....even a millennium. And I'm sorry to report that while it had it's collection of moments, 1999 was not all that kind to me a lot of times, and it was far from one of my favorite years. But as usual, amidst the drama and bullshit of real life, and having to deal with other human beings (who can of course make your life both a heaven...and a hell), various forms of entertainment were there to help me somewhat sooth my wounds and troubled spirit. To help me find some release and escape. 1999 was certainly not a BAD year for movies, but it was a markedly lesser year compared to '96, '97 or '98, for me. It still had it's fair share of movies I really enjoyed, among them October Sky, Office Space, The Mummy, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Ghost Dog, Big Daddy, Instinct, Detroit Rock City, The Sixth Sense, Man on the Moon, and Bicentennial Man.

There were a couple of candidates I had to consider for "best movie", one of them being Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. I realize, much like Metallica in the late 90s, that it's a popular opinion to have, that the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and that first movie in particular, are "garbage". I would like to point out that I have never felt that way. Were they flawed? Sure. Not AS good or as classic as the original movies? Absolutely. But I still always felt they were good movies, AND good Star Wars movies, even Phantom Menace. I never hated Jar Jar Binks, to me he was always just another goofy character like the robots, or like the Ewoks. I think a lot of people really just need to grow up. The movie itself was fine, and it had a lot of things to like about it, most especially the Jedi master Qui-Gon Jin, and the Sith warrior Darth Maul. And that epic song for their final confrontation, "Duel of the Fates", is still a great piece that I love to this day. The prequel movies are flashy, and they honestly should have used less CGI. But I still like them. However, upon really thinking about it, the movie that stuck with me the most from 1999, was The Iron Giant. It really has that Don Bluth type of vibe to it, even though he was not involved with it, and it was one of the last great traditionally animated theatrical film releases. A fact that makes me, as a huge fan of traditional hand drawn animation, very sad, as I wish it would make a comeback, a REAL comeback, in the United States. But Iron Giant is a really great story, a fun movie, and though many wouldn't know it, one of actor Vin Diesel's first real movie roles, as he did the vocal noises and eventual voice for the robot.

As for game? Well, looking back, '99 was the first year I ran into where it was honestly a little rough trying to pin down a favorite, as there were just less games that year that I really loved, the arcades had less releases, and I didn't own a Playstation or even the debuting Sega Dreamcast. Even though, the game Soul Calibur on Dreamcast WAS a game I immensely enjoyed, as I had very much liked it's arcade predecessor Soul Edge. I got to play it at a friend's house a bit, but not owning a DC myself, it's hard to really say it was my favorite game that year. And then I remembered, that I had gotten the wrestling game Wrestlemania 2000 for the N64 that year, and I DID happen to put a ridiculous amount of time into creating wrestlers and playing the game in general. So kind of by default, it wins game of the year on those merits. It was a decent game, though it doesn't hold up well now, too blocky and slow and clunky, but for it's TIME it was the best wrestling game out there.

SUCH a great album. The band's masterpiece.

When it comes to music, '99 was a weird time. In the late 90s in general, rap and "hip hop" had gradually become more and more mainstream and popular, and at the same time, an often rap-hybrid style of rock called "Nu Metal" (because they couldn't just spell new correctly) also got real popular. And of course pop music, what with Brittany Spears and Christina Aguilera and the Backstreet Boys, etc., was just getting worse. Though I had no way of knowing that shit would be awesome to listen to compared to how much worse pop music would continue to get. But there was certainly still much for me to enjoy as well, as I continued to get more into metal, discovering other bands and albums. One of those that I really got into in '99, was Sevendust, as I discovered their album "Home" by hearing the song "Denial" on VH1 randomly, and then later on the radio, and I really dug it. So I went out, got the album, and eventually wound up really liking it overall. Another big music moment for me also came from VH1 in '99, as they broadcast part of Metallica's amazing "S&M" symphony concert. And let me tell you, that to me was heaven in that moment. My favorite band, along with classical music which I really love, it as like peanut butter and jelly (or chocolate). And to my delight, they later came out with the concert on CD and DVD, which I of course eventually got both of. One of the two new songs they did for that concert, "No Leaf Clover", also wound up becoming one of my favorite Metallica songs, and was a decent candidate for my song of '99.

I also really liked the Creed album "Human Clay". I had gotten into Creed back in '98 actually, in the second half of my shit-tacular sophomore year. Their first album "My Own Prison" also really helped me through those tough times. Creed is of course, ironically, another band that many people shit on, but fuck 'em, I liked the first three albums at least (was not a fan of their recent reunion though). They were, at one point, considered one of my favorite bands, because I really resonated with some of their lyrics (because of the singer Scott Stapp's Christian religion, there were some Christian undertones to some of their songs, but thankfully, most of the time, they were fairly ambiguous, so non-Christians could also really relate). Well, "Human Clay" was one I really had to consider for my "best album" of the year, as I more or less loved the whole album. But really putting it to thought, and trying to "feel" which album meant the most to me, I decided to go with Live's "The Distance to Here" instead. In some sense, both albums held equal sway with me back then, but Distance was just so.....inspiring. Not every song is amazing, but the album as a whole is, and there ARE amazing songs on it, such as "The Dolphins Cry", "They Stood Up For Love" and "Dance With You". So it's my pick for album of
99. I also. however, decided to give it to Creed for my song of the year, with "Higher". It just really spoke to who I was and how I felt about the world back in my late teens (still do to some extent). To some I'm sure they felt the song was talking about the afterlife concept of "Heaven", but to me, it spoke more about dreaming of a better world, here on Earth.

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