Two massive, effects-laden science fiction blockbusters opened wide in the summer of 1999. To everyone's shock, the one that was accused of destroying childhoods was by George Lucas. Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace was widely viewed as a crushing disappointment, despite all the hype attending the first film in its now beloved franchise.

The one that changed cinema, for better or worse, was its rival: a fiercely cool, riskily philosophical US$63 million production from Warner Brothers, which bet the house on everyone wanting to watch Keanu Reeves doing mid-air kung fu in a black leather trench coat and

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