|Posted on December 18, 2013 at 4:15 AM|
Movies of 2013: Worst, Surprising & Disappointing etc...
It's that time of year again. People begin putting together lists and categories because that's what we humans like to do. Well, for the past few years I've done the same, and I usually start off small with stuff like this. You see, I can't put together my final lists of the "major" stuff until I know I've seen everything, and there's a handful of movies still to come before I can do that.
Thankfully, they're all "big" or "awards" types of movies, so it makes putting together lists like this a little easier. So here's some categories, in no particular order, of the worst, the dissapointing and the most surprising movies from 2013
Worst Movies of the Year
As I note every year, I sometimes wonder if people know what the "worst" actually means. Sure, I didn't love a Man of Steel or Star Trek 2 this past year, but the worst of the year? There's a difference between not liking something and it being bad (I know that sounds odd, but read below and you'll see) because that would be these...
Movie 43 - I don’t stop watching a movie often. I suppose that’s my gauge on what is actually terrible. Not “so bad it’s good” but outright terrible, and the crude, unfunny, mean-spirited Movie 43 was such a movie. There were some good people involved with this, which is the only reason I gave it a chance, but Christ...
The Internship - At least I did finish the movie, but I didn’t like myself afterwards. This feature-length advertisement for google has a great concept, but the chemistry and humor just doesn’t work. In fact, there were far more bad comedies this year than anything. Identity Thief, Hangover 3, whatever Tyler Perry put out there...in terms of "mainstream" stuff, this one was by far the worst.
The Host - Another film I didn’t finish. It’s so desperate to be the next Twilight that it just reeks, and you can’t help but wonder what director Andrew Niccol was thinking. Payday? He’ll never et back to Lord of War quality. The Host has it all, from a hokey script to outright awful acting, it half-asses its way to awfulness.
The Purge - from concept to execution, this is a movie that seemed to have been lost in the shuffle of bad movies of 2013. Ethan Hawke was in one of the best films of 2013 (Before Midnight) and two of the worst (this and Getaway). He's all over the map these days, but The Purge particularly looks bad in a year that was pretty decent with horror flicks (The Conjuring, Maniac and You're Next notably). The Purge is the type of film that happens when nobody cares.
After Urf - The vanity project to end all vanity projects, this movie is both one of the worst and I would say one of the biggest disappointments. It has some great sequences, certainly a good concept at heart, but the fact is Smith is barely in it, and Smith 2.0 just isn't that great of an actor. He showed promise with The Karate Kid, but this movie asks too much of him and it shows. He couldn't carry this, and the script just isn't interesting enough to help him along.
On a side note, I see a lot of A Good Day to Die hard on other lists. I think it’s more mediocre than anything. It's a sloppy action movie, though...so maybe I should consider it. Also, I don’t actively seek out bad movies. I know I won’t like Smurfs 2 or Grown Ups 2 from the get go, so I avoid them entirely.
To me, for something to be "worst" it needs to be an atrocity with little to no value in any form.
Warm Bodies - A romcom with zombies? Oh, let’s get all the teen girls and…wait…this is actually kind of funny and clever.
The Heat - The new rule of thumb, don’t doubt Paul Feig. This is a legitimately funny movie and maybe the best comedy of 2013. We’ll get to those entries next week.
Frozen - Disney pulled another Tangled. Marketing doesn’t really show how good the movie is and it shows with boring commercials and uninspired posters. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect, but it has such wonderful characters and songs, it’s hard to not feel like a kid again. “Let it Go” is the best movie song of the year.
The Wolverine - Both in quality but also how it approached the material. The Wolverine wasn’t just a surprise because it was actually good, it was a surprise because it was audacious enough to throw out the boilerplate book of what superhero movies are and, instead, do more drama and a character story. Some people really didn’t like that, but as someone who feels the typical superhero tropes in movies have worn out their welcome, it’s nice to see they aren’t going to get stale thanks to just a bit of boldness. Yes…it’s more drama than action…what’s your point?
Those White House flicks - It's surprising that there were two in one year, and so close together, but I got a lot of entertainment out of White House Down and Olympus has Fallen, both with similar concept but very different takes: one a silly, PG-13 action flick and the other more bloody and violent with an R-rating. Neither are great movies, mind you, but I liked them because they knew the take and ran with it. Neither did all that well at the BO, I might note.
Old-School Action Flicks - By that I mean that The Last Stand, Bullet to the Head and Escape Plan were pretty decent action movies. None are perfect, though Escape Plan does get the humor element pretty well and better than expected, but these are R-rated, sometimes insane action movies done by pretty capable directors (Kim jee-Woon most notably). I sometimes wonder if people set their expectations too high these days, then when they aren't met, they go online and spread it around how "bad" something is. While none of these are great movies, the smaller R-rated action flick showed it has a place amongst the big-budget alternative.
Oh, which reminds me:
Jack Reacher - While Oblivion got most of the spotlight in terms of a "Tom Cruise" vehicle, Jack Reacher was his best. It kind of falls apart towards the end, but this old-school, grounded mystery/thriller/action flick was a lot of fun and far better than the generic title makes you presume.
The Wolverine was different, I'd say even a little bit audacious in how it approached its material, which is why there are just as many people that hate it as there are that love it. Personally...the superhero film needed a bit of a shakeup, and that's why I loved it. Plus...those abs...
Machete Kills - It’s enjoyable when it works, but there’s a lot in Machete Kills that doesn’t work. It just never fully comes together.
Kick Ass 2 - I didn’t love Kick Ass, so I wasn’t expecting much, but it’s the cheap DLC of movies for 2013.
Stoker - Not good. Not bad. But let’s be frank…Park Chan Wook sets a high bar, and this one is well below it. On a technical level, it’s superb and gorgeous. On everything else…well...
Only God Forgives - Well, that’s what I call a drop-off. After the Pusher trilogy, Bronson, Valhalla Rising and Drive, the oddity of this one from Nicolas Winding Refn sticks out. Like Stoker, there’s some interesting ideas here, and Refn knows how to use that camera wonderfully and capture a mood, but it’s just not bad, it’s dull - but not dull in style, just dull in uninteresting and uncaring characters, a slow plot and tedious it all is. And for Refn “dull” is probably the worst insult.
Stoker isn't a bad film at all, but there's something that it lacks. Consistency. Purpose. Relevance. Plus Nicole Kidman over-acts her ass off.
Movies you Probably Forgot Came Out
Broken City - one of Mark Wahlberg’s better performances, one of Russel Crowe’s worst makes for a middle-of-the-road thriller that you completely forget existed. It's still a pretty decent thriller, though. Wahlberg also had a good outing with Lone Survivor, though I don't know if that qualifies for 2013 or 2014...and technically I can't say much about it but whatevs.
GI Joe: Retaliation - An, at best, capable action flick, but it's the purest definition of "came and went." The franchise is hanging on by a thread and it's only the second installment. At least I remember The Rock really owning up to the role, The Rock also owning it in Fast and Furious 6 - one of the year's better action films.
Gangster Squad - Now that’s a forgettable film. The thing is, the look of it is great. The cast even great. Then you see it, and you realize that there’s nothing retained. I know I saw this movie, I know visually I loved it...but I also know I can't remember a single point of the plot or character or story. Hell, even Broken City's story I remember, but not this one and this one has a huge cast.
Trance - Did you know Danny Boyle had a movie out this year? Considering he's been up for Oscars the past few goes with a movie, it's odd how under-the-radar Trance was and how quickly it was forgotten. It's not a great movie, it tries way too hard for what should be a movie with a little more dosage of subtlety, but it's interesting that nobody has even brought it up in any form. You know, the same goes for Side Effects from Soderbergh, though his Behind the Candelabra probably took most of his limelight in 2013. A note: both of these movies came out very early in the year.
Oz the Great and Powerful - I thought the movie was alright, but how quickly we forget…and that kind of shows maybe being “alright" wasn’t what that flick should have been. I think what's most disappointing is just how forgettable it is. I mean, it's big, fantasy, lots of special effects...yet I can barely recall a thing about the story or characters. Hell, I at least remembered The Rock in GI Joe.
"Oz" was a movie that got ok-enough reviews and nearly 500 million at the Box Office, but I'd be damned if I can barely remember a thing form it.
The "I Don't Know, Man" Award
Every year there's some movies that are just hard to review. Good. Bad. I dunno. This year that honor goes to Upstream Color. Sure, I liked it...I think I did anyway. I certainly didn't love it...or hate it...it's just kind of there as some piece of art that maybe you aren't supposed to "judge." You're just supposed to let it wash over you.
Pigs n stuff!
Movies Not As Bad As Everyone Says They Are:
Now there can be an argument made here that everything is relative, so to some people these movies are awful things that shouldn't exist...but when put up against some of the previous movies I actually consider worst, they aren't that bad. Hyperbole can really sink film criticism, especially negative criticism.
The Lone Ranger - Is it overlong? Yes. Is Tonto way too prominent for a "Long Ranger" movie? Yes. Does it lack a good pace? Of course, it’s Gore Verbinski we’re talking about here. But it’s also imaginative at times, fun in others, with good performances by the dual leads and a final action sequence that was one of the best of the year. Tonally, it’s all over the place, but it does remain a good, if overlong, time. Certainly not the best film of the year, but far from this “awful” movie people love to go on the internet and say it is. As a box office “flop” yes, but not necessarily horrible.
Pain & Gain - Though I don’t think anyone is outright calling it “bad,” I do think a lot of people are writing it off based on the fact it’s a Michael Bay film. It’s all about excess, from form to function to context to The Rock snorting cocaine. It’s a frantic piece of filmmaking, and could possibly be Michael Bay’s best film.
Man of Steel - I wasn’t the biggest fan of Man of Steel, but at the same time I don’t have the vitriol that others seem to have towards it. People focus on so much of the bad in a movie they tend to be dismissive of the good and just consider the entirety bad. You can’t do that. There's some good things working around in Man of Steel, especially visually and with its action, which is kind of what I want from a Superman film. As ham-fisted as everything else was, it met my criteria for what it needed to be to at least be entertaining: great visuals, fantastic action and special effects and a believable Supes where Henry Cavill delivers.
Don’t mistake me here, none of those movies are in my favorites of the year (well…Pain & Gain maybe though low), but if you want “bad” then watch a Smurfs movie. Because, if anything, at least you watched the above movies completely...at least they managed to not offend you like a Movie 43 or The Hangover 2 last year where you question your own existence and wonder how the hell any of that could have made it to any screen.
There's a difference between a film with a lot of problems and an outright "bad" movie. Internet hyperbole and extremism makes it hard to know "bad" from simply "medicore" anymore. "Man of Steel" isn't bad...it just wallows in mediocrity.
So there's the first entry, next week the best in genres (Action, Horror etc...)