(So…..it’s been like a year since I last posted something, what can I say? I’ve been busy.)
With 2013 coming to an end, and insomnia in full effect, I’ve decided to take the path often traveled and do a best/worst movies of 2013. I would usually try to bang out lists of 10, but I haven’t seen that many movies this year. I’ve grown tired of going to the theater unless it’s an big, event type movie and most new movies I see come from Redbox or Netflix. Who needs all the hustle involved with going to the theater? Dealing with the traffic, the high ticket prices and crying babies. I’d rather stay and watch movies in the comfort of my own home while eating cold spaghetti-o’s right out of the can. I’m also not going to do a “worst” list, but rather a “disappointed” list. It makes more sense to me because my life is consumed with learning about movies before they’re released to the point of reading the scripts (I know it’s weird, leave me alone) I actively avoid bad movies and have gotten pretty good at it. A “disappointed” list is much better because we have all dealt with bad movies, but having your hopes crushed by a terrible movie you thought was going to be great? It’s the worst.
Just to let you know, I haven’t seen every movie that’s come out this year so there are quite a few that are missing. Are there movies I’m bummed I haven’t seen and that probably would have made this list if I had? Sure. Movies like “Wolf of Wall Street”, “American Hustle” and “Fast 6” would most likely be near the top of my list, but I’m willing to wait for the DVD release. Also, don’t you dare judge me for putting “Fast 6” in the same category as Scorcese and David O. Russell! The last Fast(?) was god damn brilliant and one of the best action movies I’ve seen in a while, but enough jibber-jabber. Let’s get to the lists.
TOP 5 DISAPPOINTMENTS
5. World War z
This one really hurt since it was based on one of my favorite books (seriously, here is the link to the Amazon page, buy it now). I could see it coming from a mile away, with all the production issues and re-shoots the movie went thru before it’s release. The special effects were embarrassing for a summer blockbuster and the anti-climactic finale left me unsatisfied (that’s what she said! Hey-o!), but my biggest problem was the plot. They took a genius book, which would work as a movie split into segments, and created a generic “race against the clock” action movie with
zombies the infected. In the end, the movie did make tons of money at the box office and was the highest grossing movie of Brad Pitts career, but anyone who has read the book know how much better it could have been.
4. Iron Man 3
“Iron Man”? I liked it, a bit overrated but decent. “Iron Man 2”? Meh. “Iron Man 3” Not cool, bro, not cool. Listen, I usually love anything Shane Black does, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is on my top 10 off all time and that’s why this movie was so disappointing to me. When I first heard that Black is getting the writing and directing gig I was super excited. As far as writing goes, this is the guy that wrote all the “Lethal Weapon” movies and his resume is filled with action classics. “The Long Kiss Goodnight”, “The Last Boy Scout” and “The Last Action Hero” (which I recently re-watched for the first time as an adult…it’s so f-ing good). So we’re set from the writing perspective and the only movie Black directed was “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” which was great, so what happened? I don’t think Black is a comic book guy and it really came through on the screen. The whole Mandarin thing was a pointless twist, the fact that the Iron Man armors seen to fall apart like Legos was ridiculous and the trope of a kid teaching the hero a life lesson was annoying. Once again, the movie raked in the cash and was the biggest movie of the year, but I prefer Shane Black with a small budget doing grounded, more realistic action movies.
3. Gangster Squad
I have no idea why this movie didn’t work, everything to make it great was there but something about just wasn’t right. If I look at the movie individually, it’s great. Sean Penn as the psychotic villain is great, Gosling playing young rebel detective is spot on. For christ’s sake, Emma Stone plays a sultry 1940s arm candy! It sounds great on paper, but for some reason when it’s all put together it just falls apart. The movie looks too clean, too polished….it feels too much like a movie if that makes sense. It’s a bummer because the guy that made this movie was one of the guys behind “Zombieland” (I think we might have a 2005 Matt Damon/Ben Affleck or a 2013 Ben Affleck/Matt Damon situation going on here).
2. Spring Breakers
I loved the concept of this movie: take a couple innocent former Disney girls, hook them up with a redneck rapper/drug dealer and send them on a crime spree during spring break. Sounds awesome, right? This movie could have been awesome except the execution is totally flawed, it’s a perfect example of how a movie could be much better in the hands of another director. This movie is filled with so many needless scenes and monologues that you could cut 30 minutes out of it without missing a beat. The Disney girls are totally wasted (read: no boobies) and are so unlikable that you root against them, the end of the movie takes such a weird turn that it’s hard to make sense out of it. There are good moments in the movie, James Franco’s as Alien doing the improvised “Look at my shit” speech alone is worth the $2 you’ll pay at Redbox, but aside from that there really isn’t anything else that’s worth your time.
1. The Iceman
I’m pretty sure most people haven’t seen this movie. It never got a wide release and the only reason I heard about it and watched it is because I’m fascinated by the story of Richard Kuklinski (get the book here, it’s a great read). This was the role James Gandolfini (RIP) was born to play, but Michael Shannon already looks like a guy that eats puppies so that wasn’t my issue. My problem with this movie is they tried to make Kuklinski sympathetic which doesn’t work when you’re talking about a serial killer. The most fascinating thing about Kuklinski is that he was a remorseless murderer who had no qualms about shooting a stranger the the face with a crossbow because he wanted to know how efficient it would be to murder someone with a crossbow in the future. The guy was a monster and that’s what I hoped the movie would be about, instead they tried to turn him into a reluctant anti-hero type of guy who moped around at home because of his conscience. The point is the guy beat his wife and had the NYPD thinking there were 7 different serial killers loose in New York City. The movie refused to commit to the real story, which is by far much more interesting, and that’s why it was my biggest disappointment. You’re better of reading the book or watch the HBO interviews with Kuklinski himself.
TOP 5 MOVIES OF 2013
5. Pacific Rim
I really, really didn’t want to like this movie. As soon as I heard that del Toro is making a movie about giant robots fighting giant monsters I wanted it to fail. I don’t have anything against the guy, in fact “Pan’s Labyrinth” is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, but there was something about the whole concept that annoyed me. It was like Hollywood was pandering to the geeks, giving us a processed version of what we like, but when I finally saw it I learned that it wasn’t the case at all. This is what a movie about giant robots should be like (looking at you “Transformers”), the characters make logical decisions, they’re likable and you can actually follow what’s going on during action sequences. I only wish I had seen it in the theater because seeing a giant robot rocket punch a hammerhead shark/Godzilla mash-up in IMAX would have been awesome. It’s kind of a bummer that “Pacific Rim” failed to connect with U.S. audiences and tanked at the box office, but luckily it was a huge hit overseas which gave del Toro the green light to start working on a sequel.
4. We’re The Millers
Holy crap! Did this movie take me by surprise or what?! This was one of the only two movies I’ve seen in the theater this year, and the only reason I went was because it was at one of those dinner & movie places that I’ve never been to. It’s not that I thought it was going to be terrible, I just considered it a generic comedy that would have its moments I’d chuckle at when I saw it a year or two down the line. I couldn’t be more wrong because this is one of those perfect comedies were every joke lands, every joke is hilarious and the actual plot is engaging. In my opinion, too many comedies these days are more like romantic comedies, were there are these 10-15 minute lulls that are all about the love part of the story. This movie, although it does include a romance, never misses a beat and weaves the plot and the comedy so there’s never a dull moment. This is one of those movies that people write off only to see it later and be surprised. Also, Jennifer Aniston does a striptease and god damn that woman is smoking hot! Brad Pitt really made a bad call because these days Jolie looks mannequin with hot dog lips and Anniston looks better then ever.
3. Man of Steel
This was the Superman movie I’ve always wanted, where he actually shows of how super he is. It’s what I wanted from “Superman Returns” and why I was so disappointed by that movie. Superman is literally the most powerful superhero ever, why would I want to see him get kicked around by a couple puny humans? I wanted to see him the punched through buildings, crash thru mountains, get hit with trains and have it barely phase him. This movie gave me exactly what I asked for on a silver platter, from Henry Cavill looking exactly like Superman to the action sequences, it was spectacular. The plot was interesting and although we got an “origin story” it wasn’t the usual 40 minutes before he actually uses his powers, the cuts back and forth worked great. I also need to point out that aside from James Cameron and Justin Lin, I don’t think there’s a better director at action sequences then Zack Snyder. Say what you say about “Sucker Punch” but the action scenes in that movie were flawless.
The best experience I’ve had in a movie theater in my life next to “AVATAR”. It wasn’t just a movie, it was like a theme park ride except it filled you with dread, made you feel scared and alone. It made you feel helpless and small compared to the vastness of space, a movie about a situation where everything that could go wrong does go wrong. This was the only movie I have ever seen where I had to stop myself from yelling at the screen, that’s how invested you become in the characters. If you didn’t see this in the theater, you really missed out.
1. Evil Dead
Yep. I like “Evil Dead” that much. I never thought I’d be saying this, a horror movie being on my top of the year list, let alone be in top if my top of the year list. See, I have a really hard time connecting with horror movies because in my option they all suck. Yes, even “The Exorcist”. I’ve seen tons of horror flicks, but never considered them “good movies”, they were like a infommercial to me; something you watch because there’s literally nothing better on. They’re usually filled with dumb characters that make stupid decisions and when crazy, super gory over the top violence happens to them you don’t really care. Most horror movies these days are filled with cheap “jump scares” where something very loud happens during a quiet scene, it’s stupid and make akin to shock then fear. It’s like getting pricked by a thorn, your body jerks but you’re not actually scared of the thorn. If they’re not using “jump scares”, it’s gory/gross out violence but it usually happens to douchebag characters so you don’t really care. Once again, being grossed out isn’t the same as being scared. That’s why “Evil Dead” is my favorite movie of this year, because it took those horror movie tropes and used them to perfection. Were there “jump scares”? Yeah, but you knew they were coming and the lead up to them filled you with dread. They literally took the surprise out of a surprise and it still worked. Was there gory/gross out scenes? Yeah, but it was creative. The characters weren’t strapped to some crazy machine that rips their lungs out, the violence was gratuitous but relatable. For example, one of the scenes that made me squirm the most was a character getting a cut on her knee cap with a knife. The knife didn’t go through the knee and tons of blood didn’t pour out, it was a simple cut across, the same kind that happened on your finger countless times only on the knee and a little deeper. Now, I’m guessing reading that previous sentence made your knee tingle a little, didn’t it? That’s not to say “Evil Dead” isn’t gory, it literally rains blood at one point, but it’s creative to the point where it’s different from what you’ve seen countless times. Finally, if the actual horror aspect wasn’t enough, the characters in the movie bring it home. You actually care about these people, they’re not just a bunch if dumb teenagers looking to bang in a cabin. They feel like real people, not just cannon fodder so when they get hurt or die, it’s actually a bummer.