Just due to the sheer number of films that get released in the span of a year it is nigh on impossible for one that is not a fully paid film reviewer to see and comment on them all. If anyone wants to have a Times film reviewer bumped off so I can take their spot to do such a daunting job by all means. In the interim I will highlight films I have seen in the theater this year and break down which ones I feel have merit, which are mediocre, and which was the most horrible abortion of celluloid I have seen in the past twelve months.
Before the love fest kicks off I need to make a confession here. After going and seeing primarily nothing but comic book superhero films for many years I swore off of them; frankly I was burning out on them. After The Dark Knight Rises I wanted to take a break from the superhero genre and have done a good job of staying the hell away. So you will not see Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Kick Ass 2, or any of those films on this list as I did not see them nor have any desire to for the time being. That said there are two comic films I did see this year. One was a non-superheroic one and the other was Man of Steel (which was screened at a friends house well after the theatrical release I'm talking three weeks ago people).
Additional warning: There is some profanity used in this. You have been warned.
So with that said lets kick this off with .
BEST DATE MOVIE 2013
It is Romeo and Juliet set in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. Hell Romeo is a zombie too. This was a surprisingly good retelling of the Shakespeare play, it was very well cast, it was humorous, it had action, and it had zombies devouring flesh and brains. The two biggest surprises for me was how the story is told through R's (Yes his name is R as he cannot remember what his name was in life past the first letter) perspective as a zombie regaining his humanity and his life. The second surprise for me was how awesome Rob Corddry was a R's buddy M. Yes Rob Corddry.
Mr. Lougle Himself
The constant best friend to R and supporter of his love once he understands what is going on. Also he has the best line in the entire film when he is comforting R after breakup between R and Julia. I won't spoil that nugget delivered in full on zombie rasp.
BEST ANIMATED FILM 2013
I would say this was a no brainer but to be honest I was not sure if this would be any good when I first started to see trailers for this film. It looked like a dopey funny creature film with Sven the reindeer, Olaf the snowman, and the trolls overrunning the whole thing. Well thank Great Cthulhu I gave this a shot as it was not just a marvelous story about two strong sisters, but it was also a wonderful musical on top of it. This was Disney getting back to its roots that has not been effectively seen since possibly Beauty and the Beast or earlier. Frozen was a CGI film with the heart and soul of classic hand drawn animation. Speaking of which .Frozen is gorgeous. My jaw hung agape when I watched snow being thrown around and falling, clumping, collapsing just like it would in the real world. Pixar needs to keep its game running strong because Disney's own animation studio is going to kick their asses when it comes to not just story but animation. I will be shocked if this does not get Best Animated Oscar and it's soundtrack needs a Oscar nod too. This is a modern classic folks; if you have not seen this yet go and do so!
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE OF 2013
Sheer lunacy all wrapped up in excessive ultra cartoony violence with a heaping helping of celebrity cameos while fulfilling my annual quota of Danny Trejo. I swear Robert Rodriguez was channeling Monty Python while shooting this movie. Over the top does not do this glorified commercial justice. Why do I call it that? Well this entire film is just a trailer for MACHETE KILLS AGAIN: IN SPACE! Absurdity knows no bounds with this 1970 s styled grindhouse throwback and I wouldn't want it any other way.
I also need to say that the casting was inspired to say the least and Mel Gibson as Voz was perfect. Mel needs to play the villain more on film than real life and I would pay money happily to see him be this sadistic Star Wars fanboy again. You read that correctly. Also the character of The Chameleon was my favorite character in the whole film as four different celebrities play this assassin through out the flick.
MOST FUN FILM OF 2013
This was a difficult one for the majority of the year. Because there were two other movies that made me very happy and were just stupid fun. First there was
I don't care if this is an international poster .it looks better than the domestic ones IMHO
GI Joe: Retaliation
It was everything that the first film should have been. In fact I would say this film has successfully rebooted the franchise and this is the footprint that should be followed from here out. Nothing but fan service and watching The Rock kick ass. This was the leader until
Fast & Furious 6
Cars, virtually no plot, huge stunts, a 500 mile long runway, cars, Vin Diesel ..yeah brainless good time for me. I also will admit this is only the third film in the franchise I've seen (the others being 1 and 2) and this has evolved well past the retelling of Point Break this series started with. I knew from the moment I watched cars bring down a cargo plane that this was going to be stupid fun and it did not disappoint.
However .it too was surpassed in the fun department by the most fun I've had all year in the theaters .
Yeah .Kaiju monsters, giant mecha, Del Toro at the helm, Ron Pearlman . I was in heaven watching this. I have not been to a movie where I was dumbstruck by what I was watching in a very long time and Pacific Rim left me speechless many times. The battle of Hong Kong was just unreal. Hannibal Chau is an amazing character that needs his own movie. I just want to ramble on and on about this and I am smiling even now while typing this out. This was Del Toro crafting a loving tribute to Japanese creature films and mecha anime all in one gloriously large, colorful, and loud package. I felt like I was eight years old again watching Robotech or Voltron again. I will also say that I have never been in a theater before with so many people (myself included) cheering and high fiving people during the movie. This one hit all the sweet spots of my love of cinema, animation, big monsters, big robots all in one tightly produced package.
My only gripe: I wanted to know more about some of the other jaeger pilots. Past that this was bliss.
FUNNIEST MOVIE OF 2013
THIS IS THE END
This is also the filthiest movie I've seen all year. The humor here is beyond toilet humor and Seth Rogen and company take that ball and run with it. Really, this movie is just vile at points, juvenile through out, and laugh out loud funny. I was in literal tears during the mostly ad libbed argument between Danny McBride and James Franco about getting semen all over the house and on the porno magazine. By the films end my side and chest were hurting so much from laughing I thought I may have fractured a rib. This was hilarious to me seeing these celebs play hyper stereotyped versions of themselves all while trying to survive after the end of days comes.
I do not think that this will hold up for repeat viewings as you need the shock of what happens to add to the humor. That said I don't think that Jonah Hill being sodomized by a demon will ever be not funny. Ever. And Michael Cera gets killed in this movie. I cheered at that.
Now lets look at some of the other films (read: mediocre or totally bad) before I say what was the Best of 2013.
MOST MEDIOCRE MOVIE OF 2013
MAN OF STEEL
This movie did so many things very very well that was completely overshadowed by the things it did very very badly. So it was a wash. I liked the look of the film, I liked most of the casting, the effects were tight, it was an interesting take on an origin story, and I actually loved Zod. I dislike Amy Adams as Lois Lane. I cannot explain it better but I feel she is not the right person for the role. I disliked how Pa Kent died. That was moronic to me. Not only that people that live in tornado alley in the US would have known how to deal with being in weather like that and NOT STOP ALL TRAFFIC AND STAND OUTSIDE THEIR CARS. They would have drove over the flat grass divider to the opposite lanes and drove away from the storm; it was just stupid. I also did not like that Superman barely saved a soul through out the film's final act. Please don't tell me "He's learning to be Sooperman" or some other nonsense. He willingly crashed a ship into Metropolis to start this fight with Zod and they damn near destroyed the whole city. He did nothing to try to get Zod out of the city to protect the people. That is the film's biggest sin for me.
Like I said, this was a mixed bag for me and thus mediocre.
MOST OVERHYPED MOVIE OF 2013
It should have been funnier but it felt forced. I just did not have the same level of chemistry of the original. Additionally any of the scenes where Ron is dealing with racial issues are just so fucking painful to watch that there is no comedy only embarrassment that you spent money to watch this. Seriously. During the family dinner scene I took off my glasses and facepalmed the ENTIRE scene because I could not watch what was on screen. It was not funny. It will never be funny. Shit humor like that needs to be thrown out and Farrell and company should be ashamed it was included in this movie.
There are some chuckles in this movie but it is a case of "stick to the original" and "get it on Netflix". Pass on this in the theater. Save yourself some disappointment. The ads make it look funnier than it really was.
BIGGEST LET DOWN OF 2013
THE WORLD'S END
I genuinely love Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. I loved the other "Cornetto" films (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). This movie just didn't work for me. The humor felt flat through out. The alien twist was quite obvious as this becomes yet another remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". This movie also was a rehash of the Arthurian Legend (or at the very least heavily inspired by it) and that felt weak for me. But the thing that made me hate .no ..loathe this movie was Simon Pegg's character Gary King. I despise this character. There was no reason why the others followed this douche canoe on this binge drinking fest. He was a lost cause that needed to be discarded. And that is how Pegg wanted to play him. Well it worked because I found that character so unlikable that it spoiled the whole damn movie for me. Really, this movie made me want to throw a bag of kittens into a wood chipper (not that I actually would do that because that is sick and cruel but this gives you an idea of how furious I was after the credits rolled). So in that regard King was Arthur: a douche bag with no discernible skills but had so much charisma that he could get anyone to follow him even when the followers know this is a huge mistake.
Yet this was not the worst movie I saw this year.
THE WORST MOVIE OF 2013
How in hell do you mess up aping Men In Black set in the realm of the supernatural? Apparently cast Ryan Reynolds. Also tell Jeff Bridges to play Rooster Cogburn meets Foghorn Leghorn yet throw out all the charm of either characters. This whole damn movie was a mistake. It was a mistake that is was greenlit in the first place (not every comic property is gold Hollywood .please learn this NOW), the film was miscast, the effects are laughably bad, the dialogue is horrific at times, and at no point did I feel even mildly entertained. Even The World's End entertained me at points where RIPD did not from start to finish.
This movie is so bad that I did not know from trailers or movie posters that Kevin Bacon starred in this let alone was a main character in it. Yes when people in the film are omitted from the trailers, people that play central characters, that is a very very VERY bad sign that you have wasted precious moments in your life watching a steaming pile that Hollywood shart out in the hopes of cashing in on "comic book fans". Why did I see this in the first place? My wife likes Jeff Bridges. She wanted to see this. She apologized to me when the movie was over. Yes it was that bad she apologized to me. The guy who showed her The Room.
The "Citizen Kane" of bad movies!
It was so bad neither of us could find anything positive to say except "at least its now over".
Fuck this movie. Fuck the executives who thought this would be a good property to make a film out of. And for the love of sanity stop casting Ryan Reynolds in a lead role. You want to cast him as a lead again? It better be Deadpool or GTFO Hollywood.
I want my money back after watching RIPD.
Lets now cleanse our movie going palette with something truly great.
THE BEST MOVIE OF 2013
This is the best I've seen in years.
This is Alfonso Cuaron'sgreatest film to date.
This is the biggest budget minimalist film I have ever seen.
This movie grabbed me by the throat with its stunning visual power from the single take shot at the beginning and did not let me go until the very end. Yes, the first shot in the film is a 13 minute long continual take. You will see where the film cuts and the incident in space happens. I was mesmerized by the grandeur of space, the enormity of the carnage orbiting the Earth, the true solitude of being alone looking out at the void. But what impressed me more was that this was not a disaster movie in space. If anyone says this is "Open Water" in space feel free to punch them in the throat. They missed the message Cuaron was stating. Gravity is about death and rebirth. Gravity is a celebration of life renewed. Gravity is hopeful in spite of how fucked Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock)is in her situation. It is about survival, it is tense, it is never hopeless in its pursuits.
It is a stunning story about fighting for survival against all odds set in one of the bleakest yet beautiful locations we can imagine. When I got done with my first screening of this movie I made sure to thank Congress for defunding NASA (morons) because it reminded me that we have so much to do up there. This rekindled my awe of space that hasn't existed since Carl Sagan passed away. And this was just the 2D screening I saw with my wife. I went to see it in IMAX 3D next with my old man (a fellow cinema fan) and dear lord this is the only format to see this movie in.
The depth of field IMAX 3D gave everything was unreal. Seeing the debris field ripping through the space shuttle at the film's beginning is almost cringe inducing in its realism and I flinched at pieces being flung at me here (versus not reacting this way in 2D). I knew what to expect, I knew the film's beats and major moments, and in repeat viewings I keep watching this as if this is my first time. Gravity is not just a paradigm shift for the Hollywood blockbuster but also how films are made and how the medium can convey story and emotion. Gravity is so damn fine of a film that after seeing what Cuaron did James Cameron is changing up his game to beat it for the upcoming Avatar sequels (visual effect wise .Cameron cannot tell a story of such emotional depth).
This movie was satisfying to me on every conceivable level; from movie geek to college trained film student and all points in between. I would say that this is a classic and has a permanent spot in my list of best movies of all time. It is this good and I would argue my case to any person that was not satisfied by what was presented on screen.
So there we have it. This is a run down of some of the best and worst things I have sat through this year in the local Cineplex. Do you agree with my choices? Do you think I am misguided? Or do you have your own you want to list? Do so in the comments and I'll be back after the New Year with a look ahead into 2014 and some suggestions of things to see. And yes this time there will be comic book superheroics suggested. Why is that you ask? Because Guardians of the Galaxy that's why!