At the start of this year I posted a list of what were then the films I was most looking forward to in 2013. The list was a bit of a mixed bag, everything from Shakespearean comedy to superheroes to complicated generational drama.
Over the course of the year I managed to see all of the films on that list and review them. Here’s a rundown of which were hits and which were misses.
Gangster Squad seemed to have everything going for it but, as we’ve seen so many times before, lots of thing that look good on paper don’t end up working as a whole.
Yes, there are a lot of talented actors involved and yes Rueben Fleischer’s previous film was great, but over the top performances (in a bad way) and weird directorial choices along with almost an entire act of the film being scrapped and reshot made this one a mess.
Gangster Squad is a good looking mess, but a mess regardless.
The Place Beyond The Pines
The Place Beyond The Pines turned out to be not at all what I expected, and in the best way possible. I thought I was going to see a story about a bank robber and the cop chasing him but instead I was treated to a thoughtful story about how the lives of fathers impact their sons. Beautifully directed and acted as well as an intelligent and thoughtful story. What more could you ask for?
The problem with underdog sports movies is that they are all kind of the same. Jackie Robinson was a brilliant baseball player and with the help of Branch Rickey broke down racial barriers not just in the game, but in America.
It’s almost a shame then that his story fits the sports movie mold so well. That’s not to say that 42 is a bad movie, rather that it’s just a movie I’ve seen so many times before.
Iron Man Three
One of the best things about Marvels grand experiment to bring comic book continuity to the big screen is that they seem perfectly happy to let each director put their own stamp on the films they direct. This is perhaps most apparent with Iron Man Three which is most definitely a Shane Black movie.
You will either love this or hate it, but I loved it. There’s more character development here than in most of the other marvel films combined, Robert Downey Jr is completely on point with the role that busted him through to super stardom, the last act isn’t just Iron Man vs. Armoured Super Villain #3, and it provides closure to basically all of the story points brought up for the character so far meaning that while Tony Stark will undoubtedly show up in Avengers 2 and 3, Iron man doesn’t need another film to himself and Marvel can focus on developing the rest of their universe.
The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby is a wonderful book in part because there is so much subtext to what’s going on. The movie doesn’t have this, basically everything you see is everything you get.
Aside from that though it’s well acted and gorgeous to watch. This is another one that while it isn’t bad clearly wasn’t the film I had hoped it would be.
Star Trek Into Darkness
This movie sacrificed being smart science fiction in favour of stupid explosions and heavy handed references to better films in the franchise. I’ve ranted about this film a lot since it came out so I won’t subject you to more here.
Much Ado About Nothing
Filmed by Joss Whedon with friends in his back yard as a sort of palette cleanser after completing The Avengers, Much Ado is lighthearted and fun and just a delight to watch. Plus, Amy Acker is magnetic.
Pacific Rim is either the stupidest awesome movie I saw all year or the awesomest stupid movie I saw all year and you know what? Who cares. It’s not often that both myself and my inner 10 year old enjoy a movie in such unison but this time I did.
Sure the plot is thin but how much plot do you really need when all it serves is to get to the next scene of a giant monster getting punched in the face by a giant robot? Turns out not much when the whole thing is being helmed by a great filmmaker like Guillermo del Toro.
The World’s End
The Cornetto trilogy came to a close this year and I can’t think of a better way for it to have done so. Equal parts silly and grown up, alien invasion and confronting our own adulthood, The World’s End is both poignant and hilarious. It features Simon Peggs best performance to date, makes Nick Frost look like a ninja, and Edgar Wright brings together every trick he’s learned to date.
Issues with the author aside, I do really love the book Ender’s Game and I really would like to have seen a great movie based on it. It wasn’t to be though as Ender’s Game turned out to be just another by the numbers young adult adaptation which removed much of the punch of the source materials twists and turns.
So of the ten films I was most looking forward to five turned out to be good and five were either bad or just ok.
The films I liked I mostly really liked and the films that I didn’t like I tended to, well, really dislike. I don’t think that 50% hite rate is terribly good however at least I liked more than I didn’t!
I don’t think I am going to do the same in 2014, there are too many films coming out and too many that I don’t even know about just yet.
2013 turned out to be a pretty good year for film in the end and 2014 looks poised to be just as good if not better!