Aaron’s Top Ten Worst Films Of 2013
This is not really a post of joy, but every year does see the release of films that are just not good. I do not try to seek out these films, with the majority being ones that I did think could have redeemable elements, but that just wasn’t the case here. This list contains what I think were the biggest misses of the year, which I watched in full and could not handle. I also have a list of disappointing films, which are not necessarily terrible, but certainly far from living up to their potential. I never actively seek out films to hate on and am happy to generally not see all of the truly terrible films that come out every year, but this is the time of year to reflect, so I have. Additionally, I did not see the supposed tragedy known as R.I.P.D. before the year ended, so I’m just going to have to call this the R.I.P.D. Memorial Worst Films List for now (and I just have nothing to say as far as Grown Ups 2 is concerned).
Most Disappointing: Ok, so I wouldn’t say that these are terrible films, but they are not very good and more importantly, they are films I thought had potential, but wound up being incredibly disappointing. I should add that more films qualified for this section, but they also made their way into the top ten. Here we go:
After Earth – While not terrible, I basically wanted this film to be good and defy the amount of hate it was getting from way before its release. After Earth was a new M. Night Shyamalan film that was doing everything to not emphasize his involvement. It didn’t pay off, not even his work as a director-for-hire could turn this film into something more enjoyable. What could have been an interesting science fiction film or even just an interesting survival story was bogged down by tedious plotting, non-exciting world-building, and most importantly, an unlikable lead character in the form of Jaden Smith. The elder Smith was providing a supporting turn as well, but it is just a shame that his son does not share the same level of charisma. (Review HERE)
The Counselor – All of the potential seen in a film that brought together Ridley Scott, Cormac McCarthy, Michael Fassbender, and a long list of other great actors, was in no way reached. In terms of depicting a level of process on screen, this film about a drug cartel scheme gone wrong managed to have a few interesting moments, let alone the two best decapitations of the year. The problem came from a style of plotting fitting of a McCarthy book, but not something that really played successfully on screen, or at least in the hands of Ridley Scott, for whatever reason. Fassbender, as basically an idiot making bad choices, even after bad people tell him to stay out of this bad business, did not help, much less Cameron Diaz, who in no way sells the role of an evil, conniving seductress she is supposed to be. This was a messy, dark film that could not find the key to making itself play better. (Review HERE)
The Lone Ranger - The best thing I can say is that this and After Earth will both pop up on another list in the near future for various reasons, but for now, I do have to go into why this is here. I really wanted The Long Ranger to be something special. Being a big fan of the first three ‘Pirates’ films and Rango (all Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski collaborations), I was excited to see what kind of imagination they could bring to a modern adaptation of The Lone Ranger. Unfortunately, while a lot of ideas certainly came through and one of the best action sequences of the year comes from this film’s final half hour, The Lone Ranger was still a bloated adventure, with a misused book-ending concept, very dark violence for a Disney adventure movie, and too much goofing around in the desert for its own good. (Review HERE)
Not Quite Top 10 Worst, Bust Still Pretty Bad:
ClosedCircuit, The Fifth Estate, Gangster Squad, The Heat, Insidious Chapter 2, Runner Runner, Safe Haven
Now for the Top 10:
10. The Purge – Here was a film built around a solid and intriguing premise. The Purge was based in a near-future, where America gets one night a year to commit whatever sort of illegal activity they want. Featuring a particularly bad performance by Ethan Hawke, with logic dependent on a decision made by one of the most annoying kid characters recently seen in film (next to Jaden Smith in The Day the Earth Stood Still, fittingly enough), The Purge wastes its potential in favor of a standard home invasion thriller. Instead of tackling the ideas set up by its concept, The Purge has instead decided to use it as an excuse to keep the cops away, while evil-doers easily enter the house of a man who specializes in keeping houses protected from evil-doers. There is a lot of dopey logic in this film and while it may be commendable that this little film made a splash at the box office, I can only hope more intelligence is involved in the already-announced sequel. (Review HERE)
9. Turbo – It is rare that I find myself angry at an animated kid’s film, but given the time we are in, I really disliked Turbo for all of its nonsense. A lot of it all comes from the pronouncement of one statement, “There’s no rule that says snails can’t compete in the Indy 500,” yikes, is that where we are? I am all for kids being able to have a piece of entertainment for themselves, but there are plenty of animated films coming out every year, which are enjoyable for everyone. Along with not being entertaining, it does come down to the ridiculous message it is throwing out there, which amounts to the idea that all dreams can come true, because miracles will drastically alter you, so why try to proceed with what you were naturally born with or could earn through hard work. Colorful nonsense. (Review HERE)
8. Red 2 – The first Red was a mild distraction that may have ditched the much darker graphic novel in favor of a “no school like the old school” action comedy, but the sequel seemed to ditch the fun that came with that. Carrying on for no particular reason, the entire cast returned for this sequel, but few things worked any better. A standout last time around, John Malkovich falls completely flat this time, as he dials back the crazy and spouts one-liners about how to make a good relationship work. Mary Louise Parker somehow found a way to make me resist her natural charms, based on how annoying her character became. Bruce Willis will have more to answer for later on this list, but that is alright, as he did not seem to care before, during, or apparently after making this film. I actually forgot Anthony Hopkins was in this film, but I guess it is saying something that I would rather watch him eat a guy on film than watch him attempt to play spy games and giggle along with a machine gun-toting Helen Mirren. (Review HERE)
7. 21 & Over – I will have more to say about comedies that fail at being funny later on, but 21 & Over gets additional points for moving into “guys kissing = disgusting and hilarious” territory. “From the writers of The Hangover” was apparently the way to market this college-aged version of mean-spirited debauchery put to screen. Unfortunately, while at least the first Hangover made good on some clever plotting and actually having jokes, 21 & Over provides next to nothing in terms of entertainment value. This film definitely does not add to the college comedy experience.
6. Stand Up Guys – Acting legends Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin teamed up to make a mob comedy about friendship…and it features a twenty minute subplot involving Pacino taking too much Viagra, a late night trip to a cemetery for an impromptu burial, and one of the most inconsequential shootout endings I have seen recently. Stand Up Guys was a big miss of a film, with an incredibly awkward tone and very strange choices in plotting. What could have been an interesting dark comedy was nothing more than an empty farce that happened to waste the talents of some very good actors. Did I mention the Viagra subplot (Review HERE)
5. Movie 43 – Ugh…honestly I really did not want to even dredge up thoughts on this thing, but here it is. Movie 43 at least had some ambition involved in presenting comedic short films, loosely strung together, but I still can’t believe there was so much blackmail material available to get all of the various stars to sink to some of the levels that they go in this film. I can only imagine that people will make note of this film as the one where Hugh Jackman had testicles on his chin, but with that said, this film forgot to make this kind of humor funny. Shocking? Sure, but I can jump up behind someone and shock them, what is clever about it? Nothing. Oh, and that’s just the first five minutes of a grueling 94. (Review HERE)
4. Oldboy – The real shame is how I would have had this on a “Most Anticipated” list, had I made one. The idea of remaking the Korean revenge thriller, Oldboy, was never something I had a problem with, given the intriguing involvement of Spike Lee, along with his capable casting choices. Unfortunately, not only did the early news basically lie by saying this version of the story would be based around the original manga, when it just retreads everything seen in the original film instead, but it also adds nothing of value. This is just a flatly made film that loses all the punch of what makes the story so compelling. Poor choices throughout run abound as well, which may come from the fact that this is a 100-minute film supposedly cut down from 3-hours, but also due to scenes and character actions feeling inert in execution overall. The world was not laughing with this one. (Review HERE)
3. The Hangover: Part III – I can only hope that someone is proud of the fact that the wolfpack returned once again, but really changed things up this time around. Hurray for taking a bit more time in hammering out a screenplay I guess. I just wish this film didn’t forget to have jokes. With Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper seemingly biding their time, waiting for other work and these contracts to expire, it was up to a lot of Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong to attempt to make good on the promise that it would all end with this final chapter of the unnecessary Hangover trilogy. Unfortunately, all they managed to do was end it, minus the “successfully” part. Hopefully director Todd Phillips now has carte blanche to do whatever he wants, as he can clearly shoot some beautiful scenes and assemble a clever film when given the chance. (Review HERE)
2. Texas Chainsaw 3D – Kicking off the beginning of 2013, Texas Chainsaw 3D was one of the more puzzling films of the year, as it had some of the strangest ideas for how to continue on with a franchise that doesn’t really have any more territory to explore. The solution? Retcon everything and start anew with a sequel to the original film that somehow forgets simple addition, when it comes to depicting time. Beyond that, there is a truly terrible horror film here, which mistakes tension and suspense for one ridiculous choice after another and adds moments of truly terrible CG. But that’s enough from me on this film, I’d rather let Why So Blu writer Brandon Peters detail this film’s crowning achievement. (Review HERE)
1. A Good Day To Die Hard – It is amazing how this film went further and further down in terms of my regard for it. I was initially disappointed, but tried to salvage some good out of it, as I try to stick up for the Die Hard franchise. However, the more I thought about it, the angrier I have become at how this film basically says, “Screw the franchise.” I could say more, but my thoughts and focus of the anger are best summarized in this passage from my original review:
One of my biggest issues is the portrayal of John McClane. As opposed to the other entries in the series, McClane is less of an annoyance to just the bad guys and more of an annoyance to all of Russia. Each previous film involves John McClane getting into situations basically by chance. In A Good Day to Die Hard, McClane throws himself into every situation. He certainly has his motives – save his son, but the film is presenting a much stranger version of John McClane. This McClane is an ugly American, who happily steals cars, yells at people, because they don’t speak English (gasp!), pushes his injured son to keep going and not be such a cry baby, and performs plenty of feats that this ‘every man’ close to pushing 60 would not have walked away from so simply in Die Hard. McClane is a jerk in this film. He is less of a man who bleeds this time and more of a guy who just needs a Band Aid and a lolli, then it’s off to the next wisecrack. That is quite a shame, because Willis has always held a level of respect for the John McClane character. Live Free or Die Hard may not be a beloved entry in the franchise (though it is much better than this film), but at least it allowed John McClane to reflect, as a human would, on what his status as a ‘hero’ really meant. In A Good Day to Die Hard, Willis just seems to have showed up to set. (The rest can be found HERE)
Congratulations A Good Day to Die Hard, you are the worst film of the year!
Next Time: The Odds & Ends of 2013