2013, as far as movie years go, were an embarrassment…of riches, I mean! So much so, in fact, that I’m still scrambling to catch up enough to feel okay about posting my top ten list I keep getting emails about (NOTE: I have gotten NO emails about that). Fortunately, I’m all done watching the crappy movies of the year.
In honor of this milestone, today I’m bringing you the five movies that I feel most personally let down by from the past year. With the caveat that I’m not including “Man of Steel” because enough already, and because I pretty much walked into that one with my eyes wide open.
So, here are five movies from 2013 that are just a regular embarrassment.
You know, I remember enjoying this movie while I was watching it in the theatre. Now, though, I’m hard pressed to remember anything from it, save a couple of cool action beats. I don’t think I’m alone, as “Elysium” didn’t set the world on fire, and certainly not to the same degree as “District 9.” I remember a couple of common complaints—Jodie Foster’s accent, a general sense of “preachiness”—but my own main issue was the movie just took itself too damn seriously.
This is a flick that desperately wants to be a fun, nasty satire like “Robocop,” but betrays that by shoehorning in unearned emotions too often.
A bit of context: I think “Tangled” is a surprisingly engaging movie. Shallow, a bit, but a lot of fun. Now, I realize that a lot of people also liked this movie. I just don’t understand why. While there’s nothing damningly, horribly wrong with it, it’s one of those common family movies saddled with a pervasive “paint-by-numbers” feel. Things just…happen, not because the story demands it or because it enlightens the themes of the story, but because they’re simply supposed to.
3. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS
Look, the first “Star Trek” was a messy affair, but it managed to work in spite of itself. In 2009, Abrams and his cast imbued the highly anticipated reboot with a sense of genuine enthusiasm. The story may have been unlikely, but its characters were memorable, fun, and the absolute point of the film. “Into Darkness,” on the other hand, constantly eschews delving into character stuff in favor of tedious conspiracy-laden plot machinations.
Nobody has clear motives, no actions have consequence. Losing rank, messing up, FUCKING DYING…none of it matters. It’s more than telling that “Into Darkness” has almost the exact same ending as “Star Trek.” What, exactly, have we accomplished here? Nothing.
2. OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL
Okay, I don’t think anybody expected this movie to succeed in comparison to the 1939 classic. Nor did anybody really think that the Sam Raimi who made “Evil Dead” and the first two Spider-Man movies was back, let alone working at Disney. I just hoped it wouldn’t be as bad as, you know, that recent “Alice in Wonderland” debacle.
Sadly, “Oz” feels like nothing so much as a Raimi-flavored “Alice” clone. Some of his usual bits of flair (camera tricks, horror iconography) fill in the edges of the frame, but nothing about his sensibilities is truly front-and-center.
Hopefully this marks the bottom of Raimi’s career. I don’t blame him for this entirely—“Oz” has all the signs of a movie that’s been micromanaged and focus-grouped to death. Not unlike “Spider-Man 3” in that regard.
1. THOR: THE DARK WORLD
Though Marvel’s been on a bit of a hot streak since the first “Iron Man,” their run hasn’t been flawless. “The Incredible Hulk” and “Iron Man 2” were pretty weak. Still, Joss Whedon coming aboard and delivering the goods with “The Avengers” seemed to indicate that Marvel had this thing figured out. As they moved into Phase 2, Shane Black’s sensational “Iron Man 3” only seemed to confirm it. And then “Thor: The Dark World” came and ruined the party for everybody.
Anyway, as with “Frozen,” my understanding is that this movie has a decent amount of fans out there. Even more than that movie, I simply don’t know what the appeal is. This is easily the vaguest movie Marvel has put out so far. Things like Thor’s arc, the motives of the villain, the purpose of Jane and her companions are technically included, but rarely defined and never particularly clear. Oh, and the movie desperately wants to be a rollicking comedy but sadly has no idea how to tell a joke.
Also, I like goofy fantasy as much as anybody, but the fantasy in “The Dark World” has no significance. These other realms are presented in the sketchiest forms possible; the texture and color of a well-developed world simply isn’t there.
The one selling point? Loki.