2013 was a big summer for movies. I’m not quite sure if it tops last year’s The Avengers/The Amazing Spider-Man/The Dark Knight Rises three way of tent-pole comic book movies, but it came pretty close. It at least offered a much wider variety of films to choose from, like Shane Black‘s Iron Man 3 or even Fast & Furious 6, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, Elysium and so on.
2013 was all about range and delivering movies for all audiences with all sorts of budgets. For some reason the big budget blockbusters didn’t end up fairing as well as some of the smaller titles, which means box office analysts and critics alike have been blasting so many good films strictly for their budgets and not so much their quality.
A lot of big movies like say Man of Steel ended up performing, but there was a couple titles that were doomed from the get-go, because of already decided opinions from critics and studios putting very little effort into the marketing for said films.
Below I’ve detailed three films that I think you should have seen at some point this summer. These films all vary in quality, but they all share one thing in common, which is that nobody really went and saw them (judging on their box office intake and quick exit from most first-run theaters). All three of these films are good and ones that I would have easily picked over more successful summer affairs, yet they mostly went by unnoticed and ignored by the masses.
Maybe after reading this article you will let the idea of renting or purchasing one of these on DVD or Blu-ray cross your mind, because these films are totally worth it and deserve none of the backlash that has been thrown at them since opening day.
The biggest surprise of the summer for me wasn’t Man of Steel being a slight disappointment or even The Wolverine ending up being an engaging character study. The biggest surprise for me was R.I.P.D. and just how much silly and over-the-top fun it was. Never in a million years would I have thought that teaming up Ryan Reynolds with a True Grit-like Jeff Bridges for a Men in Black rip-off would pay off, let alone be a fast, fluid, entertaining and bizarre little (or should I say big based on budget) flick.
Admittedly, I had this one written off long before I saw it. Mostly because of Universal’s horrible marketing campaign, but also because it just looked and sounded like a sure-fire dud.
Then I actually saw it.
And I’m very glad that I did, because R.I.P.D. is a lot of innocent fun. It moves faster than you’d think and it almost always has a joke around every corner. I described it (in my review) as the perfect mid-summer romp that’s both quick and painless. It’s not the highest quality summer film in release, but it’s far from a bad movie and it deserves to be seen.
I can see R.I.P.D. gaining a small gathering once it hits home video, but expect many years to pass on by before people recognize its high energy greatness and ability to be so damn silly, yet so damn fun.
The Lone Ranger
Gore Verbinski‘s latest might just be the most talked-about movie of 2013 and also one the least watched. The Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer-starring Western was mostly dismissed long before it even started production, which means most critics had their reviews locked in before its early July release. I was beyond surprised with how exciting and thrilling the film turned out to be, because I’ve never considered myself a big Depp fan and I’m usually very hit-or-miss with Verbinski.
The Lone Ranger still claims the prize of best action sequence of the year, with an ending train sequence that appears to go on forever without ever losing any steam. The film is slightly bloated and could use another once over in the editing room, but it’s mostly an adventurous film that’s funny, exciting and exactly the kind of summer picture that both kids and adults should be eating up.
The film didn’t do too hot at all and is scheduled to be Disney’s biggest flop of the year. I have no idea why, because it’s a lot more fun and smart than a dozen other summer popcorn flicks.
Guillermo del Toro‘s Pacific Rim is far from the biggest summer flop ever, but it certainly didn’t have strong legs on American soil. His biggest and most gigantic film yet opened to lukewarm numbers for Warner Bros., but still went on to smash some box office records overseas. I’m not exactly sure why U.S. audiences didn’t cram into theaters for this one, because it looked like a bad ass mix of Transformers and Godzilla, but done up with actual style and direction by one of the best fantasy filmmakers to ever grace the silver screen.
The biggest argument against the film was the lack of character focus in the trailers, which is all on WB and not so much del Toro. The film looked kind of emotionless in most of the marketing materials, but the actual end product is full of life and positive energy that has all but been forgotten in the modern day of filmmaking where everything must be dark and depressing.
Guillermo del Toro gave us a film that showed incredible heart and hope, plus some of the most impressively scoped action ever. Michael Bay and the rest of the big budget blockbuster film directors have absolutely nothing on del Toro and will surely have to step up their game if they want to be considered the masters of blowing shit up with style.
2013 summer season was surprisingly good in my mind. Most of my favorites were ones that I wasn’t anticipating at all, while films that I’ve been waiting for all year managed to disappoint in various degrees. Man of Steel was supposed to be the “one” for me and it ended up being just another good superhero flick, while Pacific Rim completely blew me away and Elysium reminded me that original sci-fi is far from dead.
Films like The Lone Ranger and R.I.P.D. reminded me that fun summer flicks still exist, even if they won’t be given such budgets next year due to the lack of interest this year. I’m still worried about the future of movies, because so many people went out to support uninteresting junk like Fast & Furious 6 or Star Trek Into Darkness over original pieces of work that could have really used the help.
2013 will forever be known as the summer of surprises.