2013 was another interesting year for cinema. The year of the long-awaited sequels for sure, with so many films coming out being tied to some sort of previous product/film or TV show. That essentially meant that many of America’s hard-earned dollars were spent on established property, with anticipation already built and locked in. The result was a year full of great films, but also a year full of giant stinkers.
2013 for me, was a year that many of the films that I’ve been anticipating ended up disappointing, while ones that I wasn’t all too interested in managed to surprise me. I’m not quite sure if that’s a good thing or not.
Below, I’ve listed my top ten disappointments of 2013. Note that this list is in no way the worst movies of the year. There were far worse films in circulation. Some of these films are bad ones, while some of them failed to meet that mark of achievement. Again, most of these are sequels and/or reboots of established property, so with them came expectations previously set by the director/stars. I tried my best to view each entry as its own film, but sometimes even that didn’t help, with more than a couple of these films barely skidding by on their good graces.
This list isn’t in any exact order either and remember, it’s my own personal list and not the end-all list of quality, so settle down.
David Twohy‘s Riddick is a bad ass film, don’t get me wrong. What he and Vin Diesel managed to do was create a film that’s much more Pitch Black than The Chronicles of Riddick. But they also managed to run out of gas halfway through, leaving us with a sluggish middle act that barely manages to save itself by the final action sequence. I respect the hell out of Twohy and Diesel for returning to their roots and making something very low-key and anti-summer blockbuster, but I also couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed by what I was watching.
The opening of Riddick is awesome and worthy of its own extended film, but what follows is a very middling action affair that comes with enough kills and one-liners to please, but not exactly impress.
White House Down
Roland Emmerich‘s much more expensive White House Takeover film was not even half the film that Olympus Has Fallen was. White House Down is a boring and tedious disaster from the ground up, barely taking advantage of its bigger budget and more well-known stars. I’m not sure how the man behind Independence Day and 2012 happened to make this one, because honestly, White House Down felt like a cheap knockoff that was skimping in the explosions and action department.
Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx fail at trying to save the film from its overly-stretched running time and general stale taste that it leaves in the mouth.
A Good Day to Die Hard
I guess not most were expecting much out of the fifth installment in the Die Hard series, but I honestly thought that the earlier trailers looked good and that the R-rating was a good sign, but I was oh so horribly wrong. A Good Day to Die Hard is perhaps one of the most incoherent action films ever constructed, failing to string together a single scene that makes any sense. Bruce Willis spends most of the running time confused and slightly bored, while the rest of the cast runs around like chickens with their heads cut off.
I’m not sure how this passed as a Die Hard film, even when compared to the fourth, which has been universally considered the worst. Somehow, A Good Day to Die Hard manages to make the fourth film look like a miracle.
Not many were expecting much from Robert Rodriguez‘s Grindhouse sequel, Machete Kills and that’s a good thing, because the end result is something that’s far more trashy and campy than any of the faux Grindhouse trailers. The first Machete worked just fine as a cheesy and tongue-and-cheek nod to the Grindhouse movies of the past, while Machete Kills plays like a straight-to-DVD nightmare, with cheap production values and not a single invested member of the cast.
Heck, even Danny Trejo looked tired and flat-out bored midway through and that translates to yet another failed Rodriguez production.
Ridley Scott isn’t exactly the most sure-thing these days in Hollywood. Many people are still grumpy over Prometheus, which wasn’t all that it cracked up to be, yet I was still slightly interested in The Counselor. Mostly because of its cast (Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz and so on), plus Cormac McCarthy‘s work on the script. The actual film is completely bizarre and almost too bleak in delivery, leaving a very small impact on those that watch it.
I’ve read some fascinating articles on the film from those that have really deconstructed Scott’s latest, but I still consider it a cold film that mostly wastes its good talent. Scott’s direction is lacking calculation and focus and it really shows in this one.
I didn’t hate Joseph Kosinski‘s Oblivion. I really liked the film’s musical score, done by M83 and I appreciate almost all of Kosinski’s visual shots. Plus, Tom Cruise supplies the film with another hearty Cruise character, yet everything about this one feels like it’s ripping off previous material at wholesale. Stealing ideas and retooling them is nothing new in Hollywood, but Oblivion‘s twist reveal is a complete joke and absolutely ruins the slow-burn build up that comes before it.
Kosinski is a talented man when it comes to visuals and establishing a particular tone, but his efforts in the story department are weak and in dire need of rewrites and tweaks. There’s a good film buried somewhere in Oblivion, but the one that Kosinski gives us is far from perfect.
Iron Man 3
It’s no secret that I’m one of the only people in the world that didn’t care too much for Iron Man or Iron Man 2. Robert Downey Jr. is perfect for the character, but there’s just something about Iron Man/Tony Stark that strikes me as one-noted and something that eats up its good graces a little too quickly, unless working with others (see The Avengers).
Iron Man 3 promised us stronger direction, with the well-liked Shane Black taking over for Jon Favreau. But there’s just something about it that strikes me as off-balanced and sometimes amusing at best. Black has without made the best Iron Man film yet, but while doing so he’s also exhausted the character completely and has left us with the hopeful idea that Iron Man solo films are done for now or at least until Marvel can strike another lucrative deal with RDJ to reprise the role.
Anchorman is one of the most-quoted comedy films of all-time. It’s an extremely funny film (at times) that helped launch Will Ferrell into the mainstream, but while doing so it created an unmatchable hype that’s been brewing for years. Sequels rarely manage to top their predecessors in quality and comedy sequels have it even harder, which makes Anchorman 2 an expected disappointment, but a disappointment all the same.
Director Adam McKay and the entire cast and crew from the original return in a sequel that wears out its welcome within the opening credits and then goes on to make a fool of itself in the minutes that follow. Anchorman 2 is funny, but only because it rehashes jokes from the first film, while adding some new flavor. These jokes might get your quick laughs, but they have almost no lasting appeal and only drag the film out longer.
Anchorman 2 is an attempt at copying the first film, while going as over the top as possible and failing to hit the mark on almost every level.
Cult classic Evil Dead is something that probably shouldn’t have been remade, but original director Sam Raimi handpicked Fede Alvarez to deliver us a reboot that pays tribute, while also remaining fresh and new for today’s audiences. The result is a film that’s impressive from a technical aspect, with some of the absolute best blood and gore effects ever made.
But there’s just no soul to this remake and the film becomes typical pedestrian affair almost instantly. The original Evil Dead was creepy for its time, while this one is just an average shock factor horror flick that tries its hardest to make you close your eyes out of pure disgust, but never really earns the screams or jumps.
Repeat viewings show off the film’s rougher edges and glaring problems.
Fast & Furious 6
Trust me when I tell you that I was beyond surprised when I found Fast Five to be one of the best action flicks of the past couple years. How Justin Lin managed to take a dying franchise and breathe such incredible life into it is a miracle that even I don’t quite understand, but it happened. Paul Walker, Vin Diesel and the Fast crew welcomed Dwayne Johnson to the series in Five and the promise of a sixth film, with an even bigger cast sounded like an ace in the hole.
But Justin Lin dropped the ball big time and instead of delivering a wholesome action flick, he’s gifted us with another silly, over-the-top and brainless action picture that tries so hard to recapture that magic from the previous film. Fast Five may have had its dumb moments, but the movie knows how to keep things leveled and play up the action and cool factor without going too overboard.
Fast & Furious 6 goes beyond the point of no return and gives us too much action. I know that sounds like the weirdest complaint ever to give a Fast & Furious movie, but it’s true.
Agree or disagree with any of my statements? Let me know in the comments section down below. Keep an eye out for my favorite films of 2013 and the biggest surprises of 2013. Also, feel free to drop a comment down below with your biggest disappoints of the year.