The first half of the 2013 movie season is over…Well the first seven months of the movie season are over so it’s technically not the halfway point, but if baseball can call the all-star game the halfway point then I can call this the halfway point.
Overall, I’m not particularly pleased with the 2013 movie season thus far, but I really enjoyed a few movies. Some even surprised me.
Before I delve into the movies themselves, let’s check out the box office (courtesy of Box Office Mojo) and a short animated feature.
Top 10 Highest Grossing (Domestic) So Far (As of July 30)
1. Iron Man 3 ($407 million)
2. Despicable Me 2 ($309 million)
3. Man of Steel ($286 million)
4. Monsters University ($255 million)
5. Fast and Furious 6 ($237 million)
6. Oz The Great and Powerful ($234 million)
7. Star Trek: Into Darkness ($225 million)
8. World War Z ($193 million)
9. The Croods ($186 million)
10. The Great Gatsby ($144 million)
The Blue Umbrella
I saw this short animated feature before Monsters University. It wasn’t bad, but it tried to take the same storyline from Paperman, the short animated feature that took home the Oscar last year, and apply it to umbrellas. It had crisp animation, but it fell short of Paperman.
Least Favorite to Favorite Movies So Far
Now keep in mind when reading this that these movies are my favorite so far during the 2013 movie season. That doesn’t necessarily mean their ranks are based on their quality. I will try to make those distinctions as I talk about the movies below.
25. Pain and Gain
I didn’t like this movie at all. I guess you could categorize it as a dark comedy, but it just didn’t flow well at all. I didn’t take anything good away from the film as I left the theater and that’s saying something when I really like Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie as actors. Even Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has stepped into his own as a viable entertaining actor, but nothing could save this mess.
24. Dark Skies
I don’t like horror movies. I saw this because my friend wanted to see it. It wasn’t as bad as the trailer made it out to be but make no mistake about it, the film still sucked.
23. Movie 43
Much like Pain and Gain, Movie 43 failed its attempt at raunchy comedy and left me disturbed. I should have realized that the only part that was truly funny in the trailer was the all black basketball team that was afraid to play the all white school. At least when I left the theater that night I could take away that Terrence Howard nailed his part in that scene. It was truly hilarious, but other than that five minutes Movie 43 fell flat.
22. A Good Day to Die Hard
This is the answer to the question how can you mess up a Die Hard movie? Some people still don’t believe me when I tell them, but A Good Day to Die Hard was a blight on an otherwise solid franchise. I love Bruce Willis and I think Jai Courtney (Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Jack Reacher) is great. This movie’s failure doesn’t rest on their shoulders. It was ruined by the writers, who failed to make A Good Day to Die Hard feel even in the slightest like a Die Hard movie. I hope this monstrosity doesn’t ruin Courtney’s future, because I really like him as an actor.
21. 21 and Over
Not a carbon copy of Project X, but its foundation was built on its premise. It wasn’t as awful as Project X, but once again the main characters didn’t learn from their mistakes in the end. That bothers me and is not a message that should be sent through any film.
20. Bullet to the Head
Sylvester Stallone tried life beyond his recent success with The Expendables franchise and failed.
19. The Last Stand
Arnold Schwarzenegger tried life beyond his recent success with The Expendables franchise and failed, but not as badly as Stallone.
18. This is the End
It was funny in the beginning, but it slowly started to simmer as the plot progressed. I don’t particular enjoy raunchy humor, so as the film became more and more raunchy I became less and less interested. However, I appear to be alone in this. Everyone I’ve talked to has seemed to have really enjoyed it.
17. White House Down
It looked like it had the potential to be a decently entertaining movie. While it somewhat accomplished that, White House Down didn’t know what type of movie it wanted to be. Roland Emmerich tried to emulate the Will Smith/Jeff Goldblum pairing from Independence Day with the Channing Tatum/Jamie Foxx combo in White House Down. It didn’t work out. It’s not that I don’t like either actor, but one minute the pairing was serious and then the next minute Jamie Foxx was throwing on a pair of Jordans, while Channing Tatum took his shirt off for no reason.
The last 20 minutes were supposed to be serious, but I laughed for most of it. Nice try Roland Emmerich, but I really wish you just made Independence Day and retired.
16. Olympus Has Fallen
It still baffles me that two movies that were released three months apart could have the exact same premise. Olympus Has Fallen had the advantage of beating White House Down to the punch. It also had the advantage of being a slightly better film, for which you could thank Gerard Butler. It was refreshing to see him return to his 300 ways of being a badass.
I did enjoy this movie, but it had too many laughable moments to push it over the top. Also, I hope the White House isn’t as penetrable as these movies make it out to be. Furthermore, I can’t wait for Building in which the President Lives Collapses, which will be released in September of this year.
15. The Great Gatsby
I really didn’t have many problems with this film. It struggled to figure out if it wanted to be a modernization of the book or a replica of the time period in which it occurred. Instead they decided to just combine the two, which I thought was pretty weak. I liked the actors involved in the film (You can’t go wrong with Leo) and the scenery was quite extravagant.
What I really don’t enjoy about this film (to no fault of its own) is the source material. The story is so tragic. There’s a difference between a movie that makes you cry and a movie that makes you depressed. The Great Gatsby is flat out depressing, which isn’t a bad thing. However, it’s not what I go to the theater to see.
14. Dead Man Down
This was a quality movie, with the exception of the flat out ridiculous action sequence at the end (Cool sequence, but still ridiculous). It was pretty dull at times, but overall a solid film.
13. G.I. Joe: Retaliation
This was a terrible film, but I enjoyed. Sometimes movies are horrible, but when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis and ninjas are involved, things could get interesting. Let me reiterate that this is not a quality film, but I’d watch it before others because of entertainment value.
12. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
Speaking of entertaining movies, this pretty much nailed it. Jeremy Renner didn’t take this movie seriously (which is what it needed) and Gemma Arterton is an angel. I’m convinced. Also, Famke Janssen was born to portray evil people in movies.
11. The Wolverine
Hugh Jackman is the man. Wolverine’s bodyguard was also cool, but the film itself was pretty dull. I almost fell asleep a few times in the theater, but I was really tired. Why is it ranked almost in the top 10? Well, I think I had high expectations for the film, which as a moviegoer you should never do. Also, The Wolverine was eons better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and the mid-credits scene made the entire movie worth it.
10. Gangster Squad
I may have not enjoyed this film that much if it weren’t for the actors involved. I think Josh Brolin is always fantastic. I also enjoy pretty much every movie in which Anthony Mackie (with the exception of Pain and Gain)is in the mix. Add in Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Michael Pena and Robert Patrick and it’s difficult to go wrong.
On top of the favorable actors, I enjoyed how this movie was shot. It was different so Gangster Squad ended up with a unique style.
9. Monsters University
I didn’t think a film that is 12 years removed from its source material would have much quality to it, but I was wrong. Although it started off a little slow, the story was solid and had me laughing pretty hard at times.
8. Now You See Me
This is the real shocker of the 2013 movie season so far. Granted, it has a star-studded cast, but I didn’t see it doing very well. I wasn’t impressed by the trailer. All of a sudden the movie was released and, as if it were a magic trick, pulled in $233 million worldwide. Also, I heard nothing but good things about this film through word of mouth, so I had to see it.
I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was interesting and entertaining enough that it made me look past the glaring plot holes.
7. Iron Man 3
Although Iron Man 3 cracked the top 10, I was disappointed with its ending. It’s as if someone ran in the room and yelled, “We need this movie done now! You have 10 minutes!” If a movie ends well, it could mask certain awful things earlier in the film. However, if a movie doesn’t end well, there’s a bad taste left lingering in your mouth.
I still don’t understand it. Also, the twist with the Mandarin? Really? Was that the big twist? Ugh! Just a disappointing movie as a whole, but it’s still Iron Man. He has to crack the top 10.
6. World War Z
Unlike Iron Man 3, World War Z was surprisingly a solid film. I was entertained and hanging on the edge of my seat, despite the awful trailer that suggested the film would simply be a bunch of CGI zombies running at superhuman speeds and creating zombie ladders.
The storyline turned out to be a little weak, but ultimately I can’t complain. I love Brad Pitt and he excelled once again.
5. Despicable Me 2
The Despicable Me franchise continues to shine as it is the second highest grossing film of 2013. I also thought Despicable Me 2 improved upon the first film. I laughed a lot, enjoyed the animation and loved the integration of the new characters with the characters from the first film.
I don’t understand the criticism of this film. All you hear is they should have done more with it. The movie spanned a few years of Jackie Robinson’s journey from the Negro League to the International League to Major League Baseball. It only covered his rookie season, but after the season ended the movie hit the two-hour mark. I thought everything in the movie was necessary, so if it covered more 42 might have been five hours long. So why the complaints about adding more? I understand he is the face of racial integration in all of sports, but I’m confident audiences wouldn’t be happy with a five-hour film.
Chadwick Boseman did well as Jackie Robinson, but Harrison Ford stole the show with his portrayal of Branch Rickey. I don’t see an Oscar in his future, but he nailed.
3. Man of Steel
I don’t find Superman to be an interesting superhero, but I loved this film. Having Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan involved in the same movie is exciting. Henry Cavill makes a great Superman, but Kevin Costner provided the best performance as Jonathon Kent. The movie is also bolstered by solid performances from Russell Crowe and Amy Adams.
Once again, Hans Zimmer nailed the musical score. It’s no Batman, but Man of Steel impressed me. The sequel will be Batman vs. Superman as it was announced at Comic-Con. That has potential to be great, but with the potential for greatness comes the potential to fall flat. Please Christopher Nolan. Don’t allow Zack Snyder to create another Sucker Punch.
2. Fast and Furious 6
This franchise can’t seem to go wrong as it cranked out a successful sixth installment. Yes, there will be a seventh film. It is well deserved. Fast and Furious 6 buffed up of the ridiculousness a little bit from Fast Five (if you could believe that). I saw it in the theater twice and I loved it each time. It’s not a quality film, but its purpose is to entertain. It does that and more.
It’s not as good as Fast Five, but it’s undoubtably another great addition to the collection. It also makes Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift a much more watchable film (no easy task).
1. Star Trek: Into Darkness
If you’re looking for quality entertainment out of the 2013 movie season, Star Trek: Into Darkness will provide it. Like I said in my review of the film, I thought more people would go see this movie. It had everything going for it, yet it only made $225 million domestically. That only ranks it seventh on the highest domestic grossing films of the year. I don’t know. I expected more.
The box office aside, the acting, the story and the faithfulness to the original series couldn’t be better. I saw it twice in theaters and I loved it both times. It was a truly incredible film and the only movie worthy of five cups.
We’ll see what the rest of the year brings, but Star Trek: Into Darkness will be tough to top.