Brief-ish Recap of 2013’s Movies So Far

2013 has been a decent year for movies, and it’s improving in both quality, and in regards of box office earnings. And I think it can only get better from here, at least in terms of quality. So far, I’ve seen 36 movies that have been released in 2013, and I’ve missed quite a few as well. Here is my post for the best and worst of 2013 so far. There is a top 10 list, and a bottom five list, and I will post my “Most anticipated movies of Second Half of the Year List” sooner than later. Here’s what I thought of what 2013 has had to offer so far…

The Best of the Year So Far

This is the End“, 2013’s Best Movie So Far & 2013’s Best Surprise

First, the top 10. I have listed the title and the original score in brackets. I’ve decided not to include little blurbs from each review, because that just might become tedious to read with so many titles. If you want to read my thoughts, click on the link to my review. (Note: You might notice that some scores are lower than others, but higher on the list – but that’s because they’ve grown on me since I’ve seen them, and are better than other movies in terms of quality.)

1. This is the End (91), 2. Monsters University (90), 3. 42 (90), 4. The Place Beyond the Pines (88), 5. Fast & Furious 6 (90), 6. Mud (86), 7. Evil Dead (88), 8. Pain & Gain (83), 9. Spring Breakers (75), 10. The Croods (83).

Here’s 11-15: 11. Star Trek Into Darkness (83), 12. The Great Gatsby (82), 13. Warm Bodies (80), 14. Now You See Me (80), 15. Iron Man 3 (80).

Here’s the rest of the movies I’ve seen, ranked from best to worst (in blocks of five, so it’s easier on the eyes): The Last Stand (80); World War Z (75)The Heat (75) Mama (78)20. Oz the Great and Powerful (75).

Epic (74)The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (73); Identity Thief (72); Olympus Has Fallen (70); 25. Snitch (71).

Oblivion (67); Gangster Squad (63)The Purge (57); Man of Steel (50)30. Admission (56), Safe Haven (54).

2013's Worst Movie So Far

Scary Movie 5“, 2013’s Worst Movie So Far (But I don’t think there will be a bigger shitfest this year). 

Here’s the List of Shame, the Bottom Five of the year: After Earth (40)Peeples (38); The Hangover Part III (25)Movie 43 (30); 36. Scary Movie 5 (0).

Here was my Top 12 Most Anticipated Movies of the First Half of the Year: 1. Monsters University; 2. The Place Beyond the Pines; 3. Identity Thief 4. Oz the Great and Powerful; 5. Gangster Squad; 6. 42; 7. Now You See Me; 8. Fast & Furious 6; 9. Man of Steel; 10. Oblivion11. The Purge: 12. Mud.

5 of my 12 most anticipated movies made the Top 10, and 6 made my top 15. “Oz the Great and Powerful” was only slightly satisfying. “Identity Thief”, and “Oblivion” were mildly disappointing. “Gangster Squad” was quite disappointing because it could have potentially been an Oscar contender, but it ended up not knowing if it wanted to be serious or just silly. It was a lightly entertaining gangster movie, apparently much like “The Untouchables”. I’d put “The Hangover Part III” in my Top 15 Anticipated of the First Half, so that is the biggest disappointment of the year because it just wasn’t funny. The third biggest disappointment would be “The Purge”, and the second would be “Man of Steel”.

"The Hangover Part III", 2013's Biggest Disappointment So Far

The Hangover Part III“, 2013’s Biggest Disappointment So Far

The best surprise of the year definitely has to be “This is the End”, even if I was quite excited for it. I knew it was going to be good, but not that good, and especially not movie of the year worthy. Out of the films I wasn’t anticipating at all, “World War Z” was probably the nicest surprise.

These are the movies I missed, but will be checking out. I’ve only included the ones I could envision myself either popping into the DVD player, watching online, or going out to the theater and watching: A Good Day to Die Hard, Aftershock, Antiviral, Before Midnight, Berberian Sound Studio, The Bling Ring, Byzantium, The Call, Dark Skies, Dead Man Down, The East, Frances Ha, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Ginger & Rosa, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Host, The Iceman, The Internship, The Kings of Summer, The Lords of Salem, Maniac, Much Ado About Nothing, Quartet, Room 237, The Sapphires, Side Effects, Song for Marion, Stand Up Guys, Stoker, To the Wonder, Trance, Upside Down, Upstream Color, Violet & Daisy, Welcome to the Punch, White House Down.

And finally, here are some statistics: 

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Average Score: 72.55

My Average Score: 69.22

IMDb Average Score: 66.05

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Average Score: 56.55

So there you have it… What’s your favourite movie of the year so far, and your least favourite? I won’t put a poll because there are just too many titles, so let me know in the comments!

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Now You See Me (2013)

Now You See MeRelease Date: May 31, 2013

Director: Louis Leterrier

Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo

Runtime: 115 min

The summer of 2013 hasn’t been an incredible season for originality thus far. There have been sequels (Fast & Furious 6, Iron Man 3, et cetera), book adaptations (The Great Gatsby), and not-so subtle rip-offs of better movies (Peeples). The time for pure originality has finally come with Now You See Me.

This follows an FBI agent and an Interpol detective who track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.

NYSM is unlike anything else you’ve seen this year. You might think of this as Ocean’s Eleven with magic, especially if you watch them back to back. This is still a truly fun movie that feels fresh. There’s concepts of justice that are explored well. This works as a great show of showmanship, and as a great bank heist caper.

Its originality is easily admirable; it really is one of 2013’s most original films. For such a fun movie, it is also thought-provoking. It’s intriguing throughout, and often unpredictable. You’ll love every one of these characters, because they are all charismatic. The team of illusionists, called the Four Horsemen, are true entertainers. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) is the classic magician who knows all the best card tricks, and he’s very smooth with his words. Eisenberg’s sarcastic wit and arrogance fits the role. Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) is a mentalist, who could read your thoughts. He’s one of the funniest characters. Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) is an escape artist, and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) is a pickpocket. This crew really knows how to sell tickets. If you thought you’d really like to attend a live showing of The Ellen DeGeneres Show because you might receive free electronics; imagine attending one of these and receiving large sums of money. (Count me in!)

The FBI agent hot on their tail is Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo), who’s also a hot-head and isn’t an expert at maintaining his resolve. That’s an appropriate character for a guy who portrays The Hulk, isn’t it? Morgan Freeman portrays Thaddeus Bradley, a former magician who now makes money by showing audiences how other magicians pull off their illusions. Mélanie Laurent plays the Interpol agent who teams up with Ruffalo. Michael Caine is the big man who gave the Four Horsemen their attraction at his hotel. Common is also there, just because he seems to show up in every movie. As you can see, the cast is one of the year’s finest ensembles.

The story and the cast are the movie’s strongest aspects. It’s endlessly entertaining and admirably unpredictable. The story wants you to believe in magic, and embrace the wonder of watching an illusion on-stage. It’s the mystery of magic; the wonder, that makes it so special. One usually doesn’t know how the trick is done, and that’s a problem for the movie… It shows how some of the tricks are done. Many might not like this aspect because some like to remain in the dark about the illusion; and it just extinguishes some of the magic of it all. The best tricks are the ones we are in the dark about. The movie’s visuals are very cool. The impressive visuals might just leave you with a look of awe, just like you might be attending the Four Horsemen’s show in Vegas. The direction is only decent. Of course the movie is flawed, so don’t look too closely. It’s fun on the surface, and thought-provoking underneath, but it’s shaky because it gives away some of the tricks.

Regarding movies that deal with magic, this is definitely better than The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. It’s an entertaining thriller that comes together in the end and answers most of the questions. Some questions go unanswered, but I think that’s just the point – like every good magic trick, we don’t need to know how every little thing is done. It leaves one or two things in the dark; but that’s precisely what helps this movie linger in the mind. This has a great and original premise and it has more than a few surprises up its sleeve. It’s compelling, clever, funny, thrilling, memorable, and most importantly; pretty damn magical.

80/100

May 16-18 Box Office Predictions: ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

J.J. Abrams returns to the directing chair for the hotly anticipated sequel to 2009’s Star Trek. Star Trek stands at an excellent 8.0 rating on IMDb, and has a seat in the IMDb Top 250 at #224. The movie has  a solid fan base and since four years is more than enough time to generate a lot of anticipation, I predict this will earn $108, 330, 000 for the four-day haul (Thursday through Sunday).

1. Star Trek Into Darkness: $108, 330, 000
2. Iron Man 3: $33, 870, 000
3. The Great Gatsby: $23, 200, 000
4. Pain and Gain: $3, 160, 000
5. 42: $3, 135, 000
6. The Croods: $2, 900, 000
7. Oblivion: $2, 850, 000
8. Peeples: $2, 210, 000
9. Mud: $2, 098, 000
10. The Big Wedding: $1, 500, 000

Tyler Perry Presents: Peeples (2013)

PeeplesPeeples

Release Date: May 10, 2013

Director: Tina Gordon Chism

Stars: Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier

Runtime: 95 min

The comedy genre produces a lot of stinkers. Peeples is a heartfelt movie about accepting people for who they are, and there are prominent themes of dishonesty and secrets; but this isn’t a secret: Peeples is comedy’s latest stinker.

It’s not that Peeples isn’t a funny movie, because you’ll probably chuckle more than a few times, but this is so familiar, that it should be renamed Meet the Peeples. It’s just what you’d expect; a bland, extremely predictable comedy. The plot follows Wade (Craig Robinson) who crashes the Peeples annual reunion in the Hamptons to ask for their daughter Grace’s hand in marriage.

The thing is, Grace (Kerry Washington) hasn’t told her family about Wade, even though they’ve been dating for a year. Wade keeps trying to ask the father, Virgil Peeples (David Alan Grier), for Grace’s hand in marriage, but there always seems to be some forced situation blocking his way. Lunch is either being called, or Virgil can’t be bothered to talk to Wade, a man who uses songs to help kids with their problems. One of his songs informs kids that they must talk about their feelings, and not urinate on others, a way of seeking attention. (‘Speak it, don’t leak it’ guys.) It’s silly, and it’s not clear if Chism is trying to apply to adults, to make it a theme of the movie. If it’s there for that purpose, and it just isn’t some stupid song, it’s handled amateurishly. I’m sure grown people don’t pee on each other because they can’t communicate well.

The characters are afraid to say what they most desire. This is because the father rules the household with an iron fist. He’s a judge, but he’s also a textbook tyrant. He teaches his family that lying and dishonesty is frowned upon. The whole family is holding secrets, but so is Virgil. He’s the biggest hypocrite of them all, really. Grace Peeples is probably the biggest liar of the kids, and Washington is a likable screen presence, but her character is irritating. She says early on in the movie that she values honesty, but she’s been bending the truth toward Wade throughout their relationship. She never told her family about him. There are about five other big secrets she doesn’t think are worth a mention. Are we, the audience, really supposed to believe that Wade could so easily forgive her for all that? Who could deal with her authoritarian father? It’s not like he’s marrying her father, but… The family is insane, and if she has a hard time being honest, she wouldn’t be able to change so quickly. Some might have to kick this dishonest bitch to the curb, even if she does look mighty fine in a schoolgirl outfit.

The characters are generic, and because of this, it’s hard to care for them. Every occurrence is forced, and very little actually happens. It’s all about Wade trying to reach his goal of marrying Grace. Some of the hijinks enable jokes to produce some chuckles, but you’ll forget them as soon as you leave the theatre. This is a carbon copy of Meet the Parents, just with black actors. At least Robert De Niro is lots of fun and hilarious as the uptight father in Meet the Parents; Grier might seem like a good actor for this role, but his character is unlikable and rarely funny. I don’t think people staring uncomfortably at each other to be funny. The best character is a funny grandfather (Melvin Van Peebles – his last name really suits this role) who wears a cape from his college years. Craig Robinson is thankfully always charismatic, and he makes us laugh a few times – it’s great to see him step into a leading man spotlight, even in a bad film. Washington in a comedy is refreshing, but her straight woman role doesn’t let her have any memorable yuks. Malcolm Barrett (portraying Wade’s brother, Chris) is sometimes funny, and when he isn’t being funny, it’s because the stuff is so ridiculous it can’t force any laughs out of the audience. He should stick to drama because as Chris, he’s a hit-and-miss presence who really might frustrate you.

Some scenes that are supposed to be funny feel too awkward to force any laughs out of any audience. Tyler James Williams is trying very hard as a rapper/kleptomaniac, a character with little substance. The cinematography seems consistently out-of-focus, and I think this is a hard experience to finish. It’s boring, familiar and generic, and your attention might wander to fellow theatre patrons instead of the movie. This means well and it’s trying to be a heartfelt romp, but it feels bereft of sincerity; Chism doesn’t write one quality or genuine character interaction that feels natural.

No one will expect a masterpiece, but apparently writer-director Tina Gordon Chism thinks decent, familiar entertainment is too large of a request. This is a stupid and forgettable farce; every scene is uninspired, not a lot happens, but it might make you chuckle a few times. It’s really a disappointment, because this should at least be a decent time-passer. Chism might give us a poorly-constructed film, but the majority will unfortunately be pointing their fingers at Tyler Perry, the well-known producer who merely lends his name to the flick. Still, he does think movie-goers might actually like to spend 95 minutes of their life watching something they’ve seen eight times before.

Question: Is the title supposed to be some sort-of pun? I mean, it’s spelled pee-ples, and Wade’s main song is about kids urinating on each other…

38/100

May 10-12 Box Office Predictions: ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘Peeples’

History isn’t on The Great Gatsby‘s side. For whatever reason, Warner Bros. shows the preference to release summer movies on the second weekend, where they can either flop or prosper, based on the reception of the movie that starts the summer. They can either do decent business (Dark Shadows opened to $29.68 million against The Avengers; and Robin Hood opened to $36.06 million against Iron Man 2), or they could really prosper (Star Trek opened to $75.2 million against X-Men Origins: Wolverine). I think Gatsby will perform well, even if history isn’t on its side. This gives movie-goers a unique choice other than super-hero movies and movies with lots of explosions. I’m not sure if a lot of the younger demographic will come and see this, because many may have read it in high school and hated it, but they also could have loved it. The main appeal for the young’ns, I think, is Leo DiCaprio.  DiCaprio’s movies have an average opening of $22.28M, and the rest of the cast includes Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher and Joel Edgerton; and it is directed by a man of style, Baz Luhrmann. The 3D might also help the movie make a little extra money. Similar movies open to an average $23.14 million. This hardly stands a chance at beating Iron Man 3 this weekend, but I expect a healthy opening between Robin Hood‘s $36.06M opening and Shutter Island’s $41.06M, so I’ll go with $39, 198, 750.

The other movie coming out this weekend is Tyler Perry Presents Peeples, a movie starring Craig Robinson and Kerry Washington. It had an extremely light advertising campaign. It looks like it could turn out to be a decent film, that makes me think of Meet the Parents and every black comedy that’s set at a family reunion. It’s up against Gatsby and that Iron Man 3 holdover, but I think this could comfortably take third place for the weekend. There’s always a decent market for this types of movies, so I think it really has the ability to score in the low teen millions. Movies similar to this open to $19.02 million, but this really won’t go that high. Temptation opened well to $21.6 million, but a similar low-grossing comedy that opened the other week, The Big Wedding, only managed a bad $7.59 million opening. I won’t underestimate the power of the Perry this time around, but since the last two wedding/marriage themed movies haven’t performed well (The Five-Year Engagement opened to $10.61 million), I’ll only predict it at $13, 835, 000 million.

Here’s how I see the top 10:
1. Iron Man 3: $73, 840, 000
2. The Great Gatsby: $39, 198, 750
3. Peeples: $13, 835, 000
4. Pain and Gain: $3, 825, 000
5. 42: $3, 294, 000
6. The Croods: $3, 202, 000
7. Oblivion: $2, 650, 000
8. Mud: $2, 185, 000
9. The Big Wedding: $2, 000, 000
10. Oz The Great and Powerful: $1, 885, 000