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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Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Fast & Furious 6Release Date: May 24, 2013. Director: Justin Lin. Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Runtime: 130 min.

Dom (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and co. are set for life with the $100 million they took from the last movie. However, they are still wanted criminals, so their family is not intact. Meanwhile, Hobbs (The Rock) has been tracking an organization of lethally skilled mercenary drivers across twelve countries, whose mastermind, Shaw (Luke Evans), is aided by second-in-command Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), the love Dom thought to be dead. Hobbs enlists the help of Dom and his legendary crew to match wits against the mastermind. The payment is pardons for all crew members, an offer no one can refuse.

The earlier additions to the Fast and Furious franchise are mostly just fun movies about criminals who steal merchandise, and enjoy a lifestyle of family, fine hunnies and, of course, fast cars. I think it started to lose steam at the second. Slowly, but surely, each movie improved in terms of quality. It was a change in pace for Fast Five, because it ended up being a great action movie. Since Fast Five is such a good movie, many believed it would be a hard movie to top, as the franchise did set the bar fairly high. That is precisely the one hundred million dollar question… Is this better than the fifth?

You bet your bottom dollar, it is. In fact, buckle up for the best of the franchise. If you weren’t a fan before, you certainly will be now. If Fast Five didn’t make you a salivating fan of this franchise, though, you’re probably just an action movie Scrooge. This has the necessary components that made the fifth such a good movie; and it’s all enhanced. Hobbs is back, and the action is somehow amped up. The fight choreography is more impressive. The film-makers surprisingly make a few scenes that are almost as awesome as the fantastic scene with the vault running through the streets of Rio de Janeiro. How exactly? Well, I mean, there are TWO scenes that feel like finale extravaganza’s!

Luke Evans as Shaw is the best villain of the franchise so far. He is a worthy, ruthless adversary for Dom and his crew. It’s his value of precision against Dom’s value of family. Frankly, no matter how awesome the antagonist is, it’s not such an impressive feat in this franchise. For me, none of the antagonists have really been so worthwhile or memorable. The cast is on-key. Paul Walker is improving. It’s nice to see Vin Diesel trying his hardest to remind an amnesia-stricken Letty of her past life. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has a blast with Dom’s crew, as well. He’s still the badass he’s always been, and everyone’s probably forgotten about Snitch, where it just felt like normal ole Dwayne Johnson. Han (Sung Kang) is still one of the best characters, because he’s so cool. The chemistry is becoming even better. Justin Lin brings equally good direction to this. I admire how this has equal amounts of fun, action, and its fair share of sheer intensity.

Previously in the series, the dialogue has been pretty silly, but funny. This time around, a lot of it is almost smart – and it has some downright hilarious lines and sequences (mostly with Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson). This is not only the best in the franchise, but it’s also the funniest. The plot is actually intelligent, as well, and not just a bunch of racing scenes strung together. It’s always intense, in a few scenes where you just think they’re certain to run out of road. Some of these guys are great drivers, and equally agile in a fistfight. This is an awesome movie, even it’s often entirely unrealistic. People go places without their cellular phones, and much like that, you’ll have to go to the movie without your brain. You’ll enjoy it so much more. Because this is just pure fun!

A sequel that ends on a cliff-hanger, one that makes me gain respect for earlier installments in the franchise, and a sequel that makes me giddy with excitement for the next one is a truly great movie in my book. This is not only the best in the franchise; but also the best action movie and (arguably) the best movie of the year thus far. This runs on Nos the whole way through; the action scenes rarely stop, and when they do, it’s for a funny scene. If people want a breather from fun, intense, beautifully filmed action scenes, there’s probably a screening of The Great Gatsby over in Theater #2. We fans like our action fast, and, you guessed it, furious!

Score90/100

March 22-24 Box Office Predictions: ‘The Croods’, ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, ‘Admission’, ‘Spring Breakers’

The new releases

Admission

   Admission

The Croods

The Croods

Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen

 

Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers

The box office is getting some of its edge back with some solid earnings as of late (if you don’t count that Burt Wonderstone bomb). This weekend we’re seeing four new releases: the new Tina Fey/Paul Rudd comedy, Admission; the animated prehistoric flick, DreamWorks’ The Croods; a terrorist attack action/thriller, Olympus Has Fallen; and a sexy crime drama, Spring Breakers.

The Croods will be one of the movies to stop Oz from three-peating this weekend. It looks really great and adventurous and that cute-monkey primate thing from the trailers is what makes me want to spend $14 on this, and it does not look half-bad. The plot follows the very first prehistoric family as they go on a road trip to an uncharted and a fantastical world. So, it’s a road trip comedy set in prehistoric times? That’s a fine premise. The DreamWorks studio has previously given us audiences solid animated features such as the Shrek franchise, How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda. Generally, the animation studio’s films are usually of quality. The voice cast for this film is also rather good: Nicolas Cage sounds like himself, Emma Stone is lending her sultry voice to the feature, and Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman and Clark Duke also lend their voices. I think this will be the second highest opening of the weekend of the year so far (above Identity Thief‘s $34.5 million, but behind Oz‘s $79.1 million). The animation does look beautiful, and this will do well at the box office because it is just the third feature of the year that is being targeted at family audiences,  and only the second animated feature after Escape from Planet Earth. I also think it will perform well because it’s set in prehistoric times, and we’ll probably see types of dinosaurs and other cool creatures, so this might satisfy dinosaur lovers before Jurassic Park 3D comes out April 5. Films similar to this open to an average $49.4 million, but I think this will come a few million shy of that number, but what do I know… I’m just a guy trying to predict the box office. Realistically, I think this will open between Rio‘s $39.2 or Shrek‘s $42.3 million to Kung Fu Panda 2‘s $47.6 million. DreamWorks’ last project was Rise of the Guardians which bombed by opening to $23.7 million, but I can’t see this bombing, at least I hope it won’t… My prediction for this is a solid $45 million.

Olympus Has Fallen might also earn more many than Oz this weekend, but the battle for second place will between this and that. The action films this year have been bombs (The Last Stand, Parker), but this won’t follow suit, thankfully. It won’t mostly because it looks really good and there’s been a lack of a good terrorist attack flick for a while now, the last great one was Live Free or Die Hard. The plot follows a disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning who finds himself trapped inside the White House in the wake of a terrorist attack; using his inside knowledge, Banning works with national security to rescue the President from his kidnappers. It sounds incredibly action-packed and loads of fun, and with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua at the helm, this could be an impressive movie. The fine cast, the director, and the plot and action sequences will attract audiences. It also helps that FilmDistrict launched one big marketing campaign for this, and this project has been its main focus. Because of this focus, Dead Man Down was neglected in a way, so this is a gamble I sincerely hope pays off for the distributor, and I think it will. Antoine Fuqua’s filmography has an average opening of $13.7 million; Butler, an average opening of $18.62; Aaron Eckhart, an average opening of $23 million (which this will make close to that number); Morgan Freeman, an average opening of $26.8. Finally, similar films to this open at an average of $23 million, though I think this will earn a little less than A Good Day to Die Hard‘s $24.8 million. My prediction for this is $23.5 million.

Admission looks like a charming little Tina Fey/Paul Rudd comedy, but the trailer only produces a few laughs. The IMDb plot is: A Princeton admissions officer who is up for a major promotion, takes a professional risk after she meets a college-bound alternative school kid who just might be the son she gave up years ago in a secret adoption. It looks like a solid yet forgettable film, fairly feel-good, but it doesn’t look particularly hilarious. I’ll see the movie, but I only wish Fey had a hand in writing, because she is very funny (see: Mean Girls and TV’s 30 Rock). Similar movies earn an average of $13.3 on opening weekend, but I think this will come closer to The Switch‘s $8.4, and possibly better than Our Idiot Brother‘s $7 million. The director, Paul Weitz’s, biggest titles are About A Boy and American Pie, the former opened to $8.5, and the latter opened to $18.7 million. In Fey’s first movie role since 2010’s Megamind (2010’s Date Night for live-action) this might be lucky to get half of her $20.6 average opening weekend. Paul Rudd has an average opening of $13.9, but I’m convinced for whatever reason this won’t make it to double digits, but if it does, the highest I think it’ll go would have to be one of his early films, Clueless‘s $10.6 million opening. My psychic powers are tingling and they’re telling me this will only earn $8.5 million this weekend.

Spring Breakers earned a seriously excellent $263, 002 at just three theaters last weekend (a $87, 667 per theater average, the 23rd all-time best), so it’s no surprise that the studio took advantage and decided to expand to 1104 theaters. Writer/director Harmony Korine seems that he’ll bring his art-house style to the feature (he directed and wrote Gummo, and wrote Kids) and make it unique for mainstream audiences, and he’s also casting his wife, Rachel Korine, the least well-known of the bikini babes. The other babes include former-Disney stars Selena Gomez (TV’s Wizards of Waverly Place, Monte Carlo) and Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical), and also TV’s Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson. The plot follows four college girls who land in jail after robbing a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation, and they find themselves bailed out by a drug and arms dealer who wants them to do some dirty work. The only thing better than these gals in bikinis would be them in nothing at all. James Franco looks like he’s in an awesome role, and it looks like he’ll immerse himself in it, more than he apparently did for his character in Oz The Great and Powerful (which I still have to see). My prediction is $6.5 million for its wide opening. You may think I’m going too high with my prediction, but since it earned $87, 667 at just three theaters, I think it will do fairly well at 1104 theaters.

Here’s how I see the top 10:

TitlePrediction/ Possible percentage drop

1. The Croods: $45, 000, 000
2. Olympus Has Fallen: $23, 500, 000
3. Oz The Great and Powerful: $22, 000, 000/-46.6%
4. The Call: $10, 000, 000-41.6%
5. Admission: $8, 500, 000
6. Spring Breakers: $6, 500, 000
7. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: $5, 500, 000/-46.0%
8. Jack the Giant Slayer: $4, 000, 000/-36.6%
9. Identity Thief: $3, 000, 000/32.1%
10. Snitch: $2, 300, 000/34.3 %

There you have it, what do you think of my predictions? What will you see this weekend? Was the article too long (LOL)? Leave me some comments below!

Snitch (2013)

snitchReleased: February 22, 2013. Director: Ric Roman Waugh. Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Barry Pepper, Jon Bernthal. Runtime: 1hr 52 min. Tagline: How far would you go to save your son?

Snitch, a film based on a true story, opens with a young man, Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron), talking to a buddy on Skype. The best friend asks if he can ship drugs to Jason’s address, and tempts him by saying he can try some if he wants, and the skeptical Jason says he’ll talk to him later about it. When the drugs get to his door, DEA agents track the package and bring him into custody.

It seems that his so-called best friend has set him up by sending drugs to his house, and by doing so, his own sentence will be reduced. The only option for Jason is to do the same, or face a minimum sentence of ten years in prison. His integrity is too strong to do so, so he’s left to sit on his hands. Though, his construction worker father, John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson) can’t let that happen. John and Jason’s mother are divorced, and Jason wants little to do with his dad.

John chooses that the only one to save his son from prison is to become an informant himself. With help from one of his ex-con employees, Daniel Cruz (The Walking Dead‘s Jon Bernthal), he is able to get an introduction to a drug dealer in order to take down a cartel, participate in a drug deal, and in turn, reduce his son’s sentence.

Snitch is a decent-enough film. The feature takes a fairly simple plot and attempts to make it a little more complex than it has to be. With this, it manages to write in a few surprises for the audience. The characters are also one of the best parts of the film.

First of all, the supporting legal players who help John out are pretty good. Susan Sarandon plays an attorney who doesn’t have that big a heart for John, as she would be willing to risk John’s life for a bigger arrest. In the first place, it’s not extremely easy to believe that the DEA would be willing to let this man get involved with this drug world. She seems to be the face of greedy lawyers everywhere, but she isn’t entirely despicable, as this is an intense situation. Barry Pepper’s character is also good, and he embraces his stereotype of traditional DEA agent, while sporting a long beard. Seriously, you’ll want to grasp that hair and take some scissors to it.

John attempts very hard to connect with his son, but it proves difficult since Jason doesn’t want anything to do with him. The fact that Jason feels abandoned makes some of the concepts very real and, frankly, rather profound. John’s just really a family man risking his life, and the future of his own family. Though, it’s admirable that he’d go to these extreme measures to help him and rescue him. The fact that he is a construction company owner also makes it logical to the drug dealers, since they see it that he’s merely trying to save a company that he’s worked hard to get off the ground. Dwayne Johnson plays him fairly well, and even though he feels miscast because he sometimes has to act wimpy while he’s so huge, he makes the best of it, and he ends up being pretty good. Daniel Cruz’s motivations are, like John’s, for his family. Some of his character’s actions are stereotypical ‘former ex-con trying to make good for himself, but he ends up falling in with the wrong crowd’, but he’s just trying to make money for his family. He embraces his stereotype and does a good and believable job with it, and it’s just satisfying enough to make me think he can do well outside of The Walking Dead.

Since these men are trying to fend for their families and their motivations are very real and rather understandable, we all can become easily invested in them. The story manages to get in more surprises than one would expect, but the goings-on to the end are often surprising; the actual end, one could see coming from the opening credits. The story is just average at best. The character’s genuine motivations make us care for them, and since one could easily be invested in them, the characters are the thing that makes one engaged in the film, not strictly the story itself. We don’t want to see these families destroyed, we need that happy ending. The story is never extremely exciting, but it’s never particularly boring.

The film is falsely advertised. It feels more like a genuine crime drama with solid characters, and not a mindless action film like Johnson’s many vehicles. There isn’t much action as much would expect. Yes, there is some, but if you think about it as a crime drama with the flair for intensity and action, you’ll like it a lot more. If you go in expecting balls-to-the-wall action, odds are you’ll be sorely disappointed. The film is fairly slow and lengthy, with maybe three to five action sequences. When the action shows up, the sequences are pretty good, but the cinematography is very dizzying and it makes it hard to follow who’s getting pushed off the road or what’s happening exactly. That’s one of its major flaws.

The film is also fairly slow and lengthy. Another flaw is, though it offers a solid time during, there isn’t a lot of memorable content. By the time December rolls around, one might struggle saying what Snitch is about, exactly. Dwayne Johnson (who is the size of a small truck) in a semi-truck, narcotics, a few car crashes, and dizzying scenes might come to mind. It’s rather forgettable, and if you do indeed struggle to remember this at the end of the year; no, it is not a sequel to Snatch.

Score: 71/100

February 22-24 Box Office Predictions: Dark Skies, Snitch

The new releases

Dark Skies

Dark Skies

Snitch

Snitch

Snitch doesn’t seem like Dwayne Johnson’s usual action vehicle, because this one seems to have a moralistic edge with concepts of loyalty. It also seems like it has a good story, unlike 2010’s Faster. The story follows John Matthews, a father who goes undercover for the DEA in order to free his son who was imprisoned after being set up in a drug deal. It also has a true story appeal, however, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s popularity isn’t huge. Hopefully having Barry Pepper, Susan Sarandon and Jon Bernthal (Shane on TV’s The Walking Dead) will attract audiences alike, even though there won’t be any zombies in this. Films similar to this usually open at $14.9 million, but this won’t open at that much since this is an action drama. His last main action vehicle, Faster, opened to $8.52 million, and for the opening weekend, he averages out at $27 million for fourteen films. Snitch should gross over Faster’s opening, but only by a few million.

Dark Skies is the other big release opening this weekend at 2400 theaters. It is being marketed as being from the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious, two fairly well-liked films. It’s a haunting film, but with mythology and aliens instead… It could turn out to be a really cool flick, but it could also turn out to be just awful. The trailer seems promising, but it starts to get laughable, so it could just be unintentionally hilarious. I want to see it, it might be a good time. Might. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of star appeal, because the only person I know is in it is J.K. Simmons. This would be in good shape if it opened between The Covenant’s $8.6 million and The Reaping’s $10 million, but I’m not sure if it will.

Here’s how I see the top 10
1. Identity Thief: $14, 250, 000
2. A Good Day to Die Hard: $12, 100, 000
3. Safe Haven: $12, 000, 000
4. Escape from Planet Earth: $11, 200, 000
5. Snitch: $10, 500, 000
6. Dark Skies: $8, 500, 000
7. Warm Bodies: $6, 000, 000
8. Silver Linings Playbook: $5, 250, 000
9. Beautiful Creatures: $4, 300, 000
10. Side Effects: $3, 800, 000