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!

World War Z (2013)

World War ZRelease Date: June 21, 2013

Director: Marc Forster

Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz

Runtime: 116 min

The zombie sub-genre is a successful one. (And The Walking Dead shows it’s wildly successful on television, as well.) We saw that with Warm Bodies earlier this year, that brought about a unique film to the the zombie sub-genre. World War Z is a more straight-forward zombie movie that doesn’t try to reinvent anything. Apparently movie-goers don’t tire of watching zombies or the world end, either, as this is the second zombie movie and umpteenth apocalyptic flick of 2013.

United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.

World War Z mashes genres of action, drama and horror together in this zombie feature that’s a little more in the vain of 2007’s I Am Legend  and less TV’s The Walking Dead. If your favourite part of any zombie movie is all of the blood, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The only blood presented are in the form of cuts and bites from the zombies, for the most part. Even when the zombies are shot, there’s hardly a realistic shot of blood – mostly because the majority of the zombies are CGI-animated. It is never, ever gory.

Half of the kills even happen off-screen. That could take half of the fun out of the movie for fans of people getting mauled by zombies. The movie is surprisingly human. That isn’t saying that the zombies themselves are human, even if some have senses of humour. Some tease their victims by clacking their teeth together like Pac Men. It’s funny, yet menacing. Anyway, the human part of this is in Brad Pitt’s character. He, Gerry Lane, is an average UN worker, who others think could play a critical role in stopping this epidemic. His motivations are driven by his family. He wants to find a cure, or at least something to save some of the human population, as quickly as he can so he can keep his family from turning into those monsters. I really like Brad Pitt’s honesty in his portrayal.

One might get the vibe from the trailer that all of of the zombies will be in the form of CGI. Thankfully, that is not the case and there are quite a few humans actually playing the zombies. This movie probably does hold the record for tallest CGI-zombie doggie pile. Generally, the visuals are decent. Some of the movie suffers from shaky cam, which just shouldn’t be present in a big budget movie – because, really, one would think they could pay for cinematographers without Parkinson’s disease. The majority of the scenes are in the dark, and a lot of the camerawork is generally busy. A few scenes, generally near the beginning at the start of the hectic epidemic, are eye sores. I don’t see how 3D visual effects would add anything to the movie; it might even make the movie more excruciating to the eyes.

The story’s a good one, as far as ‘find the cure’ movies go. This film is adapted from the book of the same name written by Max Brooks. I have not read the book, so I cannot comment on any similarities or big differences. All I can say is, it’s a story that plays well on the screen. I like that Drew Goddard has a hand in the screenplay; because he has talent. It’s a traditional ‘find the cure’ type of film, that doesn’t become complicated. If you do miss a few lines of critical dialogue, however, you might be out of the loop for a few minutes. Director Marc Forster brings his A-game, but he could be more aware that his movie suffers from shaky cam. It doesn’t add to the experience at all. Nor would the 3D; but this is the film industry, so they want to make money.

The make-up for the zombies is good, at least those who are human. I wouldn’t exactly call this a horror movie. You might jump once or twice, but not constantly. There is a constant tense and suspenseful atmosphere. You’ll appreciate how the screenplay keeps you guessing (but it’ll be less predictable if you haven’t read the book – I’d assume). The cast is good. James Badge Dale and David Morse are memorable in petite roles. Mireille Enos has been appearing on the small screen since 1994, but this is only her second movie role. Nonetheless, she performs well. Even if her character makes a few unfortunate decisions, that don’t exactly affect her.

The entire feature won’t stand out prominently in memory by the end of the year, but there’s one particular air plane scene that is good, intense fun; if not entirely realistic. This movie isn’t exactly a good horror movie, per se, but it does have scary aspects. It’s mostly just an effective actioner. I also like how it is character-driven and is never boring. For a big-budget action movie, the cinematography is too shaky. I wasn’t anticipating this heavily – so it’s a nice surprise.

75/100

February 15-18 Box Office Predictions: A Good Day to Die Hard, Beautiful Creatures, Escape from Planet Earth, Safe Haven

The new releases

A Good Day to Die Hard

A Good Day to Die Hard

Safe Haven

Safe Haven

Escape from Planet Earth

Escape from Planet Earth

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures

The four big releases this weekend are A Good Day to Die Hard, Beautiful CreaturesEscape from Planet Earth and Safe Haven.

Films similar to A Good Day to Die Hard often open to an average gross of $27.1 million, and that’s stellar for action films. The first Die Hard opened to the sound of $600, 000 at 21 theaters (but it went onto gross $83 million, domestically); the second to an opening weekend of $21.7 million; the third to an opening of $22.1 million. The fourth one opened to a franchise best $33.3 million. I believe this will beat the fourth’s earning, because everyone has been dying to hear “Yippee Ki-Yay, Motherf*cker!” since McLane last said it in 1995. Apparently in 2007, the damn MPAA didn’t want him saying it. The Die Hard franchise has typically had a summer opening, but I don’t think this film’s February opening will have any sort of affect, especially on Family day weekend. Because nothing says ‘family’ better than terrorists and John McLane.

Those who are still feeling romantic post-Valentine’s Day might just be running out to see the latest Nicholas Sparks adaptation, Safe Haven. Is it just me, or does this look like it could pretty good? I think The Lucky One was seriously one of the worst films of last year, but I am a sucker for the charm of The Notebook, and this and Notebook share some similarities. This is the eighth adaptation of Sparks’ works, and there is a collected $17.8 million average opening. This one would look stellar if it opens between Message in a Bottle‘s $16.7 million and The Lucky One‘s $22.5 million opening. It’ll probably lean more toward The Lucky One, though. The popularity of Hough is at an average opening of $13.9 million, and Duhamel is at an average opening of $37.3 million (but that average is mostly thanks to the three Transformers flicks).

If the new Die Hard proves to be too much of an adrenaline rush, or Nicholas Sparks’ Safe Haven is too sappy, one might just choose this teen romance with a hint of dark witch secrets. While this won’t be the young adult heavyweight any of the Twilight flicks were, this might do nearly as well as Warm Bodies‘ $20.3 million opening. It isn’t getting a ton of love from the critics, and the leading woman (Alice Englert, in her film debut) and man (Alden Ehrenreich, in his wide release debut) don’t have much star power at all. However, the others included in the cast (Jeremy Irons, Emmy Rossum, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson, Thomas Mann) may attract a fine audience. This reminds me of last year’s Dark Shadows with its whole strange family vibe (that opened to $29.6 million) and the sort-of fantasy and atmosphere of The Spiderwick Chronicles (a film that opened to $19 million). Anyway, this is in solid shape if it opens between Red Riding Hood‘s $14 million and Water for Elephants‘ $16.8 million. It’ll probably do better than those, though.

This space adventure from the Weinstein Company sounds really lame to me, but visually appealing, and generally fun for the kids. While the Weinstein Company is a serious award-winning powerhouse, they haven’t fared well in the animation genre (they’ve given us the Hoodwinked films and that apparently god-awful Doogal). Though, kids still enjoy innocent old aliens in animation… But they don’t love them. Planet 51 opened to $12.2 million, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius opened to $13.8 million way back in 2001; Aliens in the Attic, $8 million; and Monsters vs. Aliens, $59.3 million. What I’m getting from that is, kids like to see both monsters and aliens in their movies. 2011’s family day weekend had Gnomeo and Juliet opening to $25 million. While this won’t gross anywhere near that, it will make most of its money on Monday; as this will be one of the only fairly popular, family-friendly films in theaters.

Here’s how I see the top 10:

TitlePrediction

1. A Good Day to Die Hard: $44, 500, 000
2. Identity Thief: $22, 400, 000
3. Safe Haven: $20, 000, 000
4. Beautiful Creatures: $18, 900, 000
5. Escape from Planet Earth: $14, 750, 000
6. Warm Bodies: $12, 500, 000
7. Side Effects: $8, 500, 000
8. Silver Linings Playbook: $7, 200, 000
9. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters: $4, 000, 000
10. Argo: $3, 500, 000

Identity Thief, Side Effects (Box Office Predictions: 2/8 – 2/10/13)

The new releases

Identity Thief

Identity Thief

Side Effects

Side Effects

 

 

 

 

The two new movies coming to theaters this weekend is Seth Gordon’s Identity Thief, starring Melissa McCarthy as the woman who steals the identity of Sandy Patterson, played by Jason Bateman. He is playing the straight man, and it’s a role he plays very well in the comedy genre. It will definitely get over $20 million this weekend because it has no competition in the comedy genre yet this year (Movie 43 seems to be rushing out of theaters) and it could turn out to be the first good comedy of the year. However, the Rotten Tomatoes critics’ appreciation of the film may state otherwise (as of now, 24% of critics have liked it). Melissa McCarthy is very popular, it has a solid premise, and it could turn out to be surprisingly good. I hope. I also really hope they didn’t show all the funny scenes in its trailers. It really was a large marketing campaign.

Side Effects is a little more on the down-low. I have seen many TV spot trailers but I can’t recall seeing the trailer at the movie theaters. It is being advertised as a star-studded clinical thriller from the creator of Contagion. The story goes like this: Emily and Martin are a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily’s psychiatrist – intended to treat anxiety – has unexpected side effects.

It really does sound intriguing, and Soderbergh rarely brings a stinker (even though I didn’t enjoy Michael Clayton). I have expectations for this one, and I think it will gross at least $10 million this weekend. Also, part of the attraction is the cast that includes Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

 

Here’s how I see the top 10: 

Title/Prediction

1. Identity Thief/ $24, 000, 000
2. Warm Bodies/ $13, 100, 000
3. Side Effects/ $12, 200, 000
4. Silver Linings Playbook/ $6, 000, 000
5. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters/ $4, 100, 000
6. Mama/ $2, 900, 000
7. Zero Dark Thirty/ $2, 600, 000
8. Bullet to the Head/ $2, 500, 000
9. Argo/ $2, 200, 000
10. Django Unchained/ $1, 700, 000

Warm Bodies (2013)

Warm BodiesWarm Bodies

Release Date: February 1, 2013

Director: Jonathan Levine

Stars: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich

Runtime: 97 min

Tagline: Cold body. Warm heart.

Finally, this gives both Zombieland and Twilight fans a chance to come together and watch a movie in peace!

Warm Bodies is told from the fresh point of view of a zombie, the highly unusual R (Nicholas Hoult), who goes around an airport, occasionally having almost conversations with his best zombie bud, M (Rob Corddry). Their zombie group runs into a human group ran by Perry (Dave Franco), boyfriend of the main girl, Julie (Teresa Palmer). After Perry gets killed, R is immediately attracted to Julie, and he brings her to his home in an abandoned airplane. They soon form a bond, R wants to become human again, Julie begins to change his heart for the better, and their relationship might just rattle the whole lifeless world as they know it.

One of the only similarities between this and Twilight is they are both Young Adult novels. The girl is also attracted to a supernatural sort-of being, even though zombies are the norm in the post-apocalyptic world they are living in. One thing that is hard to comprehend of this human-supernatural being relationships: Are these girls that desperate that they have to resort to the basically dead? As soon as one guy sparkles in the sunlight or puts on a little make-up, do they seriously immediately develop tendencies of a strange branch of necrophilia?

Anyway, the film is also romantic, and the similarities to Twilight basically stop there. This is a testament of human connection. Julie begins to teach R how to actually live, and because of this, he opens up to her and learns how not to be dead. He learns how to talk, and he learns how to feel and dream, something that is extremely unorthodox for a zombie. One thing that helps him be more human is this: In this specific world, when a zombie eats a victim’s brain (R keeps Perry’s as a snack food), they absorb their feelings and their memories; the little slide show of memories in their head is as close as they get to dreaming.

Speaking of those memory flashbacks, they give a chance to show visuals in the film. They aren’t very good, they come off as hypnotic and fairly headache-inducing. They’re a cool attempt, sure, but they’re hard to admire when one has to squint at the screen. One other thing that is irritating about the feature is that zombies only grunt, and cannot form words… So any huge fan of zombie flicks may be wanting to scream: “OH! THE HORROR! THIS ISN’T RIGHT! THE DEAD DON’T TALK!” The film may be altogether unrealistic, but it doesn’t stop it from being fun.

Other than Twilight, this film has similarities to over zombie flicks, like Zombieland. They are both quite funny, and this could be seen as the next best zombie date movie. One thing that is similar to TV’s The Walking Dead is the hiding the human scent trick, where zombie blood is smeared on humans. Also, this has many similarities to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, something that is evident in the characters’ names themselves. There is a balcony scene that mirrors that of the play, and that is the biggest similarity. The love is forbidden, even when R hopes it to be true. The two things getting in their way: Julie’s father, a military leader of the world named Grigio (John Malkovich); and Boneys, a skeleton being that all zombies eventually become. These are the two main conflicts, and, fortunately enough, they don’t make the film crowded or really distract from the story at hand. The Boneys actually add some real intensity to the feature, and they get one good scare, but they’re so CGI’d to a point of no scary return. If one of these guys came up to me in alley, I’d just look for a computer to unplug.

This isn’t a perfect feature because it doesn’t take full advantage of its fresh premise. It piles on a few predictable moments, but it still does an admirable job. If Jonathan Levine wasn’t behind this with directing and adapting the novel by Isaac Marion, it might not be the surprise hit turns out to be. I cannot compare the book to the film, but the laughs Jonathan Levine manages to generate are great. If you can find humour in R’s unique commentary of gaining human attributes and becoming a real boy, you’ll enjoy this a lot. If this zombie staring awkwardly at others is your type of comedy, you’ll be smiling like crazy. However, while Hoult generates a many yuks, and Palmer proves sexy enough to get this guy’s heart beating again, and Analeigh Tipton (Crazy, Stupid, Love.) generates a few laughs, Corddry gets the biggest laughs with hilarious one-liners.

In a nutshell: Warm Bodies proves to be 2013’s zombie date movie. It gives a fresh spin on the genre with it being narrated by the zombie (who comments things like, “Boy we move slow, this is going to take a while*”).Without a lot of solid competition, it also proves to be the one of the best films of the year. With a fine use of an ultra cool premise, this is a solid flick that could have been a little better. Maybe more Malkovich would make this astounding instead of just really good…

*They run when they attack, so I must ask… Why can’t they just fast-walk everywhere?

80/100

Warm Bodies Scares Away the Competition (February 1-3 Box Office Results)

"I'm da winner zombie!"

“I’m da winner zombie!”

Warm Bodies opened to a great $20.3 million on the Superbowl weekend, and it’s also a really good film. Stand Up Guys opened to $1.5 million at 659 theaters, which is pretty decent. However, Sly proves that this is not a good year for solo outings for The Expendables co-stars. Arnie’s vehicle, The Last Stand, only grossed $6.2 million in its opening weekend; and Jason Statham’s vehicle, Parker, only grossed $7 million in its opening weekend.  Click the title for my review.

Top 10 Box Office, The Results (Estimates)

My Prediction/Off by (Over/Under)

1. Warm Bodies*$20, 353, 967

– $18, 700, 000$1, 653, 967 under

*Review will be up on Friday

2. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters$9,423,274

– $12, 400, 000$2, 976, 726 over

3.  Silver Linings Playbook$7,738,058

– $7, 650, 000$88, 058 under

4. Mama: $6,590,970

– $5, 620, 000$970, 970 under

5. Zero Dark Thirty$5,176,428

– $5, 530, 000$353, 572 over

6. Bullet to the Head$4,548,201

– $9, 200, 000$4, 651, 799 over

7. Parker$3,302,415

– $4, 065, 000$762, 585 over

8. Django Unchained: $3,002,769

– $2, 920, 000$82, 769 under

9. Les Misérables: $2,420,885

– N/A.

10. Lincoln$2,402,224

– N/A.

Other predictions

15. Movie 43$1, 641, 849

– $1, 970, 000$328, 151 over

18. Stand Up Guys$1,486,390

– $2, 000, 000$513, 610 over

New releases total difference: $6, 819, 376

Holdovers total difference: $5, 562, 831

Zombies Will (Probably) Devour Stallone, Elderly in a Crime Comedy, and the Rest of the Competition

The new releases

Bullet to the Head

Bullet to the Head

Stand Up Guys

Stand Up Guys

Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies

 

 

 

 

This weekend, there are three new releases coming along: the zombie-love story, Warm Bodies; Stallone’s new vehicle, Bullet to the Head; and a limited release of Stand Up Guys, where Alan Arkin, Al Pacino and Christopher Walken team up for a crime comedy.

Sylvester Stallone is breaking off from his The Expendables series for a solo outing with Bullet to the Head. Here, Stallone plays a hit man situated in New Orleans. The story follows Stallone and a Washington D.C. detective who see their respective partners die, and they then form an alliance in order to bring down their common enemy. Stallone is a fairly popular action hero whose popularity has grown with his start of a new ensemble action series, The Expendables. Stallone’s average opening weekend earning is $13.079 million, with The Expendables being his best number with $34. 825 million. Bullet to the Head probably won’t meet his average earning, but his new vehicle will draw a nice crowd for those who need their Sly fix.

Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin team up for a buddy crime comedy, Stand Up Guys. The film follows Val (Pacino) who has just been released from prison, as he and his buddy Doc (Walken) try to get the old gang back together for one last hurrah, before one of the guys takes his last assingment — to kill his comrade. It’s really all a great formula for a potentially great action comedy.

But the real winner of the weekend will be Warm Bodies, a new comedy horror that might be considered Twilight with zombies, but I truly hope, nor think, this is the case. This feature feels like it really might reinvent the genre, and do it successfully. This film follows R (Nicholas Hoult), a highly unusual zombie who saves a human, Julie (Teresa Palmer), from an attack. Their growing bond may just change the lifeless world altogether. You’ve seen the whole odd relationship before: an average girl and a boy of the supernatural kind. But this is different. This is set in a post-apocalyptic world where zombies are the norm, and humans are odd. Another interesting concept is this flick is actually suggesting the main girl is hot enough to reanimate a whole lifeless world, and make the zombies real again. Sure, Palmer’s hot, but she’s no Megan Fox. She’ll have to do. This makes the film have an original concept, and from the trailer, the humour looks like the strange, awkward brand of comedy that I love. This flick will also attract fans of the novel, as well as those who are interested in this awesome feature, like myself. This zombie feature looks cool, smart, and original. One thing that could make this film a certified sleeper hit is expert writing and direction from writer/director Jonathan Levine (50/50). I’ll appreciate this as long as there aren’t any love triangles…

Here’s how I see the Top 10:
1. Warm Bodies/$18, 700, 000
2. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters/ $12, 400, 000
3. Bullet to the Head/ $9, 200, 000
4. Silver Linings Playbook/ $7, 650, 000
5. Mama/ $5, 620, 000
6. Zero Dark Thirty/ $5, 530, 000
7. Parker/ $4, 065, 000
8. Django Unchained/ $2, 920, 000
9. Stand Up Guys/ $2, 000, 000
10. Movie 43/ $1, 970, 000