The Worst Films of 2013

by PopMatters Staff

7 January 2014


15 - 11

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Killing Season

Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Cast: Robert De Niro, John Travolta, Milo Ventimiglia, Elizabeth Olin


Killing Season
Millennium Films

They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Sometimes, among the tarmac and gravel are a few films that should have stayed on the studio shelf. Such is the case with Shrapnel, now calling itself Killing Season. Considering the cast — Oscar winner Robert De Niro, Oscar nominee John Travolta — and its genre premise (a foreign combatant seeking vengeance against a NATO soldier for his “war crimes”), it shouldn’t be that bad. Granted, it’s a bit tired and hackneyed, but given the right action adventure spin, it could be a blast. Sadly, not even a bit of splatter or some lovely mountain scenery can keep this film from flopping like a flounder on the fishing docks. It’s dumb, repetitive, and truly only worthy of acting as asphalt for the devil’s own personal detour. Bill Gibron


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Man of Steel

Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Christopher Meloni, Russell Crowe


Man of Steel
Warner Brothers

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s Superman. Again. As if we didn’t get it the first time. To be fair, Man of Steel is one of those “origin” stories Hollywood has been churning out recently in an effort to trick audiences into believing that it has something original to show. Like the equally dreadful The Wolverine—also released in 2013—Man of Steel demonstrates what happened to Superman before he became Superman. If this narrative premise isn’t innovative enough for you, the film is filled with expensive visual effects and computer generated imagery where things blow up and go boom. Clocking in at 143 minutes and featuring the worst performances by some of contemporary cinema’s most gifted movie stars, Man of Steel is a film for those lucky individuals who possess superhero powers to transcend the space-time continuum and live forever. For the rest of us, our time is a little more precious, and we’re better off doing anything else. Jon Lisi


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The Counselor

Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz


The Counselor
20th Century Fox

How does Cormac McCarthy, Ridley Scott, and an all star cast screw up a supposedly twisted crime thriller? By delivering nothing the audience expects and offering everything they’d never want. Who needs to see Cameron Diaz’s body double give Javier Bardem’s supercar a sloppy, catfishy lap dance? Why offer up a compelling protagonist (Michael Fassbender) without motive, personality, backstory, or character. Attitude and alienation will only get you so far, but the nihilism expressed by McCarthy’s first time feature film script (and hopefully his last) is so pronounced it’s like offering the viewer a delicious chocolate sundae and then substituting feces for the regular hot fudge. Believe me, it’s just as tempting and tasty too. Bill Gibron


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Thanks for Sharing

Director: Stuart Blumberg
Cast: Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Gad,m Joely Richardson, Alecia Moore


Thanks for Sharing
Roadside Attractions

You can tell that, with Thanks for Sharing, director Stuart Blumberg really wants to take the idea of addiction seriously and explore it in a movie that also has some comedic elements. In execution, it’s neither here nor there: the “comedy” bits are either ridiculous or don’t land, and the serious parts are so reverential to the 12-step process that it comes off feeling like a PSA. The characters are reduced to types, based on where they are in their recovery, so their struggles barely make any emotional impact. (Compare/contrast with Steve McQueen‘s Shame, which is all bad emotions and no life-affirming recovery.) The end result is about as interesting and thought-provoking as watching someone else’s therapy sessions. Marisa LaScala


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Director: Klay Hall
Cast: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Priyanka Chopra, Brad Garrett, Cedric the Entertainer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Roger Craig Smith, John Cleese, Carlos Alazraqui


The Walt Disney Studios

Blame your kids for this one. For every piece of Cars merchandise they demand during your regular trips to Wal-Mart, the House of Mouse banks another billion bucks and then tries to find ways to finagle even more green out of your wallet. As a result, we got two of the studio’s stupidest offerings—Cars 2 and this aerodynamic abomination. As lifeless as the cookie cutter CG and about as inventive, this film, while not from Pixar, actually takes place in the realm of said talking vehicles, the better to monopolize the marketing and sell through potential of each and every item on the screen. Oh, and to make matters worse, every aircraft has an ethnically appropriate accent depending on where they are from. If it wasn’t a cartoon, it would be racist as Hell. Maybe it still is. Bill Gibron

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