A few weeks back, we found ourselves lamenting the apparent fact that 2013 was starting out with a whimper, not a box office/blockbuster bang. We even speculated that, unless something came along to salvage said season, the annual cinematic dumping ground of January through April would be one of the worst ever. Let’s just say that we were wrong. Wrong. 100% WRONG. In that piece, we speculated on the titles we thought had the potential to come along and possibly, maybe save the Spring, and again, we were off base. Sure, we mentioned some of the movies below, but for the most part, we talked about things—Oz the Great and Powerful, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Olympus Has Fallen, The Host—that either ended up being good (the first film listed) or glorified crap. Even more interestingly, we hit a few of April’s offerings right on the head.
So Spring 2013 wasn’t so awful after all. Whodathunkit? Of course, this takes into consideration all the fair to middling movies Hollywood hurled at us like angry apes marking their territory. Who will ever forget the stink of Bullet to the Head, or the horror of Tyler Perry’s Temptation. That above mentioned magician movie was pretty terrible, as were the horror spoofs A Haunted House and Scary Movie 5 (ugh!). On the brighter side, we dug Rob Zombie’s latest, The Lords of Salem while Tom Cruise’s “borrow” sci-fi epic Oblivion was engaging and entertaining. Room 237 told us more about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining than any sane person could perceive (the key word there being “sane”) while Warm Bodies made zombies loveable - and laughable. Even Stephen Soderbergh’s supposed swansong, Side Effects, was a killer Hitchcock homage (and the first of two, as it would turn out).
Naturally none of those made our top five. Instead, here are our choices for the Best and Worst of Spring 2013. Perhaps next time we opine about how terrible the cinematic experience is, we will wait until all the season’s titles have been seen. Let’s begin with the bad, shall we:
Bryan Singer better get down on his hands and knees and thank his more than lucky stars that fans don’t find his X-Men movies to be glorified geek guano. Instead, they praise him, placing the otherwise ordinary films right up there with Christopher Nolan’s Batman revamp (yeah…right). Anyway, here’s proof that, outside of Magneto, Dr. Xavier, and his own take on said superhero universe, he’s a mediocre moviemaking at best (and don’t start with all the Usual Suspects/Apt Pupil crap). Here, he was handed the reins of one of Warners’ can’t miss F/X spectacles and what happened? It turned into the biggest flop of 2013.
More like a great opportunity to put a flailing franchise out of its misery. Granted, we liked the PG-13 version of Jack McClane’s me against the terrorist world cyber wake-up call (hey, it featured Timothy Olyphant as the villain and even had a comical Kevin Smith), but this unfocused mess was a waste of time and talent. Giving the franchise its “R” back did nothing, especially when you consider that the story was all family foibles and regressed reconciliations. And then, to make matters worse, the script throws in a completely unnecessary plot twist that alert audiences members could see a dozen miles away. Unfortunate and forgettable.
Apparently, when you have a franchise on the skids, you call none other than the WWE’s human Hercules, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Hey, it worked for Fast and Furious, so why not here? Well, for one thing, the storyline scuttles almost everything from the first film (a fired Stephen Sommers must be laughing all the way to his Cayman Islands safety deposit box) and adds nothing new or inventive. Just lots of explosions, fire fights, and shots of Johnson flexing his own unavoidable “guns.” Had it applied the previous installments sense of goofy hyperbole, we would mind. By trying to be a bit more serious, the speciousness of the toy-based series shines through.
We’ve picked on this movie a lot in the past few days, and with good reason. Sure, you can argue that it’s just mindless fun filled with vacuous, hateful people, but within that sorry excuse is a true lack of legitimate entertainment value. After all, when was the last time you were truly amused by something that was stupid (‘mindless’) in support of people you’d cross the street to avoid? Michael Bay may be offering up mea culpas for his previous blockbuster excesses, but one can only imagine the excuses he will have to come up with once this fetid film really starts to stink.
As a frustrated Charlie Brown was known to say: “ARRRRRGGGGGGGHHHH!!!!!! ” What an abomination. Apparently, being a half-baked writer with a billion dollar film franchise under your belt means that any mediocre bit of speculative slop that comes crawling out of your MacBook will be force fed to audiences as the next surefire cinematic phenom. And we thought British actress Saoirse Ronan was smarter than that (she does have an Oscar nod, remember?). Whatever the reason, this bumbling bit of future schlock has aliens who don’t look or act like same, a narrative that’s unnecessary unless you’re looking for a few nondescript actors to hook up, and an ending with promises a possible sequel…or series, even. All we can say is - NO!!!!!!!