My favorite (and not) movies of 2013

Following: my favorite movies of 2013 (and 2012, where I didn’t catch them until 2013), in the order that I am typing them up in.  I haven’t seen the second Hobbit film yet, and am not surprised.

– My favorites –

Frozen

This was the annual daddy-daughter princess movie (plus we brought along Mom and one of the boys).  I think Disney has really been on a roll the last couple of years with their animated classics line, with the likes of The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, and now Frozen.  We’re all waiting for it to come to Blu-ray so we can buy it and watch it again.

Monsters University

Pixar, you can do little wrong.  This was just as enjoyable, though not quite as touching, as Monsters, Inc.  When Pixar has it, they really have it.

Much Ado About Nothing

Joss Whedon, you can do very little wrong.  This is easily my favorite adaptation, bar none.  (I have neither read the original play, that I can recall, nor have I seen any other adaptation.)  It took me maybe a half an hour to figure out what was going on and to process the language, but what a treat I found watching this to be.  The cast was spectacular (and having just recently rewatched Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel it was a joy to see Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker together again).  I can only imagine the kind of fun Nathan Fillion must have been having with his role.

Star Trek Into Darkness

I don’t care what anyone says, I like the new Star Trek reboots.  I also watched the entire run of the original TV series on Netflix this fall, along with the six original series films, so I do have a reference point for comparison.  I think the new cast is fantastic (and in some cases better than the original actors); the stories a little silly at times, but fun; and exciting to watch.  The two newest films have entered my annual watch list.

Wreck-It Ralph

This is from 2012, but I didn’t see it until I bought it on Blu-ray in March.  It was very enjoyable, with a good voice cast and much nostalgia-inducement.

– Other movies I enjoyed –

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

I had higher hopes for Ron Burgundy’s second outing, and it would have been among my favorites if the second half had been as funny as the first.  It started off wonderfully but began to drag in the middle and had a couple of sub-plots that I think it could have done with out.  I rewatched the original film a few days later and was relieved to find that my taste for it had not, in fact, been mis-remembered.

Despicable Me 2

This was one we took the family to in the theater, and it was a fun follow-up.

From Up on Poppy Hill

I think this may technically be from 2011, but I first saw it when it came to Blu-ray a few months ago.  It was a charming, heart-warming story, as I’ve come to expect from Studio Ghibli.

The Heat

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this (and maybe a little ashamed?).  I found myself laughing consistently, and that seems to me a good thing.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

From 2012.  I wanted to like this so much more, but at least it didn’t stomp on my heart.  The Lord of the Rings films are among my very favorite films ever, warts and deviations from the books and all.  The Hobbit just didn’t quite do it for me, though it did grow on me with a second viewing on Blu-ray, and again with the extended edition when I watched it just recently.  I suspect that by the end of this new trilogy I shall enjoy it for what it is, any maybe by the end it will be dearer to me.

The Hunger Games

Also from (early) 2012.  I finally read The Hunger Games books a couple of months ago and liked them well enough.  I picked up the first movie from a Black Friday sale and enjoyed it well enough.

Iron Man 3

This was my second favorite of the Iron Man films.  Some silliness, some snark, some fun action sequences.

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

I think this was the third of 2013’s direct-to-DVD DC films, and my favorite of the three.  It was rather more graphic than I expected, though.

Looper

I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and I like Bruce Willis.  That’s enough for me.

Thor: The Dark World

I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable the first Thor film was, and this one was a decent enough follow-up for me.

Warm Bodies

I’m not really a zombie movie fan, and neither is my wife, but the trailer for this looked interesting, so we watched it and found it nice and sweet.  Nicholas Hoult is always fun to watch–especially as a kid in About a Boy, which I just watched again recently.

The Way Way Back

I didn’t know Steve Carell could play such a jerk so well.  And Sam Rockwell was fantastic in this, a nice little coming-of-age story.  I seem to like those when they’re done well.

The Wolverine

Better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I think what kept this from being among my favorites of the year was the just-a-little-too-over-the-top finale.  I liked the more brooding and grounded approach to the character (I guess if he can be more brooding, that is).

– Movies that made me say “meh” –

The Bourne Legacy

I love the Matt Damon Bourne films, and (try to) watch them annually.  This one, while I enjoyed the cast and the action was serviceable, was just meh.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

I remember reading that this film was supposed to come out in the summer of 2012, and was delayed 8 months or so for a 3D conversion.  That sounded like bad news to me.  Indeed, the only thing I enjoyed was the side-of-the-mountains ninja fight, which was really pretty cool to watch.  The rest, meh.

A Good Day to Die Hard

I’ve more-or-less enjoyed the previous Die Hard films.  They’re great snarky, over-the-top action fun, but this was just a big pile of meh (and it didn’t feel like a Die Hard film).

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

I had hopes, given the cast.  Steve Carell? Check.  Steve Buscemi? Check.  Jim Carrey? Check.  Fun? Meh.

Oblivion

This was a nice movie to look at, with a cool premise, and really, who doesn’t like anything Morgan Freeman does?  I also enjoy Tom Cruise as an actor.  Not anything I care to see again, though.

Planes

About as good as Cars for me, which means meh.

R.I.P.D.

At the end of this movie, I think I actually said, “Meh,” out loud.

World War Z

For a zombie movie, which genre does not appeal to me, I guess this was okay.  Good cast, cool ideas.

– Movies that I really hoped would be good, but stomped on my heart so very, very much –

Ender’s Game

Why does everyone I know that also saw this movie like it?  Am I the only sane person left alive?  Ender’s Game is my favorite book ever.  EVER.  The film trailer left me cold, but I was still cautiously optimistic.  MY HEART WILL NEVER RECOVER.

I can accept that changes need to be made for a film adaptation.  I can accept even major deviations from the source material (see e.g. The Lord of the Rings).  Everything about this movie felt hollow to me.  There were so many things that seemed like they were inserted just so the filmmakers could say, “Look, we put in stuff from the book!”  Like pretty much every character except Graff and Ender.  Like Bonzo saying, “neh” one time.  Like some kid saying, “Mama Petra, she talking!”  (They didn’t even finish the joke!)  Even the Battleroom looked stupid.  Why were the walls transparent?  How were we supposed to tell what was going on against that kind of background?  Why did they have that awful spinning shot of Ender?  Why did he open his eyes at the end?  It was stupid in Avatar, too.

Ender’s Game is probably the most disappointing movie I’ve ever seen, because I can’t help but think of what could have been.  At least I still have my book.

Man of Steel

From the moment Johnathan Kent said, “Maybe,” I knew things were heading for a bad place.  I was so, so hopeful that Man of Steel would be good, or even good enough, and my heart was so, so broken.

– 2013 movies I haven’t seen yet that I hope are good, or at least not terrible –

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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