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Monday, December 30, 2013

Best and Worst of 2013 - Feature Presentations

With just two days to go in the year 2013, we're smack dab in the middle of a seven (well, six) day feature on the best and worst pop culture events that took place over the course of the year.

So far, we've examined the following pop culture topics...

12/27/2013 - Best and Worst of 2013:  Television
12/28/2013 - Best and Worst of 2013:  Video Games
12/29/2013 - Best and Worst of 2013:  Music

And today's plans?  How about dinner and a movie?
Or, at the very least, raiding your pantry of its supply of popcorn, jujubes, nachos, and cherry coke and having a movie night at home.

Believe it or not, there were a total of 281 films released in theatres (and that does NOT include the made for television movie "Sharknado" either).  And, naturally, I have not seen all 281 films that were released in 2013.  If anything, I've probably seen less than five per cent of the films.

However, I'm not going to let a minor fact like that prevent me from talking about the best and worst films.  I've also read reviews, seen the previews, and actually asked customers about their thoughts.  And, I've also kept close watch on the sales of both the DVD and Blu-Ray versions of all the New Releases (as of right now, movies from September 2013 are going to be released on video format within the next month).  I know exactly what movies are big sellers...and which movies were complete flops.

Are you ready for this retrospective?  Okay, let's start with a best...and worst.  A simultaneous and conflicting point, if you will.


The good news is that 2013 was a very profitable year in the film industry, with the top film making a total of $1.2 BILLION dollars worldwide!

The bad news is that it seemed as though the pool of creativity and imagination is in further danger of running dry.  Believe it or not, of the Top 10 highest grossing films of 2013, seven were sequels, and one was a total reboot of a classic film series.  Heck, I may as well say it...the Top 5 films of 2013 were all sequels.

But hey, at least a sequel is better than a total remake.  I'm looking at you specifically production crew of "Carrie".  My goodness, that film's already been remade like three or four times!  Why another version!  And, what is the deal with the "Evil Dead" remake?  I mean, yes, it was incredibly scary and gruesome, but as far as I'm concerned, you cannot have "Evil Dead" without Bruce Campbell.

But then again, maybe I'm just spoiled.

For what it's worth, here's the Top 10 of 2013.

1.  IRON MAN 3

Okay, so I will make the following statements.  I loved Despicable Me 2, Iron Man 3, Monsters University, and Gravity.  And, apparently others share my point of view.  The rest of the Top 10 I have not seen, and in a couple of cases, I have no desire to see.

Though, I will give credit where credit is due.  I have not seen the Hunger Games sequel, nor have I seen the original Hunger Games.  However, I do know hundreds of people who are obsessed with these films (based on a series of books), and they have actually told me to check them out.  I'm considering it, because I really haven't heard anything negative about the series at all.

And, while I'm not really a huge fan of "The Fast and The Furious" series of movies, I can safely say that I sell at least a dozen copies of any of the six films in the franchise at any given time, and that "The Fast and The Furious 6" was one of the top selling DVD's at the store I work at.  Though, admittedly a part of it could be because of the tragic death of star Paul Walker, who was ironically killed in an automobile accident in November.


You know, I get it.  3D is here to stay.  Even some modern television sets and Blu-Ray players have 3D capabilities.  But at the same time, I think that Hollywood is maybe pushing the 3D envelope just a little bit too much.  It was bad enough that every other film was released in 3D format in movie theatres, but then to release classic films like "Jurassic Park", "Top Gun", and "The Wizard of Oz" in 3D on top of that?  What next?  "Driving Miss Daisy" in 3D?

(Though I suppose that I can point out one good thing about the 3D obsession.  It did help the 1993 film "Jurassic Park" reach the one billion dollar mark overall!  And, I must admit, I think Jurassic Park would look cool in 3D.  The "Wizard of Oz", on the other hand...)


I'll have to admit, the success of "The Walking Dead" has certainly re-ignited Hollywood's obsession with zombie films.  One needs look no further than the Brad Pitt summer blockbuster "World War Z" to confirm that zombies are alive and well in Tinseltown!  That movie alone made a little over half a billion dollars in 2013!

But there are other zombie films that are worth mentioning.  One of my favourites is the 2013 film "Warm Bodies", which is sort of a re-telling of Romeo and Juliet in which the zombified "R" falls in love with the much alive "Julie".  There were also a couple of films made with a little bit of British flavour, including "Cockneys vs. Zombies" and "Stalled".

Let's face it.  2013 was never a better year to be a reanimated dead guy...or gal, as the case may be.


2013 was a stellar year for animated films.  Three of them (Despicable Me 2, Monsters University, and The Croods) were among the Top 10 films of 2013, and it appears as if the Disney film "Frozen" is well on its way to becoming a classic.  I wouldn't be surprised if "Frozen" ends up unseating "The Croods" at the rate it is going.  I have heard incredibly good reviews about "Frozen", and am debating on whether or not I should see it.  Maybe I'll wait until it comes out on video.

There's also the film "Epic", a beautiful breathtaking film that was based on William Joyce's "The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs".  For little girls (and little boys, if you like), there were brand new "My Little Pony" and "Monster High" movies released in 2013.    The Smurfs decided that they needed a sequel which was delivered in the form of "Smurfs 2".  The weather forecast once again called for "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2".  Ryan Reynolds brought a snail named "Turbo" to life in the movie of the same name.  And just when you thought "Cars" was great, Disney decided to go ahead with the next big movie sensation, "Planes".  Admittedly, I liked "Cars" better, but "Planes" wasn't too bad.

And Disney also re-released quite a few movies on DVD and Blu-Ray this year, including "Robin Hood", "The Sword and the Stone", "Oliver & Company", and "The Little Mermaid".  But, you better grab 'em while you can...they won't stay outside the vault for long.


Apparently 2013 is the year in which the White House seems to be the target of mass destruction.  While it was never completely obliterated as it was during the 1996 film "Independence Day", the films "Olympus Has Fallen" and "White House Down" certainly damaged the iconic structure enough for it to at least be considered for a makeover on "Trading Spaces".  Well, that is, if that show were still on, anyway.


Currently, we're seeing a biographical film at the box office with the release of "Saving Mr. Banks", a film which depicts the story of how Walt Disney ended up making the classic 1964 film "Mary Poppins".  And this is admittedly a movie that I am interested in seeing if for no other reason than the fact that "Mary Poppins" was one of the first films I remember enjoying in my early childhood.  But there were other biographical films that are worth mentioning.

First things first, you have to take time out to watch the film "42", starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford.  The film depicts the struggles and triumphs of baseball player Jackie Robinson, who broke through the colour lines to become the first African-American baseball player to play on a Major League Baseball team.  It is such a fantastic movie.  I highly recommend it.

Ashton Kutcher also starred in a biographical film, taking on the role of Steve Jobs in the film "Jobs" - which admittedly I didn't like that was the case for many film critics who slammed the film.  Though, I do have to admit.  Kutcher did actually kind of look like the young Steve Jobs, so at least he had that going for him.

As well, there were two separate films made about Nelson and Winnie Mandela - timely, given that Nelson Mandela passed away in early December at the age of 95.  For what it was worth, both films were released before Mandela's passing.


Until now, most of the movies I've mentioned have been given mostly positive comments.  And, for those that weren't, I did try to be nice about it.

That said, there's no hope for these stinkers.

BULLET TO THE HEAD:  Okay, Sly.  You were awesome in your eighty-six Rocky movies and twenty-seven Rambo movies.  And, at 67, I admit that you look better than other men your age.  But, this movie really shouldn't have been made.  I mean, this film was your worst opening weekend gross in over three decades!  I like you, Sly Stallone...but maybe you should consider putting action movies on your "Murtaugh List".  I don't care how popular "The Expendables" get.  Keep making more movies like this, and your career will become expendable!

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD:  Basically, I have the same exact message for Bruce Willis too.  Die Hard = awesome.  Die Hard 2 = just as awesome.  Die Hard 3 = losing steam.  Seriously, why even bother with this one?

THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE:  You'd think that a film that had both Jim Carrey and Steve Carell would do really well at the box office.  Unfortunately, the movie bombed, just coming short of breaking even at the box office.  The copies of Burt Wonderstone now collect dust on the DVD shelves at my workplace, but at least Carell rebounded with "Despicable Me 2".

THE HOST:  Once upon a time, an author by the name of Stephenie Meyer created a little book series known as "Twilight", which became a global phenomenon in the early 2010s.  So, naturally, once Twilight was over, Meyer hoped that her new project, "The Host" would also make a stellar film.  It didn't.  Though despite the critics panning the film, it did at least make eight million in profits.

SCARY MOVIE V:  Making a "Scary Movie" without Anna Faris is like making "Shrek" with Gilbert Gottfried as the voice of Princess Fiona.  Just plain awful.

THE BIG WEDDING:  Here's hoping that if a sequel is made, it's called "The Big Divorce".  None of the cast had any chemistry with each other - especially the people playing the bride and groom.

THE GREAT GATSBY:  Maybe I'm slightly jaded because I liked the original motion picture adaptation of this film one hundred per cent better, but I just wasn't feeling this one.  And, that's surprising to me, since I normally like Baz Luhrmann's work.  At least the film had financial success at the theatres...I certainly haven't sold many copies of the film at my workplace.


GROWN UPS 2:  WHY?!?!?!?!?!?

And, to close off this blog final sad note.


Roger Ebert's death on April 4 marked the end of an era.  As a kid, I relied on Siskel & Ebert's movie reviews to help me decide what movies I would drag my parents to.  The duo worked well together until Siskel's death in 1999, and Ebert also shared chemistry with his new partner, Richard Roeper.  Certainly the last few years of Ebert's life were filled with hardships, but despite all the pain and surgeries he endured, Ebert continued to do what he did best, which was offer up his opinions on various films.  Roger Ebert truly loved his job, and he truly loved the movie industry.  And, how can you not love someone who has the passion?

He'll be greatly missed.

So, that wraps up our look back on 2013 films.  Tomorrow, the Best and Worst list takes a breather as I present the final Tuesday Timeline of 2013!

Hey...I had to slip ONE minion reference in this piece somewhere!

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