Mat’s Top Ten of 2013
My Top 10 Film list for 2013 is a bit odd. I only made it out to the movie theater to see half a dozen movies in 2013, all of which were sequels, spin-offs, or remakes. Much of these films I watched at home on Blu-ray when possible with streaming as a last resort. To qualify for my list, a film had to have a release date in the United States in 2013.
10. A Good Day to Die Hard
After 2007’s generic techno-thriller Live Free or Die Hard, the Die Hard franchise tried to get back to basics with A Good Day to Die Hard. While the plot of John McClane rescuing his estranged son from Russia is as boring as they come, the action is a bit more inventive and intense this time around. An unusual chase scene set on a crowded highway is a highlight, as is a climax that veers off into MAD Magazine territory. Not as good as the first three Die Hards, A Good Day to Die Hard is a step in the right direction.
9. The Hangover Part III
Director Todd Phillips plays it smart with The Hangover Part III. Instead of remaking the first flick yet again, he switches genres from comedy to action. Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) are on a mission to track down the wily Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong). The laughs are here, and so are the thrills.
8. Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie
Kevin Smith adapted his Bluntman and Chronic comics from nearly a decade ago into the screenplay for Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie. Steve Stark’s signature visual style adds to the stoner humor of Smith’s script. The whole affair brings to mind the rougher, earlier works of Ralph Bakshi. For the first time since Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Kevin Smith is playing to his fans, kissing the hands that feed him.
7. Oz the Great and Powerful
Loosely inspired by a handful of the original Oz books by L. Frank Baum, Oz the Great and Powerful reveals how Oz the charlatan is whisked to a merry old land full of creatures both magical and mysterious. Sam Raimi has essentially remade Army of Darkness in an Oz milieu in a charming fantasy film that is notable for being more whimsical than depressing. James Franco turns in solid work as the titular lead and Mila Kunis shrieks with the best of them.
6. The Heat
The buddy cop film used to be a staple in the comedy genre. Paul Feig’s The Heat succeeds where Kevin Smith’s Cop Out failed as an homage to the glory days of Beverly Hills Cop and Rush Hour. Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy make for a fun pairing, but what’s even more impressive is how the cop storyline is an effective procedural.
5. Man of Steel
Superman is a superhero that comes across as dull on the silver screen. A nigh invincible Dudley Do-Right, Superman is only interesting when he’s pitted against an intriguing villain. While Man of Steel fails in this regard (Michael Shannon is a snooze as General Zod), it still manages to be a reboot full of visual splendor. The extended prologue on Krypton is far more exciting and artsy than the rest of the film. Screenwriter David S. Goyer cleverly retells the stories of the first two Christopher Reeve Superman films while goosing up the testosterone.
4. Star Trek Into Darkness
A weird inversion of the plot of one the more acclaimed Star Trek sequels, Star Trek Into Darkness picks up the pace from its predecessor. While the main narrative is lacking in emotional resonance, Benedict Cumberbatch’s turn as the villain is quite good. J. J. Abrams knows how to direct a slick piece of popcorn fare, which makes him a better fit for the Star Wars franchise. Here’s hoping the next Star Trek film tries a bit harder to shed nostalgia and truly go where no film has gone before.
3. More Than Honey
This Swiss documentary from Markus Imhoof is astonishing. The HD photography of bees buzzing around the world is a true marvel. A cautionary look at beekeeping methods in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, More Than Honey makes one wonder if Nicolas Cage was onto something as his character in The Wicker Man remake screamed “Not the bees! Not the bees!”
2. This is the End
Based on the short film Jay and Seth versus the Apocalypse, This is the End is a hilarious comedy where a gaggle of comedians riff on their own personas. Filled with more celebrity cameos than a Muppet movie, this foul-mouthed comedy is far better than it has any right to be. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s directorial style is a bit plain, yet it fits the lo-fi nature of the film.
1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the Hobbit movie everyone wanted the first time around. Based on the most compelling sections of the novel, this flick focuses more on the dwarves than Bilbo Baggins himself. Characters actually get payoffs this time around with some nice nods towards The Lord of the Rings. The end of the film is eye-rolling. Those who love the epic battles in Return of the King are going to soil their chainmail over what is to come in the third film in the trilogy coming out later this year.