Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Top Ten Best Movies I Reviewed of 2013

The year that we commonly refer to as 2013 is coming to a close and 2014 is ready to jump up and tickle us with the potential of new adventures, new friendships and Amazon drones ready to malfunction and kill innocent civilians. Being the end of the year, it’s time for my yearly round up of the best, worst and “seriously, what the hell did I just watch?” movies I reviews of 2013.

We’re talking about the best movies I saw this year and, since I’m not one of those jaded movie viewers who thinks only good movies were made in the past, I have to say there were some great ones that a geek like me dug tremendously and it was hard to pick ten. So, needless to say, there are numerous Honorable Mentions this time.

And speaking of Honorable Mentions… (Eh? See what I did there?)

Let’s kick things off!

Honorable Mentions

Cloud Atlas

A very polarizing movie that will either bore a person to tears and make them lash out in epic anger at the film or will either amaze the viewer with its winding narrative, dazzling visuals and tremendous cast. Guess which camp I’m in?

                                                                                                                Warner Bros. Pictures
I'm in their camp.

Cloud Atlas is a very ambitious film and man did I enjoy it. Not only did I find it awesome to see a cast of already established players play various, and complete different, roles but I got to see a film that had a narrative that was unlike anything else I’ve seen in movies.

World War Z

Yes, citizens of the internet, I am aware of how the film is absolutely nothing like the book and I was okay with that. Don’t get me wrong, the book is incredible but I also loved the film. Not only did I get Brad Pitt showing that, even surrounded by zombies, nothing can stop him from looking ruggedly handsome but I also got to see a zombie apocalypse film that actually felt like a global epidemic for once and not just something that is happening outside of Philadelphia among a small group of individuals.

                                                                                                                     Paramount Pictures
"There's ya problem.  Ya got blood-thirsty zombies infesting your wall."

Pacific Rim

Guillermo del Toro, Charlie from It’s Always Sunny, Ron Perlman, Idris Elba and giant fucking robots obliterating giant fucking aliens—stop drilling, movie, you had me at Gui. Sure, people complained about how the film had no character development and it was predictable but I didn’t pay to see art, I paid to see giant fucking robots kill some giant fucking aliens and it delivered it in a big, very entertaining way.

                                                                                                                     Legendary Pictures
Seriously, I wanted big fucking robots and del Toro gave me big fucking robots!


Yeah, some reading this probably didn’t see this one—and I’m not saying that to sound like a hipster. Moby-Dick is a puppet adaptation of the classic novel created as a labor of love from a Milwaukee comedian and buddy of mine Ryan Lowe. I’m not including this in the Honorable Mentions because of some sort of loyalty to the man like he made me in a lab and I am now forced to do my Master’s bidding—that would be silly. I include this one because it really was something magical and truly something worthy of a worldwide audience. Audiences and snobs like to complain that movies are vacuous and empty nowadays as they are just mad dashes for cash but Lowe made a film that was truly near and dear to his heart and you see it in every scene. It’s not only amazing to see the familiar source material take a drastic new direction but it’s also funny as all hell.

                                                                                                                     Lone Wolf Studios
Move over Muppets.

Okay, now it’s time to get to the list, my little buddies! Let’s get this train a-rollin’!

10. Flight

Films based on true stories are awesome (except when they put that stupid tag on supernatural films) and even if the representation on the screen is sexed up and stylized for our enjoyment, there’s still something cool about knowing that some minor portion of what we are seeing was inspired by real events. While Argo is great and filled with tension, it had too much fantasy to it to be on the list (I still really liked it though!) but Flight really soared (gawd damn…I’m sorry for that pun).

                                                                                                                    Paramount Pictures
"Check this shit out!!!"

The story is exciting and addicting as hell and the performances from Denzel and John Goodman are a cherry on top of an already flavorful bounty of excitement and storytelling.

9. Sinister

My scare receptors burned out of me a long time ago and finding something that gives me even the minor willies is almost impossible but 2013 actually accomplished something by giving me some scary movies that actually creeped me out. Insidious: Chapter 2 had some goosebump moments and The Conjuring was just incredible but the one movie that went above and beyond has to be Sinister.

The film already has a special place in my heart due to it being the film my girlfriend and I went on for our first official date when it was in the theaters but the movie also scared the hell out of me. By the way, yes I know it came out in 2012 but I didn’t end up reviewing it until it came out on DVD.

                                                                                                               Summit Entertainment
"Hey!  What are ya doing?  Wanna hang out?

Sorry, did I scare you?  I didn't mean to...I'm so lonely."

Aside from being scary, the film had a solid story with an excellent mythology built into it, some very chilling music that helped build atmosphere, terrific performances from the cast and an ending that just leaves you in shock.

8. Skyfall

I never was a James Bond fan until the day that the dude I have a mancrush on became the man in the tux and, I have to say, this is the best Bond I’ve seen. The action is exciting, Q was introduced, Daniel Craig has really embodied the character and Javier Bardem erases all existence of other Bond villains with his epic performance. It’s just pure excitement.

                                                                                                            MGM/Columbia Pictures
Only James Bond can't make adjusting your tie look like he's saying, "Fuck off."

7. Wreck-It Ralph

We are in a golden age of animated movies! No longer are cartoons engineered solely for children. They are now a family event and I have been loving every second of it. Wreck-It Ralph took an element of pop culture that is a heavy portion of my life and turned it into a very quaint, very touching and very funny animated movie (I’m talking about video games, in case you couldn’t guess). 

                                                                                                                   Walt Disney Studios
Can you dig it?

All the legendary video game characters and game references aside, the film is amazingly animated and the voice acting is top shelf stuff. John C. Reilly is amazing as Ralph and he makes the movie fun to watch but also very touching as this film can (and will) make you cry as you see Ralph grow from being a villain to becoming a hero.

6. Life of Pi

I went into this film not expecting much from it and thinking that most of the praise was just from the hype-machine (we’re all fucked when that thing gets connected to SkyNet); however, I was shocked to find a film that felt like a childhood fairytale but also dived deep into the human condition and spirituality. And this is coming from an atheist!

                                                                                                                      Fox 2000 Pictures
"Hey, Pi, what are you doing over there?  Wanna watch a movie or something?
I'm bored."

5. Elysium

I think Neil Blompkamp is amazing! District 9 will forever be one of the greatest things my eyeballs and brain and my entertainment sensory organ (they exist) has ever experienced. I was a little more than excited to see him offer up another Sci-Fi adventure filled with action, badass characters and social commentary and I got that with the epic Elysium.   While not scoring a perfect 5 out of 5 like some of the other films on this list (especially the ones behind this one), this film has so much working for it that it can rank higher than films from other genres on this list.

                                                                                                                          TriStar Pictures
Why hasn't anyone taken the time to make this costume for Comic-Con?

Matt Damon (who I can’t help but say his name like it is uttered in Team America) is awesome and, more importantly, Sharlto Copley is an animal in the film! Not only is his character one of those bad guys you just can’t hate because he is too cool, he was so intense and interesting that I really want to see a prequel that shows his back-story.

4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey/The Desolation of Smaug

Fanboys got their underwear all in an uproar when Peter Jackson announced that the little book famously called The Hobbit was going to be a two-part film and then got furious on new levels when it was decided it was going to be a trilogy. Then add in the new frame rate announcement and the denizens of internet forums were ready to destroy the world with poorly spelled posts and calling other people “faggots.” While there is no doubt in my mind that stretching the book into three films was a way of making the most out of the investment, it was also a way to add in the Appendices and get to see all the background stuff that occurred during Bilbo’s adventure. Since I’m a fan of Middle-earth and I’ve made active strides towards not being one of those fanboys that find fault in all the things they claim to enjoy, I thought the first film in The Hobbit series was incredible. So, when the Blu-Ray came out and I was done watching it for the fifteenth time, I gave this one a glowing review.

                                                                                                                          WingNut Films
Bilbo, seen here running away from the fanboys of the internet and their complaining
about the franchise that they still willingly dish out their cash for.
Like the first venture into Bilbo's adventure, I went to see The Desolation of Smaug on the Ultra-screen at midnight and the continuing story was so epic and fun that I couldn't wait for it to arrive on Blu-Ray to review it!  While the first film is great and filled with awesome performances and fun times, the second was even better.  The film was touching, dramatic, action-packed and funny all at the same time...and it didn't hurt that Benedict Cumberbatch was addicting to hear as Smaug.

                                                                                                                          WingNut Films
"So...the dwarf women will arrive for the gang bang after we recapture the Lonely Mountain?"

3. Looper

Time travel movies are old hat now and it feels like they can’t do much new with them. I’m not knocking the sub-genre because I admit that I love the concept of time travel (I’m a Whovian, I better enjoy time travel) but Looper took the concept and brought with it an original and very exciting story. Just the idea that gunmen are hired to kill targets selected by the mob and those targets are sent back to take a bullet to the face was already a new direction in time travel mythology I could get behind. Add in a unique look for the future, great fights scenes, a child actor acting the hell out of his role, the fact a Sci-Fi movie takes place mostly on a farm and Joseph Gordon-Levitt looking very convincingly like a young Bruce Willis and I had a formula for a movie that blew me away and entertained the living shit out of me…and then the living shit traveled back in time to watch Looper all over again.

                                                                                                      FilmDistrict/TriStar Pictures
One of the few movies Bruce Willis looks like he actually gives a shit about being in.

2. Django Unchained

I saw it in the theater—on Christmas day—because Number 1) Quentin Tarantino is amazing and, more importantly, Number 2) it looked all kinds of awesome! And it was!

                                                                                                                            A Band Apart
Pictured:  All Kinds of Awesome!

The story is the ultimate revenge flick, the hyper-violence is just as exciting as would be expected from Tarantino, Christoph Waltz is just hypnotic and Jaime Foxx proves to be a badass beyond words. Add in Tarantino’s usual wit, humor, incredible dialogue and scene structure and throw that shit into a Western setting and you have a film that’ll give you the ability to lift cars over your head and fart fireworks.  That's another way of saying it was really cool.

1. All the Comic Book Movies!

I had some trouble coming up with the Number 1 spot this year because, being a huge geek and a big fan of comic books and their ensuing adaptations, I couldn’t pinpoint just one of the comic book films that I enjoyed the most. Last year, it was no contest with The Avengers and, while that year had some great adaptation, 2013 felt like it was trying to outdo itself.

                                                                                                                   Warner Home Video
"I'm telling you Kal-El, the suit just makes me look fat."

                                                                                     Warner Home Video
"Stop looking at the tubes on my head."
First off, the animated films were just as good as the live action ones (with a very notable exception). We saw the second half of Frank Miller’s epic The Dark Knight Returns brought out on Blu-Ray and DVD, Superman: Unbound showed me why I’m still a fan of the boy scout from Krypton and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox took a great comic arc and made an amazing feature out of it and proved that The Flash has what it takes to keep a movie moving (and I swear that’s not a pun about how fast he moves).

                                                                                                                  Warner Home Video
The Flash, the only man to never be victimized by McDonald's rigid breakfast/lunch
serving times.

Karl Urban, seen here making me forget about the awful Dredd
movie with the guy who once made a movie about arm-
Then you had the ones that made me forget about their first failed adaptation and almost felt like an apology for how bad the last ones were. You had Dredd with Karl Urban taking the character from a sleepy eyed and incoherent ape to a true badass who NEVER ONCE TOOK OFF HIS HELMET LIKE HE’S SUPPOSE TO!!! Then there was The Wolverine which not only gave Wolvie some character and made me give a shit about Logan for the first time in over a decade but, more importantly, wasn’t X-Men: Origins.

                                                                                                                      20th Century Fox
I'm just going to throw this out there...I really want to touch those abs.

Also, there’s Man of Steel…it’s been too long since there’s been a live action Superman movie that felt like the Last Son of Krypton actually meant something. I know critics hated it and audiences were mad because Supes killed Zod in it but I loved every second of the film. The movie took a hero who was way too familiar in pop culture and made him slightly new while still true to what we know. The movie also had points working in its favor for tremendous action, Michael Shannon as Zod, Russell Crowe becoming the greatest man to every portray Jor-El (yeah, suck it Brando!), Costner as Papa Kent and, finally, a chance to see, in a live action film, just how powerful Superman really is! Not to mention, we get to see him fight Batman in the next movie! (And yes, for the record, I am all about seeing Ben Affleck as Batman)

                                                                                                                 Warner Bros. Pictures
I just want to get one thing straight...Superman takes away Zod's powers and tosses
him down a seemingly endless pit (forget about the delete scene that shows Zod getting
arrested) and that is totally fine.  Supes kills Zod to save the human race, that's bad?

Finally, we got to see Marvel kick off their Phase 2 films that will lead up to The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. Right away in 2013, we got to see Iron Man 3 and see a new direction for the films. I loved the twist with The Mandarin (because it was unexpected, fresh, and shocking) and I really loved how the film was more of a journey of Tony Stark rather than Iron Man…and RDJ is still awesome!

                                                                  Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The sad part of the relationship where they stop talking to each other.

Secondly, we got to see the next chapter in Thor’s story with Thor: The Dark World. I loved the first one but I felt this one was even better. Beyond the fact it got to set up the next project I’m really excited for with Marvel (hint: it was Guardians of the Galaxy) but we got to see more of the Nine Realms and see a story that was larger in focus AND very personal at the same time.

                                                                  Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
By the looks of the sky, I would say that Thor and Loki are in the pacific

There ya have it, the Best Movies I Reviewed of 2013. I thank you for reading and hope you have a fun and, most of all, safe New Year’s and I hope you are looking forward to more great movies in 2014!

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