Worst of 2013

Worst of 2013


Now that I’ve dispensed with the best movies of 2013, it’s time for a quick look at those I’ve deemed (through my keen powers of deeming) the worst.  My choice for the number one abomination of 2013 is a movie so wrong-headed, so remarkably awkward and creepy, so catastrophically BADthat there was really no other place to put it except at the top.  Another Texas Chainsaw Massacre iteration made those that came before it look like The Godfather.  I was a huge fan of the first two Iron Man movies, but someone was asleep at the switch when they produced the unmitigated disaster that was the third in the trilogy.  Neill Blomkam’s sophomore effort after the sensational District 9.  Lee Daniels giving us a Reader’s Digest edition of the civil rights movement.  A remake that would’ve been only so-so if it hadn’t been trying to live up to one of the greatest horror movies ever made.  Robert Redford lost at sea for two hours.  They’re all here.



10. The Purge
A terrific set-up about dysfunctional suburban living segues into a paint-by-numbers home invasion flick.  Ethan Hawke, who’s found his calling starring in unique independent horror movies, is perfectly serviceable as a successful and selfish salesman who barricades his family in their ginormous McMansion for America’s annual Purge event.  For twelve hours one night a year, murder in all its forms (as if there’s more than one) has been legalized in an effort to rid people of their pent-up anger.  Hawke, his wife, and their two kids go about this business with bland detachment, their own quiet discontent shadowing the carnage outside the safety of their walls, until an unexpected breach brings the reality of suffering to their doorstep.  Halfway through, the movie supplants gathering tension with cheap shocks and improbable action that cheapen the entire effort.  What could have been, God only knows.


9. Evil Dead
“I love movies like Evil Dead.  The cabin is suitably dilapidated, the forest dark and ominous.  The movie’s entire visual palette is awash in gothic doom.  This is normally great stuff.  What I do have a problem with, however, is that [director Fede] Alvarez felt it necessary to strip all the fun out of his version (something the original and its sequel had in abundance) rendering it down to a deeply serious and cynical bloodbath that made me cringe instead of grin at the absurd over-the-top gore.”


8. Oz the Great and Powerful
“Oz the Great and Powerful is a perfect example of limitless style but little else, a movie that steamrolls its way through kaleidoscopic frames and a hackneyed script, until a case of miscasting brings the entire thing to a halt.  Sam Raimi’s gifts as a director are on full display here, including his trademark swooping camerawork, but he’s let down by a story that doesn’t hold up.”


7. Lee Daniels’ The Butler
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler is the kitchen sink of civil rights movies.  Here we have a man who takes a job as a butler to President Eisenhower and somehow manages to eavesdrops on every confidential White House conversation concerning the treatment of blacks in America for eight administrations, while his eldest son simultaneously participates in several key milestones in the march to freedom.  This is one fortuitous family that has seen much, and whose lives seem like a greatest-hits compilation of our nation’s darker times.”


6. The Spectacular Now
“Thinking back on The Spectacular Now, I’m wondering where the rest of the movie went.  Watching it was like having the lights come up at the end of the first reel, only to have the ushers rush in to sweep the popcorn from around your feet and tell you it’s time to go home.  What are you supposed to do with a film where plot-points are posed and then left to dangle helplessly in the wind, and characters are introduced and then forgotten about?  Much has been said of the movie by leading critics that this is the Millennial answer to Say Anything, a deep and touching coming-of-age story for a new generation, but I don’t think so.  Years from now, I suspect that people will look back on The Spectacular Now and realize that, despite a few strong moments and a nice indie feel to it, it’s a pretty half-baked movie.”


5. All Is Lost
“Much has been made of Robert Redford’s performance.  As of now, he’s the front-runner for the Best Actor Oscar.  I can only say I don’t understand the attention.  Yes, it’s great to see the legendary star in such a physically demanding role; he attacks everything [director J.C.] Chandor throws at him with vigor.  Unfortunately, he plays the part of a man facing a cold and lonely death with all the emotional thrust of a tax audit.  It’s a one-note performance from first frame to last, with almost no range.  I wanted to care about this man, about his situation; but by the time everything was said and done, I didn’t really care.  Harsh, perhaps, but there it is.”


4. Elysium
“I don’t even know what to say about Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium.  This is a movie so wrongheaded, that it can’t have been made by the same gifted filmmaker who gave us District 9 four years ago.  I can only assume that Blomkamp was attacked by the pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, replaced with an ultra-inferior doppelgänger, and programmed to do harm to the nation’s moviegoing audience.  Elysium is bad, almost on a cosmic scale.”


3. Iron Man 3
“Iron Man 3 is a terrible movie, an experience so painful that had I been forewarned of its limitless agonies, I would have saved myself the time and money and simply punched myself repeatedly in the face.  I say this with little to no hyperbole.  This is a bad film, muddled and confused, full of plot lines to nowhere, uninteresting characters, muddy visuals and a villain that cannot seem to sort out the motives for his villainy.  I composed the opening line of this review about halfway through the movie, but stuffed it into the closet of my memory in hopes that things would pick up in the second half.  I wanted a sudden turnaround, a classic come-from-behind victory; a home run deep into overtime.  Alas, things only got worse, and my mind turned to thoughts of which kind of fertilizer I should use in my garden before the final and profoundly stupid third act had even begun.”


2. Texas Chainsaw
“I hope the cast and crew of Texas Chainsaw have their pocketbooks ready, because I intend to sue.  I’m coming after them for damages, as well as pain and suffering.  And if I can reach out to anyone else affected by this movie, I’m happy to start a class-action suit.  Texas Chainsaw is absolutely one of the very worst horror films I’ve ever seen — and I’m including all the Texas Chainsaw iterations that came before this one.  It’s an excruciating piece of crap from beginning to end, unceasingly stupid, and led by a screenplay so bad, it should have been ripped from the printer, crumpled up, and tossed into a backyard fire pit.”


1. Her
“Spike Jonze’s Her is a creepy movie — creepy and awkward and uncomfortable.  It also happens to be silly, pretentious, self-important, and boring to an unhealthy degree.  This is a bad movie, one of the worst of the year — an achievement made all the more remarkable coming from the same guy who gave us the great Being John Malkovich.”