Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's Time to Wrap-Up 2013

HEY EVERYONE! It's time to start wrapping up 2013 for me. If previous years are any indicator, that means I'll be putting out lists after lists for the next few weeks. If it were all me, I'd be putting up lists in every post. But I, being merciful, only subject you fine folks to it from time to time.

This time, it's movies. Movies are a tough thing for me at times, I do enjoy them, but at times I get the feeling that I'm watching the same one, with different actors, over and over again, when I got to the theater or see one on TV. Also, I don't watch that many, maybe a couple per month. I'm not sure actually, it goes in spurts. Nothing for a month or two, then sometimes two or three in a week. I just never know.

But. I've already heard so much talk about Superman and Star Trek and Iron Man and Pacific Rim and all those movies, and I'm not interested in talking about them myself. I'm not sure what to add. I saw most of the blockbusters that came out this year. I enjoyed them more than I usually do, as I think this year did a pretty decent job having decent movies at my cineplex. So as I started to compile this list, I thought it might be fun if I were to not include them in my year's best list.

That means I've arbitrarily decided that if a movie made more than $100 mil at the box office in the U.S., then I wasn't going to include it.

Doing so taught me one invaluable lesson: I didn't see many movies that weren't blockbusters. So all those flops that came out, like RIPD, or Riddick, I didn't see them. It also taught me a second lesson: I don't like many genre movies that didn't have big budgets. Because of the ones I did see, I did't like many of them.

That made compiling my list hard. I'll go ahead and note that all the movies I've listed here weren't released in 2013, so there's that. Regardless, here are my under-appreciated list of the...

TOP 6 GENRE MOVIES OF (Or, to be more accurate, that I saw in) 2013:

# 6) The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: $23 mil - is this even a genre flick? Well, considering how implausible some of the 'magic' was in this movie, then yes, I think it counts. This is really a movie about Steve Carell being mean, then being nice. But through it all is a competition between himself and Jim Carey's character, a more modern 'illusionist' that does gritty street magic. Think of it as a loose retelling of The Prestige, but with less death and more humor.

And not quite as good.

#5) Warm Bodies: Domestic Take: $66 mil - I was so dreading this, I was thinking it was Twilight, except with zombies. What I got was just a pretty heartwarming zombie story that was still entertaining in its own right. It did have a throughline of love conquering all and all that, but it was pretty well done. Good job folks.

It does occur to me that my super-low expectations might have played a part in my enjoyment, but, oh well, I've already formed my opinion. I can't undo that now, it's locked in.

#4) Trollhunter: Domestic Take (2011) $250k - This one has been talked up a bit now, it seems
like I blogged about it when I saw it - but I couldn't find my old post, so here it is again. Look, I'm not sure if I recall the details. What I remember of it is this: College students investigate bizarre circumstances, end up discovering Trolls are real and living in the Scandinavian forests. One of two found footage movies on my list. I think that's just because it's cheaper to make a movie that way. So I'm guessing it's the goto format for getting the most bang for your buck as a moviemaker. FX was great considering what I'm sure was a minuscule budget, and each encounter with the Trolls gets bigger and more dangerous, absolutely loved this movie. The cult following it has online is well deserved.

#3) Europa Report: Domestic Take : $125k - My first love in all spec fic in Hard Science Fiction. Now, Hard SF isn't a porn thing, it's science fiction that tends to be much more rigorous on the science aspect than most sci-fi. Movies like 2001, Contact, Europa Report... those all, despite having some fanciful flights of fancy, did put a lot of effort into getting the science right.

This movie, the second of the found footage type movies on this list, did not win any points from my wife, who hated it. It was a pretty somber movie, and could have done with more humor, way more humor, but for it's flaws, the sense of wonder it evokes in me doesn't come around very often. The FX were pretty great and the actors were all folks you'd probably recognize. It was a passion project from its creators and I thought it was amazing. But I only recommend this one for genre fans that don't need lots of action, but can let watch something paced more along the lines of 2001.

For me, it was almost perfect.

#2) Cloud Atlas: Domestic Take (2012) $27 mil - I know this came out last year, I can't remember if I blogged about this one either. Stupid memory. I think of movies as ephemeral things, and often forget about them altogether until someone brings something up, then I'm like, oh yeah, I forgot about that. For example, I wanted to add a movie to this list that I watched earlier this year about a Ninja that moves to the American West in the 19th century with the baby of one of his enemies in tow. I was going to include it here, but have no idea what the name of the movie was, or who was in it. So, if you know, insert that one just a step above Europa Report. Because that one was good.


So, where was I? Oh, this movie. I knew it was based on a book I didn't read, but other than that, I had no idea what this was about. It was intercutting a series of stories set in, I think, the 18th century, the 1920's (maybe 30's), the 1970's, Present day, a few centuries in our future, and one several thousands of years in our future.

Each time period involved the same actors, with their relationships with one another being different in each time frame (enemies in one, lovers in another, etc). This was a very different type of movie, and one that I think is way too complicated to sell in a trailer. If I had a complaint, it's that the larger, meta-story that I hoped was being told, doesn't quite pull together for me. I mean, there is a throughline in there, but even when I think about it, I'm not sure I connected all the dots. Nonetheless, it's a very, very, fascinating experiment in storytelling. I wish more movies were like this. I really do. Not this format, per se, but just that risk that was made in creating a movie like this.

As I told someone who asked me about it after I saw it, I said, 'that is the best movie I've ever seen that I never want to see again.' Hopefully, that makes sense so some of you. It was, after all, something in the neighborhood of 13 hours long. It's a tough slog of time. Even if feels like I'm watching something very special, it's still tough.

#1) The World's End: Domestic Take: $26 mil - Honestly, this is my favorite movie of the year, regardless of genre, budget, or receipts. For me, it's close to being the perfect film. I envy the person that gets to see this without already being aware of the concept, which was flashed all over the trailers and posters from the outset. I tend not to enjoy spoilers, because that immediately makes me want to say, 'oh, this is one of those kind of movies,' and then shoehorn it into a certain mold, which I then use to judge how well the movie did in measuring up.

But to just watch this, without a hint or clue of what is coming, for me, would have been about the best experience I think I would have ever had. I remember when I was a kid and even if we had cable, we only got to watch 13 channels. I saw more movies without a clue about what they were supposed to be about, just because I didn't have a choice, than I think I saw on purpose. I fell in love with things I might not have ever seen as a result. Now, you almost have to pick what you are going to watch ahead of time because you'd have to be insane to try to just channel surf to find something to watch. If I were to do that, I'd end up watching endless episodes of Pawn Stars or Bar Rescue.

As it is, this movie works wonderfully as a comedy, as it is terrifically funny, it works as a science fiction tale, because it makes sense, and it works as a coming of age story, because the growth of the characters, even if they are all in their 40's, is very touching. Even knowing that the movie was spoiled for me beforehand, I still fell in love with it. Yes, it is the final installment of the Cornetto Trilogy of films that began with 'Shawn of the Dead.'

14 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You like to make lists challenging, don't you? And you went WAY back for Troll Hunter.
I really liked End of the World but didn't love it. Europa Report was good, but as you said, somber and a bit depressing.
And ironically, Warm Bodies just arrived via NetFlix at the wife's request.

DAVID WALSTON said...

Great List.
You can't go wrong with Simon Pegg!

Pat Dilloway said...

Hooray, I haven't watched any of those movies! Which is quite a feat since I watch like 5-6 movies a week. I think most of them are on my queue though so I'll get to them eventually.

BTW, great posts this year--both of them! Ha.

Andrew Leon said...

I really wanted to go see World's End, but I never made it. It was upsetting.
Burt Wonderstone is completely underrated.
And I was pleasantly surprised by Warm Bodies.
I've actually made a note to see the rest of these, even Cloud Atlas, which I didn't see because of the way it was ripped to shreds. It was an expected blockbuster, after all.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I like your list.

M Pax said...

I haven't seen any of those. I would have found a way to sneak in Star Trek. :) Some of those are on Netflix now. So I'll watch.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Everyone is a fan of their fave movies. Glad you found some you enjoyed.

Jo said...

Sorry didn't see any of these and don't think I would have liked them either. Don't get to the movies much so have to wait til they are available elsewhere.

Maurice Mitchell said...

I mainly saw blockbusters this year too Rusty. I'll be putting together a few end-of-year lists myself, but this is one of the most diverse I've ever seen especially since I've seen none of them. Thanks for the tips!

Sarah Allen said...

I adore Steve Carrell, so I enjoyed Burt Wonderstone. I actually haven't seen any of the others, guess I have some work to do :)

Sarah Allen
(From Sarah, With Joy>

Cindy said...

Thanks for the list. I still have to see Cloud Atlas. Perhaps over the holidays I can catch up.

Jay Noel said...

The movie with the assassin that decides to not kill a baby, and then is hunted by his clan (The Sad Flutes) is called The Warrior's Way.

It's part western, part martial arts film. And it's 100% awesome.

Nigel G. Mitchell said...

I just finished "Troll Hunter" and really liked it. It was a found footage movie, but very different. I liked the fact that they took something as entirely mythical and fantasy as trolls, and grounded them to the sense you could believe they really existed.

Didn't see any of the other movies. I didn't know "World's End" was scifi, thought it was just about pubbing. I have to check it out, now.

Rusty Carl said...

@ Alex - I did go way back for Troll Hunter. And I'm sad you didn't like The World's End more than you did. That one hit me perfectly and I couldn't have enjoyed it any more. Just talking about it makes me want to see it again!

@ David - he does tend to do things I enjoy.

@ PT - Glad you enjoyed the both. I plan on almost doubling that output next year. Yep, I may end up with FOUR!

@ Andrew - I didn't know what the expectations were for Cloud Atlas when it came out. Being aware that it was a bit of flop probably helped my expectations quite a bit.

@ Michael - Thank you, I worked hard on it.

@ MPax - Honestly, I almost did work in ST. It is hard to resist.

@ Sheena - Thanks!

@ Jo - I understand. We can't all like the same things.

@ Maurice - Well, you have a world of wonder in front of you with these.

@ Sarah - Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you get a chance to see some of the others.

@ Cindy - Hola! Glad to see you around. Hope you get to see some movies over your holiday too.

@ Jay - Ah... thank you so much! I was killing myself trying to think of it. What a relief.

@ Nigel - Oh my. You didn't know The World's End was Sci-Fi? Man, you are so lucky, well, except for what I just told you. Drop everything and go see it now. Please.