By: Garrett Collins
In the world of film, 2013 was not unlike most years. The beginning two months were full of dire dreck. The final two months has seen nary a bad film. With a wide variety of both thrown in the months between. But in a lot of ways, 2013 was amongst the saddest in terms of quality. We saw stars from decades past once again fade into obscurity with each passing flop (Stallone.) We saw stars with a load of potential try to prove they are a combination of erotic and talented & end up being neither (Lohan.) And we have seen expensive thresholds of patience that were both thankful flops and painful successes at the box office. All in all, this was a pretty low rent year at the cinema. What was the lowest of the low? Read on to find out.
#10 – The Lone Ranger
In a lot of ways, I envy Johnny Depp’s life. After toying around with a teeny bop image in the 80s, he worked hard at his craft with obscure roles in the 90s, until finally hitting mega stardom in the 2000s. The man has the world at his fingertips, is dating Amber Heard, and can ask for $20 million plus paydays without batting an eye. However, if Lone Ranger proved anything, it is the downside of that stardom. Depp has been pigeonholed as Tim Burton’s go to weirdo, and any role that even remotely resembles those characters is going to be looked at as such. It doesn’t help that director Gore Verbinski’s (Pirates 1 – 3) modernization of this 50s TV show was a boring swim through muddy waters. Its only high points were shown in the trailers, and the leading man (Armie Hammer) proved to be uncomfortable and as obscured as his masked face. Hi-yo Silver away….hopefully forever.
#9 – Grudge Match
2013 was not a good year for ol’ Sly. His Bullet to the Head felt just like its title to watch, Escape Plan was making me think of such during its entire running time, and his scripted Jason Statham vehicle Homefront was noteworthy only for James Franco’s consistently bad villain role and its quick disappearance from theaters. Quite frankly, any one of those films could have made this list. But it is the one he did with Robert DeNiro that I decided to include here. Reason being is that Stallone has been trying to prove he is still the leader of testosterone filled flicks in his 60s, so I would not expect anything more from him. However, in recent years, we have seen DeNiro finally going back to the form that we knew him to have in our childhood. Yes, The Big Wedding was a big turd. But his turn in Silver Linings Playbook was superb, and I felt it was only a matter of time before we saw him churn out another performance just like that. Boy was I wrong. This film is a mess, and if anything, it has made me form a grudge against Stallone for making me so pumped up as a child. It is because of those years that he has the power to green light crappy films such as this. But at least he proved that Kim Basinger is still hot.
#8 – Movie 43
Do not get me wrong. I understand the meaning behind this film. It is quite obvious that with The Movie 43, the Farrelly Brothers wanted to show the world that they were in fact the Zucker/Abrahams team of the new millennium. See, back before they burst onto the scene with Airplane!, Zucker/Abrahams, along with John Landis, made a lude, rude, and crude film quite similar to this one called The Kentucky Fried Movie. That film was met with the same amount of scrutiny that this one was. However, there is a difference: Kentucky Fried Movie did not embarrass a slew of stars who are on the up and up, while in the process taking all of their careers down a notch. The writers of this flick (and there are no less than 25 of them) must know where the bodies are buried, because there is not one redeeming laugh or storyline within The Movie 43’s painful 94 minute running time, and each huge star in this flick (including Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, and Emma Stone, amongst countless others) delivers them like they are.
#7 – R.I.P.D.
Speaking of embarrassing. It must have seemed wise for director Robert Schwentke to do it when he did it. I am talking about his decision to tell the producers of his first film, RED (what is up with this guy and his tendency to make films of acronyms?) to pretty much go to hell. See, he had a sure-fire potentially blockbuster of a film he was asked to do called R.I.P.D. on the back-burner. And certainly, with Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges playing off each other, there was NO WAY Schwentke could lose! Ohhh boy. What a disaster. Bridges looks more bored than I have ever seen him, and while I agree Reynolds’ brand of humor is ok in the right situation, it was nothing short of grating here. It didn’t help that the storyline blurred lines of insanity. I can go along with anything of the sort if I am having fun. The problem is, it doesn’t look like anyone on this set is. RED 2 on the other hand proved to be a fun ride that was more enjoyable than the first. There must be something to that.
#6 – After Earth
Now, it is no secret around here that I am not a fan of either Will Smith or M. Night Shamylan. But I have to be honest here. The previews of this film did not look that bad. In fact, it looked like it had some pretty high potential. As much as I do not like Smith, I can turn on a dime if I feel he is giving a good performance in a good movie. The problem lies in the fact that no matter what film he is in, he HAS to be the center of it all. Unless of course he is in a film with his son. Then he gets to let his future meal ticket kill badly rendered CGI monsters and crawl through dystopian forests while daddy is hurt in a ship. There is absolutely nothing about After Earth that I can complement. Its action is badly choreographed, Smith slumbers through a guaranteed payday, and any potential charisma people kept telling me Jayden Smith had shown in 2010’s Karate Kid was nowhere to be found. Every once in a while, when the public decides against going to a film, it is looked at years later as being overlooked. I predict After Earth being nothing of the sort. Touché.
#5 – Beautiful Creatures
Here, my friends, is an unfriendly reminder of what the success of Twilight has spawned. Sure, it has allowed Summit Entertainment the power to churn out fun films like Warm Bodies. But the resulting meetings from those successes means dreck such as this reaching the screen as well. When I saw this film, it was not as an assignment. I had already seen my flick of the day, and as I turned, saw that Beautiful Creatures was playing in about five minutes in a theater right down the hall. What the hell, I thought. I am on record as saying how bad the Twilight franchise got after that first flick. So how bad can this, a film that seemingly follows along the same lines as that semi enjoyable first entry in Twilight, POSSIBLY be? The answer? Extremely. With old pros such as Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson somehow obscuring laughter, Beautiful Creatures, once it starts its witch filled storyline, turns into a bizarre, ridicule inducing disaster. Once its last spell was cast, I ended up telling myself I would never walk into a theater on such an instinct again. I don’t care how big Thompson’s wand is.
#4 – The Purge
There are films you know are going to be bad. And then there are the ones you watch knowing there was sure-fire potential that was somehow lost in its execution. These are the films you walk out hating the most. And that is the way I felt after The Purge had ended. Walking out, there were many more questions I had than answers. Why is the purge so good for the world? Why is the family of this security builder (played by Ethan Hawke) the main focus of the story? Why is he so rich off such faulty security systems? Why does this film degenerate into yet another generic home invasion flick when the idea behind it can be so much more? Why is the homeless guy let in the house to begin with? What am I going to do with that lost hour and a half? Why am I still talking about this horrible film? Why……..
#3 – The Canyons
Or as I like to call it, little careers lost. I believe I owe the public a general apology. I have, for the past couple years, been on sort of a mission trying to convince people that I think Lindsay Lohan, no matter how much she is trying to prove us otherwise, has a slew of potential to be one of our greatest actresses. I believe Emma Stone to be the version of Lohan we could have had if she had remained clean. At one time, Lohan had an undeniable presence. I figured if anyone, Paul Schrader, the writer of Taxi Driver, had the, if I can say, drive, to make my point come true with The Canyons. Somehow, I overlooked the fact that Bret Easton Ellis was its writer. If there was any possible way, Ellis’ script found a way to bring out the worst of everyone involved. It was truly painful watching this film and seeing a scene involving Lohan & porn star James Deen….and realizing that Deen has the most presence on the screen. This is, of course, before the more tantalizing than titillating four way sex scene. Painful to the eyes. Painful to the ears. And, painful to the ego. I am deeply sorry.
#2 – The Heat
Is this one too easy to put on here? That is the question I asked myself before deciding to place the Melissa McCarthy/Sandra Bullock vehicle on my list. After all, McCarthy is another person whom I have not held back my opinion of. I find her humor to be grating, and truthfully, it was a toss-up of whether Identity Thief or The Heat was going to make this spot on my list. But, when put side by side, Thief proved to have Jason Bateman being somewhat funny with McCarthy out of frame, while Bullock was rendered to be ungodly unfunny in The Heat. I cannot see any other reason why Bullock would agree to be in this sledge-hammer to the head other than the chance to have a good time on the set. And anyone I have ever spoken to who has met McCarthy in the recent past has said she is nothing short of a nice person. The complete opposite is true of her screen presence however, and seeing Bullock tediously play off her, ummm, humor, while acting out every single cliché this cop/buddy film offers make this an easy number two. In both senses of the word.
#1 – Pain & Gain
I have to be honest here. This film surprised me. When I initially heard the premise, I thought it was intriguing. I have always been a fan of Dwayne Johnson, and the potential (there’s that word again) of seeing him & Mark Wahlberg in a Michael Bay directed action film actually had me a tad bit excited. Yes, I have been hard on Bay in the past. But the man has an aesthetic that if played right, can be pretty damn enjoyable. See the first Bad Boys film and The Rock for evidence of such. But when I started reading up on the true story that Pain & Gain was based on, I knew that Bay was taking tasteless to a whole new level. Sure enough, Pain & Gain, with its toilet humor and completely clichéd & buffoonery filled characterizations proved every single Bay skeptic right. This film is an absolute monstrosity of filmmaking. With Spielberg kicking Megan Fox out of the Transformers films due to her big mouth, why the hell would he decide to keep Bay on his big Transformers franchise after what he did to this truly tragic story? Oh well. At least he has Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to redeem himself.
Dishonorable Mentions: Broken City, Kick Ass 2, Machete Kills, Gangster Squad, The Counselor, Paranoia, Oz: The Great & Powerful, Disconnect, Texas Chainsaw 3D