Film, Reviews
May 20, 2013

SUMMER 2013: TOP 20 MOVIES NOT TO MISS

Photo Credit, CBS News

To prepare for this year’s Summer Movie Preview countdown, I took a look back at last year’s lists to score how I did with my prejudgment. I’d give myself a ‘B’. Dark Shadows proved unworthy of the 5th spot and Avengers fared better commercially and critically than Dark Knight Rises (I blame the Good Will Hunting ending). Glad I rated ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ so high as it was my favorite film last year. This year will be a giant TOP TWENTY countdown!

After a few thoughts on last year and a preamble: I have had a hard time keeping up, only recently seeing films from last summer like the new Total Recall, a turkey that I saw coming as if the memory of it was imprinted in my brain, and The Amazing Spider-Man, a film I called a win-win whether it blew or not, and it turned out to be the former. That means it blew. So bad that saying that it blew is worth saying three times. Where was I, something about being able to keep up. This is because in addition to obsessing over film, I am just as mad for football and quality television. So something has to get missed, namely modern music and reality TV. Thank goodness I have friends and fellow PPLA writers like Demetria Johnson there to tell me who won the Mirror Ball Trophy and why I should care, amongst other tidbits that slip through the cracks of my pop culture compendium!

Plus I recently spent time at the Turner Classic Film Festival, so I am switching gears from the past and the familiar to the future and the unknown. Last year’s line-up of blockbuster films looked much like last year’s NFL draft class: flashy, hype-worthy and full of promise. I was even stoked for Rock of Ages (the Brandon Weedon of last year, dated and in a bad setting i.e. Cleveland, the 80’s), a film that should have a two-drink minimum if you want to properly wallow in the dripping heap of cheese that it is. However this year’s crop (is it still considered a Freudian slip when you accidentally type crap instead of crop two times?) resembles this year’s draft class: Serviceable but unremarkable, or, let’s just get to next year when Jadeveon Clowney (I actually don’t have a film to compare, but here’s to hoping!) declares himself. It’s ok, I’ll get more excited as the list goes on!

Last year I separated the lists between blockbusters and the rest, this year I will go by my overall excitement to see the film regardless of budget and hype, hence the Top Twenty. Here goes: 

20. Much Ado About Nothing (June 7th) – Initially this Shakespearean comedy that apparently needs more revivals thanPride & Prejudice did not make the final cut. Then I saw that Joss Whedon was directing this black and white reimagining and became terrified of his overwhelming nerd karma. Sorry I didn’t go any higher Mr. Whedon!

19. Planes (August 9th) – Actually it’s called Disney’s Planes, you know, just in case Disney is worried that folks will confuse it with the classic German expressionist shizer porn of the same name. Sorry, some of these films only made the list because I liked the joke. Anyways this is Cars without Pixar, best of luck.

18. After Earth (May 31st) – Apparently the Earth has been abandoned but nepotism lives on! Not only do you have father and son Will and Jaden Smith playing father and son, but you also get Zoë Kravitz, daughter of Lenny and Lisa Bonet. Maybe I just dislike gorgeous people breeding with other gorgeous people and having gorgeous children. We need more aesthetic crossbreeding! I should have used this time to poke fun at director M. Night Shymalan. He writes as if he no longer communicates with actual human beings. There. Moving on.

17. Only God Forgives (May 24th) – Don’t know anything about this except it is directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive), stars Ryan Gosling, and has a kick-ass poster. Sometimes you go with your gut.

16. Despicable Me 2 (July 3rd) – There is a glut of animated films this summer, I even had to cut a few from the final list otherwise 30% of the films would have been animated. Since I’m not 10 and I do far less drugs than in my early adulthood, I had to eliminate a few newcomers. Despicable Me was actually pretty funny as well as hugely successful so you know those despicable producers had to choke another story out.

15. This is the End (June 12th) – This is going to be a hit-or-miss film for people. It stars Seth Rogen (who also co-wrote and co-directed), James Franco, and slew of the other usual suspects as themselves faced with the apocalypse. So if you don’t drink the kool-aide for the post-gen-x hipster nerd cult then you will probably HAAATTEEE this movie. Otherwise if you are like me and you dig these guys, then you will love watching a few celebrities at their absolute worst.

14. The World’s End (August 23rd) – See what I did there? I put the two best summer 2013 social sci-fi comedies together! This one gets the edge based on the better writer/director team of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. Wright’s last film (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) was severely underappreciated and now he has his A-Team of Pegg and Nick Frost back.

13. The Wolverine (July 26th) – Director James Mangold (Knight and DayWalk the Line) takes over in what he has called a sequel to the prior X-Men franchise where Jean Grey, Professor X, and the other are gone. Hopefully that means Brett Ratner is gone as well since he is the most responsible for the demise of that original franchise.

12. The Heat (June 28th) – A rated ‘R’ (for pervasive language, strong crude content, and violence) buddy cop comedy with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy? Add in director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) and The Heat is on!

11. World War Z (June 21st) – Now begins a run of three straight post-apocalypse films. First is a zombie apocalypse film starring Brad Pitt and a budget to match it should rate higher, until you remember the PG-13 rating, and the level of compromise that represents not just visually but thematically as well.

10. Pacific Rim (July 12th) – Finally, after having wasted two years of his life on The Hobbit Guillermo Del Toro is back in the director’s chair with a ridiculously fun-looking aliens vs. robots who are controlled by humans sci-fi adventure! It’s freaking Real Steel meets Godzilla!

9. Elysium (August 9th) – The most promising of the summer apocalypse movies based on its trailer and the director Neil Blomkamp, who set the standard for extraterrestrial immigration allegories with District 9. Here the year is 2159 and the poor live on crappy blighted Earth while the wealthy live on the space station paradise of Elysium. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster star.

8. The Lone Ranger (July 3rd) – Starring Johnny Depp and directed by Gore Verbinski (the first three Pirates films). Apparently Johnny Depp has some sort of bet with his directors that if he helps make them richer than snot then he gets to wear whiteface in all their movies from then on. See also Edward ScissorhandsSweeney ToddCharlie and the Chocolate FactoryAlice in Wonderland, and Dark Shadows.

7. Fast and Furious 6 (May 24th) – I was never a big fan of this franchise, but I managed to limp through with the aid of my friends Jack, Jim and Stella. Then Fast 5 came out and I don’t know if it was just a good script or if The Rock possesses awesome revamping power (based on G.I. Joe: Retaliation I’d say no), but I had a blast and now  here I am putting #6 at lucky number 7.

6. The Hangover Part III (May 24th) – It is odd when a second film seemed so unnecessary and would be the same thing all over again and it turned out to be correct on both points. How then do they fool me now into thinking with just one hysterical trailer that this third film is not only necessary but also essential to close out the tale of the Wolf Pack? Seriously how?

5. Monsters University (June 21st) – Pixar goes Temple of Doom in this prequel that takes us back to Sully and Mike’s formative years at the University of Fear. Since Pixar is pedigree, I’m taking a mulligan here.

4. The Great Gatsby (May 10th) – Boy this movie is going to be pretty. Too bad I just don’t give a shit. Nothing against the film, but I was a literature major so I have read and wrote on Gatsby so much that regarding story (which for me is the most important thing) this film has nothing to offer me. But it is a good story, and with Baz Luhrmann’s style a whole new audience will be introduced to it, and dear lord will it be pretty.

3. Iron Man 3 (May 3rd) – Based on early reviews including that of the aforementioned friend and PPLA writer Demetria Johnson it looks like Robert Downey Jr.’s 4th turn at the first avenger to get his own franchise is much better than the forgettable (I seriously have almost no recollection of that film) Iron Man 2. I’ll let Demetria have the final word on this one. See her review here.

2. Star Trek: Into Darkness (May 17th) – Like with Prometheus last year playing coy with the notion that it is a prequel to the Alien franchise, the second Star Trek revamp’s villain Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock Holmes) has been rumored to be original part II villain and TV series alum Khan, though J. J. Abrams is keeping his usual level five supermax security around this film so who knows until the film is released, literally.

1. One Direction: This is Us (August 30th) – Just making sure you’re still reading. Could you imagine, after everything I have just listed and said? Anyone who cares about me would have me committed.

The Real #1. Man of Steel (June 14th) – Because it’s Superman. That’s why. Because Michael Shannon is Zod, because Zach Snyder CAN pull this off, and he’s going to do it without kryptonite! That’s right Bryan Singer, kneel before Zod!

Well that’s all I got, there were a few more I would have liked to have railed on unfairly, like the painfully boring closing to a painfully boring conflict-free trilogy in Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight, and the continuing Vince Vaughn suck saga withThe Internship. Or an Ethan Hawke film that actually sounds interesting in The Purge, which takes place in a society where one night a year, there is literally no law, anything goes. O.K. guys, I’m done, thanks for sticking around for so many words, and let me know what you think I missed, and I will tell you why I didn’t.