2013 Year in Review – Films #26-50

We return with our last large batch of movies.

###Still Decent###
50. Drinking Buddies
49. The World’s End
48. The Book Thief
47. It’s a Disaster
46. Monsters University
45. Kick-Ass 2
44. The Wolverine
43. RED 2
42. Riddick: Rule the Dark
41. We’re the Millers

Exhibiting Logan’s incredible healing powers, The Wolverine is a million times better than the seeming deathblow that was the previous Wolverine-focused film. The first ten minutes or so of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, an opening montage of Wolverine and his brother through history, is uniformly awesome. It’s beautifully put together, showing an man incapable of dying dealing with so much death. The remaining hour and a half… so awful. A lot of things were fixed in The Wolverine, starting, of course, with the movie being good for far longer, always a good thing. Japan and Wolverine just make sense together, so it was good to see them united on the big screen. Unfortunately, the movie went off the rails near the end. Thank Viper, who, as the villain, is either underused or overused, but definitely misused. (Also the portrayal of her powers… just… weird.) The movie seems to want to explore the threat of depowering Wolverine and yet it leaves him mostly unharmed. He’s only missing his adamantium claws but he instantly regrows his bone claws which are… less shiny? Overall, not a great movie, but not truly bad, which, judging from past Wolverine films, was a clear possibility. Will it help setting up Fox’s next installment in the series? Only time will tell.

###Contenders Who Couldn’t Contend###
40. How I Live Now
39. 12 Years a Slave
38. Dallas Buyers Club
37. American Hustle
36. Captain Phillips
35. Saving Mr. Banks
34. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
33. White House Down
32. Trance
31. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Sure 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club, big Oscar winners, are down here, but a lot of people will wonder why American Hustle, nominated for 10 awards, winning none, is also not winning the James award for “Good Movie.” It’s certainly not because of the stellar performances. Amy Adams follows up her great portrayal of Lois Lane with another typically amazing performance in American Hustle Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner are all great too. And yet, this film just feels wrong on the whole. We are supposed to cheer for the bad guys, con artists and grifters, the corrupt mayors and mobsters. David O. Russel paints them as characters worthy of our sympathies since they have to deal with a power-hungry government more incompetent than they are – exemplified by the unhinged agent played by Bradley Cooper in a perm. (tightly wound, get it?) We should either be laughing at their foibles or celebrating the true heroes; films that found themselves with much lower numbers next to them.

###Finally, Some Good Stuff###
30. The Host
29. Thanks for Sharing
28. Don Jon
27. Pacific Rim
26. Pain & Gain

The Host is not by any stretch a great movie, but it’s one I definitely recommend. It kind of slipped under the radar, released as it was in the first quarter of the year, where bad films go to be ignored. It is an adaptation of a Stephanie Meyer novel, and yes that is Glitter-Vampires Meyer. These two strikes forced a theater skip, yet the lack of a third strike meant I couldn’t help but want to catch up with it when I had the chance. I admit it, the trailer piqued my interest; plus Diane Kruger in a movie always merits my consideration. The premise reminded me a bit of K.A. Applegate’s Animorphs series. In a good way. Now I’m disappointed I didn’t see this little dystopian gem and support it on the big screen, where it could have really used a kind word or too. Here are some kind words, even if they’re a bit late: The Host is stunning and diverting. I cannot recommend it enough. Also, Saoirse Ronan is one to keep an eye on.

We have just twenty-five more movies to go. Let’s split ’em over two more posts! Next time we’ll climb through the teens and stop at #10.