2013 Best and Worst

2013 was an interesting year for films.  The merger between independent and commercial movie-making was stronger than ever. Even Hollywood seemed happy to hire directors known for more progressive works.  This led to a higher than normal quality count from Tinsletown. There were the usual duds as any cinematic year produces with some of the more expensive block-busters becoming huge flops.  Overall there were many films to entertain and engage this year with better crafted stories and performances making for a varied mix on silver screens.


So find out which 2013 films struck it lucky and which ones managed a black mark against their names…




10.          The Way, Way Back


9.            Prisoners


8.            Flight


7.            American Hustle


6.            Behind the Candelabra


5.            Warm Bodies


4.            The Place Beyond the Pines


3.            Gravity


2.            August: Osage County


1.            Elysium


What I said then: “It isn’t often a really good science fiction film comes along with ‘Elysium’ being one.  Thoughtful, exciting and captivating, it wouldn’t surprise if this made to any genre fan’s ‘all-time favourite’ lists”.


What I say now:  An engaging and tense mix of social commentary and action, ‘Elysium’ hit all the right notes.  It also proved how an independent sensibility can succeed in the world of commercially –driven movies.  Hopefully future films will follow its example by further providing intelligent escapism and ongoing thrills.


Honourable mentions:  Iron Man 3, The Hunt, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Dead Man Down, Blue Jasmine, Lovelace, Rush, 2Guns, Captain Phillips, Blancaneives, Thor: The Dark World, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lone Survivor, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.





10.          This is the End


9.            The World’s End


8.            Pain and Gain


7.            R.I.P.D.


6.            A Good Day to Die Hard


5.            The Internship


4.            The Butler


3.            After Earth


2.            The Counselor


1.            Movie 43


What I said then: “Those easily offended by foul language and nudity should avoid ‘Movie 43’ like the plague.  It has a constant stream of them with its aim in shocking audiences with a farrago of outrageous crudity a complete success.”


What I say now: Swiftly labelled one of the worst films of all time, it’s difficult to disagree.  A wretched combination of low-brow and gross-out humour, it’s one of those films where you demand it give you the time wasted on seeing its visions of undue ghastliness. 


Dishonourable mentions:  Safe Haven, Paranoia, Diana, Hitchcock, The Sweeney, Now You See Me, Kick-Ass 2, The Mortal Instruments, Jack the Giant Slayer, Olympus Has Fallen, The Call, Carrie.


That’s it for another movie-going year.  Everyone enjoy a safe and happy Christmas and may 2014 be even luckier than the year about to go. Until next time – thanks for reading!



The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson have made comfortable bedfellows.  Author and director of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy respectively, their talents have been hugely influential.  After nearly a decades’ absence, the series returned last year with the first instalment of ‘The Hobbit’. The prequel to the hit franchise, it garnered new fans.  ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ continues to show Jackson’s creative story-telling skills with a truly epic production steeped in Tolkien’s wondrous universe.


Continuing on his quest to help free a kingdom from the wicked clutches of Smaug the Dragon, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) feels uneasy.  Rocked by events which have made his journey difficult, he wonders if it is all worth it.  Wise wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) ensures him a smoother ride will transpire with the help of dwarf leader Thorin (Richard Armitage).  None can know what happens when they enter the forest of Mirkwood.  Old friends and new enemies surface challenging the heroes in unimaginable ways.


Faster paced with better characterisation, the second chapter of ‘The Hobbit’ enchants.  It’s a truly immersive world and one Peter Jackson clearly enjoys.  His vision in capturing every element of Tolkien’s universe results in spectacular imagery and amazingly rendered action sequences.  Unlike its predecessor, it allows time to discover more about the heroes and their various aims.  They don’t always agree which provides most of the fun with the performances complimenting the film’s high quality.


Matching the finely tuned action is the magnificent scenery.  No amount of CGI could make New Zealand’s terrain look any better with the landscape providing a great version of Middle-Earth.  That isn’t to denigrate the special effects as they are suitably dazzling.  The mix of drama, humour and thrills blend seamlessly by managing to rise above the visuals.  Whilst less complex than ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘The Hobbit’s’ simple tale has some depth enabling audience engagement.


Despite having another long run-time, ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ is consistently enjoyable.  Never wasting a moment, fans of Tolkien and Jackson should be pleased their reputations remain intact with the film showing more evidence of their creative skills.


Rating out of 10:  8