Along with a lot of good movies a ton of really bad movies came out this year. Some were genuinely inspired films that just couldn’t pull off their idea well enough, others were vapid cash grabs with no real substance, and a rare few seemed to be trying their hardest to be utter shit. It’s an aspect of film I genuinely enjoy, the fact that there are so many movies out there–especially in this day and age–that you are guaranteed to find a lot of films that are going to be good, bad, and absolutely atrocious. Here are the five such films that managed to stick out like a sore thumb in 2013.
This is a film I really want to like, I’m a huge fan of the Riddick movies, but the more I think about it the more I realize how terrible it really is. On the surface, Riddick is actually a decent attempt to resuscitate The Chronicles of Riddick franchise. Vin Diesel is in top form as Riddick here, and the first half of the film, which simply follows Riddick’s attempts to survive on a barren planet, is the best part of the film. The effects, with what can be considered a shoestring budget compared to most feature films, are rather impressive to look at. So what exactly is the problem with this movie that landed it here on this list?
The second half of the film, that’s what. The moment Riddick calls down a group of bounty hunters in a desperate gambit to get off the planet the movie feels like a bland cover song of Pitch Black. Most of the bounty hunter characters are one-dimensional cannon fodder for either Riddick or the alien monsters hunting them, and the ones who get any semblance of character are either unlikable or are Katee Sackhoff, who is pretty much underutilized in the movie. Throw in some very uncomfortable sexism and a lackluster finale and you have Riddick, a movie that feels like it had its heart in the right place, but didn’t really know what to do to make the movie stand on its own.
4. Dark Skies
I’m not the kind of person who believes in ghosts and alien abductions, however films like Paranormal Activity and Fire In The Sky are some of my favorite horror movies that cover those very ideas. The idea of godlike aliens playing around with us like fish and a bowl is terrifying, and I like it when ideas like this are used competently in fiction. In the case of Dark Skies, they aren’t.
For two hours we follow a boring family who do boring things, while really boring-yet-odd things happen to them. For instance, someone keeps stacking their crap on the kitchen table. If you’ve ever seen a horror film in your life you know how this movie plays out. Someone realizes what’s going on but nobody else believes them, one of the children has a strange link to the strange events, and there’s a silly plot twist thrown in for good measure. It’s basically a haunted house movie where the word “ghosts” was replaced with “aliens” in the script. Worse yet, it never manages to make the aliens scary, due to the fact that they are portrayed more like a bunch of dicks. This is a dime-a-dozen neutered horror film, and the fact that they still let movies like this into theaters is nothing short of a surprise to me.
3. Iron Man 3
Some may be surprised to see this movie on the list. In fact, after first viewing Iron Man 3 last summer I enjoyed the movie. However, the more I saw it, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how much I didn’t like it. While a bad Iron Man movie can be enjoyable just for having Robert Downey Jr. (you could make a movie where the man eats waffles for two hours and I’d probably get a kick out of it) but the fact of the matter is that you need more than RDJ’s charisma to make a great movie. And Iron Man 3 just doesn’t have what it needed.
Granted, this was the first film to follow The Avengers. That’s a hard act to follow. I wouldn’t have wanted to be Shane Black when he was given the job, and under those circumstances you have to give the guy some credit. However, like Iron Man 2, this film presented us with a Tony Stark who was going through some serious psychological issues, but downplayed the severity of those issues for the sake of being a good romp. Then you have an entire subplot involving Tony Stark teaming up with a 10 year old boy, which is never a good idea. Finally, to pour salt into the wound, the movie takes Iron Man’s most iconic nemesis and turns him into the biggest joke/plot twist in the entire film. While I know what the filmmakers were trying to do here, I feel that it just didn’t work.
The result was the equivalent of turning one of Spider-Man’s most iconic villains, for example Venom, and turning him into a secondary antagonist (see: Spider-Man 3). Where The Avengers walked a fine line between being a dumb action movie and a kick ass superhero film, Iron Man 3 stumbles over into dumb action movie territory and the result is a sort of guilty pleasure to most viewers and fans of the Marvel movies.
This movie is garbage. I knew this after I first saw the trailer, and as such I never intended to watch it. However, I had the misfortune of watching it on-demand some time after it left theaters. The result was a two hour long headache not even the strongest painkillers could cure. The acting is lousy, with Ryan Reynolds trying his best to be a likable protagonist and failing miserably thanks to a terrible script and Jeff Bridges’ rampant chewing of the scenery.
It’s a cheap rehash of Men In Black without any of the things that made that movie fun to watch. I know for a fact that Ryan Reynolds can be a very charismatic actor, and Jeff Bridges is always great as the cantankerous mentor character, but here both seem to have given up trying to salvage this wreck of a movie. It’s not even pretty to look at, with a plethora of crappy CGI monster effects that make Sharknado look like Avatar. In this day and age, computer effects should never be this bad, unless we’re talking about Syfy Original Movies at least. In hindsight, RIPD probably should be higher on this list. However, there is one movie that manages to beat it for the number one spot…
Unlike fellow Nerd Like You writer, Dan Murray, who offered his thoughts on Neill Blomkamp’s return to film after District 9, I strongly felt Elysium was the worst film of the year. Granted, there are movies that are way worse for various reasons. It wasn’t another heartless Adam Sandler comedy, it wasn’t another cheap parody comprised of every movie and/or meme that’s come out in the last five years, and it wasn’t The Host. No, what makes Elysium my number one worst film of 2013 is this one reason:
It should have been better.
This was a film that seemed destined to be great. It had Neill Blomkamp, a director who blew our minds away with District 9, and he was coming back with yet another gritty sci-fi film with a political twist. Then, cast some great actors like Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, and the always enjoyable Sharlto Copley. It was a recipe for awesome. However, that wasn’t so. Instead, the film was a mess, with tons of plot holes and an over-abundance of shaky cam. At the end of the day, Elysium was a dumb action movie masquerading as a smart sci-fi film. I would’ve expected this from someone like Michael Bay or McG, but never Neill Blomkamp. If there’s one thing I hate more than a bad movie, it’s wasted potential, and that’s what Elysium ended up being.
2013 had a ton of movies, some of which were amazing, others terrible, and quite a few were simply okay. However, for me, these were the five films that really got under my skin. No doubt a few people will be surprised by some of my choices, but those are the films of the year that bugged me and that’s that. Feel free to comment about my choices or share your least favorite movies of the year in the comments below.