My Rankings of 2013 Movies Seen

Very surprisingly, I have only seen 10 new releases from 2013, 9 in theater and only one outside the theater (usually, I would have rented all the summer movies I missed by now!). This isn’t due to a lack of interest so much as a lack of time, and then  forgetting to hit up Redbox for rentals (because I’m lame and don’t have Netflix yet. One day I’ll cave). Because of this, I have yet to see several movies I was anticipating this year or later became interested in, including, most notably, The Book Thief and the second installment of The Hobbit. So all this being said, this is based solely on what I have actually seen so far, and I certainly intend to see more.

Out of the nine 2013 movies I watched, I gave 1 at 4.5 star rating,  6 of them 4 star ratings, and two 3 star ratings. The one I did not review I would say is a 3 star movie, which I do elaborate on later. Also, I have included what number the movie ranked on my most anticipated movies of 2013 list I created last March. Titles link to my reviews. On with the rankings!

1. Catching Fire

catching-fire-comic-con-trailerI was so excited for this movie so much that I made a  list of my Top 10 Anticipations for the movie. And I looooooved this movie! It was a definite improvement over the first installment of The Hunger Games movie franchise, and I cannot wait to see it again!

Ranked #2 among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

2. Star Trek: Into Darkness

startrekThere are a few things in this movie that bother me more in hindsight than they did while I was watching it, but… I still love the movie overall. So many feels. Many tears shed. And there were truly a lot of great moments. Not to mention what JJ has done to bring in new fans into the franchise. Have I mentioned you should seriously watch some older Star Trek? Because you really ought to.

Ranked #3 among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

3. Iron Man 3

IRON MAN 3I know a lot of people did not love the third Iron Man movie, but something about it resonated with me. Tony was more real to me, the twist of the villain truly surprised me, and oh yeah, he goes to Tennessee (where I live! Except the TN parts were actually filmed in North Carolina. Boo hiss. But anyway…)! Look, it’s an Avengers movie, not Oscar material. Enjoy it for what it is.

Ranked #4 among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

4. Monsters University

mike-monstersUI was anxious about a prequel to my favorite Pixar movie, afraid that it would get the dreaded Disney sequel treatment, but I found that this story was great in its own right, as well as providing us additional insight to the characters we already knew! Again, it’s fairly light, but has a message that I think is actually very relevant for kids and adults alike, that you can’t necessarily do anything you want, but if you work hard, you’ll find your place!

Ranked #7 among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

5. Thor: The Dark World

thor-2Thor’s second movie proved to be another fun and interesting exploration into the Marvel universe as well as Thor’s. And though I’ve never considered myself a Loki fan, he completely stole the show in this movie.

Ranked #6 among my most anticipated movies of 2013

6. Ender’s Game

enders_game_movie-wideI really enjoyed this adaptation quite a bit, but it was just too short and everything felt too fast. It left me wanting more, but thankfully, everything it did show looked really good and felt true to the book.

Ranked as an honorable mention among my most anticipated movies of 2013

7. Man of Steel

manofsteelThis was a movie that I really enjoyed when I watched it, but I have forgotten about a lot since my viewing of it. I loved all the flashback stuff about Clark Kent growing up. I hated the all the freaking property damage that was caused by Superman and Zod’s battle over who is more indestructible. This movie was considerably better than the 2006 Superman Returns, but Superman still doesn’t have the same impact on me as Batman does.

Ranked #8 among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

8. The Wolverine

the-wolverineIf I was ranking these movies more objectively and less subjectively, this would be lower on the list. But I had fairly low expectations for this movie and they slightly exceeded them, mostly in the stinger scene but oh well. It was pretty fun. Some of it lacked logic and it bothered me that the evil villain lady looked like a Poison Ivy wanna-be but… whatever. It wasn’t as good as X-Men: First Class, but probably better than the other X-Men movies.

Ranked as an honorable mention among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

9. Oblivion

oblivion-shipThis movie was undoubtedly my biggest disappointment for movies in 2013. The trailer led me to believe that this was the most awesome, epic sci-fi dystopia story EVER and it just fell way short of what I expected. Overall though, it was still a pretty decent movie, which is why I rated it 3 stars, but I had so many problems with it. Why weren’t you EPIC, Oblivion?!

Ranked #1 among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

10. World War Z

world_war_zI never would have seen this movie if it had been left entirely up to me, but I was with a group and decided to keep an open mind. Despite the fact that it’s on the bottom of my list, I didn’t hate this movie at all. In fact, since I had low expectations for it, I almost enjoyed it. I say almost because 1.) This isn’t exactly a fun movie and the subject matter is pretty dark and 2.) I don’t have a desire to re-watch it. The funny thing is though, I am almost interested in reading the book, because from my understanding it delves more into the parts of the movie that were lightly skimmed over that I think would be fascinating to explore (i.e. more about the nature of world politics that happens rather and less of Greasy Haired Brad Pitt running away from zombies). Needless to say, putting this movie at the bottom of the list is not at all meant as a diss for a movie I had zero interest in seeing, and though I never reviewed it, I would give this movie a rating of 3 stars. I liked it alright.

Not ranked among my most anticipated movies of 2013 

What were your favorite movies of 2013?

Double (Review) Feature: I Spy Season 1 and Man of Steel

Today I wanted to share two reviews for two completely unrelated things… the 1960’s show I Spy (season 1) and the new Man of Steel movie.

I Spy, Season One (1965-1966)

ispy1I received Season One of I Spy one birthday or Christmas in conjunction with some Cosby Show DVDs I asked for. After my husband and I finally got through all The Cosby Show DVDs, we decided to try this out. It’s an action show from the 60’s starring Bill Cosby and Robert Culp, who star as American agents Alexander “Scotty” Scott and Kelly Robinson, respectively. Kelly’s cover is a “tennis bum,” essentially a semi-professional tennis player who plays tournaments and gets to hang out with rich people, and Scotty’s cover is his trainer. Kelly is more of a James Bond type, who enjoys a good drink and seems to find a new girl to kiss in every episode, and Scotty is more straight-laced: he doesn’t drink, he rarely gets a girl, and he’s always writing letters to his mom back home.

I have to admit, it took me a little while to warm up to the show. The fact that it’s from the 60’s means it’s not as flashy as modern-day shows, obviously, but it also means that the show is written differently. There is less action and more talking than I anticipated, which would not necessarily bother me, but in one episode there was, what felt like, a ten minute conversation with a drug addict about how she could choose a better life. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………………

But it got better as the season progressed. I think the biggest shift occurred when the show was moved from Asia to Mexico (more about the locations later), as the stories became more interesting and the two main characters (especially Scotty) developed more. I think the comrade between the two developed as well, and I especially loved how their relationship plays out in the last few minutes of the season finale.

ispy-tennis

One thing that I really liked about the show from the start is that every episode is shot on location in a foreign country (except in season 3 apparently there are episodes set in California), and some of the B-roll shots they include I found beautiful and groundbreaking for the time. This season included episodes set in Hong Kong, Japan, one in Vietnam, and Mexico. One other great thing about the show is that there is literally no mention of race relations in it. Here it is, the 1960’s, with a black and a white man working equally as partners, and no one says a words, because there’s no reason to.

After we finished the season, I found I was sad we didn’t have the next two seasons to continue the series, but we plan to get them before too long. I’d give I Spy Season One three out of five stars.

3stars

Favorite episode: “Bet Me a Dollar“: Scotty sportingly bets Kelly a dollar that he is capable of tracking down his friend anywhere in Mexico within a week. But the hide n’ seek game becomes desperately urgent after Scott learns Kelly has unknowingly been infected with anthrax that will kill him if not treated within 24 hours. (Synopsis from IMDB)

Man of Steel (2013)

manofsteel

As I have mentioned before, Superman does not interest me much, based largely on my experience with the mediocre Superman Returns movie in 2006. But I had to see this movie, as it was produced by Christopher Nolan. And thankfully, the more story that was revealed in the trailers, the more interested I actually became in it. And I have to say, I was pretty surprised by how much I did like it.

I think the number one thing that sold this Superman story for me was the flashbacks to his growing up years. This truly showed Clark’s humanity. You saw him struggling with his abilities growing up, his parents doing their best to guide him. It is after an incident where Clark is able to save a bus full of kids by pushing it out of the water when his father reveals to him where he came from.

Man of Steel

As much as I got out of seeing the struggles Clark faced growing up, I loved seeing how that shaped him as a person, and I also really enjoyed the dynamic between his Earth parents and him. Diane Lane and Kevin Costner did such a fabulous job as Martha and Jonathan Kent, as well as the scriptwriters, in terms of what they did for Clark’s parents. They are loving and supportive in every scene, though their family is not always perfect. Jonathan Kent was portrayed as wise and discerning when it came to how Clark should use or not use his abilities, and  Martha Kent was always supportive and strong. I strive to be a parent like that one day. Hands down, these little snippets of their lives as a family were my favorite.

clark&mom

His Krypton parents, played by Russell Crowe as Jor-El and Ayelet Zurer as Lara (not a very alien name but whateves…) were also loving and strong parents, choosing to send their son Kal-El to Earth that he may do good there, as their planet is dying without hope. We get to see a representation of Jor-El’s consciousness throughout the film and I really liked him. My husband said he feels this is probably his favorite role he has seen Russell Crowe in.

Man_Of_Steel_SupermanTrailerPic03.jpg

I liked other aspects of the story as well. Amy Adams did well as Lois Lane, and Henry Cavill was a perfect fit for this Superman role. Instead of being a boring, vanilla “good guy” like Brandon Routh’s Superman in 2006 (which I blame more on the writing than on his performance), he was an interesting and complex “good guy.” The idea of the villain, General Zod from Krypton, was also fascinating.

But there were some problems with the movie. First off, Clark seems awfully trusting. He has been spending his young adult life roaming, trying to blend in, and one day he finds a Krypton craft, meets Jor-El who tells him he is his father and explains where he came from. I suppose I might believe him too, all things considered, but then it literally takes Clark five seconds to decide to put on the suit Jor-El is giving him and use it to fly around and save people. After he’s been trying to hide his powers. Hmmm… OK. It just felt really rushed.

It also takes him very little time to trust Lois Lane, a nosey reporter, who could have easily done things differently than she did. But luckily for Clark, she decided to keep her story about him more secret than originally intended.

Thankfully, he listens to his dad and does not trust General Zod, though he does willingly surrender to him when asked. Speaking of General Zod…

general-zodI liked the idea of him. On Krypton, he was born specifically for the task of protecting his planet at any cost, and it is with that in mind that he comes after Kal-El, who possess the power to bring back the people of Krypton. I think Michael Shannon did well in his performance, and I did not dislike him as the villain, but it also did not ring 100% true for me, and I am not sure if I can place my finger on why. His motive made complete sense, but… Maybe it did not help that both Jor-El and the Krypton council failed to kill him when they really should have, so the whole idea of him being alive seemed absurd. (Side note: According to a comic I believe, General Zod was banished from his planet well before the planet was dying. This makes sense. In the movie, it’s while the planet is dying. So as soon as the planet dies, which is basically the next day, he’s set free. It’s an amazingly illogical plot hole.)

And the fighting in this movie came down to practically invincible people throwing each other into dozens and dozens of buildings, over and over again. I cringed at the amount of destruction. I mean, yes, it’s obviously going to be a messy affair, but it got to a point of ridiculousness. All I could think of were how many people were dying thanks to all the crashing buildings. Couldn’t Clark try to find a way to move the fight to corn field or outer space?

I did like the ending pretty well, with Clark going to work at The Daily Planet (which was destroyed I’m pretty sure, so somehow they found an identical new office building…). But there was that whole thing of him putting on the glasses and suddenly people who got a good look at him earlier don’t recognize him, except Lois of course and hopefully the boss Perry White (played by Laurence Fishborne), which I thought was a little silly. But the idea was a nice way to cap off the introductory story.

Despite its flaws, that was something to remember while watching the film, that it was an introduction to a character: the way his world works, and the people in it. And honestly, as an introduction super hero movie, this might be among the best, with such a strong characterization of Clark coming to know himself as Kal-El and then transforming to Superman.  It seems that these introductory superhero stories are getting stronger and stronger since Christopher Nolan released Batman Begins. How this franchise will continue, if it continues, remains to be seen, but it was certainly a strong back story and beginning to a character I honestly did not know much about.

clark-capeThe emotions of this film and the feeling of hope certainly ring true. I got misty-eyed a few times in the movie, I came to love Clark’s character and his parents, and I cared about the world he lived in. I wanted to see it all end well. That connection is what Superman Returns lacked. But this Superman feels real, as does his family and his story. With that in mind, I give Man of Steel four out of five stars.

4stars

If you’ve seen I Spy or Man Of Steel, let me know your thoughts!

Other Man of Steel reviews worth checking out:

House of Geekery’s Review

The Viewer’s Commentary’s Review

Matthew Rushing’s Review (Contains Spoilers)

Analyzing Movie Trailers

There were three great trailers that came out this week that I wanted to talk about: Star Trek, Man of Steel, and last but certainly not least, Catching Fire.

Star Trek

I’m so interested in the villain in this movie. Apparently he is Star Fleet Intelligence gone terribly wrong. Benedict Cumberbatch looks so crazy intense in this movie. But then again, so does everything else. I’m excited about seeing it all unfold, whatever it is that is going on!

Star-Trek-Into-Darkness

Man of Steel

I’ve wanted to be excited about this movie, but I’ve had a hard time. With this trailer, I finally get the substance I’ve been looking for. First: Russell Crowe is Superman’s dad?! Awesome. Clark saves people from childhood. His Earth dad tells him about his origins, and young Clark pleads, “Can’t I just be your son?” And he tells him, “You are my son!” Um, *tear*

Then we have Amy Adams, playing Lois Lane. I guess she’s writing a story on him? BTW, I don’t see Clark Kent the reporter anywhere in this movie. It just seems like he’s a lost guy training to find his way. That seems interesting.

jake-sisko

“But I’m a reporter!” Shut up, Jake. You’re not Clark Kent.

But the end of the trailer… really? Sigh.

Catching Fire

There are so many feels in this trailer! But let’s start with Snow and Plutarch’s conversation. Obviously not part of the book, but HOLY CRAP! Plutarch sounds genuine when he plays along with Snow’s ideas to kill Katniss: “I agree she should die, but in the right way, at the right time. Katniss Everdeen is a symbol. We don’t have to destroy her, just her image. Show them that  she’s one of us now. Let them rally behind that. They’re going to hate her so much they just might kill her for you.” *Sinister laughter from Snow*

never-favor

Then Haymitch tells Katniss, “This trip doesn’t end when you get back home… from now on, your job is to be be a distraction so people forget what the real problems are.” More feelings!

Then cue Effie, and the Capitol party.

katniss-effie-peeta-catching-fireThen Gale! Riots! Prim, being way cooler than she was in the books! (Not that I disliked her in the books, but I like the initiative she’s showing in the trailer!)  The whipping. The Peacemaker drawing the gun. And then, Snow again: “Her entire species must be eradicated… the other victors… because of her, they all think they’re invincible.” Oh man, I get chills every time I hear him say that. And it all ends with the whistle. I think this movie shows so much amazing potential, I feel it’ll definitely be better than the first movie, but I’m also thinking: It could be better than the book. I know that sounds crazy! Maybe I’m wrong, but man, the trailer is powerful. And that’s probably only the first 30-45 minutes of the movie. We still haven’t seen the Quarter Quell. Or the marriage proposal. Or CINNA! Ah! Do I  really have to wait until November?!

Oblivion comes out tomorrow, which I’m also excited about! What movies are you anticipating?