Earlier in the year (as I did the year before), I wrote out some predictions/expections of 2013's big blockbusters. Having seen those movies, I can now give my opinions on each of them, whether I liked them or not, what I thought was good, etc. 2013 was a pretty good year for movies, and I saw a bunch, but what is listed below are the five I wanted to see the most. Unfortunately, not all my comments will be positive (believe it or not). You'll just have to read on to see what I mean.
MAN OF STEEL: My #1 favorite movie of the year, MoS is FINALLY the 21st century Superman movie the geek fans need and FINALLY DC's first stab at a Justice League movie/franchise. Henry Cavil plays the titular Superman (is it still titular if it's a nickname?), rocketed from the exploding planet Krypton to Earth and raised by Martha and Jonathan Kent. Struggling to fit in with the world, Clark's the kind of guy who understands his powers need to be kept secret, but who also wants to help people. Like Lois Lane says, the only way he'll ever truly hide is if he stops helping people...and he can't do that. Especially when General Zod, a native of Krypton, comes to Earth, planning to create a new Kyrpton upon the ashes of humanity. But Superman stands in his way, a conflict which leads to some pretty spectacular fight scenes. At long last, we have a Superman movie without silly, hairless Luthor and his silly schemes. We have someone who Superman can go toe-to-toe with, someone who' as strong (if not stronger!) that the Boy Scout himself. Insert comical 60s-Batman sound effects. Plus a whole hechuva-lotta debris. Shattered windows, exploding cars, falling buildings...the Avengers didn't have as much damage as MoS. But, then again, MoS is a shade darker than Avengers, which leads me to wonder just what will happen in the next installment. Your turn, Batman. Make us proud.
Favorite Thing About The Movie: While not nearly as awesome as Ledger's Joker, Michael Shannon's Zod was an interesting character. Gritty and determined, Zod gave Supes the fight a Superman movie needed. And the (quite literal) plot twist at the end proved that DC movies are always a little bit deeper than the Marvel ones.
IRON MAN 3: While this was not on the list in the May blog (since I had seen it prior to putting the blog out), I will add it here, since it was one of my highly anticipated movies of the year. If I had predicted this, it would've been about Iron Man vs. the Mandarin in a vicious, tear-Tony's-life-apart ala The Dark Knight Rises. Crush his dreams, smash his stuff, and break him down. Yeah, that happened. Tony's house was blown to bits, and he was sent packing across the U.S. in search of the Mandarin. Except, uhm, there was no Mandarin. Technically. Just Ben Kingsley (an actor) as Trevor Slattery (an actor), hired by the real villain Aldrick Killian (dum-dum-dum). If I'd written this a few months ago, it would have been LOADS more scathing. But after seeing it for the third time, I suddenly realized that the movie itself isn't terrible; it just has one of the absolutely worst plot twists in all of movie history. Shane Black deftly wove great dialogue and humor into a story more interesting than the second (though never as good as the first!), a story challenging Tony in ways the others hadn't. Amusing and entertaining, IM3 deserves the fan appeal it has received, but I don't think I'll ever forget just how completely awful the Mandarin was. If they had kept the Mandarin, IM3 would probably have been the coolest movie of the year, maybe cooler than MoS. But they didn't, so it wasn't.
Favorite Thing About The Movie: One good thing this movie did, dialogue, action, and humor aside, was tethering it do the Marvel Comics Universe. Granted, the others do this, but this added more as far as supporting characters pulled straight from the comics. Like Iron Patriot, Killian, Killian's henchman, and AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics), which I hope takes more precedence in further films. We have Hydra, we have AIM; all we need is a big terrorist battle. That would be pretty cool.
THE HOBBIT: DESOLATION: Okay. I know a bunch of the hardcore Tolkien fans are complaining about the addition of Tauriel and her romance with Kili, how Legolas and Azog were never in the book, and how silly the Smaug showdown was, but, come on, DoS was pretty awesome...maybe (admittedly) even better than MoS. The ending to an Unexpected Journey wasn't the biggest cliffhanger (except for the fact they were standing on a cliff...), but I've been pumped for this the whole year. For the most part, the film didn't disappoint. Yes, it's Jackson's biggest diversion from the source material, and maybe Tauriel was a little unnecessary, but the second film more than makes up for its small mistakes in action. The entire film is one small skrimish after another (and while some complain about it, I liked it), with Elves and Dwarves shooting and hewing Orcs any way imaginable, culminating in a confrontation with Smaug the Terrible. Again, while the Dwarf/Bilbo battle with the Dragon was a little goofy (and while Smaug may be the most pathetic Dragon ever), I think it did establish (a the Dwarves' desire to reclaim their home, (b the Dwarves familiarity with Erebor, and (c how much Smaug just hates these guys. And, okay, some may grumble about introducing Sauron JUST to tie this into Jackson's LOTR trilogy, but why wouldn't you? The movies have to be connected somehow, don't they? Maybe this film has gotten a bit of flak, but darn it, it was still a pretty awesome film in the end (with a much bigger cliffhanger than its predecessor).
Favorite Thing About The Movie: Action. Obviously. The whole movie is like one huge fight scene. Elves lithely cantor across the screen, Dwarves throw their weight into every swing, and even Bilbo goes a little crazy at one point (perhaps showing the hold the Ring has over him already?). While there are no massive fight scenes, there are a whole bunch of tinier fights that take up most of the movie and are still pretty awesome in and of themselves. 2013, with films like IM3, MoS, Into Darkness, and Pacific Rim that are just chock-full of action and explosions, finishes up with probably the biggest slug fest of the year.
THOR 2: THE DARK WORLD: The 2013 Marvel film most closely related to the Avengers, TDW does a really cool job at exploring the Thor/Loki dynamic. Back in Asgard, imprisoned for his various crimes, Loki is a shell of the man he used to be. When Dark Elf warriors infiltrate Asgard, they free a whole bunch of criminals kept in the dungeons, save Loki. With his plans thwarted, his mother dead, and having been abandoned by like-minded villains, Loki seemingly has no choice but to accept Thor's request as Goldie Locks seeks his help on a mission to defeat the Dark Elves and save his love Jane Foster (as well as the rest of the world, of course; that's kind of important). This movie is action-packed and humor-strewn, with a Marvel plot twist that actually worked! Cool characters, a bit of growth on Thor's part, and a deeper voyage into the Norse mythology that serves as the basis for these characters. Plus, it does a great job setting the stage for future movies, Guardians of the Galaxy (to be released this year) and Thor 3 (to be released...someday). Characterization is definitely the focal point of this film, and it was handled very well far many characters. All that, and a neat tie-in SHIELD episode that hopefully piqued the interests of fans devoted to the show, movies, or both (that'd be me). TDW was satisfying, much more so that IM3, a fun romp in the realms of gods.
Favorite Thing About The Movie: Loki. Yes, I like my villains. I REALLY like my villains. Villains are what made TDK amazing, MoS great, and IM3 a bust (initially). In the first Thor, Loki was alright. A selfish brat jealous of his brother. Nothing more. In Avengers, he had a much bigger role, but he was still just there. The fans liked him, sure, but the bulk of evil came from his alien army. In TDW, he has grown. A lot. He goes from a sniveling would-be-world-conquerer to a man broken and defeated, with nothing to lose. But does that mean he just follows Thor? Or does he backstab him? I won't say what he does, but what he does is awesome and made TDW a whole lot cooler than it already was.
THE WOLVERINE: The sequel (sort of) to Brian Singer's X-Men: The Last Stand, The Wolverine blends together the new and the old in a movie bridging the gap between Singer's original trilogy and this year's Days of Future Past. The Wolverine is about (wait for it) Wolverine, taken to Japan to perform one more act of service for a dying friend who he saved years before (as in "World War II" years before). Surrender his healing factor. Wha? No way! Wolvie refuses, the guy dies...and Wolvie's healing factor vanishes anyway? Hmm. Now he's on the run, with his friend's daughter Mariko, being trailed by assassins, gangsters, and the coolest archer this side of Hawkeye. Wolverine not healing is pretty bad, which makes for a pretty neat conflict the hero has to face. Yet another action-laden super-hero, but on a much smaller scale. No armies to fight, no supersuits that shoot lasers. Just good, old-fashioned guns'n'knives. Though focusing on Wolverine, the X-Men aren't far behind as (spoiler) both Magneto and Professor X approach Logan at the end. Professor X alive? Him and Magneto working together? With plans building for two more X-Men movies, this collaboration may not leave the universe the same.
Favorite Thing About The Movie: Like IM3, The Wolverine does a really good job at tying into characters from the comics, like the Silver Samurai (even if it isn't the REAL Silver Samurai...). Seeing even obscure characters and refrences is cool for a geek like me. I guess it's one of those times where it's possible I know something other people don't, like "Oh, Bolivar Trask" and have everyone else go "Who?" Yeah, being a geek is fun, especially if everyone else isn't. Forget math and science. I look smart with superhero knowledge.
Superheroes will always be on the list, but novel-inspired movies are fun to see as well. This year has some pretty cool movies (even if it took some time for me to warm up to them...). All the movies here do a great job at setting up sequels, some of which I may discuss in my next blog.