The Most Surprising and Disappointing Films of 2013

All this week I’ll be winners the winners in my personal award season. We kick off today with the surprises and disappointments.

Biggest Disappointment

Don't be too upset, Clarke!  I actually quite liked  your film

Don’t be too upset, Clarke!
I actually quite liked your film

I haven’t actually seen any bad films this year. If a film is awful then reviews and word of mouth will generally give me a heads up to avoid it. This protective system occasionally lets me down – hence going to see the Descendants and the Amazing Spider Man – but I’ve been lucky this year. So rather than picking my worst film, I thought I’d choose my biggest disappointment.

The weakest film I watched all year was Pacific Rim. At the time I rated it as a 4/10. It was poorly scripted, poorly acted and overwhelmed by CGI. However, I wouldn’t call it bad. It had Idris Elba, some nice moments and a certain B-movie charm. Plus, it wasn’t that much of a let-down that a film about giant robots and giant robots punching each other was not exactly Vertigo.

I didn’t find the Alan Partridge film as funny as the friends and critics who recommended it me. For me at least the humour didn’t scale up to the big screen. However, it worked well as a parody of digital radio. And given the chequered history of this kind of small to big screen adaptation this being anything other than a disaster was an achievement.

Surprisingly my biggest disappointment of the year was a film I liked and have defended. Man of Steel was never forgiven by a lot of people for not being the Christopher Reeve films. That was a shame because it did something interesting – taking a superhero narrative and retelling it as a more conventional sci-fi story. It had a good cast (and Russell Crowe). And it dealt with a lot of the dumber elements of previous adaptations – Louis Lane is no longer fooled by Superman’s ingenious disguise of a pair of glasses. In short, I liked it.

But I imagined that it was going to be a lot better than it actually was. The Dark Knight trilogy are some of my favourite films and given the involvement of their director Christopher Nolan I’d had very high hopes of Man of Steel. And it is disappointing when a film you expect to be amazing it is just good.

Biggest Surprise

Ben Kingsley's Mandarin was one of the better parts of the much improved Iron Man

Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin was one of the better parts of the much improved Iron Man

To balance out discussing disappointments, I should say that I’ve also had some pleasant surprises.

Rush and All is Lost took activities I have zero interest in and made them into films that I found utterly compelling. But while these films came out of nowhere for me, the winner in this category was a film I expected would be crap.

I was not a fan of the Iron Man films. I found the first one was flat and unremarkable. Its sequel was dire. I’d therefore planned to give Iron Man 3 a miss. However, I heard good things about it and so despite my doubts I went and watched it. I’m glad I did because it was actually really good. It was more restrained and subtle than you’d expect from a Marvel film, and did a lot to confound my expectations of where the story was going. The overall effect was a blockbuster that wound up being of all things quirky and was insightful about its characters.

So in an unintended piece of symmetry, my biggest surprise and disappointment are both superhero films.

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One thought on “The Most Surprising and Disappointing Films of 2013

  1. Pingback: Is Joss Whedon trapped in his own mould? | Matter Of Facts

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