MovieBuff’s Ten Worst Films of 2013

Posted: February 11, 2014 by moviebuff801 in Lists

By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos

Mark Wahlberg, Will Smith, Harrison Ford, Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock; what do all these big names have in common?  Well, they all happened to star in some of the worst movies I saw from 2013, and today, I’m reliving the nightmare and counting down the Ten Worst just for you guys.  The things I do for you people …

Let the therapy begin.

10. Olympus Has Fallen

2013 saw not one, but two action movies built around the idea of The White House under siege.  And I never thought I’d say this in the context of comparing two movies, but Roland Emmerich made the better film. The premise of hostile forces overtaking the White House so easily is a preposterous one, really, but at least White House Down knew to keep the tone fairly tongue-in-cheek, which made for a more worthwhile and enjoyable experience. Olympus Has Fallen, on the other hand, is a joyless, dumb and unimaginative action-thriller with second-rate performances and third-rate special effects. Seriously, those are horrendously bad. Olympus Has Fallen also follows the plot structure of the first Die Hard film so similarly, I have to wonder if the script was more of a copy-and-paste job. In terms of the acting, none of the players are memorable, even when Morgan Freeman plays one of the characters. And none of the characters stand out, either. They’re all written in such an overwrought, clichéd fashion. But getting back to the tone, Olympus Has Fallen takes itself WAY too seriously, so much so that when the film makes attempts at humor, they fall utterly flat because it doesn’t gel with the already-established tone and also because they’re incredibly half-hearted. In fact, this entire movie feels half-hearted, with seldom a scene or moment here that got a real reaction out of me. Not only is Olympus Has Fallen your typical soulless action fare, it’s also a very bad Die Hard rip-off; a lethal combination which results in a stinker like this.

9. Pain & Gain 

There comes a point about 2/3rds of the way through Pain & Gain where the events happening get so crazy and dark, that the movie literally has to freeze-frame for a second as on-screen words remind us, “This is still a true story.” The true story behind Pain & Gain is indeed very dark, twisted and insane — so much so that the fact that Michael Bay’s film tries to turn it into a black comedy makes it all the more uncomfortable, making for what has to be one of the most downright unpleasant films of 2013. First of all, this movie is only occasionally — and I stress the word OCCASIONALLY — funny. The rest of the time, it’s almost repellant. Again, Bay’s decision to try to find humor in these situations really concerns me. Yes, these guys weren’t the brightest bulbs in the bunch, but that doesn’t mean we should be laughing at their idiocy and ineffectiveness. It’s really more sad than it is funny. And even if Bay WASN’T going for laughs (which I highly doubt), the way this movie is acted, it can’t be taken seriously. To his credit, Michael Bay is trying here, and I did like a few of his “stylistic” touches, and the performances have their moments. But the overall tone just doesn’t work, and even if it did, the characters are unlikable, so there’s no reason to really get invested. I actually kind of wanted to like Pain & Gain, but the execution is WAY off the mark.

8. After Earth 

Many would have you believe that After Earth is one of the worst things ever put into existence, but I don’t know if I’d go that far. Oh, don’t get me wrong — it’s a bad movie for sure (this is my Worst of the Year list, after all). But rather than being the “I can’t believe this!” type of bad, it’s more the boring type of bad. And given the film’s premise, that’s very unfortunate. Then again, it WAS directed by the fallen-from-grace M. Night Shyamalan, so there’s also that. But that seems like a good place to begin. Shyamalan’s films always have this muted style, and while I think that worked in his earlier films, for a movie like this, it just takes any sense of passion out of the project. The monotonic tone in which Will Smith delivers almost every one of his lines is proof enough. That brand of acting style, coupled with the short 100-minute running time (which ends up feeling longer), in effect robs the film of any sense of tension, excitement or danger. You’d think there’d be plenty of those last three things given the story, but no, After Earth feels curiously and frustratingly detached from itself, as if it can’t be bothered to provide an experience worthwhile at least in SOME regard. Kitai’s run-ins with CGI creatures are never exciting, save for an aerial chase which is over far too quickly, because having a live person fight something that obviously isn’t there isn’t thrilling. At least, not in this film. And Jaden Smith…he is NOT good here. I haven’t seen The Karate Kid remake so I can’t speak for his acting abilities there, but in After Earth, I have to sort of resent Will Smith for trying to force his kid on us as “the next big star.”

However, I will say that the look of the film is quite impressive, sporting some nice visuals of the abandoned Earth. Also, the score by James Newton Howard is much too good to be wasted on a film like this. Other than that, After Earth is just another soulless big studio venture that really has no reason to exist.

7. Paranoia 

The reunion of Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford was simply too enticing to pass up, but not so enticing that I had to see it in its theatrical run, especially once the reviews came out. Having seen the film on DVD, I sure am glad I waited, even if I probably shouldn’t have bothered in the first place. The easiest way to describe Paranoia is a thriller without the thrills (it’s just a “ler”) — not to mention the title makes absolutely no sense, because never at any point do any of the characters exhibit any signs of such a feeling. The writers and director Robert Luketic seem surprisingly uninterested in building, creating or sustaining suspense. Instead, they indulge in an empty plot about technology and corporate espionage with more emphasis on glamour and a bland romance than actual corporate espionage. And by the time the movie scrambles to regain that focus in the second half, it’s too little too late. There are also no surprises in the story, as it’s incredibly easy to see all the various double-crosses coming. So easy, in fact, that the characters seem even stupider for acting shocked when they occur. Liam Hemsworth is such a bland lead that it’s no wonder why his brother has proven to be more successful. Amber Heard is so unmemorable that you forget she’s even in the movie during the scenes she’s not in. And as for Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford…they look like they just want to check the phones their characters always have to see if they’ve been offered any better movies. Paranoia could have at least been decent, but it never makes any effort. Instead, it just lazily clumps together bits and pieces from other movies and turns itself in much in the same way as the homework of the one kid in class who was too eager to play video games to do the assignment properly.

6. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters 

When he and Richard Roeper reviewed the 2004 film The Whole Ten Yards on their show At The Movies, the great Roger Ebert remarked something like, “I sat there, calmly, passively, waiting for something to happen…and then the movie was over.” That very phrase sums up my experience with Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters very nicely. This film never inspired any emotional response in me; it was just…there. At just 81 minutes or so, not counting the credits, the movie is certainly brisk, but that’s the problem. This film never lets you breathe; it’s just an endless assault of action sequences and gore effects, all with a palpable case of “So what?” syndrome. Not only that, but the tone is never defined and the characters thinly-written. Hansel & Gretel have no real arc in this story, and any side characters are either killed off or there just to fill space and time. This movie more or less plays out like a combination of the visual style of Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm and the mindless action-heavy nature of Stephen Sommers’ Van Helsing. And that is NOT a winning combination. But most of all, this film constantly tries to be tongue-in-cheek, but it’s not very funny or clever to begin with. It earns some points for putting Gemma Arterton into some nice tight outfits, but overall, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is just very, very bad.

5. R.I.P.D. 

If you had told me last July that R.I.P.D. would wind up being only the fifth-worst movie of the year for me, I don’t know if I would’ve laughed you off or been scared; looking at the remaining four movies on the list, though, the latter might’ve been more appropriate.  God help me.  Not only is R.I.P.D. one of the worst movies of 2013, it’s also one of the worst comic book films I’ve ever seen, period.  From minute one of this movie, I knew I was in trouble and instantly regretted giving this movie a chance.  I saw this in 3-D at the theaters, and I took so much pity on this pathetic excuse for a film, that I upgraded my initial rating of half a star to one star mainly because the 3-D was admittedly impressive and well-implemented.  Everything else, though, was a dead zone, no pun intended.  Or maybe it is; it’d certainly be more entertaining than anything that happened in this movie.  Ryan Reynolds of course does nothing to save this enterprise, but not even seasoned actors like Jeff Bridges and Kevin Bacon can rise above the fog of failure hanging over this film.  Bridges is so bad here, that it actually made me kind of sad to think that “Oscar Winner” now precedes his name in trailers.  You know, just hours before I saw R.I.P.D., I also saw Nicholas Winding Refn’s new movie, Only God Forgives, which can most aptly be described as a nightmare caught on film. The same can be said for R.I.P.D., but the difference here is that such a feeling was intentional in the case of Only God Forgives. Building off of that, I have to say that R.I.P.D. is something of a landmark movie for me. This is the first movie I’ve ever seen where I was hoping against hope that what I was seeing would turn out to be just a bad dream. Alas, it was unfortunately quite real. Actually, there’s a scene in here about halfway through where the characters are discussing this film’s MacGuffin, and Jeff Bridges remarks something like, “That’s terrible! Who would MAKE something like that?!” It was at that point where I felt like standing up and shouting, “YOU JUST DESCRIBED THIS MOVIE! BRAVO!”

4. The Heat 

Director Paul Feig’s The Heat, his follow-up to 2011’s surprise comedy smash Bridesmaids, recycles two genres, one already tired out and the other (hopefully) on its way out soon: the buddy cop movie and the R-rated raunch comedy. It’s not just that this film recycles those genres, it’s that it recycles them with no real skill and with a depressing shortage of laughs, making the end product a laborious exercise in the various ways writers and directors can suck any potential comedy out of a scene until there’s nothing left but painfulness in the form of dialogue and character interaction. And boy, are those scenes painful. Not as painful as, say, a man getting shot in the testicles (which is an actual scene in the movie), but sometimes, it feels like it’s not too far off. Needles to say, if I had experienced any more of The Heat than I had to, then I would’ve started feeling just a bit jealous of all the nameless thugs who get shot throughout the course of this film, and thus got to exit this movie before me.  Melissa McCarthy continues to trick people into thinking her in-your-face, down-your-throat style of acting is funny, and Sandra Bullock looks like she mentally checked out on the first day of filming while she keeps thinking to herself, “I can’t wait to get back to shooting Gravity.”  Now, I admit there were moments where a one-liner here and there would catch me off-guard and provide a decent laugh, but most of the time, there are large stretches in The Heat that are either too lazy or trying too hard to make you laugh. I had a similar experience earlier in the year with The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, in which the humor involved animal cruelty, drugging audience members and inflicting self-pain to get applause. And, it was about halfway through The Heat when I thought to myself, “Man, Burt Wonderstone is looking funnier by the minute.”

3. Parker 

A better title for this movie would have been Who Gives A Shit? Parker is just the latest in the long assembly line of awful tough-guy-takes-all action films where words like story, characters and effort are treated like terms from a foreign language. Or, maybe it’s like the 100th remake of whatever movie Jason Statham first starred in — with the exception of The Bank Job (which I liked), there’s hardly any differences between any of them. From a few of the trailers, I was holding out just a little bit of hope that Parker would be an entertaining caper, but silly me, what was I thinking? Also, this movie seems dumber than your average Jason Statham film for some reason. Maybe it was the way most of the actors overacted quite horrendously by shouting most of their lines at the top of their lungs far too often.  I can’t fault a gratuitous Jennifer Lopez-in-her-underwear-scene, but overall, Parker is most likely the worst Jason Statham action movie I’ve seen yet.

2. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa 

Okay, so this is supposed to be funny?  Ha, that’s funnier than anything I saw happen in this … thing.  This was my first — and God willing, last — exposure to the Jackass brand name.  But in all seriousness, I realize comedy works differently for other people, and the nearly-packed crowd I saw this movie with sure thought it was a blast, so that proves my point.  Bad Grandpa is the type of movie that’s so easy to lay into if you hate it, so I’ll keep this short and simple.  This sort of hidden camera, shock value humor just isn’t for me and with each new “prank” a heavily made-up Johnny Knoxville pulled on unsuspecting people, I became more and more saddened at the current state of mainstream comedy.  But as awful a comedy as Bad Grandpa is, it’s still nowhere near as depressing, bile-inducing and maddeningly-unfunny as the #1 Worst Movie of 2013 for me …

1. Identity Thief

Okay, just like Adam Sandler, I’m now convinced that Melissa McCarthy is torturing us with her abhorrent on-screen personality and God-awful comedies on purpose.  And just like Adam Sandler, I think it’s come to the point already where I should swear off any comedy featuring her in a leading role.  Look, I’m sure she’s a nice person in real life, but her film characters are so ingratiating, I literally want to jump in the screen and cause them physical harm.  When a movie can inspire such feelings of hostility in you, it’s a sure sign of a terrible film.  You know how there are Seven Circles of Hell?  Well, my friends, I think we just discovered the Eighth.  Identity Thief is so bad, I’d rather see Johnny Knoxville get a fake penis stuck in a soda machine a second time than have to sit through any five seconds of it again.  This movie almost seems destined to become a method of torture used on prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay.  When people ask me why I’ve gotten so fed up with these R-rated comedies on average these days, I point them to movies like Identity Thief, ones which go for the lowest common denominator with no attempts at effort at all in the process.  Movies like This Is The End prove there’s still life left in the raunch genre, but movies like Identity Thief are a painful reminder of just how wrong they can go.  The horror … the horror.

Now that those are out of the way, I’ll next be counting down my picks for The Best Movies of 2013.  So, stay tuned.

  1. PG Cooper says:

    Good stuff, but Olympus Has Fallen? That movie doesn’t deserve to be here.

  2. moviebuff801 says:

    Oh-ho-ho yes it does. I hated that damn movie. Although, numbers 7 and up I hate with more of a passion than 10-8, if that makes any difference.

  3. brikhaus says:

    Shit, yeah, Identity Thief was really, really bad. Funny list.

  4. Nice list. I haven’t actually seen any of these, which is probably fortunate ;)

  5. Another good list! Although I don’t really agree with Bad Grandpa – I found it to be surprisingly good.


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