I recently published my list of The Top 10 Must See Movies of 2013, so I thought it was time to follow up with The Top 10 Must Avoid Movies of 2013.
As with every year Hollywood offers up some very compelling works based on speculative fiction. Some of them are ground breaking, some are entertaining, very few are both. I believe that none of the movies below merit any of these labels and should be avoided in the theater at all cost. Some of these may be worth a rental…maybe. After all, movies aren’t getting any cheaper. Tossing money to the studios for movies like this is like tossing chum to sharks.
Now it should go without saying that you should avoid the obviously bad movie franchises like Paranormal Activity, Scary Movie, Resident Evil, Final Destination, Underworld, Saw, etc…right? So I won’t be covering the obvious here. But I’ll say it anyway: DON’T DO IT! You might as well put your money in a little pile and set it on fire. At least you get something from it that way. A little warmth.
Let’s get started!
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
January 25, 2013 (US)
What its about: What happened to Hansel and Gretel fifteen years after the creepy events of the childhood fairy tale? Does anyone care? Hollywood thinks you care, so obviously they grew up to become world spanning witch hunters. Jeremy Renner…what have you done?!
Why you should avoid it: Really? No one else is tired of hastily pumped out mashups of fairy tales/historical figures/the supernatural? Lump this one right in there with The Brothers Grimm and Van Helsing as monumentally bad film ideas. FYI, the movie was produced by Will Ferrell.
When you should avoid the theater: January 25, 2013 (US)
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Rating: 14% – Nailed it!
February 21, 2013 (US)
What its about: After yet another zombie apocalypse, teenage zombie R wanders around as zombies are wont to do, craving brains and bumping in to things. One day he runs in to non-zombie girl Julie and rescues her from his zombie brethren. Why? Because he, you know, digs her in a non-zombie, non-platonic kinda way. He’s showing signs of life, and hilarity (supposedly) ensues.
Why you should avoid it: Another hastily thrown together film based on a pseudo-popular young adult book. I’m not saying this movie is going to be bad, it might be mildly entertaining on a cold winter night after you’ve exhausted your episodes of The Real Housewives of _______. But aren’t there better movies to drop your $10 on than movies of this ilk? Go buy the book and read it. There, I saved you $2…and putting books on your shelf is a right proper geeky thing to do.
When you should avoid the theater: February 21, 2013 (US)
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Rating: 80% – Missed it!
Jack the Giant Slayer
March 1, 2013 (US)
What its about: Everyone knows the fairy tale, but I’ll lay it out for you. Poor boy obtains magic beans. Plants said magic beans. Stalk grows in to the clouds where giants live. Giants descend and kidnap princess. Quest ensues.
Why you should avoid it: First Hansel and Gretel, and then Jack. Hollywood sucks at retelling fairy tales: fact. They’re too obsessed with pulling the veil of CGI and 3D over our eyes to actually spend some time trying to turn a simple story in to a meaningful movie. Jack will suffer the same fate. This looks to be a happy/comical telling, while I would have much preferred a more dark version. And the CGI effects on the giants looks very poor.
When you should avoid the theater: March 1, 2013 (US)
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Rating: 52% – Nailed it!
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
March 29, 2013 (US)
What its about: The G.I. Joe operatives are framed as traitors to the United States and must fight through a slew of paper thin villains to save the country and restore their standing in the…blah, blah, blah…why am I even typing these words?
Why you should avoid it: I’m just going to come out and say it…G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Definitely the worst movie I saw in 2009 when it was released. Why should I hold out hope that Retaliation will be any different? Because Bruce Willis and The Rock are in it? Absolutely not. I won’t even be renting this one because Cobra scarred me for life.
When you should avoid the theater: March 29, 2013 (US)
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Rating: 28% – Nailed it!
March 29, 2013 (US)
What its about: Aliens invade Earth and invade people’s minds, using them as “hosts.” Melanie is carrying around the “soul” of an alien named Wanderer. Melanie’s consciousness is suppressed but Wanderer can see all of Melanie’s memories, including those that show where free humans may be living…and Melanie’s boyfriend.
Why you should avoid it: Two words: Stephenie Meyer. You’re really expecting anything different than Twilight? I did try to read the book at the behest of my wife…I gave it the old college try. But I tossed it in the corner after 100 pages. It’s utter dreck. And pulling off movies based on material that is heavily laden with inner thought and dialogue to tell the story never works. By all appearances March 29th is the day to avoid the cineplex. It will be full of shambling zombies looking to consume mass quantities of brains…because there will be a serious lack of brains in the seats that day. The Host and G.I. Joe opening in tandem? Yeesh!
When you should avoid the theater: March 29, 2013 (US)
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Rating: 9% – Nailed it, grand slam, out of the park!
World War Z
June 21, 2013 (US)
What its about: A zombie pandemic sweeps across the world and United Nations employee Gerry Lane races across the globe to preserve humanity, governments, and his love interest.
Why you should avoid it: World War Z has been a production nightmare since it was announced. Reshoots. Multiple script re-writes. Release date pushes. Lukewarm response to a CGI heavy trailer riddled with fake looking and swarming zombies. Heavy deviation from the popular book. Brad Pitt playing a character that really wasn’t the center of the plot/action in the book. The film was greenlit based on a script treatment that was later thrown in the recycling bin. The list is nigh endless. But it’s a zombie cash in on the popular book. What could go wrong?
When you should avoid the theater: June 21, 2013 (US)
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Rating: 70% (But how will rabid fans of the book react?)
July 19, 2013 (US)
What its about: The Rest in Peace Department (yes, you read that right) is on the trail of a killer. The twist? A recently slain cop teams up with undead officers to track down the killer.
Why you should avoid it: Ryan Reynolds is one good reason. Jeff Bridges stomping around looking like a young Colonel Sanders is another. In all seriousness, I like both of these actors in the right roles (especially Bridges) but Reynolds is a pox on most movies he’s in. This is an action/comedy so there’s a chance it might work. But the whole comic book driven premise of undead cops patrolling the streets is almost too much for this viewer.
When you should avoid the theater: July 19, 2013 (US)
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Rating: 11% rotten. BOOM!
300: Rise of an Empire
August 2, 2013 (US)
What its about: As a prequel to the hit 300 this version tells the tale of the godlike Xerxes marching south towards the major Greek city-states. Admiral Themistocles is forced in to an unwilling alliance with Athens. But Xerxes still reigns supreme in numbers over sea and land.
Why you should avoid it: Okay, 300 was cool…but it’s old hat now. The animated, slow motion combat. The CGI flying in all directions. It’s everywhere now, and that’s the style is what made 300 a success, not the content. And let me get this straight. Rise of an Empire is a prequel but it doesn’t include the star of the original (Gerard Butler), nor does it include the director of the original (Zack Snyder)? Who that that was a good idea as a basis for a follow on movie?
When you should avoid the theater: August 2, 2013 (US)
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Rating: 42%, moved to 2014 release, still rotten.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
August 16, 2013 (US)
What its about: Percy and his entourage continue their adventures by searching for the golden fleece that will help protect their Camp Half-Blood from scary sea monsters. How thrilling!
Why you should avoid it: I remember watching Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief. Yes, I remember the actual act of watching it, but I remember absolutely nothing about it except…lightning, and I think water. Lightning Thief was dialed in after hitting the snooze alarm using cookie cutter actors, script writers, and production. Movies that forgettable don’t deserve sequels. Yes, I understand there’s a young adult market for movies like this, but as with many movies on this page there are more compelling speculative fiction offerings you could watch.
When you should avoid the theater: August 16, 2013 (US)
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Rating: 38% rotten, yep.
October 18, 2013 (US)
What its about: An outcast teenager is bullied at school and she uses her supernatural powers to wreak revenge on her classmates. I doubt that was a spoiler. Surely everyone has seen at least one version of this film by now.
Why you should avoid it: How many times does this movie need to be (re)made before it sinks in that Carrie is not Stephen King’s best work. Not by a long shot. Chloe Moretz isn’t going to save this film. The remakes don’t even present anything new, they’re just updated copies with different faces. Footloose recently did this, and it was terrible. Just go rent the original Carrie with Sissy Spacek and call it good.
When you should avoid the theater: August 18, 2013 (US)
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Rating: 49%, rotten!
February 15, 2013 (US)
What its about: Lonely boy to new town has a dream about a girl. He later meets a girl and realizes it’s the girl form his dreams…and she’s a “caster.” Yeah, okay, she’s a witch. Romance ensues, and is tested when she is chosen as Light or Dark on her upcoming sixteenth birthday. Yeah, okay, good or bad witch like in Oz. Ugh.
Why you should avoid it: It’s an urban fantasy, tween romance, Twilight cash-in. Period.
When you should avoid the theater: February 15, 2013 (US)
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Rating: 45% – Nailed it!