The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Rating the Top 10 Must See Movies of 2013

Now that 2013 is dwindling away in the rearview mirror, let’s look back at my list of Top 10 Must See Movies of 2013 and summarize.

In general I was pleased with my picks, but there were a couple surprises and one huge disappointment on the list.  One movie that didn’t make my original list was Gravity.  Great movie, A- grade, and clearly one I should have included.

Let’s get started.


Oblivion: B

The Top 10 Must See Movies of 2013 - Oblivion

How it fared:  While not a runaway smash like the studio was hoping, Oblivion still a decent money maker for the studio.  And refreshingly it looks like this is a one and done movie with no real thread for a sequel.  But never discount Hollywood, we may very well see an Oblivion 2 in the future.  Oblivion was a gorgeous movie to watch, with plenty of action and twists to keep the audience guessing.  The final reveal was not particularly surprising, but I was still entertained by new science fiction on the screen, as opposed to rehashed and rebooted franchises.

Full review

53% rotten on
$286 million box office, $120 million production budget


Star Trek Into Darkness:  B-

The Top 10 Must See Movies of 2013 - Star Trek Into Darkness

How it fared:  STID is an odd one.  It was utterly lambasted by Star Trek “fans,” at one point being voted worst film in the franchise by the attendees of a Star Trek Creation Con in Las Vegas . . . which is utterly ridiculous.  That award goes to Star Trek Insurrection which is a glorified television episode.  It just goes to show you how hateful and full of vitriol some “fans” are if they don’t get exactly what they are expecting or want.  That aside, STID does have some problems (see my review link below), mainly dealing with lore, continuity, and the fact that the studio went with a proven formula (Khan) instead of taking some risks.  It was still a lot of fun to watch, despite the problems it has.

Full review

87% fresh on
$467 million box office, $190 million production budget


After Earth:  C-

The Top 10 Must See Movies of 2013 - After Earth

How it fared:  After Earth was utterly destroyed by the critics who can’t see past M. Night Shayamalan’s involvement.  Critics rank this movie in the same league as 2013’s The Host (9% RT rating).  Let me tell you, this is not The Host.  After Earth isn’t a particularly good movie, yet it’s also not the worst movie ever made as some critics would have you believe.  It’s a pretty run of the mill science fiction/adventure flick with some wooden acting and passable effects.  It had mild success at the box office, and surely will never see a sequel.

Full review

11% rotten on (wow)
$244 million box office, $130 million production budget



Man of Steel:  A

The Top 10 Must See Movies of 2013 - Man of Steel

How it fared:  The biggest surprise in 2013 (for me) was Man of Steel.  I admit to not following the comic/superhero genre very closely, because I think it’s being done into the ground as of late.  But Man of Steel was a movie that snuck up and surprised me.  I liked Zack Snyder’s take on the origins of Kal-El, specifically focusing on the fact that he’s the last of his kind, and alien on Earth . . . until General Zod shows up.  Despite less than lukewarm reception from the critics, Man of Steel was a significant hit and a sequel (Batman vs. Superman) is already in the works.  So stay tuned.

55% rotten on
$663 million box office, $225 million production budget


Monsters University:  A

The Top 10 Must See Movies of 2013 - Monsters University

How it fared:  Pixar meets Revenge of the Nerds!  Monsters University was an entertaining and fun prequel to the smash hit Monsters Inc.  Mike and Sullivan are back and compete to see who’s the big man on campus while forming a friendship.  But the character Art stole the show for me, and we were cracking up at monster mom listening to death metal.  Monsters University was a . . . ahem . . . monster hit, so expect a third installment in the future.

78% fresh on
$744 million box office, unknown production budget


Pacific Rim:  B-

The Top 10 Must See Movies of 2013 - Pacific Rim

How it fared:  When Guillermo del Toro bowed out of The Hobbit movies, he decide to take his angst out by making giant robots and kaiju destroy cities and each other.  This was del Toro’s homage to the monster movies of old (Godzilla, et al.).  The film has its issues, but at least it makes an attempt at character development unlike the insipid Transformer movies.  And after all, this is just Transformers with big monsters.  I think the studio had higher hopes for Pacific Rim, but it still fared quite well at the box office.

71% fresh on
$408 million box office, $190 million production budget


Elysium:  B+

The Top 10 Must See Movies of 2013 - Elysium

How it fared:  Ahhh, one of the most politicized movies of the year (at least on the internet).  Elysium suffered much derision from political pundits and internet trolls, regardless of their leanings.  One side claims it portrays a 1% taking advantage of the 99%.  The other side claims it portrays a 99% who want to take from the 1%.  It’s a tired debate that sucks the enjoyment out of life.  Myself?  I set aside the political undertones (overtones?) and just tried to enjoy it . . . and I did.  All speculative fiction is steeped in social commentary.  Elysium is no different.  Get over it and just try to enjoy a story for once.  Yeesh.

69% fresh on
$286 million box office, $115 million production budget


Riddick:  TBD

The Top 10 Must See Movies of 2013 - Riddick

How it fared:  The one movie on my list that I didn’t manage to see, unfortunately.  The box office take was weak, but relative to its budget it was a monster hit nearly tripling it’s production budget.  I’m a fan of the first two Richard B. Riddick movies, so I expect I will like this one when I manage to catch it on Bluray.

59% rotten on
$98 million box office, $38 million production budget


Ender’s Game:  B-

The Top 10 Must See Movies of 2013 - Ender's Game

How it fared:  Orson Scott Card flew under the radar for years, until this movie went into production.  Then the general populace began to learn about his beliefs concerning homosexuality and same sex marriage.  Did it affect the box office?  Maybe, as the movie did not recover its production budget at the box office (not including advertising budget), and that’s usually a bad sign.  But to be honest, OSC has a right to believe what he wants, and people have the right to disagree with him (I do).  But I enjoyed Ender’s Game much more than I thought I would .  I read the book 20 years ago, so the finer details of the plot were foggy to me.  Also, while I enjoyed the book I never considered it one of the best science fiction books ever written (as many people do).  Those two things most likely enhanced my viewing pleasure.

61% fresh on
$88 million box office, $110 million production budget


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:  D

The Top 10 Must See Movies of 2013 - The Desolation of Smaug

How it fared:  And here it is . . . my biggest disappointment of the year.  I won’t go into details as you can read my full review at the link below, but suffice to say that Peter Jackson has managed to suck the magical life out of a beloved fantasy novel, and cover it in a veneer of over the top CGI nonsense and made up Middle Earth lore.  Such a shame.

Full review

74% fresh on
$633 million box office (and counting), unkown production budget


© 2014-2020, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
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