This was a hard list to make because I feel a little guilty about having to include some of these films. If you read my reviews for a few of them, you’ll be a bit surprised to see them here. There have only been one or two truly fucking awful movies this year, that I’ve seen anyway, so most of this list is reserved for the ones that have those glimmers of specialness or great ideas or performances but still manage to shit all over themselves one way or another.

The only movie that isn’t on this list that maybe should have been is Elysium. To the extent that I usually reserve my “Worst” list not for objectively BAD movies but for true disappointments, Elysium fits the criteria better than most. That said, it is ousted (narrowly) by other films I simply have more ire about. Maybe it’s because Elysium being disappointing is just kinda sad and maybe just a bit natural. Neill Blomkamp is no Rian Johnson, so maybe it’s understandable to flop on the sophomore outing.

Anyways. This was another year more about underrated films and false controversies than it is about thirty superhero movies that are shitty because of compromises or too many people in the productions not giving a shit. In fact, most of the big movies this year were at least solid. A lot of lists include stuff like Star Trek: Into Darkness and probably 47 Ronin but neither of those hate their audiences or totally succumb to their unfortunate flirtations with stupidity.

If you like this Worst list, you can always read the ones from last year, 2011, and 2010. Just try to ignore all the broken image shit. Not sure what’s up with that.

10. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

hobbit-trailer-smaug-featuredMy review.

The problem with The Hobbit is that Peter Jackson thinks he’s Steven Spielberg but he’s really George Lucas. Taking everything tangible and special about The Lord of the Rings and recoating it with gaudiness, silliness, and tonally challenged narrative is not the best way to catch lightning in the bottle twice. It’s very, very weird to watch the history of the Star Wars prequels and all attendant problems (the differences are matters of degree, really) basically repeat itself with this generation’s most beloved big budget fantasy franchise. But it’s happening. I hate it, but it is. Still, putting The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on this list feels like beating your kids.

9. The Evil Dead

evil-dead-2013_13535703233My review.

The Evil Dead is a beautiful movie which satisfies on some visceral levels but completely fails the call to arms made by The Cabin in the Woods. Not only doomed to redundancy for being a remake that adds absolutely nothing, The Evil Dead also haplessly plays into every one of the horror stereotypes that the original film helped invent. It’s tired. It’s weak. And whatever it does try to twist around or change is stupidly shallow. Comparing this film to Star Trek: Into Darkness actually works nicely because most would say they are guilty of the same sins, but Star Trek actually is trying to do something with its commentary and retreading and therefore makes itself, if not necessary by any stretch, not redundant.

8. The Great Gatsby

the-great-gatsby-image09My review.

I’ll always have an affection for this pompous, ambitious mess. That said, it’s still a massively self-indulgent movie with deplorable social messaging and a sense of vacant irresponsibility that could be a commentary if not for all the glitz and glam with which it’s all executed. What really kills me about this movie, though, is that it doesn’t simply end when Gatsby dies, as it should, but keeps going on for 15 minutes of increasingly insulting stupidity. I was softer on it when I first saw it, but I’d still stand by it being an enjoyable mess of a movie. I still think it’s a fairy tale, but it’s the bad kind that even Disney tries not to make any more.

7. The Host review.

I really like Andrew Niccol’s sensibilities. I am always down to gush over Gattaca or defend even In Time‘s excesses. In some ways, The Host feels a natural extension of In Time‘s thin scifi parable about pretty people in trouble. Except every thing about the writing, characterization, and narrative traction of this film is dumb, dumb, dumb. I doubt even Niccol cared about whether or not the plot or backstory make any kind of sense. He probably just liked the idea of a race of parasitic organisms who conquer planets by being totally nice and making life better for everybody. I mean, I like that idea. Utopia as Dystopia and all. Too bad The Host does nothing interesting with, content instead for its bored leads to make goo goo eyes at each other in beautiful landscape shots.

6. The Way Way Back

original-_3_No review.

I watched this movie for two reasons: Sam Rockwell and Jim Rash. Unfortunately, Jim Rash and his cowriter/director Nat Faxon opted to basically make Little Mister Sunshine and the results are almost uniformly terrible. Rockwell is great, of course, bringing the movie’s only real dose of humanity to what is essentially a very cynically twee movie about forced emotional bullshit because some unlikable fourteen year old dude hates everything forever because his step dad is kind of a dick. It’s a very contrived movie, and poor Liam James is stuck with a character that is impossibly possessed of all the worst qualities infused in him by the unresolved issues of the writers. Much as I love Jim Rash in Community, I have to lose some respect over this crap. Of course, it’s the indie darling of 2013 with people touched by its honest look at the insecure idiocy of adults instead of their quirky, knowing kids. What the fuck ever. Steve Carrel and Rockwell are the bright spots that make this one sort of watchable, that keep it viable for my Worst list rather than making it truly dismissible.

5. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

tmi3No review.

City of Bones manages to distill every bad thing about self-indulgent, wish fulfillment fan fiction. The film has some love in it, with some decent action and horror elements, but it’s entirely too up its own ass to not be awful. It’s loopiness is really the most entertaining thing about it. Awkward incest subplots, irresponsible gender politics, and the kind of non-sequitur WTF dialogue where two characters will seem to be having entirely separate conversations. The fact that none of the badly written book’s bad writing got fixed for the script is actually surprising.

4. Jack the Giant Slayer

Jack-the-Giant-SlayerMy review.

This movie is why Bryan Singer returning to X-Men is not something I can really get excited about. For all the credit that guy gets, he’s made more shit than gold. Jack the Giant Slayer does no one in this movie any favors. The only actor who comes out of it completely untarnished is Stanley Tucci, whose teeth are basically the MVP of the entire fucking thing. Jack is probably the pinnacle of the soulless big-budget movies of 2013. Or it would be if The Lone Ranger didn’t exist.

3. The Lone Ranger


The Lone Ranger marks the first time I’ve included a movie I didn’t finish on one of my lists. I turned off The Lone Ranger out of exhaustion and disgust about 2 hours in. I’m really not sure if that should have disqualified this movie from my Worst list. It’s something to think about. It was more than enough time for The Lone Ranger to tell its silly, boring, and unnecessary story, though. But of course, the movie asks you for something like 2 and a half hours. One must draw the line somewhere. The fact that movie like this gets made with a $200mil+ budget (or whatever the hell amount) is a fascinating thing in and of itself. The only good thing about this movie is William Fichtner and the occasional “so bad/wat it’s entertaining” moments that come from a movie where it seems like everybody involved kinda knows they should be ashamed of it. I like Gore Verbinski and I like all these actors. I don’t mind Johnny Depp playing Tonto, but they didn’t have to rehash 100 years worth of bad stereotypes to do it.

2. Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz-the-great-and-powerfulMy review.

Oz the Great and Powerful is a beautiful movie with many interesting ideas which nonetheless begins to spin out of control in the third act. It never makes the Witches into real characters. It doubles down on the meaningless saccharine lessons, which are rendered so by being repetitive and poorly earned. It is a movie that gets worse the more you think about it. It’s a shallow, surface experience where the beautiful imagery and slapstick humor lull you into a pleasant mood while it systematically glosses or retrogrades its way through its characterizations and themes. Oz the Great and Powerful is a staggeringly bad film in this sense and one of the best examples of the disappointment which usually contributes to placing a film on this list.

1. Gangster Squad

Gangster-Squad1My review.

Gangster Squad remains the most hateable, disappointing, and embarrassing movie of 2013 by far. It’s funny because I saw this film almost a year ago, it was one of the first 2013 films I saw in theaters, and I knew then that it would be a strong contender for worst of the year. What makes it worse than Oz is that it is so pretentious it stings. The only embarrassing thing about Oz is its bad gender politics. That movie just wants to be rascally and charming and in spite of its odious flaws, it does accomplish that much. Gangster Squad thinks that it is a seminal crime epic, and it wants you to know that every five minutes. It wants you to be like “this is better than L.A. Confidential!” but anyone who thinks that is an asshole. This movie is that guy at the table who insists on trying to talk genre history with you but hasn’t watched a movie made before 1990. In life, there are few things worse than an ignoramus prancing around with the obnoxious certainty that they are just so fucking cool. That is what Gangster Squad is. If it was a person, I’d punch it in the face.

And so ends another year’s worth of disappointing, stupid movies. 2013 was a great year for films, though. Even my head-shaking, fist-raising vitriol for the ones on this list is somewhat mitigated by rowdy affection. I enjoyed aspects of every movie on this list. I am not a picky filmgoer. I can find something to like in anything. But, as always, I must make note of those films which just completely squander any good will they generate by being more or less good only to bare their ass.
Thanks for reading. I hope that this list entertained you even if you liked these movies more than I did.