There are bad movies every year. Whether it comes from Roland Emmerich or (fill in the blank) Wayans brother a bad movie will be made and most likely become a hit at the box office. In the words of the great Tommy Wiseau, “That’s life.” But there is something worse out there. I’m talking about the movie that should be great. All the ingredients are there for the perfect movie and for whatever reason it just doesn’t work. Of course I am talking about the disappointing movies. Every year has them and 2013 was no different. And as I do every year I am going to go over the Top 3 Disappointing Movies of the year. Now I would like to say I didn’t necessarily hate these movies (well at least one of them). I just think that despite having all the chances in the world they still didn’t live up to their potential. And really that’s worse than any just plain awful movie.
Any plain awful movie not made by the Wayans anyway. They just ruin everything.
3- The Wolverine
I almost feel bad because I actually dug the movie quite a bit. This was a solid comic book movie that not only developed Logan as a character but also was a nice Epilogue to X-men: The Last Stand. It was definitely better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine (not a high bar admittedly). So why do I consider it a disappointment? That’s easy. The movie felt like one giant missed opportunity. Japan is a beautiful and unique backdrop for any movie. From big cities like Tokyo to the small rural villages that populate the country. It is a cool landscape that just isn’t used enough in American action movies. So to have it end up with fight scenes taking place at generic laboratories is a major disappointment. It’s a shame because this could have pushed the movie over the top for me. Over the top as in to a great movie not in terms of ridiculousness. The opening did that more than enough. That’s why despite my overall enjoyment of the movie I had to put it on the list.
2- World War Z
Before we get into this I should say that I had no expectations for the movie. Between the years in developmental hell and the ending being reshot I knew not to expect the book. Heck I knew not to look for a horror movie. All I was looking for was a decent action movie that happened to have zombies. So cautiously the tickets were bought and I took my seat. What I got was two hours of Brad Pitt making really, really, really stupid decisions. Zombies, family, a worldwide plague, blah blah blah. It is Brad Pitt being a moron and it somehow working out. This doesn’t just happen once either. Pretty much every decision Pitt makes is insanely stupid yet somehow works out. It’d be like if Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had Indiana Jones hiding in a refrigerator every scene and it worked. I know I shouldn’t expect a lot of logic in a zombie movie but it got ridiculous. Also I didn’t think the action was all that great.
While I think it captured the worldwide scale for some scenes the mix of predictability and safety for our protagonists really hurt the final product. This is a shame because like The Wolverine it does flirt with some cool ideas. About a quarter through the movie an ex-CIA Agent (played by David Morse) is held in captivity. He tells a story about how in North Korea how the government is now removing the populations’ teeth to prevent biting and the spread of the disease. Ummm why weren’t we shown this? This sounds awesome and would make for a good short in an anthology. An anthology that pretty much everyone said this movie should be. Instead we get Brad Pitt running in the dark to a plane. Yay? Moments like this make me feel like there is a decent movie in here. Scattered throughout were little nuggets of creativity that could have been mined to put out a good movie. Unfortunately whether it was studio meddling, the wrong writers or just a bad luck we get a product that is passable at best.
1- The Purge
Overall I’d say 2013 was a good year for horror. Whether we’re talking remakes (Evil Dead, Maniac) or independent productions (You’re Next) it felt like things were on point for the most part. Heck even Syfy stepped their game up with Sharknado and the criminally overlooked Ghost Shark. Then there was The Purge. To me this is a perfect example of a disappointing movie. On paper we have a horror movie with a unique premise and a decent cast. Unfortunately this isn’t what we got. What started as original quickly becomes a disappointing home invasion movie that will be outshined in a couple of months by You’re Next. From what I thought was a decent cast we get some terribly wooden performances from the stupidest movie family of the year. Stupid decisions in a horror movie? Fair enough. I can accept that. But picking the stupid choice for every decision is just mind numbing.
Worst of all is the awful end of the movie twist. Okay it’s not a total twist since it is foreshadowed but it happens so suddenly it might as well be. In home invasion movies there is a certain “And then they fight back” aspect that I love (The Aggression Scale comes to mind) that was completely destroyed. Hell the trope can be subverted quite well and be quite original (Funny Games). Instead this is completely taken out of the hands of our protagonists and ends on a massive anti-climax. Our heroes survive but without any of the satisfaction of them getting back at their oppressors. Instead it is taken care of a deus ex machina who turns out to be evil but the family is saved by another deus ex machina. What the hell? Is this family so stupid that they can’t even give us a decent ending? Screw that. If you want a cool home invasion style movie watch You’re Next because you won’t be getting it here.