In amongst the good and the bad of 2013, there have been some that promised much, but then delivered very little. Whilst 2013 perhaps didn’t boast huge franchise culminations like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises last year, it was still a year where a lot of films had a lot to match up to.
Last year, Prometheus – despite being a solid sci-fi epic – received an absolute kicking for not being the Alien reboot so many wanted it to be. This year also had its fair share of enormous disappointments, so here are some of the biggest.
10. The Bling Ring
When trailers began to appear for Emma Watson’s first big post-Potter release, anticipation hit fever pitch.
It looked like Sofia Coppola had constructed a stylish crime drama around a gang of youths who burgled celebrities in the Hollywood Hills that actually had something to say about the excesses of celebrity culture and the dangers of obsession.
Ultimately, it didn’t, and the film was every bit as vapid and dull as its range of empty character shells.
Full of lengthy sequences of near nothingness, The Bling Ring never really does anything with its interesting setup.
9. Pain & Gain
Unfortunately, the eventual film was a contemptuous piece of work that hated every single human being on the planet, and went to great lengths to make that misanthropy abundantly clear.
The humour that seemed so promising in the trailer was wrapped in a downright nasty plotline and lazy hatred for anyone different to the bodybuilder ideal of the central trio.
Eventually, despite the lower budget and the arthouse pretensions, this simply became just another slice of hateful Bayhem.
It turns out that the way to make Filth a bad film was to produce a half-baked script that isn’t interesting or funny enough to justify its black heart and regularly offensive sense of humour.
James McAvoy puts in a committed, hell-raising performance, but the film still struggles to work as a piece of narrative cinema. In places, it feels more like a depraved late night sketch show.
With Welsh material on the table and a hugely talented British cast, Filth has to go down as an enormous missed opportunity.
7. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Of course, Jackson never learns from his self-indulgence and so The Desolation of Smaug is another bloated three hour fantasy epic with little to justify its colossal size.
Martin Freeman is still great in the title role, but lame sub-plots, including an invented love triangle, plague the narrative and hyper-extend the slimline source material.
Thank god there’s only one more of them to go.
6. Zero Dark Thirty
Riding Oscar buzz into UK cinemas, Zero Dark Thirty promised to be a taut thriller about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Aside from a strong performance by Jessica Chastain, it failed almost completely.
The final raid on Bin Laden’s hiding place plays out with the same tedium as spectating when someone else plays one of the never-ending Call of Duty video games. It’s not interesting in any way.
Speculation as to whether the film condoned torture techniques dominated its pre-release publicity and pretty much scuppered its Oscar chances, but it should really have been sunk by the fact that it, quite simply, was not a good film.
Danny Boyle was a national treasure after the triumph of the Olympics Opening Ceremony in 2012. This may have helped Trance to a solid critical reaction, despite the fact that it’s a complete mess of a film.
James McAvoy – on this list for the second time – struggles to shine as an amnesiac inside man on an art heist, with Rosario Dawson shouldering many of the labyrinthine narrative’s ridiculous twists.
It doesn’t even manage to work on the level of B-movie giggles because the plot is far too complex for the brain to ever switch off and even the most engaged viewer will struggle to keep up by the end.
From the man who made Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, this is simply far from good enough.
4. Iron Man 3
This is a controversial choice as Iron Man 3 has appeared on many Best of 2013 lists and is the biggest box office success of the year by a considerable distance.
The Marvel sequel is far from being a bad film, but certainly didn’t match up to the implausibly high standard set by The Avengers.
There’s also an unspeakably annoying child sidekick and the brutal disfigurement of an iconic villain.
With great power comes great responsibility, and Shane Black certainly failed to live up to that.
3. The Purge
Unfortunately, this film is a lot less than the sum of its parts.
The idea of a society where all crime is legal for one day a year poses a number of interesting questions, but none of them are explored in the eventual film. Instead, there’s a lot of running, shooting and bumping into things in the dark.
It falls into the typical Hollywood trap of going for the glamour rather than the intellect and turns an innovative concept into the worst kind of bland, derivative horror movie. Even Ethan Hawke can’t save it.
2. The Counsellor
Unfortunately, legendary novellist Cormac McCarthy’s skills do not extend to scriptwriting and the film is severely lacking on that front.
The dialogue is pretentious, overly wordy and utterly impenetrable, rendering the film a mess of speechifying criminals and complex, clumsy symbolism.
And Cameron Diaz fucks a car. Why the hell not?
1. Man of Steel
DC had to do something to catch up with Marvel. The obvious thing to do was to unleash the Justice League – its equivalent of The Avengers. To do that, they had to set some ground work, and with Batman dormant for a while, it made sense to start with their other big name: Superman.
Despite this, under the unsubtle eye of Zack Snyder, the film is boring beyond belief for half of its runtime and then unbearably loud for the other half.
Either the characters are gabbling on about their past in boring platitudes or they’re throwing each other into buildings at unbelievable speeds whilst CGI explosions go off around them.
With Ben Affleck cast as Batman for the 2015 sequel, it seems like the wheels of the Justice League are in motion. Unfortunately, on the strength of Man of Steel, the tyres are flat.
Do you disagree with my selections? Comment below with your most disappointing films of 2013 and check back in the coming week for more of my Review of 2013.