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Before I begin doing my reviews for future 2013 films, here are some brief reviews for every film I’ve seen thus far in 2013. These are shortened reviews, but for future films I will write feature length ones.

Argo- Argo is compelling and engaging film that avoids cheap thrills in favor of natural tension. Ben Affleck directs this fantastic thriller with sharp dialogue and a good pacing. The acting is good all around, especially from Alan Arkin and John Goodman. Overall, it is a great film that is easily Affleck’s best directorial work. Grade: A

Jack the Giant Slayer- Bryan Singer seems to have lost the ingenuity that made The Usual Suspects and X-Men so great, because Jack is a soulless piece of poor filmmaking. Not even the mediocre special effects can save this troubled film that suffers from unmet expectations and the overall silliness of the plot. Grade: D

Oz the Great and Powerful- Oz is a beautiful film to look at, but sadly that is the only thing that saves Sam Raimi’s mediocre effort from being completely forgettable. James Franco adds little to the film, which although not bad, generally thinks it’s cleverer than it actually is. Grade: C

Olympus has Fallen- Is Olympus has Fallen original or particularly different? No. Is it fun? Definitely. Olympus is best summed up as “Die Hard in the White House”, but the clean direction by Antonio Fuqua brings more to the film then first expected. Olympus has Fallen is a Die Hard rip-off, but it’s the best Die Hard rip-off in years. Grade: B

Oblivion- Oblivion is a throwback to classic sci-fi, and while not always as much fun as you would expect from a Tom Cruise movie, it’s a good time for sci-fi fans and has enough mystery to keep the film running. While the pacing is all over the place, Oblivion is an enjoyable film with fantastic effects and decent writing and acting. Grade: B

The Croods- The Croods is one of the few DreamWorks films that comes even close to Pixar quality. It’s better than the over-dramatic How to Train Your Dragon, but not as good as the extremely creative Shrek. While it isn’t anything fantastic, it’s an enjoyable ride that suffers from the annoying issue of randomly switching its main character. Grade: -B

Iron Man 3- Tony Stark’s wit and charm is prevalent in the third installment of the Iron Man trilogy, which lacks the charm of the first two installments, but has the sense of fun from The Avengers. While this darker tale has several plot holes and inconsistencies, it is too much fun to not enjoy. Grade: +B

Star Trek Into Darkness- J.J. Abrams keeps his perfect record in quite possibly the best summer blockbuster since The Dark Knight. Into Darkness pays homage to classic films while still taking the franchise in a new direction. The writing is fantastic, as is the acting, especially from Benedict Cumberbatch. The film is more fun than any other 2013 film, but still keeps a satisfying emotional core. Grade: A

Now You See Me- Magicians are always cool, and while it’s hardly The Prestige, Now You See Me is a fun ride with enough twists and turns to maintain engagement. The acting, especially from Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Ruffalo, maintains the light tone, which helps ignore the fact that the film makes no sense. Grade: +C

Man of Steel- Zack Snyder’s dark new vision of Superman lacks humor or any sort of the joy found in The Avengers, instead providing a fantastic portrait of the world’s most iconic superhero in a dark, terrifying, and incredibly enjoyable Superman reboot. However, the film’s major flaw is the fact that Christopher Nolan did it better. Grade: +B    

World War Z- A reality based zombie movie is an interesting concept, which is sold further by star power of Brad Pitt. World War Z is a completely enjoyable ride with minor sociopolitical commentaries that unfortunately are too brief. However, the adventure is too much fun to ignore. Grade: +B

Despicable Me 2- A surprisingly hilarious film that will surely entertain children and their parents will enjoy, Despicable Me 2 avoids the emotion of the first film in favor of being a straight comedy. Of course, the plot and characters are completely stereotypical, but that’s the point. Grade: +B

The Lone Ranger- Pirates of the Caribbean is shamelessly remade in Gore Verbinski’s mediocre directorial effort that tries too hard to be too many things. Lacking any consistencies in tone or character, The Lone Ranger is surprisingly fun, though it would be indefinitely better if its 150 minute runtime was cut down by at least 45 minutes. Grade: +C

The Wolverine- Hugh Jackman leads this fantastic superhero tale in Wolverine’s darkest tale yet. Drawing inspiration from Clint Eastwood and Akira Kurosowa, The Wolverine is possibly 2013’s best superhero movie if you ignore the slightly overdone third act. Grade: +B

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters- While few adults will enjoy this film without having read the novel, fans of the novel will enjoy the second Percy Jackson film, as it is a vast improvement over the first film. Enjoy it for the action and cameo appearances alone. Grade: +C

Elysium- Another shockingly original sci-fi film from Neil Blomkamp, Elysium is led by an all star cast who inhabit the film’s rich environment. The best original sci-fi all year, Elysium is a thrill ride throughout. Grade: -A

The World’s End- Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost return in the year’s best comedy that   takes no breaks from its lighting fast pace. More original then anything in years, The World’s End has its own style that should provide more fun than anything else in 2013. Grade: +A

Gravity- Alfonso Cuaron delivers a mind bending look at space that’s simplicity is its greatest strength. With fantastic writing, directing, and acting, there is little to say about Gravity other than that it is an experience. Grade: A

Captain Phillips- Paul Greengrass’s incredibly paced thriller is more thrilling than any of the summer’s blockbusters and more emotional than expected. Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi deliver excellent performances in a film that feels more real than few films get. Captain Phillips is a must see that may not be for everyone, but its last 10 minutes are more riveting than anything else this year. Grade: +A

Ender’s Game- A typical sci-fi film that achieves elements of Orson Scott Card’s genius novel. The performances and writing are good enough to keep a smooth pace, and it wisely chooses to be a straight sci-fi film rather than a teen film. The visuals are outstanding, giving the film a sense of awe that gives the film several highlights. Grade: B

Thor: the Dark World- Thor: the Dark World is the definition of a popcorn film that thrills and engages its audience throughout. There are inconsistencies, but they never detract from the film’s sheer sense of fun that never relents. It’s a crowd pleaser, but it’s an incredibly fun one. Grade: +B

12 Years a Slave- Steve McQueen pulls no punches in this heart-wrenching and beautifully perfected film. Chiwetel Ejiofer’s performance is astonishingly good, but the pure evil performance by Michael Fassbender is easily the best performance of any sorts this year. The film is beautifully perfected and relatively flawless, except for the fact that you will never want to watch it. Grade: +A

Rush- Ron Howard delivers a fantastic adrenaline pumping thrill ride that brings the inconceivable world of Formula 1 racing down to Earth. The rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Nicki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) spans many years, and shows a contrast not only in racing styles, but in lifestyles. It’s a completely engaging film that takes no brakes from its pace, but still leaves room for a surprising amount of heart. Grade: -A

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug- The second Hobbit film is superior to the first in every way. While the first film suffered from a lack of substance, The Desolation of Smaug is a rollercoaster ride that has enough action, heart, and great characters to engage anyone. One of the year’s best action-adventure films of the year, The Desolation of Smaug is a fantastic film for the Middle Earth faithful and those entering J.R.R. Tolkien’s world for the first time. Grade: -A

Saving Mr. Banks- A fantastically acted and written film, Saving Mr. Banks brings enough joy that the word “delightful” is not inappropriate. While Emma Thompson’s excellent performance is clearly the highlight of the film, Collin Farrel and Tom Hanks give excellent performances that support the film. The film is also incredibly well written, which gives the film a great blend of comedy and drama that will leave audiences crying tears of joy and sadness. Grade: A

Anchorman: The Legend Continues- Anchorman 2 is everything it set out to be: a hilariously stupid film that is nothing but pure comedy gold. While it lacks the great script of The World’s End, it will deliver constant laughs that are sure to entertain. Grade: +B

These are my reviews for earlier films in 2013. I will write feature length reviews for the rest of 2013 and for all of 2014.

 

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