Earlier this year I released a delayed top 10 list for last year’s movies. From this year I’ve seen enough movies I’ve enjoyed to put together a top 10 list while it’s still 2013. Like before I’m going by the first release date meaning that movies from last year that were delayed to this year in the UK won’t count. With that out of the way lets move on to number 10.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
One of the last films I saw this year it’s now a tradition to see these movies with two of my friends. One has read the books (I introduced her to them) and the other hasn’t. When you’ve read them it’s hard to avoid bringing up the books when talking about these movies, I’d say this was a much better book than the first one but the third is where things really get interesting. So rather than compare this movie to the book how does it compare to the previous movie? I’d say it’s a lot better, one thing that I’m glad they stop using the TV hosts filling in for Katniss’ inner monologue as the movie isn’t really about the games themselves but the characters in them. The new characters are portrayed well and having forgotten who lives and who dies it had more concern about who will die rather than when they’ll die (well for the most part anyway). I do worry my book bias might be effecting my judgement a bit, I know where this is going but I can see newcomers feeling like this is just a remake of the first film. I look forward to seeing Mocking Jay when it comes out.
I saw both Kick-Ass films for the first time this year. Out of the two the first was better but that doesn’t take away from this film. It does a great job picking things up where the first film left off and the new characters bring a lot to the series. There has been a bit of controversy about this film, it’s not as violent as the first film but it’s a lot darker and people have had issues with certain scenes, though from what I’m aware these scenes in comic are much darker, and Jim Carrey decided he didn’t want to promote the film after the Sandy Hook shooting. A lot of fans of the film were pretty harsh on Jim Carrey but I don’t fault him for his choice. Speaking of Jim Carrey he was fantastic, it’s been too long since I’ve seen a really good performance from him but he did an amazing job here. There are two main stories in this, one focused on Kick-Ass and the other about Hit-Girl. I think I liked Hit-Girl’s the most, it’s a neat take on the retiring hero story while also showing just how horrible high school can be. This movie isn’t for everyone, some won’t like the violence and dark themes, others won’t find it as good as the first film but personally I thought it was great and deserves its spot here on my list.
My Little Pony Equestria Girls
Even other Bronies are going to be confused by this being here. But yes I liked Equestria Girls and thought it was good enough to be in my top 10 list. Yes this only exists so Hasbro can sell more toys and yes I would have liked a movie that was set in Equestria more than humanized ponies BUT what they did with this concept was good. I like that it actually starts the Twilight Sparkle from the show and she has trouble understanding the human world and that the worlds are so different. And even the human world mane six are fun, Pinkie Pie was hilarious. I’ve heard some complaints about Twilight getting a love interest but it isn’t focused on too much and his pony counterpart isn’t appearing in season 4 anyway but if we do see him again I wouldn’t complain. If you like the show I’d say this is worth watching, if you don’t care for the show you’ve probably skipped ahead to number 7.
This’ll probably be higher up on most people’s lists and others will say that it’s extremely overrated. True this is full of cliches both from American action movies and Japanese Mech/Kaiju movies but yet this movie mixes them together so well I honestly don’t care. A lot of what makes this work is the amazing talent involved from the actors that make these characters their own to the film makers themselves. You can tell Guillermo del Toro has a lot of respect for the Japanese Mech/Kaiju films. This is the closest we’re ever going to get to a decent live action Evangelion movie and is America’s best take on this genre so far. So why isn’t it higher on my list? Because while this was a really fun movie the next few movies are films that I really loved personally and it includes some movies that others might not even consider for their lists.
I’ll admit Pixar haven’t exactly been their best these last three years but that doesn’t mean they’ve lost their touch. Monsters University does something you normally don’t see in prequels, it makes you care about the character more than you used to. In Monsters Inc Mike was very much the funny guy while Sully and Boo were the characters you’d have the most emotional investment in. Here Mike is the star, he is so dedicated to his dream that everyone else (including the audience) knows he’ll never reach. This doesn’t mean we don’t care about Sully though, as the movie progresses and the Mike and Sully friendship grows Sully shows his own problems and starts caring about his new friend. A common complaint about prequels is you know where they’re going, with this movie that fact only makes it stronger and there’s so much to this movie that isn’t predicted by Monsters Inc I won’t spoil for those who haven’t seen it. It may not be Pixar’s best but it’s still a fantastic film. Now for the top 5…
The World’s End
I’m fairly new to what people are calling the Cornetto trilogy. I saw Shaun of the Dead for the first time only Halloween last year and Hot Fuzz the day before I went to see this. One thing the Pegg, Frost and Wright team do well is make me enjoy a movie in a genre I’d normally not care for. I don’t really like horror but I like Shaun of the Dead, cop movies never really appeal to be (especially buddy cop movies) but I’d probably call Hot Fuzz my favourite of the three and now The World’s End does the same to disaster movies (especially good in a year where another end of the world comedy This Is The End came out and looks dull and unfunny). I don’t think I need to sell this to fans of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz but this movie’s greatness isn’t because of those two, only strengthened by them, at its core it’s a very funny adventure with genuinely interesting developments in the plot.
Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods
It’s been 17 years since the last Dragon Ball movie and I’m going to say this has to be the best one they’ve made. Akira Toriyama was involved in the making of this film and it certainly has his touch just like the Jump special in 2008 (which is referenced in this movie). A lot of focus is on the comedy this time around and while the big fight is between Goku and Beerus (or Bills as some subtitles call him) the true star of this feature is Vegeta trying to keep everyone else from slightly irritating Beerus. It’s very much a movie for fans of the series and is currently only available in Japanese. If you’re a Dragon Ball fan who hasn’t checked this out yet then I highly recommend it.
Pokémon: The Origin/Pokémon Origins
While split into four episodes they flow together well as a TV movie so to me it counts. I’ve been a huge fan of Pokémon since the beginning and the movies frequently find their way into my top 10 movies of the year. This special is a wonderful retelling of the Kanto games both for fans who grew up with them and for newcomers to the franchise to see how it all began without playing an extremely dated old game (I loved Red version but it hasn’t aged well, especially compared to the newer games). It’s available in both English and Japanese and while I can’t stand the current dub of the anime (Ash’s English voice is painful to listen to and James sounds way too posh) this does have a good dub with actors bringing their own take on the characters rather than try too hard to recapture the original 4Kids voices. That said you are better off watching the full thing in Japanese as the English version has some changes that seem odd and it does loose a bit of the charm from some of their edits (the Cubone story being a good example). It also served as a great way to hype up Pokémon X & Y with the first appearance of Mega Charizard X.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The most recent addition to the list and the best live action film of the year. An important thing to remember about this film is there’s a lot of new content, several side stories some from other Tolkien books and others completely new content. Many have let their book bias cause them to hate this new content, seeing it as dragging out a pretty short book, but personally I think the adaptation and the new content mix well together. There are some weak points, the Gandalf side quest is pretty much just “Lord of the Rings is coming” but the Legolas and Tauriel side story mixes very well considering one wasn’t in the Hobbit book and the other was created for the movies, it brings something that fans of the book won’t already know what happens to the table. The book content is adapted beautifully, Benedict Cumberbatch does an amazing job and Smaug and the design is awesome. The spiders are done well too, usually giant spiders tend to just be to creep people who are scared of spiders out but here they work really well as monsters regardless of them being spiders. One very big improvement from the last film is that the Dwarves get more attention is individuals rather than being Thorin and company, this point in the story sees them split up a few times giving us a chance to focus on them in one on one conversions. Kili in particular has his own subplot that ties into the Elves’ side story. There’s going to be some conflicting opinions on this movie, if you can put your book bias aside it’s fantastic but if you’re a book purist you might have some issues with new content. Also Stephen Fry is in it, and he’s brilliant.
So this probably doesn’t come as a surprise to most people who know me considering how much I keep bringing this movie up. But yes for the second year in a row Disney made my favourite movie of the year. This is seriously up there with some of Disney’s best, I wouldn’t say I agree with the “best since The Lion King” tagline but that’s because Disney have made plenty of other amazing films since The Lion King. Like just about everything in my list this has been met with some complaints, mostly from fans of The Snow Queen complaining that it isn’t the Snow Queen (and yes it isn’t The Snow Queen, that doesn’t stop this being a great movie) and some dumb nitpick about Elsa’s hair in one scene, seriously the complaints about this movie are stupid and have nothing to do with Frozen itself. Frozen is a beautiful movie that it proof of how Disney’s princess movies are evolving, to say exactly why would involve huge spoilers which I’m not going to do. And yes it’s been said in other reviews but it’s important, Olaf (the snowman) is actually a great character and context is a very important part of that (it’s why he might not seem it in trailers). The music is wonderful, I’m sure you’ve all heard about Let it Go but I love all the songs (yes, even Fixer Upper) and I’m still listening to them all the time. And to those reading this who have seen Frozen, that third act is just… wow. Movie of the year.
So there’s my top 10. There are some honorable mentions such as Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Despicable Me 2 and The Dark Knight Returns part 2 but overall I’m pleased with this list. I look forward to seeing what 2014 has in store.