Counting down the 2013 movies I saw, from worst to best:
38. Gangster Squad
I wanted another L.A. Confidential or The Untouchables, but Gangster Squad is a cliché-ridden mess that can't decide if it's serious and brutal or a tongue-in-cheek lark.
37. Battle of the Year
My standards for dance movies are pretty darn low. For the most part, I just want some great dancing and a somewhat believable reason for people to be doing it. Battle of the Year has neither of those things. Not even Sawyer could save it.
36. After Earth
Better than The Happening; not quite as good as The Last Airbender. M. Night Shyamalan continues to struggle to make a movie worthy of his once considerable talent. He's especially hampered this time by a script that directly opposes his traditional themes. I'd love to see a straightforward Shyamalan sci-fi movie that talks about fear and how to conquer it, but this isn't it.
35. Olympus Has Fallen
Some decent action, but mostly unbelievable nonsense.
34. A Good Day to Die Hard
If the main character wasn't named John McClane, this would be a totally generic, forgettable, Bruce Willis action thriller. I don't know if that would make it better or worse; my point is that this is Die Hard in name only. How the mighty have fallen.
33. Now You See Me
Great idea with an even better cast, but too many twists and fakey magic make it a dud. When your movie is about stage magicians, you need to work extra hard to make their act look believable and real. Obvious CG tricks don't cut it.
32. Star Trek Into Darkness
The beauty of the 2009 Star Trek movie was that it reset the Trekiverse and made it possible to tell any story with no regard for previous continuity. So the first thing they do is remake Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It's an entertaining remake, but not worthy of either the film it's remaking or the one it's a sequel to.
31. Man of Steel
In some ways, this is the Superman film I've been waiting for. I love the way it treats Lois Lane, for instance, and the Krypton stuff is amazing. But it's too dark and cynical and in love with destruction. It's far more interested in showing suffering than in exploring how its main character battles it.