Sunday 18 August 2013

2013 Blockbuster Season: Winners and Losers

Seeing as the 2013 blockbuster season is starting to wind down (at least until Catching Fire, Thor: The Dark World and The Hobbit zoom into cinemas this November/December), I thought it was a good opportunity to sit back, assess and deduce which flicks were winners and which were losers.

Give it a read and let me know what you think in the comments section below! Thanks!

Coming soon; reviews of The World's End, White House Down and the 7th edition of 60 Second Film Reviews!


Iron Man 3

If you didn't already know, then here's the news; Iron Man 3 was great. Fantastic. Look up brilliant in the thesaurus, find some more words for Iron Man 3. And, not just was it a great film, but it also made a ton of money. It's raked in $1.2 billion, becoming the fifth biggest film of all time. 

The winning combination of Marvel and Robert Downey Jnr. struck gold, this time adding director Shane Black to the mix with surprisingly effective results. Expectations for Iron Man 3 were low after the stuttering second entry but this one knocked it out of the park - for the third entry into a superhero franchise, this one defies all logic and improves on its predecessors. 

It's no wonder that Marvel have signed RDJ up for another two films - critics and audiences alike love the guy. Roll on Age of Ultron I say; I can't wait to see him don the Iron Man suit once again. 

Fast and Furious 6

2013 has seen The Fast and Furious franchise go from strength to strength; once the ugly step-sister of Rush Hour/Need for Speed that proved better than none the validity of the law of diminishing returns, F&F has undergone a transformation into the not-so-secret guilty pleasure of, well, everyone.

Ridiculously stupid and stupidly ridiculous, Fast and Furious 6 was just one of those films you can't help but grin at. It didn't pretend to be anything more than a gigantic laugh and won audiences over as a result - the film made nearly $800 million worldwide, ensuring that the seventh entry into the series (due next summer) is going to be something of a box-office heavy-weight. 

Just goes to show, add The Rock to something and you get the results.

The Wolverine

Hugh Jackman with his shirt off? Check. Plenty of "snickt snickt" action? Check. A fresh take on a character that audiences love? Check. Let's face it, The Wolverine was pretty badass.

It may not have burst the box-office (currently at $300 million) but The Wolverine did prove that audiences are still hungry for some feral Hugh Jackman action. With a new director, a new setting, a new cast and a new direction, The Wolverine took me pleasantly by surprise. In my opinion, one of the quieter successes of 2013.

World War Z

Given the complicated production surrounding World War Z, the end result is nothing short of spectacular. Numerous re-writes and re-shoots, Brad Pitt's global zombie thriller seemed doomed to fail.

Despite all this, director Marc Forster managed to extract a half-decent movie from all of this chaos. It might have devitaed more from the source text than fans would have liked, but World War Z did well enough at the box-office (over $500 million) to legitimise the green light for a sequel. All in all, World War Z is one of the biggest winners from this years blockbuster season.

Despicable Me 2

Oh those pesky minions; people just can't get enough of them can they? Trumping Pixar's Monsters University by some way, Despicable Me 2 has raked in a gigantic $752 million since hitting screens in July. Mixing together some crazy minion antics with a likeable lead character (Steve Carell) and some cutesy little kids and Despicable Me 2 has drawn in kids of all ages across the world. The colourful animation and goofy humour has made this one without a doubt one of the biggest winners this year.

So successful is Universal's newest animated heavyweight that the garbled little yellow minions are in fact getting their own feature length film late next year. Not even kidding. Look it up.

The Middle Ground

Star Trek Into Darkness

JJ Abrams' second outing onto the final frontier might not be the most original or loved film (with Star Trek fans that is) from this blockbuster season but it did a great job of carrying on the story and characters from the first film.

Devout fans have taken offence at the retreading of plotlines from the original films but Abrams has succeeded in achieving what the franchise needed; a reintroduction into the generation of today.

Personally, I loved it and it still stands as one of the best films I've seen all year.

It might not have made a ton of money for Paramount Studios (the box-office haul petered out around $450 million) but it's enough to keep the franchise on track for a big 50th Anniversary threequel in 2016. All in all, a solid sequel but maybe not the big step forward everyone was hoping for.

Man of Steel

Probably the most divisive blockbuster of 2013, Zack Snyder's Superman reboot has done okay for itself, but not great. DC and Warner Bros. would have no doubt been aiming for the $1 billion mark with this one but it hasn't transpired. 

With (only) $650 million notched up, Man of Steel has done okay considering it is only the first instalment in what is going to be a wider franchise ("hello, is that Batman? Yeah, we need a couple more zeros added in the global gross for our next film...would you be interested?") and that it is fronted by a relatively unknown actor.

The biggest hindrance it had to overcome however was mixed reviews. Whilst Iron Man 3 was shining bright and making millions, Man of Steel wasn't as warmly received and suffered accordingly. Mr Snyder, take note; sometimes, less is more.

The Great Gatsby

From being booed at Cannes (supposedly) to making in excess of $300 million, The Great Gatsby has gone from zero to hero (well, kind of).

Out-grossing the likes of The Wolverine and The Hangover III, Gatsby has surprised many by bringing in the big bucks for Warner Bros, much of this owning to a massive amount of marketing and a moved release date from December (amongst the Oscar contenders) to May (amongst some superhero heavy-hitters).

It doesn't change the fact that the film was received poorly by critics, but I doubt Baz Luhrmann cares too much from beneath his small pile of gold and deafening Lana Del Rey soundtrack.


Put together a solid lead performance from Tom Cruise, some particularly artsy direction by Joseph Kosinski and a cracking soundtrack by M83 and Oblivion didn't do too badly for itself back in April.

Where Oblivion made most of its money was outside the US, proving that he is one of the most recognisable and bankable stars going. Overall, the film made $286 million which ain't at all shabby for a film that isn't a sequel, prequel, novel adaptation or reboot.

Pacific Rim

Another film that wasn't based off of anything one singular thing, Pacific Rim started out slowly but has made up ground following its worldwide release. 

Beaten into the ground by Adam Sandler's Grown Ups 2 on the US opening weekend, Pacific Rim has gone on to make most of its money in countries like China; the global appeal of the film owing to the fact it is predominantly set in Asia.

A sequel probably won't transpire but at least it made a profit. It's just a shame it didn't take off like everyone hoped it would.


The Hangover Part III

Panned by critics and left for dead by audiences, The Hangover III wins the feeling fuzzier award for most unnecessary sequel this year (closely followed by The Smurfs 2 and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters).

Dreadfully unfunny and dull, The Hangover III can officially be dubbed a box-office flop when you consider that its predecessor made over $600 million worldwide. As of now, Hangover III sits around $350 million, which isn't to be snorted at but defiantly not the numbers the studio would have been aiming for.

Quit while you're ahead Hollywood, quit while you're ahead.

After Earth

Has any film in living memory received as much of a bashing as After Earth did? The M. Night Shyamalan sci-fi "epic" was absolutely torn to shreds by critics. It's made a tidy profit for Sony but the after taste will still be a little bitter following such toxic reviews. No doubt Will Smith's cred has taken a sizeable dent following this one.

The Lone Ranger

This one still stings a little; I really liked The Lone Ranger. Apparently, nobody else on Earth agreed. 

Opening alongside Despicable Me 2, The Lone Ranger tanked at the US box-office and has gone on to do little better overseas. All in all, it has put a gigantic dent into Disney's wallet and cost Depp, Hammer, Verbinski and Bruckenheimer all sizeable street-cred.

Which is a massive shame given the amount of fun the film was. If there is one thing Hollywood will most likely take from this, it is this; Westerns just don't resonate any more. 

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