In a general sense, I believe positive expectations in your day-to-day life tend to reinforce a more enjoyable existence. If you expect good from people you are constantly reassured that there is humanity in this world. The opposite is true regarding expectations with movies. First you have the most manufactured glimpse imaginable to stoke your expectation—the trailer. Basically it’s an opportunity for the promoters to squeeze the best action shot, catch-phrase or strip tease the film has to offer in a 30-second teaser. Heck, any given shot doesn’t even have to be in the final cut to be included in the trailer.
When it comes to movies—blockbusters in particular— expectations lead to unhappiness. As of 2013, gone are the days when every Terrance Malick film would comfortably land in my top 20 films of all time. So too are the days when apocalyptic comedies including old pals getting together to get drunk was deemed ‘original’ (there were three in 2013). Looking back at my most anticipated movies of 2013, Elysium (2013) was pegged to be one of my most anticipated. Then I went to the show and saw a train wreck messily throw itself into my consciousness.
It was just Elysium and To the Wonder (which still made it in my top ten) that disappointed. The following five flicks I regrettably had high expectations for prior to 2013 and was utterly disappointed.
Only God Forgives (2013) – Ryan Gosling was a beast in Drive (2011). Nicolas Winding Refn’s direction was perfect. The violence was unique and the soundtrack was deliciously palatable. It was a dirty, violent action flick that even the chicks could dig—a rare feat, boasted by perhaps only one other movie: Fight Club (1999). I do understand that the Asperger’s-like mannerisms served up by Gosling detracted from the film a bit, but in my eyes this was still a triumph in every way.
Then, once the skid marks faded from our memory, we heard Gosling and the director were reuniting. Just as badass as the premise as Drive, it was marketed as a revenge tale encompassing a drug-dealing brother out to make right against a corrupt cop in Shanghai. What’s not to love? Well, perhaps the perverse everything included from start to finish. Instead of giving the main character a mysterious aura for being so oft spoken, we get a real sense of ‘motherly love’ and a creepiness that never feels warranted or explained. Also, the amount of violence and sexual exploitation of women is immediately off-putting.
Gangster Squad (2013) – just looking at the cue card for Gangster Squad was enough to get anyone of any age excited. Yet, it was Sean Penn reprising his role as a gangster (from Mystic River) that really had me antsy with anticipation. Imagine an LA gangster version of Sean Penn putting dropping the Boston accent picking up a Tommy-Gun while ruling 1920’s LA with an iron fist. And yet, the result was a messy, unconvincing Dick Tracey caricature. The story was there. The cast was there. The writing and direction was just awful. So disappointing since it was coming from the director, Ruben Fleischer, who did Zombieland (2009).
If this film was granted a mulligan, I would highly suggest it be turned into an AMC television series and given the legroom each character needed to grow and allow the audience to become vested.
World War Z (2013) – Brad Pitt rarely ever makes a poor decision when it comes to signing up for a part. In World War Z, the premise always seemed to be pushed forward without much thought. The zombies come in what seems like the first minute. The family barely survives and then it turns out Pitt has all these special talents that only he can use to save the world. The family is hardly seen again, and the action scenes are predictable and outlandish.
Perhaps my pop culture tolerance has finally reached its saturation point with the zombie genre. Perhaps I still want Marc Forster to make personal favorites like Monster’s Ball (2001), Finding Neverland (2004), and Stranger Than Fiction (2006). Maybe the film should have followed its original storyline that made the book a bestseller all over the world. Either way, I was bored and utterly disappointed.
Francis Ha (2012) – the amount of buzz before this release was immense. It was said to be the anti-blockbuster this summer. I would agree and I can’t say that this was a poorly made film or that people shouldn’t go see it. I would say the complete opposite actually. I’m just saying, I was so incredibly annoyed with the characters due to their decisions and conversations I became irritable.
With that said, the part where she was dancing without a care in the world through New York made me smile ear to ear. However, if Frances and I were on a first date I’d be climbing through the bathroom window before our drink order.
Movie 43 (2013) – resembling Gangster Squad, this film had the most impressive amount of stars attached to star in this confused, offensive “comedy” that has no real reason to exist. I started to write a review for this film way back in the Fall of 2013. I simply didn’t complete it because I didn’t think it was worth my time or anyone else’s to read it. Sure there was one funny skit (out of 20 something skits) including one about superhero speed dating. However, the amount of blood I lost from the nosebleed I received after every inclusion of the kids looking on their computers, I decided I should just cut my losses. This film was toxic.
I recommend you watch this instead. You’re welcome.