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Added by PvtCaboose91 on 10 Jan 2013 01:29
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2013 in Cinema: From Best to Worst

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People who added this item 1873 Average listal rating (1185 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8.2


"There's no nobility in poverty. I've been a poor man, and I've been a rich man. And I choose rich every fucking time."

2013's The Wolf of Wall Street is both an idiosyncratic Martin Scorsese picture and a considerable change of pace for the seasoned filmmaker. After dabbling in the PG-rated, family-oriented Hugo in 2011, Scorsese returns to his old stomping grounds here, creating an insane R-rated romp beset with profanity and nudity, not to mention scenes of drugs, alcohol and intense violence. Yet, The Wolf of Wall Street can also be considered Scorsese's first outright comedy, as it's predominantly pitched at a darkly comic tone and there are countless belly-laughs to be had. It's a satiric document of boys behaving badly, but Scorsese also permeates the production with plenty of gravitas, finding a perfect tonal balance to allow us to both take the material seriously and have fun along the way. Whereas Hugo was sweet and warm, Wolf is ruthlessly profane and hedonistic, and it deserves more acclaim than it appears to be receiving.

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People who added this item 748 Average listal rating (498 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.1
Rush (2013)


"A wise man can learn more from his enemies than a fool from his friends."

Rush is arguably 2013's first genuinely great film. A gorgeously-mounted and compelling drama, it represents another winner from director Ron Howard, who's back in fine form here after 2011's The Dilemma. Howard's most distinguished movies are based on true stories, with Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon showcasing the filmmaker's significant talents in terms of technical proficiency, bravura visuals and taut storytelling, and Rush further exemplifies this. Reuniting with Frost/Nixon screenwriter Peter Morgan, the picture turns its attention to the sport of Formula One racing in the 1970s, yet its appeal is not restricted to sports fans. Indeed, while fervent car fanatics and Formula One devotees will love the behind-the-scenes examination of this dangerous sport, newcomers are not left out in the cold. On the contrary, anyone who simply appreciates good filmmaking will enjoy Rush, as it offers far more than just racing action.

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"The tales and songs fall utterly short of your enormity, oh Smaug...the stupendous..."

For some, 2012's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was a tough sell. Even though this reviewer loved it, some folks did not care for its prolonged runtime or lighter disposition, as they had hoped for something more in the vein of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. However, it did have a few flaws, most of which are thankfully corrected for 2013's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. This is a marvellous action-adventure epic, a crowd-pleasing continuation of Jackson's second Middle-earth trilogy that's smoother than its forerunner. It might still be bloated, and the jury is still out on whether or not The Hobbit needed to be a trilogy, but The Desolation of Smaug is a satisfying sit nevertheless.

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People who added this item 1774 Average listal rating (1189 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.5


"The cold never bothered me anyway."

The promotional campaign for 2013's Frozen has been selling an entirely different motion picture, which thankfully renders the finished product a delightful surprise. Whereas the trailers foreground both the action beats and the bumbling slapstick comedy, the heart of Frozen is something else entirely, and the resulting picture is staggering in its visual artistry, originality and heart. It's not just good, but genuinely great, a magical throwback to the Disney animated movies of the 1990s when princesses were the order of the day. Frozen will be a godsend for those who adore Disney princess movies, but it will also work for anyone seeking a fun time, as it's smart and playful enough to engage viewers of just about any demographic. This is Disney's best animation in years, and that's saying something with Wreck-It Ralph and Tangled also under the studio's belt.

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"They fucking shot him! They shot him in the fucking back for no reason, man!"

On New Year's Day of 2009, 22-year-old Oscar Grant was shot by a nervous BART police officer who had apparently intended to use his taser, and the young man died in hospital soon afterwards. Fruitvale Station sets out to recount Oscar's last day, constructing a portrait of the young African-American who was working towards putting his life back together following a drug-related stint in prison. Trying to cover for losing his grocery store job due to tardiness, Oscar (played by Michael B. Jordan) spends his New Years Eve figuring out his future, hoping to land a steady job and continue providing for his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and young daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal). After celebrating his mother's birthday, Oscar and a number of his friends take a train into the city to watch the NYE fireworks, unaware that this will lead to Oscar's terrible fate at Fruitvale train station...

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People who added this item 290 Average listal rating (200 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.9
All Is Lost (2013)


"I'm sorry... I know that means little at this point, but I am. I tried, I think you would all agree that I tried. To be true, to be strong, to be kind, to love, to be right. But I wasn't."

Written and directed by J.C. Chandor (Margin Call), All is Lost is one of the manliest movies of 2013. It does not earn its manliness by including action, violence or cigars - rather, All is Lost is a low-budget man vs. the elements survival thriller which warrants its "manly movie" label through its depiction of one man's determination, grit and courage in a desperate situation. This is not exactly a plot-driven movie, but rather a cinematic experience - it allows us to experience being trapped in the middle of the ocean surrounded by nothing but water. If Life of Pi was stripped of its cloying philosophical bullshit, it would look a bit like All is Lost. The movie is also structurally similar to Alfonso Cuarón's critically-acclaimed Gravity, but with a far more interesting leading man in Robert Redford.

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People who added this item 2020 Average listal rating (1218 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.2
Iron Man 3 (2013)


"Things are different now, I have to protect the one thing that I can't live without."

Kicking off Phase Two of Marvel's interconnected series of superhero adventures, Iron Man 3 is a raging success, a comic book movie with depth, smarts and a marvellous sense of fun. The director of the first two Iron Man pictures, Jon Favreau, did not return to helm this third instalment, and his replacement was Shane Black, a filmmaker who's been writing screenplays since the 1980s and who helped to reboot Robert Downey Jr.'s career with his superlative directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Black was an inspired choice for the picture, retaining his penchant for red herrings, black humour, snappy dialogue and intense action scenes. It's a change of pace for both the Iron Man series and the Marvel franchise in general, yet that's precisely why Iron Man 3 works. It's pure ecstasy.

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People who added this item 1826 Average listal rating (1221 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.8
Gravity (2013)


"Beautiful, don't you think?"

A long-gestating pet project for director and co-writer Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity is one of those rare motion pictures with the potential to appeal to both critics as well as average Joe movie-goers. See, the reviewers will gush over Gravity since it's a well-made feature with tremendous artistic merit, but it's also accomplished enough to play as an action blockbuster for the masses without insulting one's intelligence. Without a doubt, this is a landmark motion picture which will be discussed for years to come - its use of seamless CGI, proficient sound design and gorgeous cinematography is genuinely unprecedented. In fact, Cuarón was compelled to delay the movie until 2013 because he had to wait for cinematic technology to advance far enough to convincingly realise his vision. Large in scale yet intimate and emotional, Gravity is a rollicking space thriller with the power to awe due to its technical wizardry and affecting character drama. In a word, it's amazing.

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People who added this item 1473 Average listal rating (927 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.1


"I don't want to survive. I want to live."

12 Years a Slave carries the Oscar-friendly "based on a true story" label, as it tells the devastating real tale of Solomon Northup, a free African American who was kidnapped and sold into slavery during the 19th Century. Later penning a memoir following the tragedy, Northup's dreadful ordeal has only been previously dramatised in a forgotten 1980s telemovie, but now it has been immortalised by filmmaker Steve McQueen (no, not that Steve McQueen). The resultant motion picture is unsettling, harrowing and heartbreaking, yet 12 Years a Slave is also a gratifying sit, beset with powerful imagery and artful moviemaking, devoid of the eye-rolling sentimentality of Lee Daniels' The Butler. While not the greatest motion picture of 2013, it is most certainly an essential document of one of the most tragic periods of American history.

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People who added this item 1725 Average listal rating (1102 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.1
Man of Steel (2013)


"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."

Unlike Bryan Singer's largely derisive Superman Returns, which endeavoured to exist in the same continuity as the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, 2013's Man of Steel is a straight-up reboot, going back to the beginning to explore the iconic superhero's origins once again. Warner Brothers pulled out all the stops to ensure Man of Steel effectively resuscitated the Superman film franchise, recruiting David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan to handle the script and story. And in the hands of accomplished visual director Zack Snyder, this is an exhilarating blockbuster implemented on a grand scale, yet it still understands the value of small, intimate moments in between the scenes of destruction. While not perfect by any stretch, Man of Steel dexterously reinvents the character for a new generation, bringing Superman back to life with finesse and confidence. And it's about time.

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People who added this item 1110 Average listal rating (753 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.1
Prisoners (2013)


"Pray for the best, but prepare for the worst."

A refreshing change of pace following 2013's summer blockbuster season, Prisoners is an intense morality tale which plays out as a twisty police procedural thriller, exhibiting more sophistication and artistry than one would expect from a story like this. Helmed by Denis Villeneuve (making his Hollywood debut) and written by Aaron Guzikowski (Contraband), the film is multilayered and smart, proving to be an emotionally, mentally and philosophically fatiguing experience. While it seems like a straightforward whodunit on the surface, Prisoners is more concerned with the effects that a kidnapping case has on the picture's main players. The movie does clock in at almost two-and-a-half hours, but it earns every captivating frame.

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People who added this item 437 Average listal rating (288 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5


"There ain't nothing I can't do. No sky too high, no sea too rough, no muff too tough."

The last time director Peter Berg attempted a contemporary war picture, the result was 2007's The Kingdom, an average-at-best action film kneecapped by its overt patriotism and wobbly execution. Added to this, the rest of Berg's résumé fails to inspire much confidence, with titles ranging from serviceable (The Rundown) to interminable (Battleship, Hancock). How pleasantly surprising and refreshing, then, to witness 2013's Lone Survivor, which is arguably Berg's best movie. Based on a tragic true-life story, this is a powerful, harrowing war movie, permeated with enough gravitas and emotion to emerge as one of the year's most impressive motion picture achievements. It's very much the cousin of Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down, as it depicts a disastrous military operation with a violent, boots-on-the-ground sensibility.

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"This time, we're going to see this through to the bitter end! Or lager end..."

In the interim since Hot Fuzz in 2007, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have moved onto bigger things: Wright dabbled in Hollywood moviemaking with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, while Pegg and Frost starred in Paul, as well as a host of other American projects. It's exciting to see the guys reuniting six years on, getting back to their British roots to put their own trademark spin on the science fiction genre with 2013's The World's End. The third instalment in the trio's Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, the flick further demonstrates the superb spoofing instincts of writers Wright and Pegg, who employ their extensive knowledge of cinema to pay homage to genre classics while still creating a mightily entertaining and original classic of their own. The World's End is a different type of endeavour for the lads, but it's no less satisfying than Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, closing the trilogy with heart, plenty of rambunctious mischief, and a few nice pints of beer.

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People who added this item 484 Average listal rating (313 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.1


"The best thing about now, is that there's another one tomorrow."

The Spectacular Now was written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the two scribes who were also responsible for 2009's indie smash (500) Days of Summer (let's forget about The Pink Panther 2). In a perfect world, all romantic comedies should be penned by this pair, as their scripts are full of raw honesty and tender humour, eschewing a Hollywood approach to present a realistic rom-com tale that manages to be both satisfying and entertaining. Based on the acclaimed novel by Tim Tharp, and directed by relative newcomer James Ponsoldt, The Spectacular Now is simply enchanting. Most every scene throughout the movie's 95-minute duration possesses such a natural disposition that it often feels like we're watching real people unaware that they're being filmed.

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People who added this item 540 Average listal rating (377 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.7
Escape Plan (2013)


"If I don't get out, I will kill you."

With action titans Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger finally teaming up to play major roles alongside one another in an action flick, many have decried that Escape Plan should've been produced twenty years ago. This, however, is pure bullshit - Escape Plan arrives at a time when we need it the most, with the two iconic screen legends delivering an exceptional beer and steak extravaganza in the midst of a dire cinematic era populated with superhero movies and CGI-laden blockbusters. Not just an old-school action film, Escape Plan is also a prison breakout adventure, another extraordinarily manly cinematic subgenre that we don't see enough of in this day and age. More pertinently, Sly and Arnie still have what it takes to deliver the goods, and it helps that this is not just a fun time but a genuinely good motion picture as well. Smart and well-structured, it's an incredibly enjoyable sit which belongs on the biggest possible screen, showing that you don't need a $200 million budget and CGI aplenty to create an exciting slice of cinematic escapism.

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People who added this item 307 Average listal rating (222 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.5


"I'm taking you to your dad's so he can take care of you."

2013's Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is very much a Jackass movie, but it's not the type of film that long-time fans might be anticipating. It's a fresh direction for the ageing brand name, replacing the haphazard structure of the previous movies with a scripted story, though there are still plenty of mischievous shenanigans and pranks involving (supposedly) unsuspecting members of the general public. It takes its structural cues from Borat in this sense, though Bad Grandpa plays as an actual movie rather than a mockumentary. Opinions will no doubt be divided on the film; some will be outright repulsed, while other folks might be let down by the lack of genuine Jackass-style stunts. But it's difficult to imagine a better movie being carved out of this premise - for what it is, Bad Grandpa is a home run, representing one of 2013's comedic high points. It's silly and rude, yet also hilarious, maintaining an agreeable pace as it goes about its goofy business.

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People who added this item 729 Average listal rating (480 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
About Time (2013)


"Lesson Number One: All the time traveling in the world can't make someone love you."

Although About Time is only Richard Curtis' third directorial undertaking, the writer-director has been penning romantic comedy screenplays since the 1990s, developing a filmmaking voice that's sentimental yet affecting and thoughtful. Although it features a few rom-com clichés, About Time is probably the most original thing that the worn-out genre has offered up since 2009's (500) Days of Summer. Heartbreaking and often unpredictable, this is a smart, wonderful movie which provides entertainment for both males and females, not to mention it feels surprisingly natural when it could have been an artificial feature-length sitcom episode.

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People who added this item 1758 Average listal rating (1070 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.5


"The other victors. Because of her, they all pose a threat. Because of her, they all think they are invincible."

For those unfamiliar with Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games novels, 2012's The Hunger Games was a tough sell, cursed with nauseating shaky-cam cinematography, too much sluggish exposition and many similarities to the superior Battle Royale. But with a fresh creative team and a bigger budget, 2013's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a superior sequel, more refined and better realised in practically every aspect. More or less all the flaws of the original flick are eliminated here, and the narrative is far more fascinating and engaging, making this an easier sell for the uninitiated. With the groundwork laid, Catching Fire builds on the original film's foundation, expounding on relationships and taking the story to its next logical step, sparking to life what has the potential to become a truly remarkable series. It's simply a fine motion picture all-round, to the extent that it makes the original movie look worse than it actually is.

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People who added this item 817 Average listal rating (525 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.6


"There's only a few things I really care about in life. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn."

Well, I didn't see that coming. The directorial debut for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who also wrote the script and cast himself in the lead, Don Jon sounded like a dumb vanity project from its very inception. But lo and behold, the result is a hugely assured, entertaining motion picture, full of superb performances, a number of laughs, some spot-on observations about human nature, and boundless energy.

What's most refreshing about Don Jon is its originality. A story about a man addicted to internet pornography, it's such a truthful movie, and it's easy to relate to on a number of levels. Rather than placing Jon (played by Levitt) in some type of over-the-top adventure, the movie observes him at the gym, cleaning his apartment, picking up women, attending church, having meals with his family, and masturbating. Oh so much masturbating. It's fascinating to watch Jon attempting to grow up, starting a relationship with the sexy Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) which hits the usual highs and lows, and eschews a stereotypical break-up-to-make-up scenario.

The movie feels lived-in, too, and it's competently assembled. It perhaps does run a hair too long and probably could've been trimmed, but for the most part it maintains interest across its 90-minute running time. Also beneficial to the production is Levitt's performance - he's never been this grown up on-screen, shedding his youthful demeanour to play a macho scumbag. Meanwhile, Johansson is very sexy, although one cannot help but admire the balls on Levitt for casting the beautiful actress as his character's girlfriend. Well played, ya sly bastard.

I recommend Don Jon. It's smart adult entertainment, and a nice alternative to the studio rom-coms we see polluting cinemas every other week.

8.2/10

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People who added this item 807 Average listal rating (527 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.3


"Life is about courage and going into the unknown."

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"I'm starting to think this is the most spiritual place I've ever been."

Spring Breakers represents the exact type of audacious cinematic vision that we do not see enough of in this day and age. It's a uniquely breathtaking experience from director Harmony Korine, one of the finest movies you will see this year on top of being undoubtedly the most polarising. The rather limp box office performance is unsurprising, as Spring Breakers will not appeal to all sorts. Some will hate the flick, perceiving it as a flashy gimmick since it features former Disney stars in risqué roles. Others will simply see it as empty, hedonistic exploitation; unable (or unwilling) to pierce the dense veneer of gaudy depravity on the surface to see the real film underneath. Korine's film is an uncompromising snapshot of our modern culture, capturing and even critiquing the allure of a modern spring break excursions while also presenting an unpredictable story that veers into dark territory. It's a culture-defining film, and it almost defies explanation.

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"Tonight I am going to maintain order in Gotham City."

Successfully adapting Frank Miller's groundbreaking comic book series The Dark Knight Returns for the screen represented a daunting challenge for any moviemaking team, as it's often perceived as unfilmable. But executive producer Bruce Timm and his team at Warner Bros. Animation rose to the challenge nevertheless, creating a two-part epic for the fifteenth and sixteenth instalments of their series of DC Universe animated original movies. 2012's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 proved to be a successful endeavour, but Part 2 is even better, an amazing conclusion that satisfies on practically every level. It's a lavishly-produced animated movie that confidently stands on its own, drawing interpretations from the source material to create a smart, thematically dense and ultraviolent Batman story that belies its modest straight-to-video origins.

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People who added this item 39 Average listal rating (24 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.2
Rewind This! (2013)

With DVD and Blu-ray discs being perceived as the norm for physical media in this day and age, and with media distribution gradually moving towards an all-digital delivery model, video cassettes have faded into obscurity, replaced with superior formats that have led to VHS being discontinued. But Rewind This! is not quite as dismissive towards the original home video format. Masterminded by Josh Johnson, this documentary concentrates on the collectors who take pride in their collection of VHS cassettes, hunting for obscure titles at flea markets and keeping their sense of nostalgia alive. But Rewind This! also offers far more than this, tracing the origins of VHS and examining both its cultural and historical impact, showing us how the media industry was changed forever with the ability to watch motion pictures at home.

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People who added this item 1102 Average listal rating (676 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.6
Kick-Ass 2 (2013)


"I try to have fun. Otherwise, what's the point?"

Even though 2010's wonderfully entertaining superhero satire Kick-Ass underperformed at the box office, its cult status and strong critical acclaim guaranteed a sequel, which has at long last become a reality. With British filmmaker Matthew Vaughn electing for a producing role this time, Kick-Ass 2 was written and directed by Jeff Wadlow (Never Back Down), and luckily the end result is just as giddily enjoyable as its predecessor. With most of the surviving cast returning, and with an R rating in place, this is a fine follow-up beset with bloody beatings, foul language and even a bit of heart, making it a refreshing alternative to 2013's other superhero offerings. If you loved the first movie, you're almost definitely going to enjoy Kick-Ass 2. But if you didn't like the 2010 picture (and if this is the case, why the hell not?!), there's no talking to you.

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People who added this item 1341 Average listal rating (887 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.8


"Your commanders have committed a crime I cannot forgive. None of you are safe. Have I got your attention now?"

Director J.J. Abrams' second venture into the cosmos on-board the USS Enterprise, Star Trek: Into Darkness is a smoother, more engaging experience than its predecessor, and it shows that there's still plenty of mileage left in the decades-old franchise. This is a follow-up that lives up to and surpasses the movie that spawned it, retaining the 2009 film's sense of energy and excitement but upping the ante with a stronger villain and a more interesting narrative. Most impressive about Into Darkness, though, is that it's a blockbuster both for Star Trek fans as well as the uninitiated. Indeed, there's fan service aplenty, and Trek fans should find the film to be an absolute godsend. Non-Trekkies, meanwhile, will find this sequel to be an exhilarating, involving sci-fi action extravaganza. You can't ask for much more than that.

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People who added this item 1586 Average listal rating (865 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3


"I knew it was a great mistake for a man like me to fall in love..."

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby has acquired legendary status since its publication in 1925, becoming a staple of high school literature classes. It's been translated to the big screen before, but none of the film adaptations have made as much of a lasting impact. Enter Australian director Baz Luhrmann, who filters Fitzgerald's novel through his unique filmmaking lens, interpreting Gatsby as a tale full of glorious visual excess. In typical Luhrmann style, 2013's The Great Gatsby is a staggering visual creation, ablaze with colours and dazzling production values, and it's all in 3D for good measure. And you know what? If you can roll with the punches and accept Luhrmann's distinctive approach, Gatsby is a hell of a good motion picture, succeeding not just as a visual feast but also as a potent drama with a solid story at its core. Luhrmann's vision is simply enthralling.

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People who added this item 1131 Average listal rating (760 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.6


"I don't wanna die at James Franco's house."

This is the End is some of the most fun you're likely to have in a cinema during the 2013 summer season. Masterminded by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express), it's a big cinematic house party, with an apocalyptic end-of-the-world scenario being moulded into an uproarious ride featuring a slew of famous faces playing exaggerated versions of themselves. If you enjoy the Judd Apatow brand of R-rated comedy, This is the End is a godsend, one of the most flat-out hilarious American comedies in recent memory which also has messages and a heart at its core. Efficiently shot for a modest $32 million, it's clear that Goldberg and Rogen were smart in their construction of the film, using special effects only when necessary and never letting star egos get in the way of creating a meta, self-effacing ride.

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People who added this item 1036 Average listal rating (672 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.6
Elysium (2013)


"You'll be hunted to the edge of the earth for this..."

Four years ago, writer-director Neill Blomkamp's District 9 made a surprisingly enormous splash, generating impressive box office numbers from its tiny budget and earning critical praise, leading to a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. Overnight, it turned Blomkamp into a talent to watch, heightening expectations for his inevitable follow-up endeavour. Luckily, 2013's Elysium is another winner for the South African filmmaker, further showcasing his fertile creative vision which is this time supported by a more generous budget. Luckily, too, Blomkamp effortlessly recaptures the gritty visual aesthetic of District 9, on top of retaining his proclivity for delivering summer blockbusters permeated with intelligence and social commentary. It's not quite as good as Blomkamp's feature debut, but nothing much is. What matters is that Elysium is a solid motion picture in its own right, and a promising sophomore effort for the gifted director.

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People who added this item 1199 Average listal rating (818 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.5
The Conjuring (2013)


"Something horrible happened here..."

The Conjuring is 2013's must-see scary movie, following in the shadow of last year's Sinister and director James Wan's own 2011 flick Insidious. Written by Chad and Carey Hayes, this is a horror outing which favours tension and restraint over in-your-face bedlam, confirming that Wan is a master of the genre who's almost unparalleled in his ability to conjure pure terror. Wan is also notable for paying attention to one aspect here that's often neglected by his contemporaries: atmosphere. Horror movies can have jump-scares and bloodletting, but it's ultimately the mood and tone that matters in the long run, as such elements can transform bumps in the night into an experience that will haunt you for weeks. Add to this a handful of strong performances from an able cast, beautiful filmmaking and a sharp script, and The Conjuring deserves every bit of acclaim that it receives.

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People who added this item 339 Average listal rating (223 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.6
Last Vegas (2013)


"I'm gonna find some damn water and take all my damn pills and get this party started."

Last Vegas will be inevitably branded as the geriatric version of The Hangover, as it's set in Las Vegas and features a cast of males who head to Sin City to drink and party. But rather than R-rated debauchery and immoral shenanigans, this party is intended more for the older demographic, with milder content and non-offensive humour. The picture was written by Dan Fogelman, who cut his teeth on several Disney animated films (Tangled, Bolt, and Cars) before penning the superlative romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love. in 2011. Fortunately, the strengths of Crazy, Stupid, Love. are carried over to Last Vegas, with touching story dramatics and plenty of big belly-laughs, not to mention the characters at the centre of the tale feel remarkably real and lived-in. The big draw of the movie, of course, is the presence of Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline, who keep the movie consistently watchable with their limitless on-screen charisma.

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People who added this item 194 Average listal rating (138 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.4
Grudge Match (2013)


"We're not dead! Everyone's laughing at us! The whole world's laughing at us! But we're not dead! In fact, I feel more alive now than I ever felt!"

Grudge Match seems like an odd career choice for Sylvester Stallone, who seems determined to do as many old-school action movies as possible before the aging actor's bones give out. Yet here's a boxing dramedy directed by Peter Segal, who was last seen behind Get Smart and a couple of Adam Sandler movies. Thankfully, however, Grudge Match is a home run against all odds; a perfect feel-good flick which is funny and heartfelt in equal measures. The gimmick at the centre of the production, of course, is the fact that it pits Stallone against Robert De Niro, staging a boxing bout between Rocky Balboa and the Raging Bull at long last. Yet, Grudge Match doesn't call it a day with the gimmick in place; this is a mighty fine movie filled to the gills with hilarious dialogue, not to mention it has an interesting story at its core.

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People who added this item 724 Average listal rating (459 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.1
Side Effects (2013)


"Depression is the inability to construct a future."

Side Effects is not a motion picture that easily lends itself to a review, as it's hard to talk about this sophisticated thriller without revealing the numerous surprises which make it an enthralling watch. The screenplay by Scott Z. Burns (Contagion) is laden with plot twists, hence potential viewers are advised to watch the movie before reading too much about it. All you need to know is, Side Effects is a terrific film crafted by a superlative director starring a solid cast, and it delves into intriguing subject matter. In fact, if the movie was made four decades ago, it most certainly would have been directed by Alfred Hitchcock, as Burns' script incorporates a number of Hitch's staples. It ventures into conventional plotting territory into its third act, yet it's handled with a superb sleight of hand and it offers genuine surprises as twists are revealed and our perceptions of events and characters begin to change.

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People who added this item 680 Average listal rating (397 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 5.7


"Time to meet the devil."

There is an unreasonable amount of expectation surrounding 2013's Only God Forgives, as it's the second collaboration of director Nicolas Winding Refn and star Ryan Gosling after 2011's Drive. Fans of Drive expecting something similar will be disappointed - you see, Drive was in fact more of a gun-for-hire project for Refn, who was called upon to put his distinct audio-visual stamp on a script by James Sallis. Only God Forgives, on the other hand, is a Refn project through-and-through, finding the Danish filmmaker both writing and directing this breathtaking, surreal mood piece which ponders the futility of revenge. The product is destined to be 2013's most polarising motion picture, though this reviewer found the experience utterly absorbing. It's pure art-house all the way through to its core, with deliberate pacing, ambiguous scripting and extended patches of wordless imagery.

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People who added this item 881 Average listal rating (495 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.7


"We're losing Los Angeles to an Eastern crook..."

Do not watch 2013's Gangster Squad expecting a meaningful period drama like L.A. Confidential or The Godfather. Rather, this is a hard-hitting, badass gangster action picture with shades of Brian De Palma's The Untouchables. No pretensions exist here; director Ruben Fleischer and writer Will Beall simply set out to create a slick, entertaining big-screen cartoon, and they've pulled it off with utmost assurance. Gangster Squad does a great job of paying tribute to the film noirs of yesteryear as well, with hard-boiled dialogue and characters ripped straight from decades-old gangster films.

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People who added this item 518 Average listal rating (344 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.9
Trance (2013)


"The choice is yours. Do you want to remember or do you want to forget?"

Trance is classic Danny Boyle in every sense of the word, a sophisticated thriller more in the vein of Trainspotting than his more linear recent efforts. It's unsurprising, then, that the movie reunites Boyle with John Hodge, who previously wrote Trainspotting and The Beach for the filmmaker. In a nutshell, Trance is a twisty, hallucinogenic thriller combining elements of film noir and a typical heist picture, filtered through a mind-fuck lens. It's an ideal project for Boyle, who called upon his usual arsenal of visual storytelling techniques to create a perpetual aura of uncertainty and anxiety. Anyone expecting something as cut-and-dried as Slumdog Millionaire or 127 Hours will certainly walk away perplexed, but those eager to engage their brain will find plenty of mental fodder here. Trance is admittedly not entirely satisfying, but it's a unique trip worth taking for its stunning visual construction and a handful of convincing performances.

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People who added this item 761 Average listal rating (520 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.5
Evil Dead (2013)


"This thing is attached to Mia's soul like a leech. If I'm reading this right, it's become her."

Horror remakes justifiably strike fear into the hearts of genre fans, with bad remakes outnumbering the decent ones by a significant margin. A remake of Sam Raimi's 1981 cult classic The Evil Dead is particularly sensitive territory, as it had the potential to be a brainless PG-13 rehash made purely for easy box office returns. How surprising, then, that 2013's Evil Dead falls into the win category; it's an imaginative, chilling horror movie which retains its predecessors' proclivity for gleeful R-rated absurdity. It had the full support of both Raimi and star Bruce Campbell, showing that this is less of a money-grab and more of an attempt to continue the long-dormant Evil Dead series. Calling it a reboot or a remake is not exactly accurate; it can easily be considered the fourth instalment in the series, as it doesn't deny that the events of the prior movies ever took place.

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"With all due respect, I'm the best hope you've got"

Olympus Has Fallen is the best Die Hard movie of 2013. Sure, it's not a canonical Die Hard film, but it's Die Hard in tone, spirit and structure, and it's better than the official fifth instalment in the Bruce Willis-starring franchise, not to mention it feels a lot closer to the series than A Good Day to Die Hard. Those expecting another of director Antoine Fuqua's riveting character dramas may not like Olympus Has Fallen, but action fans will find much to enjoy here; it's a generous bounty of R-rated gunfights, wit, explosions and machismo. It has its faults and it pales in comparison to the original Die Hard, but it's nevertheless a solid, old-school action-thriller that benefits from the fine directorial hand of Fuqua. More than enough works here to ensure it's the first must-see actioner of 2013.

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People who added this item 225 Average listal rating (160 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.1


"These tapes only effect you if you play them in the correct sequence."

While this reviewer personally enjoyed 2012's found footage horror anthology V/H/S, it received a mixed critical reception, and undeniably left room for improvement. Its cult following guaranteed a sequel, which we're now faced with less than a year later. Despite its ostensibly rushed nature, V/H/S/2 is a rare case of a follow-up which surpasses the original. It's a slicker, brisker and more thrilling anthology of horror shorts, making the initial V/H/S look like an amateurish warm-up. Backed by solid production values, strong acting, and a selection of remarkable creative visions, V/H/S/2 is a big success, showing how good an omnibus can be in the correct hands.

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People who added this item 480 Average listal rating (339 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.4


"You fucked up my day off!"

Although Arnold Schwarzenegger briefly featured in both Expendables pictures, the Austrian Oak has not had a leading role in a film since 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. 2013's The Last Stand is Arnie's big comeback vehicle after the star gave up acting for a career in politics, and it's a sensational return to business as usual for the behemoth. Although Arnie is older and less agile than he used to be, The Last Stand finds him doing what he does best. Immensely enjoyable, this is a resolutely old-school Schwarzenegger action flick - it's got quality one-liners, badass action set-pieces and eccentric sidekicks, and it's tied together by a surprisingly strong plot. Best of all, the whole thing was overseen by Korean director Ji-woon Kim, making his English-language debut following a number of diverse films including the offbeat Western The Good, the Bad, the Weird and the magnificent action film A Bittersweet Life.

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"It's time to play!"

The Chucky series has been run into the ground, and that's putting it mildly. Although it has its hardcore fans, the franchise has been on life support since the third film, and the prospect of yet another outing was exciting to precisely nobody. Which is why it's pleasing to report that Curse of Chucky is a pleasant surprise. Not just the best of the sequels, it might just be the best of the entire series, which is fucking miraculous considering the law of diminishing returns in horror, not to mention the fact that this is the first straight-to-video outing for the killer doll.

Written and directed by series veteran Don Mancini, Curse disposes of the overly slapstick tone of the last few sequels, aiming to recreate the original 1988 film's mix of horror and comedy. And it works, against all odds. Curse is a chilling horror film which delivers thrills and jumps, and makes Chucky a genuine threat for the first time in decades. Moreover, while the violence is brutal, it's not pointlessly callous, as Mancini plants his tongue firmly in cheek. He pitches the madness at the right tone, and his sense of atmosphere is spot-on. Despite its pedigree, there's a surprising amount of artistry to the filmmaking, exhibiting precise framing and lighting which places this well above the STV horror pack.

Beyond dredging out the old doll for another slaughter, Curse makes itself useful by tying itself back to the original movie and revealing more about Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) before he possessed the doll. Mancini also goes through the motions with genuine skill, giving Chucky a few killer one-liners and staging a number of memorable murders. The characters are pretty standard-order and the dramatics feel perfunctory, to be sure, but Curse delivers what counts in this franchise. And the ending defies all expectations, while a post-credits scene is purely awesome. This movie is far better than it ought to be, and that's coming from a non-biased casual watcher rather than a die-hard fan.

7.2/10

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People who added this item 297 Average listal rating (183 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.5


"Come on, look around: beautiful house, horse trails, river in the back yard. Seriously, what else could we ask for?"

Although based on the novel of the same name by Chuck Logan, Homefront was written for the screen by none other than action titan Sylvester Stallone, who has a firm enough grasp on what people expect from this genre to write satisfying action movies. Sly had toyed with the idea of taking the lead role in the movie before pursuing other projects, leaving his good friend Jason Statham to take over. Fortunately, the result is quite robust, placing Statham within a recognisably Stallone-written effort. It plays out like an action movie from the '80s or '90s, and that's a good thing, as it has sufficient downtime between the action to tend to the story and characters without ever emerging as a profound drama. As B-movie action entertainment, Homefront is very passable indeed.

Stallone's name may sound strange attached to the movie, but one must remember that he has written movies for decades, earning an Oscar nomination for Rocky. He also directed Staying Alive back in the '80s, an out-of-left-field move that still confuses many.

At the helm of the picture is Gary Fleder, who handles Stallone's script with utmost finesse. This is a fairly stylish movie, and the action scenes - the film's bread & butter - are exciting and competently assembled. There's also a solid cast here, led by Statham who espouses his trademark scowl. People may be getting sick of Statham's shtick, but he's just sticking to his strengths, and he does this type of thing extremely well. He's an engaging hero who seems committed to each role he plays, and he's well-suited to the physical demands of these types of action movies. Izabela Vidovic makes a positive impression as The Stath's daughter, while James Franco is a solid enough bad guy.

To be sure, there's no originality here, and the conflicts are usually pretty exaggerated. Stand-offish locals are a stereotype that needs to be retired, and sparks also fly between The Stath and his daughter's teacher. Not everything gels, but the movie works for the most part. What separates Homefront from similarly dumb action offerings is its sense of style, as it goes through the motions skilfully enough to make for an entertaining time-waster that rarely drags. The climax is a great payoff, too, as it's dynamically directed and at times really suspenseful. Homefront is a pleasant matinee distraction for those seeking a bit of trashy action entertainment, or for Statham completists.

7.2/10

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People who added this item 113 Average listal rating (57 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.1


"For 50 years we have been talking non-violence. Not anymore.

The timing of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is impeccable, but not exactly by design. Filmed in 2012, the movie was in the works long before Nelson Mandela's passing in December 2013, rendering the movie more poignant than anyone had anticipated. Based on Mandela's autobiography, it's a strong, competently produced biopic of the legendary South African, adhering to the well-worn structure of delving into many decades of the man's life. It's also commendably honest and underplayed; rather than blindly celebrating Mandela and using manipulative filmmaking gimmicks to wring tears, the movie plays out in a matter-of-fact manner, which is for the best.

To be sure, the structuring of Long Walk to Freedom isn't perfect. It manages to explore a number of key events throughout Mandela's life with sufficient depth, but the script begins to rush once it gets to Mandela's release from prison, giving us the cliff-notes version of his rise to Presidency when a fuller portrayal would be more satisfying. Nevertheless, there's plenty to admire here, especially in the strong performances and robust production values. Idris Elba is pitch-perfect in the lead role, not merely mimicking but wholly embodying Mandela. He's such an engaging and charismatic presence, yet he's also understated, and manages to convince as the character advances through the years. Make-up effects are superb, as well, turning Elba into a splitting image of Mandela in his latter years. Naomie Harris is remarkable as well, full of passion and gravitas. This is predominantly an actor's movie, and luckily these two lead performances are immaculate. Luckily, too, the supporting cast are just as strong.

Long Walk to Freedom is extremely old-fashioned, and it manages to tell its story in an effective manner within the restraints of a PG-13 rating. It's an edifying historical tale of perseverance, and it will likely find a place in school history class in a few years. It also serves as a marvellous companion piece to Clint Eastwood's Invictus. It's not exactly Best Picture-calibre, but it's a sensational achievement nevertheless, immortalising Mandela's life on-screen at just the right time.

7.3/10

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"Listen up, we have been boarded by armed pirates. If they find you, remember, you know this ship, they don't. Stick together and we'll be alright. Good luck."

Director Paul Greengrass' first motion picture in a number of years, 2013's Captain Phillips finds the seasoned filmmaker back in familiar territory, utilising his intense documentary-style approach to tell the true story of the first pirate takeover of an American vessel since the 19th Century. It's a riveting, incredibly intense picture, but it also feels like Greengrass is playing it too safe; it's closer to Green Zone than United 93, eschewing the sophistication and emotional impact of the latter film in favour of the more simplistic storytelling of the former. Nevertheless, it's easy to be impressed with Captain Phillips, with its superb technical presentation and strong acting right down the line. Nails will be chewed and armrests will be clenched, which is more than what can be said for a lot of movies coming out of Hollywood these days.

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"We're starting a 24-hour news channel!"

2004's Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy might not have set the box office on fire, but the ensuing years have been kind to the film, as it generated a post-theatrical cult following and made a killing in home video sales. It's a pop culture staple, and nine years later it's still quoted by its doting fans on a continual basis. It took almost a decade, but Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues has finally come together after years of false starts, with the now all-star cast reuniting to reprise the roles that have become ingrained in popular culture. It's not as snappy as the previous film, and it's missing the unique spark of pure insanity, but Anchorman 2 is by no means a disappointment, as it's loaded with belly-laughs and effective satire. It's incredibly stupid, of course, but it's sure to deliver if you're a fan of this type of humour.

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People who added this item 389 Average listal rating (266 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.7
2 Guns (2013)


"The bank was a set-up. We gotta figure out whose money that was."

An adaptation of the little-known graphic novel series of the same name by Steven Grant, 2 Guns represents the second collaboration of star Mark Wahlberg and Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur. Whereas their last movie, 2012's Contraband, was a deadly serious thriller, 2 Guns is more of a fun-loving buddy action film in the vein of Lethal Weapon, with colourful bantering and one-liners amid the violent shootouts. It very much recaptures the spirit of classic action movies from decades ago, to the extent that Bill Paxton even appears here, in what must be his first theatrical appearance since the 1990s. 2 Guns is ordinary in terms of narrative, but it roars to life on-screen, which is mainly thanks to Wahlberg and Denzel Washington, who carry the feature with their effortless charisma and chemistry.

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People who added this item 1290 Average listal rating (793 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.7
The Wolverine (2013)


"I've been trying to find you for over a year. My employer's dying, he wants to thank you for saving his life."

Even the most die-hard X-Men fans cannot defend 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a misguided disaster in every conceivable way. It would seem that even the folks behind the film acknowledge its awfulness, so now we have 2013's The Wolverine, which distances itself from its forerunner by avoiding a numerical appendage and not tying into its events. Luckily, The Wolverine is a vast improvement over the previous movie, with director James Mangold delivering the best cinematic representation of Logan/Wolverine to date, on top of presenting the defining appearance of Hugh Jackman in the titular role. Mangold's picture smartly avoids including as many mutant cameos as possible, instead delivering a lean, focused action-thriller. Based on a popular comic series from the 1980s, The Wolverine succeeds due to its grounded nature, with the writers choosing to create a character study as opposed to a dumb blockbuster.

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People who added this item 901 Average listal rating (568 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.1


"You've got the best crew in the world standing right in front of you, give them a reason to stay."

Impossibly, the formerly awful Fast and the Furious series at long last became good with the release of the fifth film, Fast Five, in 2011. Dumping the dead weight of the street racing tangents, the producers reinvented the franchise to create a solidly entertaining heist picture, and it paid off with surprising critical acclaim and box office success. Riding high on this triumph, we now have Fast & Furious 6, which retains its predecessor's tone and proclivity for pure blockbuster action. Helmed by Justin Lin and written by Chris Morgan (collaborating for their fourth consecutive outing in this series), it's an empty but entertaining showcase of fast cars and superlative stunt-work which also provides some satisfying fan service for anyone who's been watching this series since the beginning. Fast & Furious 6 may not be as good as Fast Five, but it's better than the rest of the films in the series, and it's a hell of a lot of fun.

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People who added this item 456 Average listal rating (284 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.4


"You're not afraid of the dark, are you?"

A passion project for star Vin Diesel and writer-director David Twohy, 2013's Riddick is the third big-screen outing of the titular character, scrubbing away the soulless PG-13 extravagance of The Chronicles of Riddick in order to get back to the spirit of the original movie, Pitch Black. Produced on a petite $38 million budget and armed with an R rating, Riddick is vehemently a back-to-basics endeavour, foregrounding horror elements and once again portraying the franchise's namesake as a morally ambiguous badass with a penchant for brutal violence. The resultant picture is not exactly a masterpiece, but it is enjoyable B-movie nonsense, with strong craftsmanship rendering it a fun time-killer for both fans of the series as well as the uninitiated, even if it fails to introduce much innovation.

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People who added this item 249 Average listal rating (166 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 5.7


"You and me... we got a little unfinished business to take care of."

Although released in 2013, Bullet to the Head was actually filmed before 2012's The Expendables 2, but distributor Warner Bros. delayed its release for unknown reasons, probably to mooch off the success of Sylvester Stallone's ensemble actioner. Sly has directed a number of his recent projects, including 2006's Rocky Balboa and 2008's Rambo, but Bullet to the Head finds the aging action star back as an actor for hire. And it was a terrific move; rather than a stereotypical Stallone flick, this is a dark Walter Hill movie concerned with antiheroes and brutal violence, and it's not an ego trip for anyone involved. It's a vastly enjoyable, bruising action-thriller brimming with machismo, and it revives the spirit of the 1980s with genuine panache.

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People who added this item 1393 Average listal rating (888 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3


"I've been waiting for this my whole life! I'm gonna be a scarer!"

Out of the entire Pixar oeuvre, 2001's Monsters, Inc. was probably the one movie least in need of a sequel; the problems of both the characters and their world are resolved by the story's end, leaving absolutely nowhere to go. To circumvent this issue, 2013's Monsters University elects the prequel route, but that comes with its own set of issues as well. The big problem facing this movie is that Monsters, Inc. spent its entire runtime revealing the scare business to be one big sham, disproving the notion that infants at toxic, and discovering that there are alternate energy sources. It therefore goes without saying that University isn't interested in the thematic relevance of the original movie, content to just be a fun college comedy (think Animal House or Revenge of the Nerds) based in the Monsters, Inc. cinematic universe. Luckily, judged as an entertaining time, the film is a big success. It would be nice to see Pixar going for broke and venturing into original territory once again, but I'll gladly take Monsters University over the abominable Cars 2 or last year's ordinary Brave.

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