Destinies Year in Film Review 2013

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The Destinies Film Review Team assembles live to discuss the best and worst genre films of 2013. Featuring the picks of Howard Margolin, Rachel Margolin, Phil Merkel, Christopher DeFilippis, Brain Krey and Julia Merkel.

And if just listening to the show isn’t enough for you, check out everyone’s lists below, including full comments from Howard.

(NOTE: Films are rated according to the Destinies $0-$8 rating scale, where the reviewers provided)

Howard’s List

5) The Wolverine $7.00
Probably the most intense film in the X-Men franchise so far, this story was based on the classic Chris Claremont/Frank Miller mini-series from 1982. No one has ever played a superhero in six separate feature films before this, and Hugh Jackman deserves credit for bringing Logan to life, even though he’s always been taller than the character should be. Here, in a story that follows up on the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, we see Logan pushed to his physical limits, with his healing factor disabled, and how he moves past his guilt over killing Jean Grey to find love with Mariko, who is portrayed by Tao Okamoto, as a much more modern woman than in the 1982 comics. I was a bit disappointed with the bloodlessness of the battles, and I’m curious to see how the character will change now that he’s lost his adamantium claws. A nice lead-in to this summer’s upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past.

4) Iron Man 3 $7.05
Robert Downey, Jr. once again gave us a Tony Stark who uses his humor and intellect to deal with the complications that his super-heroic life throws at him. In a story inspired by Warren Ellis’ “Extremis,” Tony finally gets to fight a non-armored enemy, deal with his anxiety attacks caused by the events in The Avengers, continue his relationship with Pepper Potts, and prove that he can be a hero even without one of his 42 armored suits. Tyler Bates provided a cool musical theme for the character, accompanied by a wild 1970’s-style credit sequence. What brings this movie down is the lack of motivation of the main villain, Aldrich Killian, and turning the Mandarin, traditionally Iron Man’s arch-enemy, into a joke. Plus, I must admit that “How It Should Have Ended” got it absolutely right when it came to the way the missile strike on Tony’s house should have played out.

3) Thor: The Dark Word $7.10
More enjoyable than the first Thor, this installment continued the post-Avengers continuity and showed us how all the cast of the first movie have progressed with their lives. It was great to see a fully-powered Thor trashing aliens that resembled the Stone Men from his first appearance in Journey Into Mystery. Jane Foster got to confront Thor about his abrupt departure, Loki for his part in the invasion of New York, and visit Asgard. Excellent performances by most of the principle cast–including Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Rene Russo, and Zachary Levi–were among the highlights of this movie. Only Christopher Eccleston’s disappointing, and surprisingly bland Malekith brought it down.

2) About Time $7.35
Tim (played by Domnhall Gleeson) learns that he, like his father (played by Bill Nighy) and all the men in his family, has the power to travel in time within his own life. How he uses that ability, to shape his own path, and learn what he can and can’t change, and how that affects his interactions with his family, especially his love interest, portrayed by Rachel McAdams, his sister, his children, and, ultimately, his father, makes this cross between Groundhog Day and Quantum Leap work beautifully, with an internal logic that holds together. I love a good time travel film with relatable characters at its heart, and About Time gave me a welcome break from the big-budget, action-packed movies that make up the rest of my top 5.

1) Kick-Ass 2 $7.50
By far, the most enjoyable film of the year for me. It gave me almost everything I look for in a sequel: characters I care about, and development of those characters, ramped-up action, and humor. Dave Lizewski’s alter-ego inspires others to dress up and fight crime, which also leads to the rise of costumed villains. Seeing Dave’s relationships with his friends, super-colleagues, Hit-Girl (played by the talented Chloe Grace-Moretz), and especially his father change as a result of his choices formed the heart of this story. The action scenes were fast-paced and almost everyone in the supporting cast, from Hit-Girl to Red Mist, got an actual story arc of their own.

Honorable Mention) Saving Mister Banks, Frozen, This is the End

WORST: A Haunted House $1.13
An African-American spoof of the Paranormal Activity series, that committed the cardinal sin of a comedy: it wasn’t funny. I think that Paranormal Activity was a movie that never should have become a franchise, so I was hoping for a chance to laugh at a parody of a series that’s outlived its premise. But, instead we got low-brow sex and toilet humor with stereotypical characters. I don’t know if I’m more disappointed in the fact that not only is there a new Paranormal Activity installment coming out this week but that A Haunted House 2 is also set for release in 2014.


Rachel’s List

5) Warm Bodies $6.75

4) The Conjuring $6.99

3) Kick-Ass 2 $7.00

2) The Hunger Games: Catching Fire $7.70

1) Frozen $7.90

WORST: Mortal Instruments $1.00


Phil’s List

5) Warm Bodies $6.00

4)  (TIE) Pacific Rim $6.50

4) (TIE) Thor: The Dark World $6.50

3) Gravity $7.00

2) Her $7.50

1) Europa Report $7.75

Honorable Mention) Upside Down, The Brass Teapot, Kick-Ass 2, Escape from Tomorrow

WORST: Star Trek Into Darkness $ .50


Chris’s List

See my full list with comments here


Brian’s List

5) GI Joe: Retaliation

4) The Lone Ranger

3) Iron Man 3

2) The Wolverine

1) Her

WORST: Star Trek Into Darkness


Julia’s List

5) The Madoka Magica: Rebellion $5.00

4) (TIE) This is the End $5.50

4) (TIE) Kick Ass 2 $5.50

3) Warm Bodies $6.50

2) Pacific Rim $7.25

1) My Little Pony: Equestria Girls $7.95

Honorable Mention) From Up On Poppy Hill, Monsters University

WORST: Oz the Great and Powerful $1.50