Friday Favourites: Films of 2013
By The Hodderscape Team
Posted on February 21, 2014 in Film, Friday Favourites with tags Films, Friday Favourites, Frozen, The Hobbit
With the BAFTA Awards last week and the Oscars on the way, we’re taking a look back at our favourite films of 2013.
I didn’t get to the cinema as much as I’d have liked in 2013, but I did manage to see most of the big ticket (geeky) items. I was pleasantly surprised by both Thor 2 and Iron Man 3, which improved immeasurably upon their predecessors. As long as you think of the previous Iron Man film as Iron Man 2, not Avengers Assemble – which, honestly, was pretty much Iron Man 2.5. Iron Man 3 made the right decision to focus on the aftermath of the events in Avengers Assemble, and capped off Tony Stark’s four-film evolution really nicely. And while I found the first Thor film a bit snoozy, Thor 2 was snappier, funnier, and improved upon the characterizations of everyone – especially Jane, who really needed some improvement. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was also an improvement over the first installment, and there was a dragon, so win/win. I liked Pacific Rim, though I wasn’t as blown away by it as I may have been hoping. Star Trek: Into Darkness and World’s End were disappointments, but what can you do?
But I had a firm 2013 film favourite, and that film is Frozen. I’ve already written about it, but I’m happy to go on record again: Frozen is awesome. It’s powerful, it’s affecting, it’s about sisterly love, it features a few knowing sendups of old Disney tropes, a reasonably surprising third-act twist, a non-annoying sidekick, and some freaking brilliant singing. Also, the animation is gorgeous. Stick all the wins into a single box, label it ‘Frozen’ and you’re done.
You won’t hear me say this often, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the film of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is (shhh) better than the book. I’m a big fan of The Hunger Games – the first book is right up there when it comes to most compelling, unputdownable reads – but it’s fair to say that the trilogy goes downhill in books two and three. Not so with the films, it seems. The first film necessarily lost some of the wonderful subtleties of the book because there just isn’t time to include them all in this medium, but in Catching Fire I didn’t feel this at all – probably because the plot is actually too slight to make a great book, but perfect for a single movie. There was drama, there was violence, and most of all there was emotion: from the moment, early on, when Katniss stood in front of the crowd in Rue’s district and the audience made the mockingjay sign in solidarity, I was a gonner. (In fact, I counted, and I cried – not welled up, but cried proper tears – four times. Which was a bit embarrassing as I was with colleagues). Anyway, suffice to say, Catching Fire is epic.
A Field In England
When I first heard about A Field In England, I was intrigued by the premise: a horror film set during the English Civil War. Cool.
The basic plot is this: the year is 1648 and a group of Civil War soldier take their leave of the raging battle and take flight across an overgrown field. They are captured by an alchemist and his accomplice who force the group to join them in their search of hidden gold. After an encounter with a mysterious mushroom circle, things go rapidly downhill: cue infighting, paranoia and bloodshed.
This doesn’t really encapsulate the bizarreness that is A Field In England. Rather than the horror film I expected, it ended up being more like a stoner comedy shot through a kaleidoscope back in time and into a field where diabolical forces reign – think Dude Where’s My Car? where the car is actually the Devil and Ashton Kutcher is even more grotesque. Don’t try an imagine what that’s like: go and watch it!
There were so many BRILLIANT films out last year (along with the abundance of terrible ones…) but I have to say that my absolute favourite was Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (and a lot of space!!). I’ve always loved going to the cinema since my very first outing to see Space Jam in 1996 and am often blown away by movies but this one really got me! I won’t explain the plot as I’m sure/I hope everyone has seen it – it’s basically the two lead actors on a doomed mission in space. I saw the film in 3D, which normally makes me feel sick, and it was simply amazing! I can’t quite believe the amount of time and research that must’ve gone in to making such an incredibly beautiful and unbelievably tense film. I strongly believe that it was the best film of last year and I hope it receives as many Oscars as it can.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
My favourite film of 2013 had to be The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I loved it simply because it reminded me of Lord of the Rings, and anything that reminds me of LOTR is automatically great.
I have many reasons for loving the second Hobbit film. Firstly, it established what I can only say is a guilty pleasure, I have developed a love for Martin Freeman. After watching interviews with him I realised that he is by far one of the more entertaining actors I’ve seen. He has the great sarcastic wit that us Britons are known for, as well as being small (I’m pretty tiny so I feel we have a bond). If you don’t believe me watch his interviews with Graham Norton.
Secondly, Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lily. Now I know this is controversial because Lily isn’t exactly adored by the loyalists. However, I thought that they actually worked well within the film, it gave the film a bit of female power (necessary for most films nowadays) and Legolas definitely gave us all some LOTR nostalgia.
The final, and main, reason that I loved The Desolation of Smaug was simply because it was well made. I thought the first film was trying too hard to be entertaining, it wanted to be like Lord of the Rings and just couldn’t quite reach that level, which made it slightly painful to watch. This film was a different monster, it had more of its own identity and was actually much more entertaining than the first.
Maybe I was spoilt by LOTR when the first Hobbit came out, or maybe I was just hoping for something that was exactly like the beloved trilogy, either way I think the second sat more comfortably because I knew what to expect. The film became its own instead of a spin-off.