Just as everyone's publishing their "Best of" lists, people also seem eager to come up with ten widely panned movies to smear with the "Worst of" label. I've noticed a lot of the same films popping up on these lists, and I take umbrage with a handful of frequently included choices.
To say something is truly the worst movie released within a calendar year is kind of ridiculous anyway. The ten worst movies of 2013 were probably all fan films made in some guy's basement. The ten worst actually released films likely never even made it into a Redbox. Even when you shrink your criteria down to, what?, big budget, theatrically released films starring recognizable actors, I still think people have been throwing the term onto movies that don't really deserve it.
So here are some films that have been getting overly picked apart lately. None of them are great. I wouldn't want to rewatch any of these, actually, save maybe A Madea Christmas. But bad as they may be, they are definitely not the worst films that came out this year.
After Earth has a lot of problems all by itself before people start piling their hatred for M. Night Shyamalan, the Will Smith family hour, and distrust of Scientology onto it. Strip all that away, however, and you're left with a pleasingly small and contained adventure that utilizes video game structure in a pretty successful way. I also admire the nerdy confidence with which it displays its cooky sci-fi world building. Despite being made as a vanity project for an insanely powerful guy, his child, and his goofball religion, it still provides an interesting break from what today's science fiction tentpole films typically look like.
The Lone Ranger
For one, The Lone Ranger's faults are too weird to lack value. The utter disdain this film's two main characters display for each other may not be the kind of entertainment anyone wants, but it's still entertaining. On top of that, no movie with a sequence as rousing and well executed as The Lone Ranger's "William Tell" finale deserves to be lumped in with the worst of the year. The two hours leading up to it may have been a chore, but I walked out of this film with a big smile on my face. And then I thought, "Oh, shit. Now I have to lie or be the guy who liked The Lone Ranger."
I really don't like Vince Vaughn, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this film. Then I was surprised again by how much everyone else hated it. Regardless of its sappy nature and past-its-due-date premise, I found the indomitable optimism and inclusivity of the two main characters hard to dislike. But that's between me and my God. Why people would single out such a positive and harmless film as one of the year's worst is much harder for me to understand.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
This movie is pretty stupid. From its title down, there's absolutely nothing cool about defending this one. But I like it anyway. I like the gore, I like the leads, and I really like the refreshing practical effect that is Edward the Troll. This felt like a Sam Raimi film to me, in tone if not execution. It takes big goofy guts to give Hansel medieval diabetes from all the candy he was force fed while in childhood captivity. It takes even more to give him a medieval timer mechanism to remind him to take his medieval insulin shot from a medieval syringe. I find that stuff too fun to hate.
A Madea Christmas
I probably shouldn't include this one. As a Tyler Perry film, it is by pretty much all definitions a bad movie and can only be praised from within a Tyler Perry context. But the gleeful negativity found in many reviews for A Madea Christmas indicates clear pre-written opinions that always rub me the wrong way with any film, not just when it comes to Tyler Perry's. It bothers me less with a movie like Temptation, which also came out this year and remains a very difficult film to sit through, but there are much more constructive things to say about A Madea Christmas than to simply treat it as totally worthless and then pat yourself on the back for being clever.