2013: A year of flash, bang and whallop

GRAVITY

It’s been a funny old year at the multiplex.  The Girl In Row K takes a look back at 2013’s heroes and villains of the big screen.

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This year blocks were busted and hearts were broken; we switched from Team Gale to Team Peeta (Hunger Games), and believed a man could fly (Man of Steel, Iron Man 3 , Thor) and a woman could float (Gravity).

We watched robots bash monsters (Pacific Rim), the undead come back to life (Warm BodiesWorld War Z, Only Lovers Left Alive) and worlds end (Ender’s Game, The World’s End, This is The End).

2013 at the pictures was a wild ride where spectacle and philosophy ruled.

The biggest film of 2013 (with a couple of gems still to make their mark at the box office yet – namely that Hobbity film and Anchorman 2) was a sequel and the first film in Marvel’s post Avengers– pre Avengers 2 hype machine.

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Marvel’s Iron Man 3 , directed by Hollywood legend Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and starring that other Hollywood legend Robert Downey Jnr, made a staggering US $1,215,439,994 world wide.

For the record, that’s three more numbers than there’s room for on Tony Stark’s pocket calculator.

It was also completely brilliant, taking fans of the first two films and 2012 tie-in, The Avengers, on thrill trip that neatly tied up the feckless superhero’s solo story while paving the way for his continued appearance in future Marvel films.

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Other supers zoomed onto our screens too, with Superman making a welcome and stunning return in Man of Steel, and Iron Man’s buddy Thor busting up Greenwich like a champ in Thor: The Dark World.

While ponderous sci-fi epics where all over the place this year, Oblivion, Elysium and Ender’s Game failed to find the mega-audiences their creators hoped for.

Older franchises still had plenty of dilithium in their chambers though, with Star Trek Into Darkness causing a huge ruckus at the box office, despite being a confusing, limp dirge of a film.

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Simpler and sillier (and jaw-droppingly bigger) robots v monsters epic Pacific Rim was the real sci-fi success of the year though.

Its huge takings proved that courting audiences outside the US is now key to recouping the mega budgets these kinds of spectacles require.

Speaking of spectacles, Row K’s film of the year, Gravity, had spectacle enough for fifty films.

While it’s been criticised for some sketchy writing, director Alfonso Cuaron’s ode to the majesty of life and how desperately we’ll cling to it when its necessities are taken away, was so visually stunning it surpassed its faults.

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Complete with one of the finest performances of the year from a weightless Sandra Bullock, it set the bar for future philosophical sci-fi stratospherically high.

But it wasn’t all flights, tights and space flights in 2013, though.

Biopics Rush, Captain Phillips, Diana and Jobs proved real life has enough drama to get curious bums on seats.

While Classic literature got the deluxe screen treatment in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby , Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine and Jon S. Baird’s somewhat sanitised (if you can believe that) version of Irving Welsh’s Filth.

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The Bard also returned to the silver screen, this time in black and white for Joss Whedon’s charm-fest Much Ado About Nothing.

Whedonites delighted in seeing the beloved casts of his less academic works, Avengers, Cabin in the Woods, Buffy and Angel, reunited for a fresh take on Shakespeare’s romantic farce.

Much Ado was hilarious, but it was British indie comedy and beer advert The World’s End that provided the biggest laughs of the year.

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It reunited the dream team of stars Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright in the pub crawl to end them all, literally.

The World’s End closed out Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy which started with ‘‘zom-rom-com’’ Sean of the Dead in 2004.

Zombies crawled back into cinema’s this year too, first with Warm Bodies, a zombie take on Romeo and Juliet, and then horror masterpiece World War Z, proving there was life in the old corpse yet.

Grown up horror had a huge come back this year, with The Conjuring scaring the bejaysus out of old fashioned freight fans.

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Kiwi made remake Evil Dead also slewed enough blood and guts around to keep any splatter fan happy.

But Row K’s horror of the year award  – which, for the record, is a vial of my tears – goes to indie slasher You’re Next, which tripped the survivor girl trope on it’s ass and stabbed it in the neck with needle nosed pliers.  It was hilariously funny too.

Beyond the gore, three of the biggest films of 2013 were children’s films.

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Despicable Me 2, Row K’s animation pick of the year, Monster’s University, and weird prehistoric gamble The Croods were huge hits with kid’s and parents alike.

Teen’s triumphed at the box office too, with Hunger Games: Catching Fire getting more young bums on seats in New Zealand than almost any other film this year.

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Hype for the film was feverish and Catching Fire did not disappoint.

Row K’s cinematic hero of the year is undoubtedly Katniss Everdeen, played by our real life hero Jennifer Lawrence.  Katniss was a luminous Everygirl, defiant, vulnerable and passionate as she stood up to The Man.

But we can’t say we’re not proud it’s a Kiwi spectacle that will bring the house lights up on a flashy old 2013.

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Defining the genre for years to come, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug looks set to, well, desolate, records set by Peter Jackson’s previous Tolkien films. It deserves to too.

Thrilling, gorgeous and above all fun, Smaug has a belly full of fire making it the perfect blockbuster to ring out the year with.


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