5 Most Overrated Movies of 2013

A presidential butler, a bunch of pirates, and a University devoted to scaring kids are among this year's most over-praised movies. Find out what else made the cut.
For the past two years, I've been breaking down my Top 10 movies, Most Underrated Movies and Most Overrated Movies all in one piece. This year, we've decided to switch things up a bit and separate each category for a trifecta of year-end lists, starting with my picks for Most Overrated Movies of 2013. Last year, I saw just under 150 movies, and I was determined to surpass that mark in 2013, which I did. Click Here! for the full list of movies I've seen this year, although there will be a handful more that I plan on seeing before compiling my Top 10 list in the coming days. For me, spouting off the bad movies that almost everyone knows are bad, isn't interesting. However, there are always a handful of films that get showered with critical praise that I just can't comprehend or agree with. I'll finish with my Honorable Mention, a film that I did ultimately enjoy, but not nearly as much as a vast majority of my colleagues. But first, here are five movies I was severely let down by in 2013.

1Monsters University - 78% on Rotten Tomatoes


Monsters University
As much as I loved Monsters Inc., the decision to follow that up by showing us Mike and Sully's friendship origin story in Monsters University is somewhat baffling to me. As I mentioned in my review, I did enjoy this prequel, but I still have no idea why they would go this route when there is such fertile storytelling ground left to sow after Monsters Inc., when Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) realize that kids aren't as "dangerous" as they once thought. But no, they go back to these monsters' college days to show how they became Monsters Inc.'s top scarers and BFFs, through a highly convoluted story that takes several unnecessary steps. Sadly, Monsters Inc. confirms what Cars 2 and Brave hinted at: That Pixar's best days may be completely behind them.


2The Grandmaster - 74% on Rotten Tomatoes


The Grandmaster
I am a big fan of Hong Kong cinema, but one of the major Chinese filmmakers I am not quite acquainted with is Kar Wai Wong. After seeing the tedious and overly stylized "action" film The Grandmaster, I'm not sure I want to see much more from the director. The fight scenes didn't do much at all for me, but, also, we already have two fantastic versions of the this story with Ip Man and Ip Man 2, starring the incomparable Donnie Yen. True, this film does seem to take a different approach than those films (although the timelines seem to overlap), but this doesn't hold a candle to Ip Man and Ip Man 2, in terms of organic fight sequences and storytelling techniques. I was honestly struggling to stay awake in the theater, despite solid performances by Tony Leung and Ziyi Zhang.


3Lee Daniels' the Butler - 73% on Rotten Tomatoes


Lee Daniels' the Butler
While there are aspects of the previous films that I did enjoy, I thoroughly detested almost everything about Lee Daniels' the Butler, a film I originally thought would be right in my wheelhouse. I'm a huge fan of Forest Whitaker, and he does deliver a fine performance here, but this overly-sprawling true story adaptation makes it harder and harder to root for this White House butler as the film progresses, slowly, through the terms of eight different U.S. Presidents. Yes, the ensemble cast is impressive (except Oprah Winfrey...), but Danny Strong's script feels like it tries to inject the Forrest Gump formula into this true story, which results in an ultimately unsatisfactory viewing experience.


4Elysium - 69% on Rotten Tomatoes


Elysium
Back in April, I attended a press event in L.A. where Elysium director Neill Blomkamp, producer Simon Kinberg and star Sharlto Copley showcased 10 minutes of footage, and held a Q&A session that got me incredibly excited for this sci-fi thriller. When it came time to see the full movie in August, it was easily the most disappointing theatrical experience for me all year. While the visuals are surely breathtaking, this story of an ailing Earthling (Matt Damon) trying to break into the elite space colony Elysium is much more mundane than I had imagined. Matt Damon, Sharlto Copley and Wagner Moura (whose eccentric performance should have gotten much more acclaim) perform admirably, but Jodie Foster, who plays one of the the Elysium leaders, delivers possibly the worst performance of her career. After a simply astonishing debut with 2009's District 9, it's probably safe to say that expectations were unrealistically high for Neill Blomkamp's follow-up, but I wasn't expecting to dislike it as much as I did.


5World War Z - 67% on Rotten Tomatoes


World War Z
The 67% on RT does boggle the mind, but I was thoroughly shocked when this lame zombie thriller took in $540 million worldwide (from a whopping $190 million budget). I wasn't thoroughly excited for this adaptation of Max Brooks' novel to begin with, and the horror stories I heard from the troubled production did not help by any means. When it finally came time to check this out, I was thoroughly infuriated by this pile-on of ludicrous conflicts and the filmmakers' tendency to break the very rules they go to great lengths to establish (Click Here! to read my full review). Oddly enough, while I've seen other critics blast the third act, I thought this was one of the only good aspects of the film, but it was far too little/too late. With a sequel currently in development, hopefully the filmmakers can learn from the numerous mistakes made in the original.


Honorable Mention: Captain Phillips - 94% on Rotten Tomatoes


Captain Phillips }
Like the esteemed Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, I've always had a soft spot for movies based on a true story, and the tale of Richard Phillips is one chocked full of cinematic potential. In 2009, Somali pirates hijacked Phillips' ship MV Maresk Alabama, the first time an American cargo liner was infiltrated in over 200 years, with Phillips sacrificing himself to save the lives of his crew members. With Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture - Drama, Tom Hanks (Best Actor), Barkhad Abdi (Best Supporting Actor) and director Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips will likely have its name called several times when the Oscar nominations are announced next month, although I don't think those accolades are fully deserved. While the performances by Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi are top-notch, this 134-minute slow burn definitely could use a few trims here and there. The thrilling conclusion does work, but the story trudges its way to the end, with Paul Greengrass' trademark shaky-cam that has no place in such a slow-paced story that struggled to hold my attention for the majority of the film.


That wraps it up for my most Overrated Movies of 2013. Stay tuned later this week for my Most Underrated Movies and Top 10 Movies of 2013. If you agree or disagree with my picks, let your voice be heard by hitting me up on Twitter (@GallagherMW).


Sources: Brian Gallagher

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Comments (21)

  1. Andrew Kotwicki

    Your unfamiliarity with Wong Kar Wai (and the Weinstein's tampering with running time) probably cemented your choice with "The Grandmaster" as one of the top 5 overrated films of the year. I haven't seen it yet but it behooves you to see "Chungking Express", "In the Mood for Love", "Fallen Angels", "2046". His films tend to ruminate on people falling in and out of love, so for him to make a martial arts film like "The Grandmaster" seemed like a departure for him, but then again, when you reach the apex of your career with "2046", and you take a 6 year hiatus, I suppose it's time to reinvent yourself.

    So, why isn't "Gravity" on this list?

    6 months agoby @Andrew-KotwickiFlag

  2. JPJullien

    I do agree with some of your picks, but MUST agree with thedude re Gravity. Without having read anything about it I put it on and actually turned the movie off after Clooney's tether release scene. It was one of the STUPIDEST things I've seen on film in years. Was the movie beautifully shot and gripping up til that point? Absolutely!
    But depicting them completely stopped, in SPACE, there was absolutely no reason for Clooney to drift away. It was only after turning the movie off that I googled it to discover astrophysicists had the same issue as me.
    I saw one posting that suggested a perfectly logical way to fix the problem (the cable that catches them slips off leaving them floating and to save her, Clooney pushes off, thus pushing her to the ISS and him into space) that would've saved arguably the MOST POINTLESS death in cinematic history!

    7 months agoby @JPJullienFlag

  3. undeadslayer4

    @gallagher u forgot IM3 that was overated

    7 months agoby @undeadslayer4Flag

  4. thedude-abides

    This is why I pay no nevermind to RT ratings. I find basing an "overrated/underrated" list on awards recognition (the number of nominations/wins) makes for a more accurate opinion. It just depends on what the criteria is.

    That said, I think The Butler and Captain Phillips were recieved fairly. 94% for the latter is a bit high, but neither film is probably going to win anything, and The Butler looks like it may be the odd film out in a number of categories once Oscar nominations are finally announced.

    If I were to make a list of the most overrated films of 2013, Nebraska, Gravity, and possibly August: Osage County (depending) would be near the top (again, purely based on awards recognition juxtaposed to its actual level of quality). Mud, Only God Forgives, and Stoker would probably top my list of most underrated.

    8 months agoby @thedude-abidesFlag

  5. Brian Gallagher

    My criteria for this list was based on a movie's critical reception, i.e. it's Rotten Tomatoes score. So, if a movie was well-received (over 60% on RT) and I didn't care for it, I consider that "overrated." @mr-k - I didn't see both Frozen or Planes, so that's the main reason those aren't on the list. @2movieguys - I don't see how Only God Forgives, Oblivion, Man of Steel or Oz: the Great and Powerful could be considered "overrated," since they were all below 60% on Rotten Tomatoes. Also, Gravity is not on this list since it's one of my favorite movies of the year:)

    I appreciate all of your thoughts on the article. Perhaps I may have to rethink how I approach this list next year. My Underrated list and Top 10 will be going up soon. Looking forward to your thoughts on those pieces. Happy Holidays!

    8 months agoby @gallagherFlag

  6. Nicholaus XX

    @mr-k -- Agreed. 'Frozen' freakin' sucked.

    8 months agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag

  7. Mr.K

    I'm sorry but Monster University overrated? Really? Rather than FROZEN and Planes, which those movies got a lot of critical acclaim for some reason.

    8 months agoby @mr-kFlag

  8. Nicholaus XX

    No offense, but do you even know what overrated is, Brian? Besides Captain Philips, no one makes mention of any of these movies. At least, in a high regard.

    8 months agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag

  9. CelluloidDreams

    ..also overrated: "Only God Forgives"...and "Oblivion" (Sorry Tom!)..."Man of Steel"..."Oz: The Great and Powerful".

    8 months agoby @2movieguysFlag

  10. CelluloidDreams

    "Monsters University" got boring after the 1st 3o minutes .My Rating: C- ..Thank G-D I rented it....we didn't need a origin story Pixar!.

    "World War Z" was just a joke (thank G-D someone else paid for it when I saw it in theater)...the book was better ...the movie had so many plot holes...and the acting stunk...."World War Z" needs a Razzie Award for "Worst Picture" and "Worst actress" Mireille Enos !

    "Elysium" was another film I'm glad I skipped in theater...just saw it on VOD......very ....strange...very ...I 'don't know what word to use...but ....left me scratching my head at points...my rating: C-

    8 months agoby @2movieguysFlag

  11. Dragon1991

    How was Elysium an overrated film for this year? The movie didn't even passed its production cost in the US.

    8 months agoby @Dragon1991Flag

  12. TheDude1

    Gravity should be on this list for sure.

    8 months agoby @thedude1Flag

  13. dess

    @c-a-r-t-m-a-n lol, so angry. I agree with Tug, horrible movie.

    8 months agoby @dessFlag

  14. Cartman

    @tug417 r u a retard? Gravity is one of the best movies of 2013

    8 months agoby @c-a-r-t-m-a-nFlag

  15. Sean

    The list above seems about right.

    8 months agoby @themoviefanaticFlag

  16. Celestialforthcoming

    @replicant nice lol, @Tug .... no

    8 months agoby @CelestialforthcomingFlag

  17. CoreyB

    @tug417 nah hahaha wrong

    8 months agoby @CoreyBFlag

  18. Josh

    World War Z is one of my favourite movies of the year, a surprisingly well-done film.

    8 months agoby @shuabertFlag

  19. Tug

    Gravity was the most overrated movie of the year, period.

    8 months agoby @tug417Flag

  20. Oxxford699

    Agree, Agree, and Agree. All the movies listed above were great except The GrandMaster (for me take or leave).

    8 months agoby @oxxford699Flag

  21. Replicant

    5 Most Unimportant and Unfundamented Web Articles of 2013:

    1: Brian Gallagher's "5 Most Overrated Movies of 2013"
    2: Same as above
    3: Same as above
    4: Same as above
    5: Same as above

    (I will give you that WWZ was atrocious though)

    8 months agoby @felipe-11Flag