A final round-up of my trips to the cinema in 2013. Better late than never…
15th May: Star Trek: Into Darkness (3D). I must start with a brief disclaimer. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Trekkie. That said, JJ Abrams did a terrific job of directing what turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable film. The casting of Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch as the villain was a major selling point.
19th May: Fast & Furious 6. My first foray into the F&F franchise and I was totally hooked. I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend a Sunday evening than to watch fast cars hurtling through the streets of London (kind of like Top Gear but without the annoyance of Jeremy Clarkson). The fact that the film starred two of my holy trinity of action heroes (Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel) didn’t hurt either. High-octane, accomplished and very entertaining.
22nd May: The Great Gatsby. Possibly one of the most anticipated films of 2013. Baz Luhrmann’s take on F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic tale of wealth and desire provided a visually stunning recreation of the Jazz Age, which was accompanied by an absolutely banging score. But sadly it turned out to be a triumph of style over substance.
2nd June: The Big Wedding. A wedding-based farce with heavy hitters Robert Di Niro, Diane Keaton, Robin Williams and Susan Sarandon. Entertaining enough but not as good as the assembled cast of stars might suggest.
23rd June: Man of Steel. As far as I’m concerned, Christopher Reeve is now – and always will be – the ultimate Superman. Nevertheless, Brit actor Henry Cavill was very creditable indeed as the latest incarnation of the klutzy news hound and his superhero alter ego. Girl crush Amy Adams made a marvellous Lois Lane.
14th July: Now You See Me. A film that featured two of my favourite cinematic themes: daring heist and grand illusion. This fast-paced thriller followed the exploits of a hip troupe of stage magicians – The Four Horsemen – who used tricks and sleight of hand to fleece the rich and redistribute to the poor. Fantastic twist at the end.
21st July: Despicable Me 2. Reformed master villain Gru and his merry band of yellow minions made a welcome return in the film that gave the world one of the big music hits of 2013. Snappy, funny, feel-good movie that wasn’t just for the kids.
18th July: The World’s End. The final outing for Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. A group of school friends reunite after 20 years to partake in a pub crawl of epic proportions only to find themselves unexpectedly gate-crashed by the living dead. The soundtrack was a nostalgia-fest for anyone who was a student during the 1990s.
11th August: The Heat. Sandra Bullock is a fine actress and a very funny woman. Quite what she was doing in this third-rate law enforcement buddy comedy was beyond me.
25th August: We’re the Millers. Poor Jennifer Aniston. Beloved as Rachel in Friends, her subsequent movie career has been patchy to say the least. Lucky, then, that she said yes to this film, which was laugh out loud funny. Jen wasn’t half bad in it, although her thunder was somewhat stolen by the brilliant Will Poulter as her fake son Kenny.
8th September: About Time. Richard Curtis was back on form with another bittersweet comedy about love and loss. Tim learns on his 21st birthday that he is the latest in a long line of time travellers on the male side of his family. Naturally, he (mis)uses his new-found powers to get the girl of his dreams but soon realises that it’s not as simple as all that. Not a dry eye in the house by the final scene.
15th September: Rush. Riveting biopic about the rivalry between racing drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda as they battled for supremacy in the 1976 Formula 1 season. Directed by Ron Howard, this film featured great performances from Chris Hemsworth as Hunt and Daniel Brühl as Lauda. The scenes at the racetrack were breathtaking but at heart this was a character-driven film that set out to uncover the complex relationship between two sportsmen who had their eye on the same prize.
29th September: The Way Way Back. American coming of age story that played out over a summer at the beach. A smashing little indie film with comedy actor Steve Carell playing against type as the bad guy.
13th October: Prisoners. A tense, psychological drama that starred Hugh Jackman as a father whose young daughter goes missing and Jake Gyllenhaal as the cop tasked with finding her. Dark, gritty, edge of the seat stuff that kept us guessing until the very end.
10th November: Sunshine on Leith. The Proclaimers greatest hits repackaged as an Edinburgh-based musical about two young soldiers and how they adjust to life on civvy street following a tour in Afghanistan. Guilty pleasure of 2013.
17th November: Captain Phillips. Director Paul Greengrass gave us an exceptional thriller based on the events surrounding the 2009 hijack of an American container ship by Somali pirates. The Everyman that is Tom Hanks was well-cast as the titular captain but it was newcomer Barkhad Abdi who moved us with his BAFTA-winning portrayal of lead pirate Muse.
4th December: The Butler. A sweeping historical drama that covered key events of 20th century US social and political history. Forest Whitaker played long-serving White House butler Cecil Gaines, ably supported by Oprah Winfrey as his wife Gloria. Watch out for their hilarious his ‘n hers 1970s jumpsuits and Jane Fonda’s star turn as Nancy Reagan.
11th December: Gravity (3D). With their shuttle damaged beyond repair, astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) fought to survive after a routine spacewalk went horribly wrong. In my opinion, the first 3D movie to deliver visual effects that actually justified the hike in ticket price and the need to wear silly glasses. Total genius and well deserving of all the awards season plaudits that followed.