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'Man of Steel,' 'Die Hard' Top The A.V. Club's Worst Films of 2013

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by Sam Adams
December 11, 2013 9:10 AM
42 Comments
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'Man of Steel'

If Top 10 lists are aspirational -- not least because a good portions of the movies on them have yet to open -- worst-of lists are cathartic, a way to retrieve something from the wreckage of time wasted and expectations dashed. The A.V. Club's "Worst Films of 2013" favors the time-wasters, little-known (and less-loved) movies that for the most part barely made a dent in our collective consciousness. (Disclosure: I contributed to some of The A.V. Club's year-end features, although not this one.) Remember Dario Argento's Dracula or Dealin' With Idiots? Didn't think so.

That said, in at Number Four is a choice that's bound to generate plenty of controversy -- sorry, I mean "polite discussion in the comments section" -- Zack Snyder's Man of Steel. "With this single movie,"Scott MacDonald writes, "the trend toward 'serious' superhero stories officially achieves entropy." The overall winner? A Good Day to Die Hard, which even devout John McClane aficionados acknowledged was one yippee-ki-yay too far. 

The A.V. Club's Worst Films of 2013

1. A Good Day to Die Hard

2. Dealin' With Idiots. "The out-of-nowhere finale concludes with Garlin and the cast dancing in a circle around the camera, perhaps as part of some ritual to ask for the viewers' forgiveness."

3. And While We Were Here

4. Man of Steel

5. A Haunted House. "Working in the contemplative tradition of contemporary art cinema, Marlon Wayans and director Michael Tiddes fill A Haunted House with long stretches of inactivity and visual empty space, affording viewers ample time to think about all of the terrible decisions the'’ve made in their lives -- like, say, watching A Haunted House."

6. Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor

7. Austenland. "This Sundance-approved rom-com seems less informed by the best of English literature than the worst of Saturday Night Live."

8. Gangster Squad

9. The Big Wedding

10. Dario Argento's Dracula

11. Wrong

12. Battle of the Year. "It's probably a bad sign when a large chunk of a movie consists of the characters watching a different, better film about the exact same subject."

13. Planes

14. Hatchet III

15. Girl Most Likely

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More: Best of 2013

42 Comments

  • JigShaun | January 2, 2014 12:00 PMReply

    I would move a couple around, but that list matches pretty closely with my own. I think Man of Steel has enough positive qualities to get it off the list, although the SCRIPT is certainly bad enough to be worthy. And while the only thing "true" about Gangster Squad is that there really was a guy named Mickey Cohen, the look of the film and Sean Penn's performance argue in it's favour (Plus Frank Darabont's similar TV series about the same subject matter is SO MUCH WORSE). And I would probably move Plane's closer to the top, since it was also my most disappointing movie of the year. I know Cars was an animated remake of Doc Hollywood, but it was still a really entertaining film. Then Cars 2 came out. At least, I thought, Planes couldn't be any worse than THAT. Boy was I mistaken. Even my KIDS didn't like it and they've sat through multiple viewings of Doogal!

  • Tyler | December 31, 2013 6:44 PMReply

    "Hmmm, if I put a good and popular movie up here, I'll generate views. BRILLIANT!"

    Unfortunately it works. Well played, but it doesn't make Man of Steel bad, sorry.

  • Donella | December 30, 2013 9:12 PMReply

    For your consideration: Jack the Giant Slayer, The Host, The Mortal Instruments, Beautiful Creatures, The Getaway, The Counselor, 47 Ronin, RIPD...

  • KillBilly | December 30, 2013 5:45 PMReply

    Man of Steel was AWESOME!

  • IGBO | December 28, 2013 11:49 PMReply

    As of this writing, "Austenland" is the only one on the list that I have seen. Given the large number of Sundance submissions, I'm still baffled that this film made the coveted "Sweet 16" of the dramatic competition. Perhaps it was the film's "Napoleon Dynamite" pedigree.

  • Jonathan Dresner | December 28, 2013 12:22 AMReply

    Apparently this list was compiled before anyone screened Keanu Reeves' "47 Ronin."

  • Oliver | December 17, 2013 8:25 AMReply

    Snyder directing Superman is like Frank Miller directing The Spirit: a Christian NeoConservative adapting the work of Jewish humanists -- OF COURSE it's going to turn out bad, because the former ideology can't help but despise (consciously or subconsciously) the latter.

  • Kal | December 14, 2013 10:48 AMReply

    Man of steel are you kidding me
    That was easily one of the ten best of the year
    Half a Terrence mallick film and half seeing what we've wanted to see coming out of comics for years
    I hated sucker punch but this and watchmen are two of the best comic book adaptations I've ever seen

  • dukeroberts | December 18, 2013 12:57 PM

    I'll give you Watchmen. I think it's pretty great. Man of Steel however, was a frickin' mess.

  • Henry Whistler | December 13, 2013 12:36 AMReply

    Agreed, putting Man of Steel here was click bait bullshit. I find the movie only improves upon subsequent viewings, and has an emotional richness and authenticity that only enhances the action. It's rather ironic that critics rated Superman Returns more highly, because that was a completely atrocious film with possibly one of the worst plots in all of cinema. Straight to DVD titles have more sensical plots. Everything people hated about that movie, which did NOT age well, was fixed for Man of Steel. Yet MoS is constantly exorciated for giving us the sorely needed action that SR did not.

    I mean, okay, fair enough, you weren't blown away by the movie. But worst of the year? That's just someone trying to be a contrarian asshole.

  • ForReals | December 12, 2013 5:42 PMReply

    This list is drivel. It's the only list in existence where MoS deserves to be at no. 1

  • Rob | December 12, 2013 2:21 PMReply

    I'd probably put MOS in my worst of year list. Appreciated more on a second viewing, but its still very noisy, inconsistent, over serious cgi heavy guff.

  • Sonny Crockett | December 12, 2013 10:50 AMReply

    "Seventy-five percent haircut and twenty-five percent lilting lament."
    That was the NY Times review of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.
    Point is, Man Of Steel was a terrific film and will stand the test of time.
    Who cares what the av club says...
    Who are they anyway?

  • Rehan | December 12, 2013 5:38 AMReply

    Man of Steel was by far the best movie in a very long time - not just 2013. This article is baseless and false. According to IMDB users, Man of Steel is the best film by far this year.

  • JigShaun | January 2, 2014 12:27 PM

    "By far the best movie in a very long time?" I know you fanboys can get carried away, but even if we just talk super hero movies, Iron Man 3, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Captain America, were all better movies than Man of Steel. Then there are problems with the alien technology, The fact that they seem unprepared for their predicament, the ship that almost instantly gets the infant to earth, the most well-behaved teen ever… I thought the movie was entertaining, and certainly it was better than the train wreck Superman Returns turned out to be, but lets not get carried away.

  • Oliver | December 17, 2013 8:29 AM

    IMDB users have voted 'Gravity' a clearly higher score than 'Man of Steel'.

  • Josh | December 15, 2013 12:28 PM

    Not sure quite how you figure that, go check imdb again. Rush, Gravity, Before Midnight, Captain Phillips and 12 Years are all other films with higher scores there that spring immediately to mind.
    If Man of Steel really is your favourite of the year, good for you but you're one of the few who'd argue so. 7.5 is by no means a bad score, but certainly not a brilliant one...

  • Rehan | December 13, 2013 5:13 AM

    No I am not joking Man of Steel was by far one of the best films in a long time and by that I am not criticizing other films; I have enjoyed many films over the last few years and Man of Steel is by far the best of the lot. This is an opinion shared by many. Please refer to the IMDB website so you can see for yourself that Man of Steel has topped the list as a fan favourite. If you google "Man of Steel" you will see the article yourself.

  • Slazev | December 12, 2013 3:18 PM

    I liked Man of Steel, but "best movie in a very long time"? You got to be joking.
    You should really check IMDB again. It's 7.5 and if this grade means it's the best movie of the year, then it's been a really crappy year.

  • Riley | December 12, 2013 3:23 AMReply

    OH come on...Man of Steel was the only enjoyable comic book movie this year.It really stuns me to see how the only CBM this year that actually had some great themes behind it is being judged so hard while Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 ,two movies that had no message at all and all they did is throw jokes for 10 year olds all the time,get a free pass.And no it's notDC vs Marvel...but Marvel was over the top this year with the whole "humor" thing.They movies seem like they were made ONLY for kids.

  • Derp | December 12, 2013 3:44 PM

    Humor = meant for children?

    By that logic, South Park and Family Guy are children's shows.

    Also, I haven't seen MoS yet but sometimes movies that try too hard to be serious and meaningful can come across as heavy handed. It doesn't matter how serious a film is or isn't. It matters how entertaining it is. That said, while the humor worked very well in Thor 2, it fell flat in Ironman 3...and considering one of those comic scenes took place post a presumed 3some...clearly NOT meant for 10 year olds.

  • Alex | December 11, 2013 8:02 PMReply

    Man of Steel is a bait for us to come here. No Grown Ups? Come on! No one makes worst films than Adam Sandler.

  • ALEX hates adam sandler | December 20, 2013 3:56 AM

    punch drunk love is one of DDL fave films

  • Derp | December 12, 2013 3:48 PM

    Rob Schneider.

    (Not that Grown Ups isn't rubbish, but Sandler's had some decent films as well...and there's certainly worse offenders even just of the SNL alumni, let alone all of media.)

  • Nick | December 12, 2013 5:49 AM

    Watch 'Reign over me' and then let's talk again.

  • JP | December 11, 2013 6:13 PMReply

    Wow seriously? Whoever wrote this stupid list is a phsyco. Man of Steel was a great film, deffinitly not one of the worst of 2013. Im speechless, this is the most insane thing ive read on the internet in a while.

  • manofsteel | December 11, 2013 5:35 PMReply

    I wasnt a fan of man of steel, it belongs up there.

  • Bruce | December 11, 2013 1:25 PMReply

    Man of steel is in this list just for reason to get some clicks. I ask to the genius that made this list if he or she saw. The hangover 3, After earth, grows up 2, white house down, the purge, R.I.D.P, gateway, paranoia and many more. i don't get, why is the hate to Man of steel.

  • MDV | December 11, 2013 5:06 PM

    You missed one The lone ranger. They put man of steel on the list like a bait for clicks.

  • lee | December 11, 2013 12:06 PMReply

    I actually agree with having "Man Of Steel" here. BUT...do we really need a worst films list? And if so (though I don't see why) couldn't they keep it limited to large studio films and not pick on smaller fare, like, say, they perfectly fine "Austenland".
    All this said, where is "The Hangover 3"?

  • MDV | December 11, 2013 11:50 AMReply

    They debidelatery put Man of steel in this list to get some clicks. I do not understand the evil of some blogs and bloggers. How can be some people so losers.

  • Grammar Rodeo | December 18, 2013 9:27 AM

    Take a breath before typing, and learn how to S-P-E-L-L... this is gibberish!

  • Clark | December 11, 2013 11:29 AMReply

    The rest of the world didn't knew who A.V. Club's was until they put Man of Steel has one of the worst movies of the year.

  • Donella | December 30, 2013 9:10 PM

    Although they have ceased print production for lack of advertising dollars. Oh well.

  • Brent | December 11, 2013 6:39 PM

    Actually, the A.V. Club is a highly respected publication that has sported some of the best pop culture analysis around. Many people have heard of them, just not you.

  • John | December 11, 2013 9:49 AMReply

    I know everybody's worst of the year lists are going to be different and everyone has a right to their opinion, but if you genuinely think 'Man of steel' 'A good day to die hard' and 'Gangster Squad' were worse films than 'Movie 43' 'Scary Movie 5' and 'Inappropriate Comedy' then how could I possibly take your list seriously?

    And if you're going to tell me that you didn't watch those 3 films, then I would say that you should make an attempt to watch some of the worst films of the year if you're going to make a list of them.

  • Duder NME | December 28, 2013 9:03 PM

    Really, Brent? You're going with the straw-man-beating-a-dead-horse "expectation" excuse? This is why some people lack the perspective necessary to properly judge anything. John knows what the score is. Movie 43 was a thing that existed this year, and if you tout of be a professional critic, you are obliged to see whatever you can to make you "worst of" list as comprehensive as possible, instead of watching five hyped-up movies and exclaimnig "done!". Don't like it? Get a newer, lazier job.

  • Fred | December 12, 2013 4:51 PM

    Obviously John has a vendetta against all lowbrow sketch/spoof comedy as well as a perennial get out of jail free card for anything with guns and 'splosions. A Good Day to Die Hard was more than heartbreakingly bad.

  • Brent | December 11, 2013 6:42 PM

    Many reviewers base their "Worst of the Year" picks off of the potential of the film in question and where it met expectations. That's how the A.V. Club chooses (as well as the New Yorker's Richard Brody). The films you mentioned had very few of the expectations to meet that "Man of Steel" and "Gangster Squad" did.

  • Nique | December 11, 2013 11:29 AM

    I agree as well... as Bill Maher would say "Blogga Please!"

  • dynnik | December 11, 2013 10:49 AM

    Spot on, man! Completely agree with you.

  • Anon | December 11, 2013 9:15 AMReply

    Disagree with Man of Steel, it was thoroughly enjoyable. Doesn't deserve to be on this list.

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