Top 10 Most-Read Film Reviews of 2013

Hey, 'After Earth' lands on a list that isn't worst-of-year

2013 was the year “hate-watching” became both a buzzword and a national pastime, so it makes sense that the Chronicle's most highly trafficked film review of the year was for a movie that critics and audiences alike had little love for. After the jump, we revisit our most clicked-on reviews.


1) After Earth (D: M. Night Shyamalan)

After Earth is an ambitious man-against-nature epic, although keep in mind that in science-fiction nature is always made-up construct and not real. This results in a sense of the deck being stacked and a diminishment of the heroics. The film is repetitive and not as suspenseful at it tries to be. Often gorgeous, sometimes fascinating, it is ultimately unwieldy and unsurprising. It fails as a Smith-family project.”

Read Louis Black’s 2-star review.



2) Mud (D: Jeff Nichols)

“Nichols yokes his hypermasculine stories – of blood feuds and gruff family men buckling under the stress of being a provider – to a soulful romanticism. With American independent film teeming with so many shaky-cam snarksters, what an electric riposte to the status quo is Nichols, whose films are classically constructed and deadly serious. In his short but potent career, he’s mastered a wide-vistaed eye for the epic and the elemental."

Read Kimberley Jones’ 4-star review.



3) Gravity (D: Alfonso Cuarón)

“As an example of one of the most rarefied genres of filmmaking – the two-character action-drama – Gravity stands above and apart from everything that’s come before.”

Read Marc Savlov’s 4-star review.



4) The Counselor (D: Ridley Scott)

“The Pulitzer Prize-winning Cormac McCarthy, at 80, has penned an unsettling anti-noir with surrealist comic tinges. There’s nary a nighttime sequence in the whole film apart from one memorable moment of motorcycle carnage, but The Counselor nevertheless exudes a miasma of dirt-dry menace from its first scene.”

Read Marc Savlov’s 3-star review.



5) Before Midnight (D: Richard Linklater)

Before Midnight surpasses the two previous films in this trilogy in terms of its intelligence, narrative design, and vivacity. It’s a grand accomplishment, and I feel greedy about wanting to see this film series continue.”

Read Marjorie Baumgarten’s 4.5 star review.



6) The Great Gatsby (D: Baz Luhrmann)

“Who but Baz Luhrmann is more obviously able to chronicle the riotous bender that was the Jazz Age – and its morning-light, scratchy-headed hangover, too? ... Luhrmann has always had a knack with the fever of passion, but here he only catches high fever’s empty gibberish.”

Read Kimberley Jones’ 2-star review.



7) Side Effects (D: Steven Soderbergh)

“Steven Soderbergh claims this is the last movie he intends to make – at least for a good, long while – so it’s nice that the filmmaker leaves us with this sterling example of his skills and talent.”

Read Marjorie Baumgarten’s 3.5-star review.



8) The Place Beyond the Pines (D: Derek Cianfrance)

“Running almost two and a half hours, Pines is a melodrama, multigenerational epic, heist film, and motorcycle-fetish movie all rolled into one. Arguably, it’s a bit overambitious, but good God, look at Gosling!”

Read Leah Churner’s 4-star review.



9) Star Trek Into Darkness (D: J.J. Abrams)

“Abrams’ space isn’t the final frontier: The landscape reads more like, “Haven’t we been here before?” Well, yes, but a whirligig doesn’t go anywhere, either, and it’s still fun to watch it spin.”

Read Kimberley Jones’ 3.5-star review.

**Bonus round for the reader comment that most emphatically argued girls are dum-dums: “I don't think K.J. had the right amount of testosterone to do this film justice. Maybe she needs to eat some oysters or work out; I don't know. But your readers deserve better. You wouldn't send Mike Tyson to write a review of Sense and Sensibility. No more K.J. on blockbusters."



10) The Heat (D: Paul Feig)

“Oh, but more often than not The Heat is just stupid-funny, which circles us back to Melissa McCarthy, motor-mouthing four-letter fury like an operatic aria. She sells Mullins as delightfully unhinged and fairly radiating with rage, and it’s irresistible.”

Read Kimberley Jones’ 3-star review.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Film, Top 10, After Earth, Mud, Gravity, The Counselor, Before Midnight, The Great Gatsby, Side Effects, The Place Beyond the Pines, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Heat

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