I have to pose my results with a disclaimer. When most of the really fun stuff was happening in 2010, I had lost most of my staff at work, and had to work extraordinary long hours, and I feel I missed out on most of the fun. I am still playing catch up. Also, in regards to games, there was SO much flavor out of last year that spilled over into this year, that I found myself still playing last year's games and having a pretty good time doing so. I will however make due with what I know.
Movie: Tie between Inception and The Expendables
I want to say Inception. I really do. Why? Christopher Nolan knows how to make amazing movies...he really does. He made the best comic book movie of all time....The Dark Knight. Also...Leonardo Dicaprio has become one of my most hated actors, to one of my most beloved. He is really good at what he does, and knows how to sell a character. He has broken away from that pretty boy Titanic stereo type, and I have enjoyed just about everything he has done since he redeemed himself as playboy tycoon Howard Hughes in The Aviator. Inception is good, but my biggest problem with it, is that it is not by any stretch of the means a summer popcorn flick. The movie ultimately tells you a good story, but you spend the first 30-40 minutes of the movie not really knowing what the hell is going on, and flash backs be damned. Even though I got it, I feel this is too much of a mind rape for the average consumer in this day and age.
The Expendables, is not going to win anyone any awards. The plot is not deep. There is no Cannes festival art house feeling at all about a bunch of muscle head biker dudes who moonlight as mercenaries. But you know what this movie does well? Entertain! In a summer full of bad sequels and re-makes I finally left this one with a smile, because it was a film that did what it promised to do. Also, I forget sometimes that Sly, despite all his flaws, is actually a pretty decent writer and director. So what did he do? Simple. Lets get the biggest list of muscle head action heroes from the past two decades and put them on the big screen as biker mercenaries. Seriously, this is the biggest cast of muscle heads in one movie since the original Predator! So what this movie delivers is a fun action movie full of one liners, gratuitous violence, some very upbeat comic relief from that of Jet Li, and a surprisingly good chemistry of "buddy/cop" from Jason Statham and Sly. The likes I have not seen since the original Lethal Weapon. Also, the price of the movie ticket alone resulted in a meeting in a church between Bruce Willis, Sly, and Arnold. Best line ever in a movie.... is
Arnold and Sly take pop shots at each other, and when Arnold finally walks out...Willis asks Sly "what is his problem?", Sly replies with "oh he's trying to be President."
Anybody who has been following Sly and Arnold's movies over the years will get THIS joke!
I would have to give this to the obvious VGA Game of the year:
I am actually glad this game got Game of the Year, because it was one of the few that I MADE time to sit down and play. Usually open world games like this bore me very easily because it is always the same fair. Jack cars, kill people, take the hooker to the clinic...yada yada yada. I realized I was done with Grand Theft Auto IV when I spent a good half hour or so watching TV in my apartment. I felt like a tool. I actually spent money on a game to do what I do in my miserable real life? Red Dead is a departure from that boredom. Red Dead takes anything and everything you ever loved about westerns, movies, or anything about being a cowboy, and injected it into this open world venture. I am surprised this game did as well as it did, considering there has been quite some time since there has been a good western game or movie in the works! What makes this game work, is that none of the trivial tasks you perform in the game seem tedious at all. Skinning animals, hunting, finding bounties, etc. All a really good time. Difficult to put this game down at all! Rock Star made a good homage to the old west with this one!
My one runner up....had to say it....
2010 saw the end of Lucascast, the only official podcast of Lucasforms.com. It was a fun trip, but due to the lack of support from fans and members, it became increasingly difficult to maintain, and we nailed the lid on that coffin with bittersweet feelings. It was kind of the same feeling when they ended the Firefly series. It was a beautiful thing, but the world was just not ready.
Anyways, during earlier podcasts, we had talked at great lengths about Zombies in video games. One title that caught my attention was Plants VS Zombies. For one, the sheer lunacy of the title itself. Another, I had never played a "tower defense" game in my life. leXX had got me addicted to previous Pop Cap games such as Bejeweled and Peggle. Sometimes I would play them during the podcast as we were recording. Pop Cap knows how to make low budget games that are more addictive than crack cocaine. So I had to give Plants VS Zombies a try. After all...the disc retails for $20 and includes Peggle and Zumba as well!
Even though this game debuted on PC and i-phone in 2009, this was the first year it was available on 360. I got hooked immediately. The premise is simple. Zombies are trying to attack your home through the front yard. Your defense is to plant sunflowers to catch sunlight. You catch the sunlight to plant even more plants, such as plants that shoot snow peas...at the zombies! Some plants eat the zombies...etc. Catch enough sun, and plant the plants in strategic places to keep the zombies from getting into your house and eating your brains. Couple of things, this game is way longer than you think! Some levels are at night! And eventually, the Zombies will get smarter, and try to attack you from the back yard as well! Just try it! This is the ONLY Zombie game that will be rated E for everyone. The violence is only implied. There is no guts and gore in this game. Just crazy Zombies that sometimes show up with pole vaults and traffic cones on they're heads! Now that I finally got an i-phone, I got that version as well. The game is good on both systems, but the touch screen does give you and advantage!
Lots of good new shows hit this year. Only want to mention two of them!
Blue Bloods is a new cop drama that follows The Reagans, a family of cops and lawyers who have been in the "family business" for many years. Tom Selleck really shines as The Commissioner of New York who has to put his duties as a father and his duties as Commissioner in the same line on a daily basis. Former New Kid on the Block Donnie Wahlberg steels the show every time as a former marine, served time in Fallujah, but refuses to talk to shrinks. Danny is an old school cop, who is not afraid to cross the lines between justice and human rights when lives are at risk. The likes of witch often get him in trouble. The show deals with similar no win situations you would see in a typical CSI or Law & Order, but it deals with one family's perspective. Most of the episodes deal with a traditional "Sunday Night Dinner" where most of the issues are either discussed as a family, or dismissed by Tom Selleck who is head of the table!
I used to watch the old Hawaii Five-O as a kid, so I made a point to catch the new series just out of curiosity. Other than the original theme, and character names, it is a completely different show than the original, and one of the best reboots in the history of television!
Navy Seal LT. Steve McGarrett comes home to Hawaii to bury his father and investigate his murder. The Governor Pat Jameson offers Steve a Job as head of an elite task force that can investigate high profile crimes with no strings attached and no red tape. McGarrett finally accepts and begins to assemble his rag tag team of cops as he sees fit. This show's charm is the cinematography which is similar to CSI Miami, and it's whit! There is a definite love/hate relationship between the two main cast characters McGarrett, and Detective Danny Williams formerly from New York, who HATES Hawaii and is there only to be close to his daughter from a previous divorce. In most shows Danny "Danno" Williams steels the show with some rant or quip thrown in McGarrett's face. The best scenes are when they are in a car together on a mission and just start arguing about something. It is very similar to the arguments between Jules and Vincent from Pulp Fiction. Hawaii Five-O is very fresh and entertaining. One of the best first season premier of shows I have seen since the first CSI.
Again, I listened to a lot of last year's stuff. However I stumbled upon one gem I want to mention.
You know... at my age....I got really sick of Rap Music. I think I fell out around the time that Biggie Smalls, and Tupac were attacking each other. And then They both died. And what seemed to me as a wrestling show, was no longer funny. When I was in high school. We had a lot of fun watching NWA and Ice Cube take turns crapping on each other. By the time I graduated, and joined the Navy, they were back doing songs together. It was a warm feeling.
In early 2000 When "The Marshall Mathers" album came out. I was entertained. I was shocked and amazed that Dr. Dre had found a white guy that could rap, and made a star out of him. I was even more impressed with the way Eminem crafted his rap styles. I got bored with rap because it was always about who had the fanciest cars, the most money, biggest houses...etc. Here was Eminem. A White guy who talked like a black guy, and made fun of famous people. He didn't take himself seriously, but man he could twist words around like it was nobody's business. We had not had a successful white rapper since House of Pain, or the Beastie Boys. Eminem was not gangster either. He was just who he was. White Trash who got lucky. We all loved him. We hated him. And we laughed when he was at his worst.
His **** is legendary because as a white rapper he could put thousands of sylables into a rap song and make it sound cool. He was ripping on Insane Clown Posse, and even Moby. It was just damn funny.
Problem is, Marshall Mathers is kind of an *******, and admits it. However, he made a successful movie detailing the some of the exploits of his life as an up and coming Detroit rapper. The result of which is 8 Mile. Which in my opinion is the movie "Rocky" if you replace boxing with Rap music.
So Eminem first had the "Slim Shady EP" which only hardcore fans bought. Most people bought "The Marshall Mathers" album which made him a star. Then they bought the huge follow up album "The Eminem Show" which had even more huge hits. Then there was the "Encore" ep followed by a hiatus between 2005 and 2008. Eminem periodically joked about being addicted to pills. Apparently he sobered up. Being an ******* or not, it is refreshing to here a rapper either white or black admit to being addicted, and admit to making mistakes. It gives me faith, that rap is not just some fly by night outfit.
On "Recovery" he raps about being sober, he actually apologizes to his fans for his last two albums. His tongue twister ways don't stray from formula and his jam with pop girl turned rock star Pink is to die for. The rest of the album is just pure fun!
Recovery shows Eminem growing up, taking responsibility and not being afraid to admit it. I don't remember the last time I heard this in a rap album. But I will say this. It makes me willing to give Slim Shady another shine at the spot light!