Welcome, to the Second Annual Wherein I Rant Awards, where I document the best and worst of everything I saw and played this year! Sorry it's been a while since the last post (and even longer since the last chapter of Murder On Deck 36, don't worry, I haven't given up on that yet, it's just on hiatus) but between school and the holidays, I've been very busy.
Best Family Film - The Muppets
was a charming return to form for the Muppets, who haven't had much of a presence (with the exception of the odd straight to TV film, or youtube video) in recent years. Luckily the film is very self aware of this fact, and is in fact ABOUT the Muppets returning to the vogue after falling apart for years. The film is a laugh a minute film that all ages can enjoy, which doesn't have any content inappropriate for kids, but instead has jokes anyone can laugh at. The few jokes that do go over the kids heads are tastefully done, such as a certain Cee-Lo Green song performed by chickens. In fact, the high quality of humor in this film is what leads to me also giving it...
Funniest Film- The Muppets
As I said, this film contains a million jokes, nearly all of which hit perfectly. I really don't want to ruin any of them, but needless to say, you absolutely need to see this film. It's hilarious! Nothing more to say.
Best Stupidly Amazing Trailer - Battleship
C'mon! Have you seen this trailer?
They shoot giant pegs into the side of the battleship. This is obviously a film that knew it had a stupid premise, and just ran with it. This movie looks terrible, and I for one can't wait to see it.
Most Pleasantly Surprising Film - Rise of the Planet of the Apes
As I mentioned in my review, I had no expectations for Rise to be anything special. I thought it was completely unnecessary. Instead, it turned out to be one of the best reboots of recent years. Don't get me wrong, it had problems. It had many, many problems, and they showed, but not once did they keep me from enjoying the film. I saw this film twice and loved it as much the second time as I did the first.
Worst Film - The Zookeeper
The worst film I saw this year is Zookeeper. Let me preface this: It was a double feature at the Drive-In with Rise of the Planet of the Apes (I know, weird choice) and my family decided to stick around. Good grief, this movie is atrocious. There is nothing-- nothing --redeeming about that film. The protagonist spends the entirety of the film trying to win back a completely unlikable character, it's every cliche from every family film ever, and its jokes are offensively stupid.
*spoilers if you actually care, which you shouldn't*
But that's not what really makes this movie so bad. Let's set aside the complete idiocy of the main character taking love life advice from animals. Let's set aside that the movie is cliche. Let's set aside the scene where Kevin James takes a Gorilla to a TGI Friday's by saying he's come from a costume party. Let's set aside the fact that LITERALLY the only explanation of why the animals can talk is, "When did you guys learn to talk?!" "Well today's Tuesday so... Forever." Let's set aside the fact that if all animals are intelligent that means that, for the most part, they're serial killers. Let's set aside the fact that this actually has a pretty decent cast, for what it is, and yet still has terrible performance after terrible performance. Let's ignore the fact that apparently Kevin James is the only zookeeper to ever have problems with his love life. Let's set aside some bad CGI, the obvious false love interest, and the climax that I liked better when I saw it in Liar, Liar. Let's EVEN set aside the fact that Kevin James actually seems pretty happy with his job as a car salesmen in the third act, and seems very good at it. Let's ignore the fact that Kevin James apparently wasn't hurting with the ladies in the first place, since he was dating a pretty attractive woman for a long time, and had another obviously interested in him. Even if all of those things were fixed, there would be one scene that would take the cake, and ruin the film. Would you like to know what that scene involves?
Kevin James, asking a wolf for love advice because DERP DERP SHENANIGANS DERP, is advised to mark his territory. So, Kevin James starts peeing in the wolf habitat. Along comes Ms. I'm Obviously Who Kevin James Will End Up With At the End (that's a swedish name, I believe), who sees him. Peeing. In the exhibit. So he tells Bird-Lady-Chick that some scorpion or something stupid stung the wolf, and he was neutralizing the venom (I thought that only worked for jellyfish, but I'm not sure on that, so I will actually let that go.) so, she turns around, and he pees on the wolf. Fun times.
It gets worse.
After giving the wolf a bath (oh the HIIIIlarity) Kevin James goes to meet False Love Interest in an upscale bar because HIJINKS, and pees in a plant. IN AN UPSCALE RESTAURANT.
It. Gets. WORSE.
A WAITER WALKS UP TO KEVIN JAMES AND SAYS, VERY CALMLY, "Sir, we have a fully functioning bathroom," to which Kevin James replies, "Oh, yes you do." AND THEY GO ON THEIR MERRY LITTLE WAY.
THIS. MOVIE. SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS.
Best Adaptation - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Like it would go to anything else. Look, I love the Harry Potter books, this film did a brilliant job of both staying true to the material, and making it more suitable for the screen, and I loved it for it. Enough said.
Best Superhero Film - Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The First Avenger was a really good superhero film, and, discounting The Dark Knight from this discussion, as I always do, it was probably the best Superhero film I've seen since Iron Man. It gave us the origins of the character, had an interesting plot, set up next year's The Avenger's very nicely, and was well executed in general.
Honorable Mention - Super 8
J.J. Abram's tribute to classic Spielberg films hit all the right notes, paying homage to classics like E.T., but still remaining it's own film. I quite liked it.
Runner Up - The Muppets
Again, The Muppets was funny and had a lot of heart. I loved it.
Best Film - Cowboys and Aliens
Ah, here we are. An awesome action film that was everything it needed to be. Do you like Cowboys? Do you like Aliens? Do you like Harrison Ford and/or Daniel Craig? If your answer was yes to any or all of those questions, you will like this film. It blends genres together brilliantly, has great performances by great actors, and was just a really entertaining film on every level. I really enjoyed it.
Note: I can only play so much, so these awards only go to game I've made note of over the year during my time with them. Deus Ex: Human Revolution, for example won't be eligible for much, because I simply haven't had that much time with it. I'll also be going into more detail with each of these awards, simply because this is more of my forte.
Honorable Mention - The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Zelda has long been blessed with fantastic music, and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker even holds a spot as my favorite game soundtrack of all time, and is one of the things that propels that to being my favorite Zelda game ever. While Skyward Sword isn't quite that good, it's still a great Zelda game, filled with great tracks, which hold a lot of personality.
Runner Up - Batman: Arkham City
Arkham City's soundtrack is everything it needs to be. Dark, brooding, sinister, and filled with tracks that set the tone perfectly, and can't help but get your heart pumping. This is a great example of using the soundtrack to highlight the other aspects of the game.
Best Soundtrack - Portal 2
The original Portal is perhaps best known for 2 things; The questionable status of the existence of cake, and the Jonathon Coulton written surprise ending song, "Still Alive." While the cake jokes were sparse in Portal 2, and the ending song was less of a surprise, the song was of course, hilarious and grand. But that's not what nets Portal 2 soundtrack of the year. The tonally pitch perfect soundtrack, varying from techno, to melodious, to classical, to opera, without any track feeling out of place, but giving each area of the Aperture labs you visit their own unique sound, is what lets me say without a moment's hesitation that Portal 2 was soundtrack of the year.
Best Indie Game
Honorable Mention - Magicka
Magicka speaks to gamers on a level most of them will appreciate immediately: It gives me the tools to screw with my friends. One of only a few games I can throw the term "griefing simulator" around with, Magicka may be riddled with uneven difficulty, far too many bugs that slow the experience down, and other minor issues, but there's still something intrinsically fun about hopping into vent with a friend, and reducing him into a pile of red goo.
Runner Up - Sanctum
Sanctum is fun, combining tower defense and a first person shooter in a way that really gels together very well. Graphically, it's also one of the best indie games released recently, looking like a high res version of the Metroid Prime games, It's not a perfect game, but for the price, there's a lot of fun to be had with it.
Best Indie Game - Minecraft
Minecraft is a fantastic game. It ate up most of my march as I built an enormous cobblestone castle, and by the time I was done with that project, I only felt the urge to keep on going. Minecraft gives you the tools you need to make your own fun, and while it doesn't have much in the way of set objectives, it doesn't really need them either.
Best 2010 Game I Played in 2011 - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Brotherhood finally managed to deliver on the promise that the original Assassin's Creed showed so much of. While Assassin's Creed 2 felt like it was collapsing in on it's own weight, and had a plot that was messy and nearly incoherent, Brotherhood finally understood what these games needed to be, embraced the good, lost or trimmed the bad, and made an experience that was simply fun. As if that wasn't enough, the game also delivered a fantastic and interesting multiplayer component different from pretty much everything else on the market. The first two games are good, this one was great.
Game of the Year
Honorable Mention - Batman: Arkham City
Batman: Arkham City is a game that one-ups it's predecessor in almost every way. Most of the issues the first one had, such as a disappointing third act, have been completely fixed in Arkham City. While it's arguable whether the Metroidvania style of Arkham Asylum was a better fit for Batman than the Assassin's Creed style open world, and some of the downright scary atmosphere is lost in translation, it's traded up for a dark gothic atmosphere that fits Batman just as well. Add in a phenomenal final performance from Mark Hamill as the Joker, and an absolutely astounding ending with a plot twist that genuinely surprises, and it's inarguable that Batman: Arkham City is one of the best title's released this year.
Runner Up - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Bethesda has been working on refining the Elder Scrolls formula for years, with each game learning valuable lessons from the predecessor. In my opinion, each Bethesda release has been a step up from the last, with Morrowind being a great game, Oblivion being better, and Fallout 3 being better still. Skyrim has, in my opinion, continued that trend, showing that Bethesda has taken valuable lessons from their previous projects, and shown their work with the latest installment. Skyrim is like a distillation of all the good bits of previous Elder Scrolls endeavors, with lots of the fat having been cut out, and many of the issues fixed, and almost all having been improved in some way. A larger voice cast adds realism, and, while I was at first skeptical of a lot of the streamlining Bethesda did to the series for this installment, they've managed to make an RPG that offers an insane amount of character customization, but still knows to put fun first. Though Skyrim does tend to collapse under it's own weight in a lot of cases, and the PS3 version is supposedly nearly unplayable, many of the bugs the other versions of Skyrim face are the fun variation, like backwards dragons! Add in some of the best graphics currently out there (though muddy ground textures in some spots do depress) and you have an incredible experience, and Bethesda's best RPG yet. Now can we get that engine in a Fallout game please?
Game of the Year - Portal 2
Like I'd pick something else. Portal 2 is simply the game I found to be most well made this year. It's fun, it's funny, the puzzles are mind bending at times, it provides interesting new mechanics, while remaining true to the series core, and is simply a near-perfect game. There isn't a lot of content in Portal 2, but what is there is some of the best content produced this year, with great new characters, great old characters, great performances, great puzzles, great music, and of course, pitch perfect humor. All of those things and more make Portal 2 my Game of the Year.