Devin’s Top 12 For 2012
2012 was awesome. I don’t care what anyone else says because 2012 was just awesome. There were disappointments, and more than a few horrible things that happened this year but they don’t belong on this list and they don’t dampen a great year.
I’d like to say that this list is my list. That is I don’t pretend to be an all knowing source. I did not see every movie, or video game, or book that came out this year. This list is not meant to be comprehensive in that sense. Instead it is meant to reflect my experiences this year. What follows are the things that were the most important to me in 2012.
Then I’d like to say that I worked on a ton of shit this year. All the video content. All the podcasts, and reviews were fun. And I wrote a damn book. I mean wow. Now that stuff doesn’t belong on this list. This list is about what I enjoyed about what others have done.
Before we begin – honorable mentions to Fringe, The Hunger Games(maybe my soundtrack of the year), Being Human, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and Hyperion.
Favorite Movie of the Year:
It’s hard to believe I was worried during the pre-release of the Avengers. The trailers just weren’t really doing it for me. But like I said I shouldn’t have been worried. I’d thoroughly enjoyed every Marvel produced movie yet and this one was being written and directed by Joss Whedon.
I think I was worried because of what this film would mean to me. In 2008 Iron Man came out in theaters. I saw the trailer and knew I had to see it. So I did and I loved it. Later that year I saw The Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton which is a great movie as well. When I saw Tony Stark show up at the end of The Hulk I knew something special was happening. I ran to the library and asked where I could find the Avengers books. I came out of the library with a smattering of volumes including a retelling of the Avengers origin story. Shortly after that I began my descent into full geekery. There’s more to the story but this is not the place for it.
Needless to say Marvel’s plan to create a series of films culminating in The Avengers is inadvertently what lead me to asking Tim if he wanted to make a website with me. Which is crazy for me to think because I can’t imagine my life going any other way. OK so all that aside: I don’t think I need to say that I loved the film. But I did. It was more than I could have hoped for. I also love it for just the ballsiness of it. I mean nothing like The Avengers has ever happened in cinema before. And I love that Joss Whedon is finally getting the widespread renown that he deserves. And I love that his success is not changing his projects, well it sorta is cause there’s that whole Avengers 2 thing, but he’s still writing comics, and webseries, and making independent stuff like Much Ado. Anyway even without all of the Avengers significance to me it would still be one of my favorite films of the year.
Favorite Video Game:
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
It’s a remake of an old 90’s strategy game about saving the world from an alien invasion. You play the role of the commander of XCOM – the multinational task force in charge of defending the planet. The game is split into two parts. In one hand you have a deep tactical turned based game in which all of your actions have meaningful consequences. On the other you have a broader strategy game about researching different techs, building different ad-ons to your base, shooting down UFOs and the like.
Both of the layers are a lot of fun but it is the way they mesh together that makes the game so special. Because you decided to help Africa because they were going to give you money instead of helping Egypt, now Egypt has left the program and you have less monthly funding to work with. Because of this, you now don’t have enough money later in the game to fully equip your soldiers and the sniper you’ve had with you your entire game dies, and death is permanent in this game. Every decision you make in the game has consequences, and that leads to intense heartbreak when you lose a valued member of your team, but it also leads to a huge sense of accomplishment because it is what you did ultimately that lead to your victory.
That sense of ownership, and personal investment is what makes XCOM despite its flaws an incredible game.
Cabin in the Woods
Cabin in the Woods is “Best Surprise” because I really didn’t know what to expect when I sat down to watch it. And after I’d watched it – I was a bit exited. It is surprisingly funny, surprisingly horrifying, and surprisingly original. Those are three adjectives I never thought I’d use on a slasher film. If you haven’t seen Cabin yet do yourself a favor and watch it unspoiled.
Best Game that Came Out 2011 that I didn’t Get Around to Until 2012:
Saints Row: The Third
If you’re thinking that calling the game Saints Row: The Third is ridiculous that’s because it is. But if you think the ridiculousness stops there you are dead wrong. Don’t let the marketing turn you off the game’s humor is far beyond what using a giant dildo as a weapon would lead you to believe. It’s constantly surprising and ridiculous in all the best ways. Whether you think it or not the game continually ups its ante until the final mission which had me literally buzzing in my chair.
It’s an open world game in the vein of Grand Theft Auto but whereas GTA4 took a turn for the serious I’m not sure there is a game more perfectly insane than Saints Row: The Third. The game has you diving out of airplanes then back into them, fighting inside of a virtual world in which your avatar is a toilet for a large portion, and teaming up with the mayor of the town Burt Reynolds to fight zombies. Do these things sound exiting? Then get and play Saints Row. Just make sure no one too sensitive is around.
Biggest Geek Fest:
Ready Player One
I’ve already reviewed the book, and my review still stands. It’s a great book, and it’s a unique book. Just like everything else on this list Ready Player One was not just more of the same it was trying something new and in my opinion it succeeded. If you are a fan of the internet I can reasonably bet that you will be a fan of this book.
Best TV Show:
Watching 4 seasons of Breaking Bad in a few weeks seriously takes it out of you. I laughed the first few minutes I watched of Breaking Bad. Here was Bryan Cranston – you know Malcom in the Middles dad – driving through the desert in his underwear in a dirty motor home.
I quickly learned that not only did Bryan Cranston have some serious acting chops, but that Walter and Jessie’s meth cooking adventures together would be anything but funny. They would be twisted, dark, taxing, and more. Watching their unending descent into darker and bigger stations is some of the most gripping television I’ve ever seen. I can’t remember the last time I loved to hate characters as much as I do Mr. White and Pinkman.
Dungeons and Dotes was awesome while it lasted. I’m sorry it ended the way it did but it has gone away. We’ll never know what happened to Palias What-Eva-Ya-Want or Rice but maybe one day it can be revived as something else.
I don’t have a lot else to say except that Dungeons and Dotes’ legacy will live on in our other projects. Heck Dungeons and Dotes is where the thumb thing came from in the Christmas Special.
Ok so it didn’t come out on, or even around 2012 but that doesn’t stop it from being the best book I read all year. For the first hundred pages of this tale I wasn’t sure I was in. But I soon found myself in a full love affair with this book.
It’s characters are deep, its themes are important. It’s seriously a touching book. This is a book in which you will be torn over the ending.
Authors always talk of having sympathetic villains and how it’s very important, but never have I seen it done as well as I have in Tigana. That said there is a very 1 note villain but he’s almost more of a plot device than a character.
I love this book – and no it’s not just because the main character is named Devin… jeez.
Simultaneously the Best and Worst Movie:
Troll 2. Ok there really isn’t much I can say about Troll 2 that hasn’t been said. It’s a god awful film made by a directer who couldn’t speak English with horrible special effects, the worst acting I’ve ever seen, and a script that I can’t imagine a human being working on…yet I love every minute of it.
My love is only compounded by the fact that my birthday part was troll 2 themed. That is the cake was covered in green frosting and we played pin the tail on the goblin. It was glorious.
For those of you on the fence this clip should tell you if Troll 2 is right for you: [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=HyophYBP_w4]
The You’re Going to Joseph Gordon-Love-It Award:
I almost didn’t include this in favor of something else. But it does belong on this list. Looper is under appreciated in my opinion. It has its problems, some of the make up is weird looking and I think Bruce Willis’ section was a little rushed, however I think its one of the best treatments of time travel in this millenia.
When people complain about time travel problems in this film I don’t think their getting it. The dinner scene – my favorite scene in the film – is there specifically to tell the audience that time travel doesn’t make sense. The film is saying, “We know. Just go with us.” Yet even so Looper is one of the tightest time travel scripts around. I certainly never felt any glaring holes.
The Critical Backlash Award:
The Hobbit is the film that has finally solidified what has long been standing mistrust of critics, or rather aggregate score sites like metacritic and rotten tomatoes. I believe in finding a few critics with similar taste as you and just shutting out the rest. The critics I follow loved this film, so I was and still am puzzled at the extreme backlash that the film has had.
Are there some scenes that could have been cut from the film? Yes. Did they have to artificially insert character arcs and motivations that don’t exist in the book? Yes.
But it works. Oh god it all worked. In my opinion the changes that Jackson and crew have made are for the better. My memory of the book is of a bunch of greedy dwarves looking for gold. Tolkien didn’t do a very good job humanizing his characters, but watching Thorin and company try and win control of their ancient home was a quest I could get behind.
It lacks the dark and driven mood of LOTR but it is foreboding where it needs to be. In short – no it’s not as good as LOTR – but it’s damn good, don’t listen to those critics.
I Already Gave Away this Award but Wanted it to be on the List:
Portal 2. Wheatley. GlaDOS. Cave Johnson.
Wow. Just wow. I only played the single player because Tim’s computer couldn’t handle the game unfortunately. But I think I’m safe in saying that I played the best part of Portal 2. Even after all the hype I didn’t think I would feel the same way about Portal 2 as I did about Portal 1.
There is something magical about these games. Their easily among the funniest games ever written, some of the most ingenious puzzle games ever invented, and the moods that are created are incredible.
Portal 2 takes everything that was great about Portal and improves upon it. Exactly what a sequel should do.
So there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Think I’m an idiot for leaving off your favorites(Batman anyone?)? Please let me know just how big of a screw up this list is(and therefor I and my entire existence) is in the comments below.