It’s pretty much impossible to think of two movies more unalike, and yet both still qualify as “comedies.” The Lego Movie–at first glance–is a CGI film made for children, with bright colors and fantastical situations. It features great voice acting from a number of well-known comedic actors, such as Charlie Day, Nick Offerman, and Alison Brie. On the other hand, The Grand Budapest Hotel–at first glance–is a bloody, curse-ridden film made for adults, with bright colors and fantastical situations. It features great acting from a number of well-known dramatic actors, such as Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, and Adrien Brody. Hmmm, so maybe they’re not so different after all? –PP.
Guardians of the Galaxy was Marvel’s “big risk”. Before it came out, critics like Daniel Kline were already hounding away at it, claiming it would be bad or not perform well at the box office. Well, I say nay to those naysayers, NAY I say! This movie not only did well on its own, it performed well by “Marvel standards”. It was fun, it was funny, it was dramatic; plus, they have some epic slow motion action at the end. What more could we ask for? (Besides a sequel!) -JH.
Oculus has a great concept for a horror movie. Firstly, the protagonists aren’t inherently dumb, and they have a pretty nice setup to counter the evil mirror’s powers while they risk their lives to clear their names. Secondly, even the audience becomes wrapped up in the mirror’s powers of illusion as the movie progresses, eventually questioning everything they see. Unfortunately, the end is something of a wasted opportunity–there should have been a sibling bonding moment, followed by the guy killing his sister in order to destroy the mirror. Still, everything else was pretty spot on. Favorite moment? Amelia Pond eating a light bulb. -BP.
There was little chance that Gone Girl wasn’t going to take the trophy in this category, considering how much of a David Fincher fanboy I am. But the acclaimed director’s latest film, despite being, at its core, a romance, has turned out to be one of Fincher’s most accessible movies. With an outstanding lead performance by Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl bared its twisted heart on its sleeve, and in so doing, presented its themes of love, control–and how those two things might not be so different–for all to see. -PP.
Nothing like brushing up on your history, no? Video Game: The Movie follows the video game industry from its birth to the modern era. Anyone who grew up with video games, as many have and now do, will likely enjoy this trip into the past. As a gamer, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride as I watched mankind push the boundaries of computer technology. -BP.
While I appreciated the comic-book feel of this 300 sequel and its heavily muscled men, this film failed to build off of any of the success of its predecessor. Plot holes abounded, and by the end of the movie, I cared nothing for any of the mediocre characters (besides the fact that Grecian names like Themistokles are pretty cool, I’ll admit). Apparently, there’s supposed to be yet another one. Ugh. I’ll pass. -CR.
What can be said about French composer Alexandre Desplat’s soundtrack for the latest incarnation of Godzilla? Not much, besides holy-freaking-hell. It is foreboding, it is blood-pumping, it is reminiscent of classic monster-movie sounds. Desplat proves himself to be one of the most versatile composers of his time by instilling in the viewer a sense of fear, grandeur, and jungle-fever within 3 minutes of the movie. And, even if you aren’t a fan of the movie itself, the soundtrack holds up as a standalone symphony of the threefold battle between nature, humankind, and well, nature. -PP.
Oh Meghan, your songs are all so catchy. You ain’t afraid to use your curves and make some statements (skinny-shaming and “men are liars”). Teehee, JK. But seriously. That is what people say in these comments of her videos, seriously? You go Meghan, we’re on a first name basis BTW, you keep on rockin’ out with your crazy-colored sets and your catchy tunes. Let the haterz hate and, uh, shake it off! =P -JH.
Blown away. Utterly blown away. Although “Left Hand Free” and “Pusher” are often cited as This Is All Yours most catchy songs, “The Gospel of John Hurt” has got to be my favorite. With references to Tetris, the movie Alien, and the Biblical prophet Jeremiah, this song continues the alt-J tradition of playful lyrics and transportive melodies. It’s one of the most experimental tracks on the album, but is masterfully done. It’ll haunt you for far longer than its 5-minute running time. -PP.
Somehow I don’t think it’s a coincidence that “Favorite Album” ended in a tie–at least, no more than I think it’s a coincidence that those two albums (Awake and Lost in the Dream) both refer to a state of consciousness. It’s almost like the end of Inception. Is Cobb Awake or is he Lost in the Dream? Although Awake is a lyric-less, ambient album, it is similar to Lost in the Dream’s dreamy vibes. Both albums have an urgent sense of movement, but without any kind of panic or dread. Like Cobb, we couldn’t decide; or, rather, we don’t care to. Who says you can’t be awake in a dream? -PP.
Not only is “Water Fountain” by tUnE-yArDs catchy beyond all belief, the beat makes us want to dance! The video just adds to this inclination with its quirky/eccentric/downright weird imagery (dude, the sofa has eyes). But the cherry on top is the man at the end. Verbatim, here’s what he says: “One potato, ten straws! Science, in action! Now, until next time, may the power of the cosmos BE with you. Yes! Yes! YES!” How can anyone beat that?? -CR.
Seven Wonders feels a lot like Settlers of Catan but with cards instead of hexagons. It plays in approximately 30 minutes, during which three “Ages” pass. There are several methods to defeating your fellow players, including war, money, science, and, well, wonders! But the points don’t matter until the end, so building your civilization requires much planning. Tread carefully and have fun! We all love this game. -CR.
For some unfathomable reason, Threes! isn’t as well-known as a similar game that shall remain unnamed (*cough* 2048 *cough*). However, we felt this one more challenging and re-playable in the long run. (Hint: Beware your colors!) The app game is bright, simple to learn, and even keeps stats in a neat little bar graph. Plus, whenever a new doubling sum appears–and they all have names–the player receives a shower of confetti. Yay! -CR.
It’s beautiful, it’s sleek, the music is amazing, and the writing is top-notch. The game uses suspense masterfully, and there was never a moment during my first playthrough where I thought, “I don’t want to play this right now.” The combat, at its core, may not exactly be innovative, but it has a very visceral feel to it and shines especially when fighting huge creatures like dragons. Though the ending could have been better, Dragon Age: Inquisition is a prime example of what “triple-A” games are capable of, and have set the bar for what big-budget games should be. -BP
FAVORITE CONSOLE GAME:
Yuck, I can’t get the sick and horrible, yet all too familiar, taste that is disappointment out of my mouth when I think of this game. It was stripped like most base Sims games, but it was just too stripped. There was soooo much missing, the open world of Sims 3? Gone. Sims going to buildings for work or going inside buildings when around town? Gone. Toddlers? Gone. Pools? GONE! The open world is now just open for your small neighborhood–when you view the play map, it has all the appearance of an app game, for realz. And here’s the worst sin: they removed family trees! In a game simulating family stuff (among others), how can you take out family trees!? UGH -JH.
Joel Kinnaman’s memorable performance as Stephen Holder was tear-inducing for reasons both comedic and tragic. He embodied the character of Seattle street detective so profoundly, that we may never see him as anything else again. “Yo, I’d like to thank my moms–wait, fuck that–I’d like to thank my nephew, Little Man Jack, and my partner. You my ride, Linden!” -PP.
With her performance as The Killing’s Sarah Linden, Mireille Enos (her first name is pronounced like Mee-RAY) perfected the brooding, self-destructive detective. As a solver of broken things, that is all Linden really knew and really saw: incoherent pieces to one coherent whole. But like those broken things, she herself was incomplete, and Enos conveyed that beautifully, with her at-times hoarse and jagged voice, and sometimes hurried line-delivery–as if she were hyperventilating, but wrestling for control over her own vocal chords. I’ll never forget the baleful stare of Sarah Linden, immortalized by Mireille Enos, nor the two chilling-yet-simple lines of dialogue that echo in my head until this day:
Holder: “At least we go the bad guy.”
Linden: “Yeah? Who’s that?”
As Caesar, leader of a rapidly-growing faction of apes, Andy Serkis gave more human qualities to his chimpanzee character than most human ones in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Serkis’ stoic performance was vastly different than the one for which he is most known for, that of the twisted, riddle-inclined Gollum. Here, Serkis delivered his lines as leader instead of liar, as a creature of duty instead of greed. Fun fact: you know the voice-over in the teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode VII? That’s Serkis! -PP.
Natalie Tran is an internet video veteran, uploading her first video to YouTube in September 2006 (roughly 1.5 years after the first YouTube video; Me at the zoo, was uploaded by its founders). Since then, she has gained 1.6 million subscribers, and for good reason. Her combination of observational humor, self-deprecating humor, and catchphrases is always entertaining. And I mean always. The consistency of Natalie Tran’s videos is <del>unbohlievably</del> astonishing. Every year, she comes up with new videos and generates new laughter. 2014 was no different. -BP.
You know that strange feeling you get, it feels so strange inside, yet not appealing? Well, that’s how I feel whenever I lay eyes on his face, or when I hear that weird way he speaks where the words just slur together into a mish-mash of leprosy and devil worship. Yea. But I will say, his performance wasn’t jarring in Interstellar, and the only movie of his I’ve seen where I think he is all right is Dazed and Confused, but that’s because he plays a person that is probably just himself in day-to-day life. ‘Nuff said. -JH.
The Legend of Korra has come to a close, and in doing so, it has left a hole in me that not even deep-fried food can fill. I would describe Korra as less of a television show and more of an event, building on its rich past (Avatar: The Last Airbender) and fearlessly charging into its future. Each and every book showed a new sense of maturity, as both show and audience grew in tandem. I don’t know if there ever has been or ever will be a kids’ show with as many adult themes, nor a show for adults with as much ache and longing for childhood as this one. The Legend of Korra is both, and will, I believe, live for far longer than its three-year run. -PP.
Oh, the series that I thought was nothing but soft-core porn for a few years. This show is so addicting. The characters are all so lifelike and you just want to keep watching. You just want to watch the next episode, and the next and the next, and then you run out. Sad, sad for you, sad for us. This year’s show brought us some delightful deaths and some friggin’ amazing character transformations. Plus there was that fight scene with Brienne and the Hound–I mean, amirite??? This show is just, yum. -JH.
You thought Blizzard was the master of video game cinematics? Blur Studio has something to say about that. Never have I seen such an evocative trailer for a video game (although, being a crazy Halo worshipper, I may be biased). Blur Studio’s understanding of the game’s lore and emotional zeniths shine in this story-driven trailer, allowing even Halo-newbies to feel the impact of the game’s epic narrative. Here’s to the future of Blur Studio, as they continue to blur the line between the digital and the tangible. -PP.
Although I cannot share her appreciation for The Hobbit, Elysium brought me closer to its characters. Translating into words the wordless sensations of the mind as it nears death, Laora masterfully captured the heroism and regret of Fili, Kili, and Thorin. Although only a 5,000-word tragedy, Elysium is expansive in its characterization of glory that is given, and glory that is earned. -PP.
Surprise, surprise, the winner of “Favorite Sci-fi/Fantasy” book is James S. A. Corey’s Cibola Burn. Shit, was this book GREAT. I had #feels the entire way through. Each installment of Corey’s The Expanse series is a new adventure with one of science fiction’s greatest space-travelling crews, Holden, Naomi, Amos, and Alex. Add to that realistic characterization, brilliant world-building, and re-energized symbolism, and you’ve got yourself almost 600 pages of what I like to call UNNNGHHURHWERNNGYYEAAH. -PP.
Randall Munroe, ex-Nasa roboticist and the author of the web-comic xkcd, brings out the kid in you while answering absurd questions with all the studiousness of a college-level bibliography. He writes in the language of computer/math-geeks, (which, admittedly, flew over my head most times) but his humor is accessible to the average reader. In What If, Munroe is at times satiric, at other times sociological, but always humorous. -PP.
If one picture speaks a thousand words, then a GIF of a cat and Shaq wiggling DEFINES A GENERATION. -PP.
This here picture was a good’un. It’s always nice to see things in space in quirky ways to get a perspective of the vastness of the universe. This one that we found earlier in the year–well, let’s just say when you realize what it says, it knocks off your socks! -JH.
We can’t help but admire our fellow WordPress blogs, and Wy IndieG4m3z is the one we admire most this year. Covering news from both anime and video games, blogger Wyl Schultz guides us in depth about the art and design of video games. As a software and web developer, Schultz gives readers an informed and passionate perspective on the shared, interactive world of video games. -PP.
Ah, cosplay. The end product can be either a great work of genius or a complete train wreck. Naturally, the cosplayer determines the majority of success (given that they created the costume with their own hands). However, dressing up is one thing; assuming the character and conveying that in a picture is quite another. Finding a skilled photographer helps, too, of course!
This year’s winner, MissSinister, is a female cosplayer from the States with some of the best overall looks that we’ve seen. What we found most notable was her combination of body paint and contact lenses. All the more realistic! Her work runs from Naruto to Borderlands, Appleseed to God of War. We’re excited to see what she shows us in 2015. She can be found on Facebook, Deviantart, and Storenvy. -CR.
ALWAYS SOMETIMES VILLAINS
Our Editor-in-Chief definitely earned his title with this particular post. Sure, as fans of The Killing, we would have approved the article already, but this one . . . this one surprised me. He didn’t just analyze the show and its characters, he affixed its theme of loss and recovery to us viewers, too. For proponents of the series, what more can we want? Throw in substantial doses of laugh-out-loud quotes and GIFs, a summary or two tucked in between, and, holy hell, the reason why we’re called Always Sometimes Villains! -CR.
What is there to say about our “Favorite ASV Writer”? Nothing that hasn’t already been said by his own posts. Spanning video games both old and new, Brian reminded us why we love video games in the first place: because of narrative, because of nostalgia, or just because they’re damn good fun. Brian also chronicled his DND campaign throughout the past few months, bringing to life an adventure shared with his friends. It’s safe to say we’ll be expecting great things from Brian in 2015, but, if not, at least he still has his cat. -PP.
You know what old saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?” No character gives as much credence to that adage as Amy Dunne, Gillian Flynn’s protagonist/antagonist/femme fatale/demon cat, brought to life on the silver screen by Rosamund Pike. You want to hate her, you have to hate her, but you can’t, because you admire her, and, after seeing the things she does in the movie, you can’t help but wonder: would anyone do those things for you? -PP.
If the original drafts of Jeremiah’s posts still existed, we’d link them here, as hard evidence of why he deserves this award. But alas, his many grammar screw-ups have been edited away. From randomly-placed adverbs to missing periods, Jeremiah’s collection of weekly(ish) Space Sundays was comma-splice heaven, and a major pain for a certain editor. Here’s to a 2015 when Jeremiah learns what a semicolon does! -PP.
SPECIAL THANKS to Christine Rolfes, Film Editor, for designing the Villainy Award trophy, and editing the pictures!