We here at Perpetual Geek Machine think life as a nerd has been pretty spectacular in 2012. Great movies, games, tv shows and more. We’ve made friends with Nicole Kline, and then put her to work writing here! Rich got engaged, Dan bought a house. There’s a good chance Ryan and/or Bryan did something adorably Canadian. Kevin spent most of the year brewing beer and Adam made it through the latest Mayan apocalypse mostly unscathed!
Just like last year to celebrate the end of this trip round the sun we got together to run down our top 5 favorite things of the year. We then presented those during part 1 of our spectacular year end podcast. In part 2 of that podcast we whittle out lists down to a Top 5 to represent the site as a whole, and then 1 singular item that is Perpetual Geek Machine’s favorite thing of 2012. Last year The Muppets was our winner. What will take the crown this year? Listen to the podcast to find out!
I am not what you would call a James Bond fan. Sure, the movies are fun sometimes, but they can be little more than stylistic action movies with a protagonist that I find very uninteresting. To top it off, I think Daniel Craig is the worst Bond since George Lazenby. Why is it that I found myself drawn to Skyfall so much this holiday season? Is it because Daniel Craig has started to come into his own as Bond? Is it stellar action? Is it because Javier Bardem steals the show as the villain? Is it Javier Bardem’s crazy hair? Actually, all of these things combined made me love “Skyfall.”
A couple of weeks ago I jokingly titled “Taken 2” as “Taken Too” because the premise of the sequel to the 2008 action film is nearly identical to its predecessor. The only thing that’s really changed is who is taken this time. Happy in how clever I thought I was giving a silly title to what looked like a rehashed but otherwise decent action movie, I went about my business and thought nothing of poor reviews I started to hear. Little did I realize just how representative my ridiculous title was to the actual movie.
It’s hard to mention the movie Judge Dredd and not audibly groan. Sylvester Stallone’s take on the comic book character is a travesty of film, and it sent the Dredd character and franchise back to the stone age. I honestly thought we’d find out who killed Kennedy before we saw another attempt at this series. Thankfully we did not have to wait that long because Karl Urban breathes new life into Judge Dredd in this fun and fresh action movie.
If you are unfamiliar with the story of the Judge Dredd universe, war has ravaged the world and there is not much left. Those that survived formed a massive, walled-off city in which violence runs rampant. Here the police act as the judge, jury, and executioner and may kill you for seemingly minor offenses in an attempt to maintain order. In “Dredd,” the titular character and his rookie trainee are locked in a massive slum tower by a drug kingpin called Ma-Ma. Their goal is to take down Ma-Ma and her operation or die trying.
In a similar manner to the fourth Bourne novel originally penned by Robert Ludlum and passed to Eric Van Lustbader, this fourth entry into the Bourne movies also passes the torch from Matt Damon to Jeremy Renner. “The Bourne Legacy” follows Aaron Cross, another highly gifted and trained assassin forged by the CIA, as he dodges bad guys sent to eliminate him as a result of Jason Bourne’s actions from the previous three movies. Though the title of the movie implies Cross will continue to bring the fight to the CIA as Bourne did this movie has less to do with carrying on his predecessor’s work and more to do with carrying on Matt Damon’s work of making money from a successful action franchise. Though I hate to measure this movie against the previous three it’s difficult not to look at “The Bourne Legacy” and see that it is vastly inferior.
For more than ten years now, Christopher Nolan has proven time and again just how gifted of a storyteller he is. The varying degrees of excellence he brings with all of his movies reminded me of the consistency that Pixar has shown with their movies until recently. Unfortunately, Nolan’s latest movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” suffers from the same dip in quality that Pixar suffered with “Cars 2,” though, whereas “Cars 2” may have just been not very good, “The Dark Knight Rises” is fucking awful.
One of the aspects of science fiction I love is that it almost effortlessly makes you forget that you need to suspend your disbelief to consume what you’re about to experience. The name of the genre itself implies what could be, and any doubts about how plausible a movie’s premise might be simply vanish. This genre invites you to wonder and escape like no other genre can ever achieve.
Ridley Scott has made some of the most influential science fiction movies ever, and he tries once more with Prometheus. Though this movie takes place in the same universe as Scott’s franchise, Alien, it is only loosely related to the series and should be considered more of a stand alone film. This movie follows Prometheus, a ship launched from Earth near the end of the 21st century to a distant planet that scientists believe holds the key to discovering the origins of mankind.
It’s no big secret that I have a fascination with terrible movies. I get just as much, if not more, amusement from watching a B-movie than I do from watching a movie that is legitimately well made. But I can’t simply watch any old piece of crap. The B-movies that really speak to me start out with the best intentions, and they end up being unintentionally funny. Case and point being, The Room. The other types of B-movies I love are the ones in which the cast and crew know exactly how stupid their plot is and how bad their effects are. The actors, writers, and the director just have fun and try to convey that to the audience. Though it had the makings for greatness, Piranha 3DD is anything but fun.
On May 15, 2012, the video gaming world was graced with another entry in the long absent Max Payne series simply entitled, Max Payne 3. Though not nearly as iconic as Mario or Sonic, the titular character of this franchise is just as welcome on my television screen as any gaming character, and my excitement for the latest entry was palpable. Since I was fortunate enough to play a small segment of Max Payne 3 at PAX East last month, my time with the game conjured up fond memories of my previous adventures with Max, and it made me wonder what noir story could be constructed to do justice to the character and series after being away for so long. I thought it would be worth delving into who this character is, what this series is about, and why I think it is important to play.
Marvel movies of late have never seemed particularly good to me. Sure, they can be entertaining with well-done action sequences but that’s about where my interest stops. These movies tend to lack quality and they range from okay to pretty good. The plots have started to run together for me because they all mirror each other. The bad guy hatches a plot, the hero steps up, tries to overcome a personal obstacle and defeats the bad guy in the nick of time. “The Avengers” looked like more of the same and I was in no rush to go out and see it. I was confused when so many people kept telling me how good it was and I was even more confused when I found out how much money it was making. Maybe Marvel had stepped up its game and made a super hero movie that gets out of its comfort zone? Not really, but I had a lot more fun watching this than I did with “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” “Captain America” and “The Incredible Hulk.” I missed “Thor”, but I don’t think I’m missing much.
In the summer of 2010, “The Human Centipede (First Sequence)” was available on our local On Demand service and Kevin and I decided to watch it together with some trepidation. After it was over, he and I both agreed that the movie is disturbing only if you let your imagination run away from you, and neither of us wanted to watch the impeding sequels. As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, I unfortunately ended up watching the second one after all.
Movies based on video games are plentiful, but finding ones that are actually worth a damn are few and far between. It’s no big secret that they’re notoriously awful, but, though this subset of video game movies is relatively small, documentaries that focus on the medium have had a great track record in my experience. One very entertaining and informative example of this is “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.” The gaming community can safely chalk up another spot in the win column with “Indie Game: The Movie.” This documentary follows different independent game developers at different stages in their production. It details how these games get started and what goes into making them. As consumers it’s easy to forget that there are people behind the the games we sometimes take for granted, but as this movie clearly shows there’s a lot more to developing a video game than writing lines of code.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave with no internet access, you probably heard of a little movie called, “The Hunger Games,” which opened up last weekend to largely positive reviews, and a shit-ton of money. The movie shares the same title as the young adult book on which it is based. Both tell the story of Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12, the poorest district of all in the future nation of Paenam.
Each of the twelve districts in this dystopian society are powerless against the control of the Capitol. Every year, as a way to flex their control and continue their subjugation over the districts, the Capitol holds an event called, The Hunger Games. For this event, each district must randomly choose a boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to fight in an arena to the death and only one may come out alive.
As a self-proclaimed movie geek, I try to devour as much as I can about a film production that interests or excites me. Who is directing it? Who is starring in it? Sometimes a movie can be in production for years, and the director, writers, stars, etc. can change several times. After a movie is released, it may have gone through several changes, but it was ultimately put out for public consumption. However, not all movies are are finished, or even make it out of principle production and languish in what is known as “development hell.” Author David Hughes has expertly researched, and documented numerous movie productions that have stalled out in his book, ‘Tales From Development Hell: The Greatest Movies Never Made?’
I like Dr. Seuss as much as the next guy. What kid didn’t grow up reading “Green Eggs and Ham” or “The Cat in the Hat?” The guy wrote some of the most brilliant children’s stories of all time because he made them fun for kids, but they all had a simple, yet important message to convey. Though his stories could make for a good kid’s movie, more often than not, they end up being terrible, and I place that blame squarely on the film maker. The source material is usually perfect. Directors and writers tend to screw things up by trying to get some length out of Dr. Seuss classics by adding annoying songs, or useless characters. Though, sadly, “The Lorax” falls victim to modern Seuss adaptations, it doesn’t come off nearly as bad as some of its predecessors.
Like many of you, I enjoy playing military first person shooters. When I first saw the trailer for “Act of Valor,” I immediately thought it was about as close as Hollywood has come to making “Call of Duty” into a live-action film. The games are practically movies already with their intense action set-pieces and global plots. I became excited and I immediately started to count the days for the theatrical release. However, I never thought that “Act of Valor” would hit me the way that it did. As I left the theater I wasn’t settling down after seeing what looked like a promising action movie. I actually felt a little disturbed and I wished I hadn’t seen the movie in the first place.
Somehow I don’t think that is what the directors intended.
I have come to the realization that I sometimes get more excited to see one scene in a movie than the movie as a whole. For example, I could not wait to for the moment in Air Force One, when Harrison Ford gruffly commands, “Get off my plane!” I’ve seen the movie a bunch of times, but I usually endure it once more so I can savor that perfect moment of pure testosterone bliss as Harrison Ford Breaks Gary Oldman’s neck and throws him off the plane. I think I did it again with “The Grey.” I really like Liam Neeson, and the trailers for the movie seemed promising. However, it only took a brief shot at the end of the trailer of Liam Neeson breaking bottles and taping them to his hands that made me realize my life would never be complete unless I watched him punch a wolf in the face.
David Fincher‘s film adaptation of Stieg Larsson‘s first entry in the Millennium series, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” is now my third roll in the hay with the same story. I read the book, I watched the excellent 2009 Swedish adaptation of the book, and I gave it another go with David Fincher’s take on it. Despite knowing exactly what was going to happen (two times anyway), this engrossing story and these memorable characters managed to come off as exhilarating, and fresh once more. That is exactly why I find it unfortunate that this movie was so criminally underwatched this past holiday season from what I’ve read, but don’t let the box office grosses fool you. This is one of the best movies of 2011, hands down. If this is your first introduction to the main character, Lisbeth Salander, you won’t be disappointed with David Fincher’s vision.
“Mission: Impossible” is a movie franchise that I really hoped would never have another entry again. Though I love Brian DePalma’s “Mission: Impossible,” John Woo followed up with his terrible sequel in 2000 and J.J. Abrams managed to lower the bar even more in 2006 with an even worse sequel. Basically, the franchise had left a bad taste in my mouth and I was not eager to watch another entry in a series that was only getting worse as it went. Matters were not helped when I started seeing the extremely generic trailers for “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.” However, enough people managed to see through a terrible marketing campaign to brave this entry, and I decided to watch this movie on positive word-of-mouth. Not only was I pleasantly surprised to see a good movie, it was one of the best action movies I’ve seen in a while!
It’s a comforting feeling when a movie delivers exactly what you would expect from it. The world just seems to make more sense when the villain gets what he deserves, the guy gets the girl, and the killer comes back for one last scare. However, there is something to be said about breaking away from what is expected and venturing into the unexpected. “Rubber” is a movie about a sentient car tire that discovers it has the telekinetic ability to blow up peoples’ heads. Cool, right? However, rather than being mindless B-movie schlock, “Rubber” is actually a commentary on B-movies in general and the audiences that watch them. As interesting as that might have been, I wish “Rubber” had been more about exploding heads and been less of a David Lynch mindfuck.