Archive for April, 2011

Top Ten of 2010! (Finally!)

Posted in Pop Culture on April 9, 2011 by ejrussell

Way back in December of 2010 I had devised a list of my favorite things from that year. Obviously I waited and waited to post and now here we are four months into the new year. As they say better late than never. I usually say “why bother?” but I figure if I just keep writing, no matter the subject, it’ll keep the creative juices flowing. One thing that I have extreme difficulty doing is, staying on task. My mind really likes to wander and I hate when that happens because I usually end up having to search for the little guy. So with intent to complete a goal this year in finishing my book that I started last year and making more use of this blog, I present to you, whom ever you are, my Top Ten favorite things of last year!

10.) Human Target

Seriously one of the coolest shows ever. Loosely based on a DC Comics character, the show follows the exploits of former hit man turned bodygaurd Christopher Chance and his two partners Winston and Guerrero. Together the boys form a “Security Firm” by placing Chance directly in danger with the client to expose whoever is trying to kill said client. Thus making our hero, say it with me now, a human target. While the show has plenty of great action and tough guys being well tough, what really makes the show work is the three leads played by Mark Valley as Chance, Chi McBride as Winston and Jackie Earl Haley as Guerrero. The chemistry between these actors is fantastic and lend a nice realistic qualities to the characters when the show itself is not. Unfortunately the second season didn’t quite measure up to the first thanks to the shoehorning of two new female leads, for no other reason than to have permanent female leads. Anyway I recommend this show it’s worth a look!

9.) The Adventures of Dr. McNinja

Seriously one of the funniest things ever made! This awesome webcomic created by Chris Hastings, follows the adventures of an Irish-American ninja who happens to be a doctor. Trust me it’s better than it sounds. The whole thing is just weird, weird and absolutely funny! Thrill as Dr. McNinja rides a robot Dracula back to earth! Behold his awesome side kick,12 year old Gordito and his mustache of awesome! And many more weird villains such as an evil unicorn known as Sparkle Lord! Honestly this really isn’t for everyone but I like it!

Dr. McNinja in Action!

Dr. McNinja battling a child afflicted with Paul Bunyan's disease. Seriously.

8.) Justified

“Justified” is based on a short story called “Fire in the Hole” written by Elmore Leonard, who happens to be one of the best crime novelists ever. The series is basically a modern western starring Timothy Olyphant as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, and his current assignment in rural Kentucky where he grew up. You see Raylan got himself in trouble by having a shoot-out with a gangster in Miami, but because the gangster pulled first Raylan deems his actions as “justified”. As punishment he is sent back to his home state to track down an old colleague named Boyd Crowder. That’s just the beginning as we see Raylan struggle with coming home and his own family’s criminal past, and how he really doesn’t fit in with modern law enforcement. It’s a lot like watching “Dirty Harry: the Series!” which isn’t a bad thing at all. Again this isn’t for everyone but if you like plot twists and crime fiction this one’s for you.

7.) Splinter Cell: Convicton

Words cannot describe the awesome that is the Splinter Cell series, and this latest one is one of the best entries yet. As far as games go the action is fluid and completely responsive and ultimately satisfying. You really feel like some sort of hardcore secret agent hellbent on revenge, however the story is kinda weak. It’s the same “Oh no! the U.S. government is secretly evil!” plot that just doesn’t jive all that well with me. To be fair it’s just one part of the whole of government but still it’s cliched and boring. Other than that it’s lots of fun.

6.) Despicable Me

This movie is fantastic. It made me laugh, it sorta made me cry, but mostly I just laughed. The story is great and the idea of a supervillain adopting three little girls in an attempt to defeat a rival is comedy gold. Steve Carrell always makes me laugh and here of course is no exception. His villainous Gru is so over the top and just weird that you just have to sit back and appreciate the absurdity of it all. Plus you just have a cuteness overload with the three little girls who just want to have a family that loves them. D’awww.

5.) Toy Story 3

Holy cow I love this movie. I remember seeing the first one when I was 11 and being completely blown away. I even got a Buzz Lightyear action figure that Christmas! Everything about this movie was just great, the animation, the jokes and the nostalgia was just overwhelming. I heard that this movie got a lot of flack for being a little dark, maybe too dark for the kids, but for my money I thought the tone was consistent with the first two films. For the three people who haven’t seen it beware of spoilers, you have been warned. As we all know Andy is now grown up and headed to college and wants to take Woody with him however through a series of mishaps Woody, Buzz and Company accidentally wind up at a daycare run by the sinister Lotso Hugs Bear. I won’t give away all of it, suffice to say that it’s great and the end of course made me rain in my eyes.

4.) Iron Man 2

For the life of me I cannot understand why so many people thought that this film was inferior to the first one. Honestly I thought it was better written, the character motivations were more clear, and the action was far more intense. Of course many critics thought the exact opposite, so different strokes for doofuses I guess. In this adventure we see our selfish hero Tony Stark sink into some serious self-destructive behavior, while trying to be a great hero. Of course he learns that he can’t do it alone as his closest friends begin to abandon him. Oh and Tony happens to be dying. And it turns out that a psycho named Vanko has it in for Tony’s family because apparently, according to Vanko anyway, the Stark family is a bunch of thieves. I honestly think time will vindicate this entry into the series as the superior of the two, much the same way as The Empire Strikes Back was equally vindicated by history.

3.) The Lost Finale

Seriously I cannot think of a better ending to this show than what was given. A lot of viewers complained but, when pressed they couldn’t think of a better way either, so there you go. This show made a huge impact on my life when I first watched it and it continues to resonate with me to this day. In the end it wasn’t really about the mysteries of the “Island” but rather the people who were affected by it. I was debating on whether I should put this lower on the list simply because not everyone has seen the show, but in the end I figured “Hey this is my list and I loved the end!”. If you haven’t seen the show I highly recommend it and please stick with it, you won’t be disappointed. I hope.

2.) Inception

What can I say about this movie that hasn’t already been said? This movie rocks my socks. Leonardo DiCaprio was really good in it. This movie did for French girls, what Jaws did for sharks. The whole thing feels like what would’ve happened if Sci-Fi writer Philip K. Dick got together with Elmore Leonard to make a heist movie. It’s great and if you haven’t seen it do so.

And for my numero uno favorite thing from last year is: A TIE! Well not like a tie you wear, but like well… Anyway I decided to have two absolute favorite things from last year and they are the videogame Mass Effect 2 and the excellent epic fantasy novel The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. First up I’m gonna talk about the game:

This game is just near perfect. It’s essentially an interactive “Choose Your Own Adventure” book but with better writing and not for kids. In fact this game is a great example of showing that videogames aren’t just for children and are capable of strong storytelling narratives like any book or movie. To bring you up to speed on what this game exactly is about, you play as Lt. Commander Shepard an elite spec-op serviceman from the Human Alliance Navy in the mid 2180’s. In the future mankind has joined the ranks of a galactic society and seems to be integrating well for the most part. Shepard is hailed as a hero due to his or her actions from last game (you get to choose Shepard’s gender, background and physical appearance) and while on a routine recon mission Shepard’s ship is promptly attacked and gets blown up. With Shepard inside it. Then Shepard dies. This is all within the first ten minutes of the game! Afterwards however, a shady pro-human anti-space alien group known as Cerberus finds Shepard’s remains and brings him/her back to life. The reason? Mankind is danger of a new threat to the galaxy and Shepard is the only one who can stop it. Like I said this game is great, you get cool new super powers and weapons (the Nuke cannon is my favorite!) plus the ability to either be virtuous or a total jerk to the characters you meet is always fun. Love this game!

Next up The Way of Kings!

I heart this book!

I honestly have no idea on where to start with this book. It’s just so wonderfully written and the sheer scope and depth of it all is just a tad overwhelming. The Way of Kings is the first in a proposed series of TEN novels known as The Stormlight Archive, it takes place on a world known as Roshar. The planet is completely savaged by hurricane force storms called highstorms, that are so violent that the ground has no soil only bare rock. The animals are crustacean like and plants retract into the rock like anemones would into a reef. Humans take shelter into natural rock formations and build cities into the rock itself for protection. The story follows a young soldier turned slave named Kaladin who seems to be suffering from a Ben-Hur/Spartacus complex. Kaladin who was once a talented surgeon-to-be, enlists in his provinces army to protect his brother. Of course that doesn’t work out and is then sent to the bridge crews to carry siege equipment in his nation’s (named Alethkar) war against the savages known as the parshendi on what is called the Shattered Plains. It’s awesome. The story also follows two other characters as well: Dalinar brother of the assassinated king of Alethkar and a young noblewoman named Shallan Davar from the neighboring kingdom of Jah Kaved. All three of these stories come together in a satisfying cliffhanger that makes me eagerly anticipate the next book with eagerness.

Well there you have it my totally belated list of things I thought were cool from last year! Boy this list rambled…