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2008 – The Year In Geekdom (Part 2)

2

Jan

Posted by Steve

April was a weird month for Geeks.  In comics, the big two began their big crossover events.  Marvel was asking “Who Do You Trust?” while DC was preparing everyone for the day evil won, Barry Allen returned, and The Martian Manhunter died.

In my opinion, DC began to take a backseat to Marvel in terms of crossover quality.  While Marvel had a huge crossover event going, you could read the main title of the event and never need to read another title to know what was going on, you couldn’t read any of most of Marvel’s other titles and have a clue what was going on in them.

However, if you read Final Crisis…well, you just didn’t have a clue what was going on period.  Of course, DC promised that in the end all would be made clear.  While I have a plethora of problems with that philosophy, the truth is that Grant Morrison’s epic event storyline has been met with both disdain and great applause.  So, I may not know what I’m talking about.  I do know that it became apparent to me early on that one needed a PhD in the DC Universe to understand what was happening.  That is something I do not have, therefore I was lost quickly and threw my hands up and decided I would just wait for the outcome and go have fun in the Marvel Universe that I grew up loving and seemed to be back on some level.

On television the series that had started in January or (as Smallville did) worked something out after the writer’s strike were racing towards season finales.   On the big screen, studios were putting out comedies and a horror film here or there.  It seemed as though everything was pointing toward one thing…SUMMER 08.  The Summer of the year of the geek.

The day was Friday, May 2nd.  Footage had been shown.  Trailers had been released.  Spies had filmed things from the set.  Now, geeks rejoiced, girlfriends got dragged kicking and screaming with threats of the Sex in the City movie muttered under their breath, and the cheers were heard online, on tv, and around the world as Iron Man debuted and was hailed as the greatest super hero movie ever made.

The billionaire in metal was followed to the big screen by the whip wielding archeologist.  Indiana Jones returned to the screen and the reaction was mixed at best.  While I loved the movie and had a great time, audiences were hoping for the second coming of Raiders rather than the imaginations of Lucas, Spielberg, and others spilling out in a completely different way than we had seen with Indy before.

The amazing thing is that in between the release of Iron Man and Indiana Jones, Speed Racer was released followed the next week by The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.  Two geeky franchise-type movies in their own right.  I didn’t get to see Speed Racer, though it looked to be one of the most visually stunning movies released this year.  Prince Caspian, however, completely captured my imagination and I really enjoyed it.

Then June came along.  June gave us a Friday the 13th that was neither unlucky nor scary for me.  In fact, as I left work that afternoon.  (I am only in the office til noon on Fridays.) I made my way to Douglas, GA to catch the first showing of the day of THE INCREDIBLE HULK.    Apparently, a lot of people watched the Hulk smash that weekend.

June also brought the masses The Happening.  I actually watched this movie in a grainy bootleg version of a bootleg DVD that a friend had.  Quite frankly, that’s what Shyamalan should have gone for.  A stylized, grainy-shot, film that evoked the Grindhouse-esque feel that Tarantino and company brought with their double feature last year.  I think the movie would have been much more well received than it was.  As it stands though…I wasn’t impressed.

The Summer was too good to focus in on the “not-so-good’s”though, because we had already had Iron Man, Hulk, Indy, and others make the weeks go by.  At the end of June though, a little robot took the animation world by storm as Wall-E cleaned his way into our hearts.  I can’t get over how much of a homerun Pixar hit with Wall-E.  The movie is at once a kids movie while simultaneously being a scathing commentary on the state of and the direction humanity may be taking…at least as far as we in the states are concerned.   I’m still waiting for that first huge mistake to come out Pixar, but we haven’t seen it, and I’m not sure we will for a while.

Then came July.

Ah, July, fireworks, bar-b-ques, and a little film the world now knows as THE DARK KNIGHT.

Before Batman and the Joker faced off though, we were…treated (?) to Will Smith stepping into the realm of the super hero in Hancock.  A movie also known as “Let’s forget about a plot about midway through the movie.”   After Hancock there was Hellboy 2.  I didn’t see it, but I’ve heard only good things from fans.

Then…the main event.  The true climax of everything Summer 08 had been leading up to.  The Dark Knight.  I don’t know if anyone expected Chris Nolan and his team to do the business they did at the box office.  What I DO know is that The Dark Knight set a new standard for comic book adaptations and even crime dramas.    The world went crazy for Batman.  Cries for Oscar nominations went out, and people saw the movie again and again and again.

If the The Dark Knight was the climax of the summer there was still some pretty good falling action.

Mulder and Scully teamed up again to a rather dismal reaction, Smallville’s creators brought the Mummy franchise back to the screen, Seth Rogen and the Green Goblin’s son got high, Robert Downy Jr. showed up in hit number two of the summer for him, and a little franchise known as Star Wars made it’s return to the big screen in the form of THE CLONE WARS.  For me, the Summer ended nicely.

Now, all eyes were turned to the small screen again as the cinema had gotten us through the lack of  new tv over the Summer.  Now…it was time to gear up for all of our favorites, as The Year of the Geek continued.

2008 – The Year In Geekdom (Part 1)

27

Dec

Posted by Steve

As 2007 wound down, the Geek world held it’s collective breath as we were thrust into a year that promised the answer to monstrous questions, the beginning of a new day for Marvel movies, the return several old favorites, and a strong outing for favorite television shows even in light of a strike that threatened to put a halt to television and movies for a long time.

In the waning days of ’07, the  question on the minds of many movie-goers was “What is Cloverfied?”  The campaign leading up to this movie was the most effective viral marketing cloverfield_galleryteaser2.jpgcampaign for any movie that I can remember. “Concept art” was leaking.  People were getting screenshots of split second moments in the trailer in an attempt to get some kind of look at the design of the monster which had been kept well under wraps.  Online, people were jumping to dozens of websites trying to find some piece of information on the plot, the origin and the look of the monster, pictures, and video.  It was my first REAL look at what a viral marketing campaign can do and be to fuel the fires of a movie being hyped.

The movie itself? was a great experience for me and I can’t believe that I haven’t really watched it since it was in the theater.   I have the song “Roar,” which is the orchestrated piece that plays through the end credits of the film, and it is an amazing piece of music that evokes the feel of the classic Japanese monster movies, and manages to be fresh and nice to listen to as well.  It was a nice opening volley for what I have dubbed the “Year of the Geek,” and things only ramped up from there.

While a monster destroyed New York on the big screen, in the living room it was time for monsters of a different sort to show up.   On Sunday, January 13th, a mere five days before the Cloverfield monster showed up in Manhattan, the world was treated to one of the most surprisingly good pilots on television EVER.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chroicles, premiered on a Sunday night, and much to my surprise the_sarah_connor_chronicles.jpgI was hooked from the get go.  In the midst of an ongoing writer’s strike and the ramifications thereof, audiences were shown what good writing means.  I maintain to this day that T:SCC is one of the most well-written if not THE most well-written series on television. What should be nothing more than a bunch of gun fights and running from robots is surprisingly full of depth, literary allusions, and incredible character development. (And gun fights and running from robots of course.)

The advent of The Sarah Connor Chronicles brought about a new age in podcasting for Derek and I. Together we started The Skynext Podcast. I had no idea what it would mean to do three podcasts, but through Skynext, Derek and I have both made some good friends and had some great times. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was my biggest surprise of the year and the first season was one of the most enjoyable nine episodes of television I’ve watched in a while.

While Sarah Connor and family were blasting their way through time traveling terminators, another sort of blasting took place on January 25th.  January 25th is my birthday and it happened to fall on a Friday this past year, and what a birthday it was as I traveled to my favorite theater (well, the best one that is closest to me.) to sit down and watch Sylvester Stallone return to his role as one of the greatest action heroes to come out of the eighties – RAMBO.

In my original review of Rambo, I gave the movie 3.5 out of 5 whatever I give 5 of. Over time, I have upped that to a solid 4. I genuinely like the movie and what an experience it was to go to the theater the night of my birthday and watch Stallone do something I never thought was possible. Revitalize a character that had become such an ingrained part of our society in such a way as to make him fresh and new…and make me want more. Between ROCKY BALBOA and RAMBO, my respect for Stallone jumped a dozen notches. The guy’s not an idiot. For any flaws you may read about him, he has a good head on his shoulders and really desired to do justice to the characters he had created.

Between Cloverfield, Rambo, and The Sarah Connor Chronicles, 2008 was off to a good start.

As February rolled in, it was more about anticipating what was coming in the following months than anything else. On television, Smallville ramped back up at the tail end of the writer’s strike with a solid closing to what was originally supposed to be a very short season. But, the trailers…oh the trailers! Iron Man’s publicity machine had gotten it’s wheels rolling, The Dark Knight was showing Cloverfield how viral marketing can really work the fan base up, and we got one of the coolest teasers ever for a movie in the teaser for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

That’s what February was all about…well, that and my forray back into comics. Jeph Loeb was getting crunk with Hulk, and I was loving it. Marvel was gearing up for the big Secret Invasion, and DC was counting down to Final Crisis. Things weren’t all good. However, in Action Comics and Superman, Geoff Johns and crew were doing things to set up those titles becoming the great frontrunners of the DC Universe once again.

Oh…and it was announced that Star Wars would be returning to theaters.

March, it’s said comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb…not this time. For 2008 was the year of the geek. Geeks everywhere were on hunts around major cities to meet up with the Harvey Dent campaign. They were online dissecting trailers. They were gobbling up every leaked photo, clip, and bit of information they could in anticipation for one of the greatest Summers to be a geek in a long time.

To whet our appetite, DC animation released the stunning direct to DVD “Justice League: New Frontier.” A really well put together animated movie that was very respectful to the source material upon which it was based. Fans were a buzz and for a moment forgot a bit about what was coming down the pipe for all of us. Then Aaron Eckhart confirmed the presence of a highly anticipated villain, and as I was sitting in the big comfy chair…I saw a commercial for a teaser.

The hype for the Incredible Hulk had officially begun. We were now hip deep in hype and May couldn’t get here fast enough.

It bears noting in March that Ric Flair retired from Professional Wrestling (to my knowledge at this point, permanently) and I watched the match that would mark the end of his illustrious career.

So it was in the beginning of 2008 that geeks had much to be excited about. As we did the usual blogging conversing, whining, and complaining, we kept a sharp eye on the calendar, waiting for what would surely be the greatest Summer in a long time to be a geek.