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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.

What is Cloverfield?

21

Jan

Posted by Steve

That’s the question I got asked last week when I would tell my friends, “I’m excited for Cloverfield this weekend.” 

I couldn’t believe that they weren’t in on everything.  I couldn’t believe this one has slipped by them.  I would explain, “Big monster….trashes New York….handycam?”

Then they would say, “Oh yeah…not too sure about that one.”

So, I knew that it was off to the movies by myself to check out the latest in geek phenomena. 

I wasn’t really aware of this movie until the teaser before Transformers last Summer.  But that teaser got me hooked.  I began to buy in to all of the marketing, all of the rumors, and all of the pictures, and I loved that when I walked into the movie theatre all I knew for sure was what I had seen in the trailers and movie clips that had been released.

If you haven’t seen Cloverfield, don’t worry, I won’t spoil too much here.  This is an experience that doesn’t need to be spoiled.  The less  you know going in, the better.  Why?  Because this movie is all about discovery.   The discovery that New York is being destroyed and what it’s being destroyed by.  The discovery that everybody isn’t getting to safety.  The discovery of…well, I don’t want to spoil it.

Suffice to say that the scares work.  The effects work.  The monster works.  The characters work.  This movie just works.  Period.

The success of this movie, though, is not in the monster, the marketing, or even the story.  The success of this movie is the characters.  There’s not a single character that you don’t recognize.  We all have that friend that is the organizer.  We all have the friend that never takes anything seriously.  We’re all friends with that couple that’s not together, but should be together.  We’ve all been in that situation where everyone should be having fun but two people start arguing and it becomes a tense evening.  We’ve all got that one friend who is the glue to the other friends.  The “main dude.”

So, when things start to get nasty in New York, you’re actually pulling for these people.  You want them to succeed at what they’re doing, and you want them to survive.  You hurt for every character that dies and you hurt for every character personally affected by the death of another. 

There is an eerie feeling to the film as it puts you right in the middle of a circumstance that we literally cannot imagine other than seeing it on the big screen. 

This is not THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.  You aren’t constantly hoping to get a glimpse of the witch.  The actors aren’t running around overacting and ad libbing.

This in not GODZILLA.  The focal point of this movie is not the monster.  You don’t think this monster is cool.  You want to see it stopped.  You don’t want the army to have to pull out all the stops and accept whatever collateral damages they have to accept.

This is not WAR OF THE WORLDS.  You don’t know if this is happening everywhere or just New York.

This is something similar to all of these movies, but at the same time nothing like them at all.  There are inspirations from everything from ALIEN to OUTBREAK  to ET  the classic Godzilla movies and other obivous genre films.

Go see this movie.  Even if you don’t flip for it the way it seems so many people are, it’s worth seeing on the big screen.   Do I think it’s a genre defining (or redefining – however you look at it) movie?  I don’t know about that.  Is this movie this generation’s Star Wars?  No.  It may be this generation’s Godzilla, but I doubt it will have the cultural impact of Star Wars.  Is this the greatest movie ever made?  No, Citizen Kane will probably always hold that title.  Is it a great movie.  Yes…yes it is. 

This is that movie that people will be talking about for weeks.  In fact, Rambo may get overlooked to an extent this Friday because there are so many people talking about CLOVERFIELD.  I can’t wait to sit and watch this movie again.  I can’t wait to be able to see it over and over again on DVD if for no other reason than to pick apart every scene and see the story that is unfolding around our characters.  So, I say again, if you haven’t seen it go check it out.  Let me know what you think.