Best Of 2014

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Best Sci-Fi TV Show

Doctor Who got off to a rocky start for the new Doctor played by Peter Capaldi. But the show and the actor quickly found their footing and presented an eclectic and sometimes frenetic mix of the bizarre, silly and loftier themes. What helped where the imaginative scripts and Capaldi’s cutting performance as a more sardonic and mature Doctor, which was a good change of pace for Doctor Who.

Best Horror TV Show:

The Walking Dead continues to be one of the best genre shows on TV. This year saw the aftermath of the fall of the prison that scattered our heroes and introduced memorable characters. At the same time, The Walking Dead kept amping up the stakes with the Terminus cannibals and Grady Hospital storylines. It all ended with a feeling that no one is safe and nothing is secure.

Best Fantasy Show

Game of Thrones is the best produced dragons 2show on TV right now with its topnotch production values, crisp dialogue and scripts, and superior acting. Many episodes stood out which dealt with the deaths of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), the trial of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and the siege of the Wall. The only problem is that the show is now running out of original material since it has almost caught up to George R.R. Martin’s books.

Best Documentary/Reality Show

The Real History of Science Fiction, was a splendid look at film and TV science fiction fare with some nods towards literary works. Each episode of the mini-series was based on a certain theme like robots, time travel and of course space exploration.

"Almost Human" Season 1

Best Cancelled TV Show

Almost Human was a fresh and inventive sci-fi variation of the cop-buddy show thanks to terrific performances by Michael Ealy as an android cop and Karl Urban as his disgruntled human partner. The episodes were straightforward and entertaining as they explored the nature of having a soul and nifty future crimes.

Best Animated Show

Star Wars: The Clone Wars had a fitting final season that aired on Netflix instead of broadcast TV. While current fandom is content to put behind George Lucas’ prequel-based fare and all the attention is on Star Wars Rebels and next year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the final episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars did an excellent job of expanding the Star Wars universe with its explorations of the Force and by providing a segue way to the films.

Best TV Character

tyrionTyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones finally had enough of all the taunts and putdowns and the unjust charges laid on him. His epic courtroom rant in “The Laws of Gods and Men” saw him unleash his fury at those that wronged him including his father and this anger saw its culmination in the final episode of the season where he physically took out his rage on those that hurt him.

Most Missed TV Character

Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) on The Walking Dead was an underused character on the show. For the most part she was just known as the youngest member of the Greene family. But in recent episodes, Beth had matured and become self reliant which culminated in her final episode (and The Walking Dead’s midseason finale) where she was abruptly killed off. The death seemed pointless and enraged fans who were saddened by her death.

carrying beth

Best TV Villain

Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) at first was slade wilsona trusted partner of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) while the future Green Arrow was stranded on an island as seen in flashback scenes on Arrow. But in the second season, this former merc proved to be Queen’s most diabolical enemy as he re-entered the superhero’s life and systematically began to take Queen down in a smoldering bid of vengeance. Raising the stakes for Queen was that Wilson was superior in strength and skills and pushed our hero to the edge. Bennett’s performance as Wilson was so memorable that the Batman villain Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) couldn’t compare.

Most Improved TV show

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a big disappointment when it first premiered in 2013 because of banal scripts and listless characters. However, thanks to Captain America: The Winter Soldier the show truly came into its own by wholeheartedly embracing the game-changing premise from that movie where Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. Characters were killed off or did a complete 180 and the agents became fugitives while they struggled to defeat Hydra that seemed to be everywhere. Plus, the second season saw the show debut what will turn out to be an important component of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) by introducing the Inhumans.

Best Series Finale

being human usBeing Human, it was sad to see this American version of the British cult hit come to an end, but it ended quite well. All the story threads were wrapped up surprisingly well and the finale was bittersweet. A couple of the show’s characters died but had meaningful deaths with rewarding afterlives. Meanwhile, the surviving characters were given a conclusion where they were able to live happily and move on.

Best Sci-Fi Film

Guardians of the Galaxy highlighted a memorable year for sci-fi films. 2014 had some instant classics like Interstellar, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Snowpiercer, but Guardians of the Galaxy stood out over the rest. It was a fun throwback to pulpy space operas not seen since the original Star Wars trilogy. More importantly, the film had very endearing characters like Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) that made audiences care about them as they went about saving the galaxy.

prisoners

Best Horror Film

Oculus stood out among current horror films that rely all too much on cheap and easy jump scares. This film, which starred genre favorites Karen Gillan and Katee Sackhoff, instead used psychological horror and mind games that always kept the audience guessing while delivering authentic and natural frights.

Best Fantasy Film

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIESPeter Jackson concluded his three-part adaptation of the Tolkien classic with wall-to-wall action and his now trademark sweeping scenes of battlefields and armies. Although, The Hobbit trilogy may not have the same punch as The Lord of the Rings films, it was still a memorable viewing experience. And The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was a fitting conclusion to Jackson’s final sojourn to Middle Earth.

Best Animated Film

THE LEGO MOVIEThe LEGO Movie, this year had some great animated films like How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6. But The LEGO Movie was the best surprise not because of its use of famous characters like Batman or it being a cross of Legos and stop motion animation, but due to its championing of imagination and creativity.

Best Superhero Film

Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a bold, exciting sequel that outshone the original and upturned the MCU with its revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. the spy organization had been infiltrated by the evil Hydra organization. This, of course, forced our hero to go on the run as he tried to tear down the organization he once fought for while uncovering disturbing conspiracies. But the film also took time to humanize Captain America and reflect on his past. These simple touches are what made the film so memorable.

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Best Superhero on Film

Captain America (Chris Evans) in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, once again demonstrated why he is arguably the greatest hero in the MCU and a true patriot who questioned the Big Brother methods of S.H.I.E.L.D. This in turn led him to be a man truly out of place in society fighting a lonely and dangerous fight as many supposed allies turned against him. More importantly, his heroic actions would unravel the MCU forever.

Best Film Characters

Hands down, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) stole the film Guardians of the Galaxy and were a big cause of that film’s success. Who would’ve imagined a year ago that two unknown CG characters would have so much heart and be so endearing to audiences?

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Best Line in a Film

“I am Groot”

Best Performance Capture

caesarCaesar the ape in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was exceptionally brought to life by Andy Serkis in what is probably his best performance. Many times in the film, one easily forgot that Caesar was not an actual chimp but a performance capture/CG creation. Just give the guy an Oscar already!

Best Film Villain

Koba the ape (performance captured by Toby Kebbel) in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was a hideous, chilling and conniving villain who’s undying hatred for humans brings about a war between the two species. He was the most memorable villains seen in genre films for 2014.

Best Use of 3D & IMAX In a Film

Interstellar showed that director Christopher Nolan is undeniably the master when it comes to filming genre efforts on IMAX. Meanwhile, Guardians of the Galaxy had unexpectedly terrific 3D effects thanks to director James Gunn who utilized the format to its best.

interstellar 2

Best Trailer for an Upcoming Film

Avengers: Age of Ultron, is one of next year’s most anticipated films and the moody trailer for it ratcheted up interest. It gave us the cool effects shots, especially the Hulkbuster Iron Man suit in action, but it didn’t play it safe with its dark forebodings (broken Captain America shield anyone?) and that creepy rendition of “I Got No Strings” from Pinocchio. On a side note the other best teaser trailer has to be for Avengers: Infinity War, Part I & II, which aren’t due until 2018 and 2019!

Biggest Disappointment

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffered the same fate as the infamous Spider-Man 3. It had too many villains, characters, subplots and worst of all too much studio interference that mandated that this film be used to launch spinoffs in a clumsy attempt by Sony Pictures to create its own superhero cinematic universe. In the end, this mess has put the Spider-Man film series in doubt, let alone the announced spinoffs.

Best App

Star Wars Scene Maker was an scene makerapp that allowed users to recreate scenes from the iconic original Star Wars. around. Or better it allowed anyone’s creativity to get going by allowing users to mix and match characters, weapons and vehicles and the best fun was seeing these setups come to animated life.

Best Video Game

Mario Kart 8 was a lot of fun to play and proved to be one of the best Mario Kart games ever made. Nintendo made this latest Mario game with incredible graphics, game play and delivering the simple joys that fans of the Mario Kart games have expected over the years.

mario kart

Best Hallmark Ornament: 2014 proved to be a landmark year for genre-related Hallmark ornaments. There were so many great ornaments like the xenomorph from Alien, the shark from Jaws or the flying DeLorean from the Back to the Future films. It was actually hard to pick out the best genre ornament, but in the end the best ornament was the Yoda Peekbuster. What made it stand out was its motion sensor that warned peekers away from gifts placed under the Christmas tree as Yoda admonished his distinct Yodaisms.

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Biggest News Item

In light of the recent calamities like super diseases, incompetent politicians, demagogues, and riots, entertainment genre news couldn’t compare. Still, there were a couple of news item that have had immediate ramifications, especially with the future of the Spider-Man film franchise. Those would have to be the announcements from DC/Warner Bros. and Marvel/Disney of a busy schedule of interrelated superhero films. Both camps’ culminations will include two-part Justice League and Avengers films. These revelation were very exciting and left other studios’ attempts at building their own cinematic universes in the dust.

 

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Requiem For A Spider-Man Reboot

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As we all know, the latest buzz going around the ‘net has been about the leaked emails from Sony Pictures and in particular the future of the Spider-Man film franchise. We learned that Sony and Marvel Entertainment came agonizingly close to having Spidey appearing in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and in other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies. Additionally, the emails it’s clear that the Sony executives were up in arms over where to go forward with the franchise.

TSpidey MCUhe Amazing Spider-Man 2 underperformed (and for good reason!) last summer in theaters and took a vicious beating from critics and fans over its convoluted script and having too many characters. The emails prove that Sony knows something is wrong with the franchise, and also demonstrate how they badly lack any creative solutions. Let’s look at their idea for an Aunt May film which would reveal her secret life. Really? That is one dumb idea. Why not have a kid-friendly film starring Ms. Lyons the dog? Then there was the notion of making an animated comedy film about Spidey. That would go over as well as that Broadway play. Or how about a movie about an unnamed female superhero? Sorry, but other film studios are coming out with high profile superheroines like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. Seriously, these kinds of ideas make the planned Sinister Six movie to be a brilliant move!

What’s worse is that The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s reception has cast a doubt on continuing the franchise to the point that the planned Venom movie is all but dead and now the likelihood of a Sinister Six film is in doubt. The fragile nature of these films underscore how much the Spider-Man film franchise is in trouble. Announcement after announcement fail to drum up any interest among fans or worse hostility. The only Marvel property that generates more hostility is next year’s Fantastic Four reboot. Smelling blood in the water, many fans are ripping apart the two recent Spider-Man films and a war cry has started for Sony to sell the film rights back to Marvel. That’s regrettable. The reboot had some good parts and shouldn’t be completely disregarded, especially the first film.

From Highlight To Casualty

What the reboot got correct is that the ????????????????????????films moved away from Sam Raimi’s Silver Age-inspired films that were kind of goofy and a bit dated. The new Peter Parker, played excellently by Andrew Garfield, wasn’t a textbook nerd anymore. He was more of a loner, an outsider, and he seemed more modern. Peter was someone who had trouble connecting with the world around him until that famous spider bite changed his life. And the way Spider-Man was presented was just spot-on perfect. He was brash, wise cracking, nimble and at times it seemed like pages from a comic book were literally put on the silver screen without missing anything. Then there was the near-perfect chemistry between Peter and his love Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Some may wonder why Marc Webb, a director known for a romantic comedy – (500) Days of Summer – was picked to direct the rebooted films. Part of that had to be with the success he had with (500) Days of Summer, a genuinely funny and affecting movie that was a chick flick for guys. Webb was able to convey a moving romance between Peter and Gwen and they were the highlights of the rebooted films. However, other parts of the films had severe faults, like cartoony villains and haphazard editing, which is why it’s likely that Webb won’t come back for future Spider-Man films. Continue reading

2015 Hallmark Sci-Fi Ornaments

2015 ornaments all

Ornaments have been popular presents during the Holiday season and this year’s isn’t an exception. The genre-related offerings from Hallmark this year are quite impressive but next year’s Hallmark ornaments promises to be just as noteworthy. To date these are the 2015 Hallmark ornaments.

Star Trek

2015 looks to be a quiet year for kirk and spockStar Trek Hallmark ornaments. Doubtless, 2016 will be another story since it will be the 50th anniversary of the franchise. But next year’s ornaments look very beautifully sculpted. They include the Enterprise C famously featured in the classic episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise” on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The other two will be of Lt. Uhura and “The Needs of the Many” ornament, which features Kirk and Spock during Spock’s death scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. No doubt, the base will have sound, most likely being Spock’s unforgettable final words.

Enterprise C

Star Wars

c3poSorry, new fans of the upcoming trilogy, but at this time, no ornaments based upon Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be offered. Perhaps Hallmark wanted to hedge their bets on the popularity of ornaments based on new films. Look at what happened in 1999 when the company flooded the market with ornaments of the sure-fire hit Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Today many of those ornaments can be bought for a dollar on eBay. But who knows, in a few short months we’ll find out for certain if ornaments based on next year’s Star Wars film will be produced.

Either way, Hallmark is playing it safe for 2015 and its confirmed Star Wars ornaments will include a Y-Wing fighter, Luke Skywalker standing on his hands with Yoda perched on his feet as seen in the training segments of The Empire Strikes Back, Admiral Akbar and Zeb from Star Wars: Rebels. The most interesting looking ornament is a twofer; C-3P0 and R2-D2.

UPDATE: In the Hallmark Keepsake Dreambook, it’s stated that commemorative ornaments based on Star Wars: The Force Awakens are coming later this year, but no further information is currently available.

Superhero

At this point, only a few superhero W Womanornaments have been confirmed. They include the Marvel mainstay Spider-Man in Holiday-themed adornments, a grey and black-garbed Batman, Wonder Woman as portrayed by Lynda Carter, and Steve Austin – the Six Million Dollar Man. There will also be an ornament based on the garish batmobile seen in the Joel Schumacher Batman films. There must be fans of that car. Joker fans should note that an ornament based on the Joker played by Caesar Romero will be available.

So far, it looks like there won’t be any Guardians of the Galaxy ornaments. Too bad, a dancing baby Groot would’ve been a natural ornament. But there’s always a chance a limited edition ornament of these space heroes may be released. A gut feeling indicates that Hallmark will unveil some kind of Guardians of the Galaxy ornament and don’t be surprised if they produce a set of ornaments for Avengers: Age of Ultron in the same vein as they did in 2012 when they released a trio of interlocking ornaments of Thor, Iron Man and Captain America.

ornaments 2015

UPDATE: There will be dancing baby Groot as seen at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy and a Hulk vs. Ultron based on their battle in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Also, keep an eye out for a new Iron Man ornament. Sadly, we won’t be getting a Marvel superhero trio like we did in 2012. There’s always next year and on that note we’ll have to wait then to find out if Ant-Man will be getting an ornament (an ornament based on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a given).

Science Fiction/Fantasy

zaiusHeadlining the ornaments based on sci-fi and fantasy properties are the Predator himself and should make a nice companion piece to this year’s Alien ornament. To accompany Cornelius from the original Planet Of The Apes, 2015 will see another ape ornament: the nefarious Dr. Zaius.

Fans of The Walking Dead rejoice! Hallmark is producing an ornament of everybody’s favorite walker killer, Daryl Dixon. Who knows? Are Rick Grimes, Michonne or the Governor next?

Expect a new Harry Potter ornament, one of Smaug the dragon from The Hobbit films, Megatron from the Transformers toys and Beetlejuice, as well. Don’t be surprised if Hallmark unveils more ornaments based on popular sci-fi, fantasy and horror properties. We’ll keep you posted.

smaug ornament

UPDATE: As one of our readers pointed out in the comments, the Harry Potter ornament will be of our favorite young wizard on Platform 9 3/4. There will also be an ornament of the Mockingjay symbol featured in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2.

gizmo (2)

On a lighter note, a new Gizmo ornament is coming. Recreating one of his cutest moments in Gremlins, this ornament features the diminutive Mogwai riding a toy car. For animation fans, ornaments based on the films WALL-E, Inside Out and Home, as well as the ever-present Disney characters and films (like Frozen) will be available. BTW, there will be an ornament of the super nerd Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. Bazinga!

Waldermann Rivera

DC Wins The TV War…For Now, Part Two

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The rivalry between DC Comics and Marvel Comics has many fronts in media like toys, films, video games, etc. But as it stands right now, DC Entertainment dominates the television medium with its current slate of TV shows on the air and their plans for additional programs coming in the near future.

DC’s Television Summit

Once Smallville ended in 2011, a void needed to be filled by DC Entertainment in terms of having a superhero presence in the TV landscape. Rather than mining the Superman/Batman lore, the decision was made to showcase DC’s proto justice leagueother heroes and it was a wise choice. For some time, DC and Warner Bros. fell into a crutch and relied too much on Superman and Batman to represent DC in other media. This was understandable since those were the company’s two biggest heroes. It makes perfect business sense to take advantage of the popularity of those heroes. The problem, though, is that with all the marketing and attention focused on Batman and Superman, DC’s other heroes were left out and helped give the impression that the rest of the DC roster consisted of second stringers. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The DC universe is populated by many captivating heroes and villains and the problem was that the company wasn’t taking full advantage of that notion. Marvel, and specifically Marvel Studios, faced a similar problem but for different reasons. They didn’t have the film rights to Spider-Man or the X-Men, so they had to rely on their lesser known properties. It turned out for the best, otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten live-action adaptations of Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor.

In DC’s case, they too were forced to look elsewhere since the Superman well had run dry with Smallville and Batman was considered off limits because of the Dark Knight films. Thus, DC Entertainment looked to an urban vigilante that had many of Batman’s characteristics – Green Arrow.

Arrow aimsAll things considered, he is a solid alternative for Batman when it came to being featured in a live-action TV show. After all, both are urban crimefighters without superpowers and use specialized weapons. When Arrow premiered in 2012, it presented a more grounded, realistic world for the superhero. In the first season, the main character, who wasn’t even called Green Arrow (in one episode his alter ego, played by Stephen Amell, thought that name Green Arrow was “lame”), wore a practical uniform with only a hoodie and grease paint to conceal his identity. Moving away from fanciful superhumans allowed Arrow to concentrate more on character development and street-level fight scenes. This meant that it was more inviting and relatable for casual viewers.

What the producers of Arrow did correctly is that they embraced the DC universe. They weren’t afraid to name drop places like S.T.A.R. Labs and Blüdhaven. Likewise, the series featured recognizable DC characters like Amanda Waller (head of the Suicide Squad), Slade Wilson and even the Batman villain Ra’s al Ghul and his League of Assassins. It was enough bones thrown to DC fans to keep them glued to their TVs. Arrow then took a step further and introduced superpowered characters in its second season thanks to this strength-enhancing drug called Mirakuru and the introduction of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), whose Flash origin occurred at the end of one of the Arrow episodes.

arrow flash

This naturally led to The Flash spinoff that premiered recently. Taking a lighter tone than Arrow, The Flash is more of a throwback to the fast-moving comic books with outlandish supervillains, while utilizing the same kind of engrossing subplots that Arrow uses. What’s more is that both shows are definitely in the same universe. Although the concept of a shared universe isn’t new in TV shows, this was the first time this was done for superhero shows (not counting The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman) and it’s exciting to watch characters appearing in both programs with even more allusions to a wider world.

Both Arrow and The Flash are huge hits on The CW network and should be around for the long haul. Gotham, a show set in the title city and taking place after the killing of Bruce Wayne’s parents, is a hit on Fox. In fact, it pulls in more ratings than The CW superhero shows but that is due to the wider audience that Fox has compared gordonto The CW. Even though Gotham is a hit, there should be some caution because it’s on Fox, so there isn’t any guarantee that it will last as long as if it was on The CW. That is a problem that DC and Warner Bros. faces. Sure they can put anything on The CW, a fledging network, but it won’t reach as large an audience as in the major networks. But on the big networks, there is more pressure to succeed. Already, Constantine airs on NBC and has dismal ratings–it was recently announced that the show won’t go beyond initial 13 episodes and its fate is unknown. Constantine’s rating woes are due to its time slot: Fridays at 10 pm. How can any show succeed on that slot? It probably would’ve been better if it aired on a cable network where it could’ve thrived and be allowed to be darker like its comic book counterpart.

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