A couple of days ago on New Year's Eve, I wrote a post about my Geek Top 10 for 2014. I only got through the first half of my list, so below is the second half.
Have a look at my Top 10 and let me know where you agree or disagree. I'd love to hear your comments below. Thanks!
Part 1 of my Top 10. Here's another one that I'm sure will be controversial: Dwimmermount. People seem to have a love/hate relationship with this product: the content, the author(s), the Kickstarter process, etc. I myself was, early on, a bit miffed that I thought this product would never see the light of day after I'd contributed to the Kickstarter, but over time I let that go and saw it go through a series of different people to try to make it happen.
I originally supported this Kickstarter as a way to show my appreciation for James Maliszewski's blog, which helped me rediscover my love of old-school games. Plus, his Dwimmerount posts on his blog were some of my favorites and were always idea-inspiring. I very early-on had supported James when he asked if people would be interested in a print version of his product. So, yes, I was a bit disappointed when the Kickstarter funded and then I didn't hear anything about it until later. But, the Autarch Team did a very admirable job of committing to getting the book published, despite that fact that I assume they made very little, if anything, off the project. It's a massive book, chock-full of ideas, old-school style art, a whole fantasy city, maps, new spells, new magic items... the list goes on-and-on. It includes much of James' original ideas, so from what I can tell, the core of the book still has his original stamp on it, even though it was finished by a different team. I haven't played through it yet but it really looks like it would be a fun campaign. I've already taken some ideas from it and used them in other games I'm running, ranging from Labyrinth Lord to Savage Worlds.
MOVIES (minor spoiler alerts below)
This is a tough one to narrow down because there were actually quite a few really good "geek" movies that came out in 2014. I'm narrowing mine down to just three, below.
Part 1 post, where I picked The Fade Out as one of my favorite new comics of 2014. Ed wrote the ground-breaking "Winter Soldier" arc for Captain America a few years ago and was actually called in by Marvel Studios to consult on the movie adaptation which incorporates that part of the original story but changes and adapts it to focus on HYDRA instead of the Soviet Union. The film also introduces the Falcon into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in a role that's played extremely well by Anthony Mackie. The movie manages to transcend the typical superhero slugfest and instead becomes a spy-thriller of sorts, including a brilliant piece of casting with Robert Redford playing a senior S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who is secretly also one of the leaders of HYDRA.
In another brilliant move by Marvel Executives, the release of the movie timed up perfectly between two episodes of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series, so those folks who watched both movie and TV show were treated to extra background and story that made both properties combined better than each one individually.
many people right out the gate opting not to see it because of the inclusion of anthropomorphic animals and talking trees. One very prominent RPG blogger wrote a whole post about how it was a "dumb" movie based on comments he'd seen from people defending the movie as being fun specifically because it was "dumb". I don't agree that it was necessarily "dumb" but I do think it was a "fun" movie made specifically for the sake of being "fun." Over time, my initial reaction to the film has mellowed a bit (meaning I like it a bit less than I did upon first seeing it), but I do give credit to Marvel for taking a gamble on a team of mostly unknown characters from their stable and making a fun science-fantasy film that tweaks the traditional superhero genre by moving into more of a science-fiction category. The use of old 1970's music was an interesting choice that really paid off in the context of the film's story, and the lead character, Star Lord, is a relatable, happy-go-lucky rogue type that appeals to most people in the same way that Han Solo does. That's probably my biggest complaint about the movie - much of what makes Guardians good has already been done (and arguably, done better) in other movies from the past. While that might be true, I look at Guardians as almost an homage to those movies rather than a pale imitation, and also a way to introduce new generations of people to these types of concepts rather than just saying, "You should just go watch Star Wars."
Big Hero 6. This was another big gamble from the House of Mouse - taking an obscure Marvel-owned anime property and turning into one of their big animated films of the year, especially following in the footsteps of the mega-hit Frozen. But it worked spectacularly. This film has so much going for it, especially its portrayal of "smart math kids" as the protagonists without turning them into parodies in the way that Big Bang Theory does. As the father of a young 5 year-old girl, I loved that two of the main hero characters were "girl scientists" that use their smarts to create superhero powers based on their inventions instead of "princesses." The main kid hero is a bit troubled - he stumbles along the way and makes quite a few mistakes but ultimately does the right thing. And this movie's got heart - my 5 year-old was crying at the end of the movie, over a robot. Sure, she's only five, but that says something for how well the story and characterization is put together in this film.
Movie Honorable Mentions: Interstellar, the Lego Movie
This gets its own category, but 2014 was really a great year for Star Wars fans (although 2015 looks like it will hopefully be even better).
Firstly, fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series got a chance to see an additional season on Netflix. The series was canceled prematurely after Disney bought Lucasfilm, so Cartoon Network ended up ending the series after Season 5 even though it was said that Seasons 6, 7, and 8 had already been scripted out and Season 6 was pretty much finished. In a great move showing the power of "new media," Netflix acquired Season 6 and added it to their list of available programs along with the first five seasons. While fans didn't quite get to see the end of Ahsoka Tano's character arc as we would have liked, it was still great to get one more season out of this show that fans really liked (it's actually much better than any of the prequel films, which I guess isn't saying a lot, but any Star Wars fan should really enjoy this series).
Lastly, there's the Star Wars: Episode VII movie trailer. I am really not a trailer junkie. I don't seek them out online like a lot of my friends do. This one just happened to come across one of my blogger feeds so I watched it. There's a lot to like in this trailer, and I of course avoid all the stupid idiocy of the media-invented "controversy" about a certain character seen in the trailer (I won't even bother to mention here what it is). There's a lot in here for old fans like me to like while still appealing to a new audience. While it's just a trailer and there's really very minimal dialogue or even story conveyed in it, I'm already holding out hope that this movie is going infinitely better than any of the prequel films. The only thing I can't get behind is that soccer-ball droid. I just don't get it and no defense of it I see online does anything to change my mind. To me, it just looks stupid. But if that's the only thing that's wrong with the movie, I guess I can let that go.
All right - this concludes my Geek Top 10 of 2014 (plus an honorable mention). What are yours?
Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Listening: "Merry, Merry, Merry, Merry Xmas" by Ruby Wright with Cliff Lash and his Orchestra