The Worst of 2015

Ah yes, the fun list to do. It should come as no surprise that paring down my “Worst Of” list was a Herculean task, so much so that I almost thought of just doing the entire list, as it would be infinitely more fun to write than the “Best Of”, because I did really love a lot of what 2015 brought to the table in my favorite bugaboos of movies and video games.

However, with all that pleasure came a generous dose of pain, here lays those most responsible for that pain!

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Supergirl

What. The. Fuck. Seriously, what the fuck? I know that surely there is a constant memo being floated around to ALL the major television networks that they MUST GET A SUPERHERO COMIC BOOK SHOW ON THE AIR. However, can the comic book get some respect? Alternatively, at the very least be tailored to actually fit as a narrative driven seasonal television show?

Supergirl is a bad show. I’ve been hate watching since the first episode and I just wind up talking shit over it as it flounders around on the screen in this television purgatory of unwatchable.

Sold as a major network show, with what you’d think would be a major budget to boot; Supergirl is betrayed by the real notion that it was conceived as a CW show. It harbors all the trademarks: it looks cheap with ridiculous CGI and wire-effects, the cast has more in the “looks” than in the “acting” department, and it feels like it’s written by a room of forty-year old men perpetually asking “Is this what a modern working woman of the 21st century would be like…but she also has superpowers?!”

What’s more entertaining is reading initial reviews of the show. So many reviewers desperately tried to cram the show in to some sort of “camp” factor that just doesn’t exist. “It’s bad, but hey it’s trying real hard you guys…so like watch it” seems to be the major thrust behind these absurd defenses of the show.

Better yet, several reviewers tried to compare it to the Richard Donner 70’s Superman movies, as if that would somehow absolve the show of its shitty nature. But more incredulous to me is the AV Club write ups by Caroline Siede, whose lowest score for any given episode so for has been a C+…a fucking C+! The entire eight episode run thus far has been a C+ at best, and she has the temerity to have the show consistently hover at around a B+.

It’s as if Ms. Siede knows the show is terrible but is somehow bound by girl code not to review the show truthfully. Nevertheless, the show is an insult to women and comic book fans!

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The Mad Men series finale

I absolutely adored Mad Men; some might say I was obsessive about the show. Before each new season would start, I would watch the entire series up to that point. Then I would watch the entire season again after the finale. That is how much I loved the Mad Men. However, something odd happened after Season 7 “Part 2” ended, Don Draper’s smirking face fades in to “Hilltop” a “landmark” commercial about Coca-Cola. I screamed “No!” I watched the episode over after some time…again, I was incensed…No! What the fuck happened? What was that last hour of Mad Men? Besides a bunch of bullshit.

Never has a show so turned on all that it has established as Mad Men did in its series finale. I understand that narrative wise it doesn’t mean its all smiles and roses for Don Draper and crew, but really?

Of course the show didn’t end the way I wanted it to, but that doesn’t invalidate my criticism that the show threw out what made it so great in the first place in order to button everything up so neatly and stick a perfect unearned landing.

Ideally, the show should have ended as it began, with Don Draper alone. Instead, we get an episode of happy endings. Of Stan running all the way to Peggy’s office to say he loves her, of Pete and Trudy reconciling and heading off to Kansas…Joan’s late game man bullshit, Betty getting cancer (good riddance bitch!) and on and on and on. Could all of this non-Don Draper bullshit happen in the penultimate episode?

On top of this, several times over in the series Don Draper has said that one day he would leave advertising…for something else. What was all that running around in the back end of the second part of season 7 for then? To fuck with the audience? To mess with peoples expectations of how the show would end?

Regardless, a disappointing end to a great show.

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

While MGSV is a great game, it’s a very bad Metal Gear game. Where’s the weirdness and obsessive asininity that are trademarks of the entire series!

If you want to get persnickety about it, it’s in there a tiny bit and in some obvious places. The late game all female sniper squad with the super jiggly boobs, various Quiet scenes and the like…but you have to go out of your way to get to them! When I come to a Metal Gear game, I demand weird and kooky shit all up in my eye face! MGSV didn’t have that.

In my “Best Of” list, I touched on the regrettable development of MGSV and how that shows in the final product.  Nevertheless, I think Kojima does shoulder some of the responsibility. He could have restructured the game to not be so blatantly unfinished.

There’s also a lot of disjointed narrative going on in the game that makes “finishing” it a chore, demanding the necessity of going online to figure out if what you think happened…happened and if there was something you missed, because chances are…you did.

MGSV is still a great video game, but there is a large “BUT” that has to go with that proclamation. Namely, the part that makes you want to play more of it and the very Metal Gearness of the game is sorely missing.

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Inside Out

Yea, I’m going to be that guy…that guy that thinks Inside Out was a piece of shit. Are we just going to let Pixar off the hook for this nigh on DreamWorks level CGI bullshit-fest?

Too many of Inside Out’s reviews were more related to Pixar seemingly “turning it around” with the movies release than the content of the movie itself. This should have been a definite red flag that the movie itself might be less than stellar.

Maybe all that Pixar “magic” finally wore off for me and I now see the sad inner workings of a robot movie machine that tries to play with your emotions. Too much of Inside Out seemed to busy itself with trying to get you to relate and feel sad and ignore the banal “Opposites come together to solve problems!” plot that seems to be the crux of 90% of the movies Pixar makes.

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Marvel Movies

I’m done watching Marvel movies. Additionally, I’m so tired of the five or six comic book movies that glut up my calendar year. I hate that they’ve allowed anyone and everyone to be an unearned comic book nerd (cute ladies just put your finger in the corner of your mouth and look “adorkable”)…and that actual nerds have to raging hard-on’s for every Marvel movie and place them atop their vaunted “Best of the Year” lists. They’re not good movies; they’re spectacles and time-wasters and are not worth seeing in theaters. Stream and rent for television?  Sure why not?

I was done last year when Guardians of the Galaxy was being lauded…for something. It’s a decent movie, but you’d thought it was Marvel’s version of Citizen Kane with the collective orgasms coming out of nerdom! This years Ant-Man was just a heist movie with a “superhero” crammed in to it, and Marvel seems to be interested in that vein for the time being. Which should at least make the next decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (eye roll) somewhat bearable?

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Chappie

Soo…how many chances do we give Neill Blomkamp before we call shenanigans? It was toss up for whether Chappie or Crimson Peak would wind up on this list. Not for the movies themselves so much as their respective directors. I feel like Guillermo del Toro hasn’t been delivering too hotly lately either, but pound for pound he’s been far less disappointing than Blomkamp.

It’s beginning to look like the roughness that made District 9 so distinct is actual just crappy director as he’s repeated essentially the same plot/aesthetic three times over. His antagonists are laughably bad; you can’t really root for his protagonists because they’re so broadly written. The only real good thing Blomkamp is good at is making his worlds feel lived in and real. Other than that, his movies are turgid sci-fi trope fests that spit in all that promise you thought existed in District 9.

Chappie looks great, and has its moments, but it’s essentially the adventures of South African Johnny Number 5.

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The Worst of 2015

The Best of 2015

Like any other person on the Internets with an opinion, I am obligated by galactic law to fart out some banal list of things that I enjoyed over the previous year. It fills some calendar space and allows for time off to do Holiday business. On top of this…NO EFFORT REQUIRED.

This list is intentionally short and has been culled down from a much bigger list. Look, you don’t need a top ten, twenty, or fifty list to know what was truly good or not. At a certain point, it kind of doesn’t matter if the list is so long. What is the true difference between something that’s #8 or #6 on a list?

In addition, I don’t have any “best” music on this list because I’m not in to music as much as I am with movies, television and video games.

With all that out of the way, let us do this list! In no particular order:

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

MGSV is a fantastic game; it controls beautifully, looks great and has a lot on offer when you initially sit down to play it. I couldn’t count the number of tense situations I would find myself in as I tried mightily to go as stealth as possible. In my younger days, with previous Metal Gear Solid games, I would mostly play them Rambo style. It didn’t really affect the game in any tangible way, and MGSV is no different. Now that I’m older, and my old man hands aren’t nearly as nimble as they were, I did not want to be caught. On top of this, the enemy AI is a lot more intelligent than in previous entries. Don’t get me wrong, they are still pretty stupid and once you learned the give and take with the AI, the game becomes excessively easy.

I loved the way the game adapted to my play style and started adding little touches like helmets and body armor to the guards to mix up the interactions.

What story was there was decent, engaging and propelled the game along only bogging down in the back end as you tried to unlock the “true” ending and other nonsense that fleshed out MGSV’s story, but was ultimately more to it’s determent as it showed the games troubled development and seemingly stitched togetherness to get it out the door nature.

Saying all that, the initial forty or so hours of MGSV make it a great game in 2015.

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Dying Light

I loved Dead Island for really only one reason: the jank. Barring that, the game would’ve been unplayable and not worth anyone’s time. Nevertheless, the games developer, Techland, seemed to learn a fair amount of game design lessons from their time with Dead Island and corrected them for Dying Light. Thankfully, they kept the jank in too!

I spent countless hours with Dying Light this year and enjoyed all of them. This would’ve been impossible if not for the jank. I spammed countless weapons and money for myself, which didn’t make this supremely difficult game any easier mind you, just gave me some much-needed room to breathe.

While I initially purchased a PS4 for Far Cry 4, Dying Light really proved to me the need for a console upgrade, and for that, it is put on the list.

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Rocket League

Depending on the month and the current game I’m playing my mood on the PlayStation Plus program ebbs and flows. I would say that it’s worth the $50 for a year membership, but then need only look at the meager December 2015 offerings of Gauntlet and the first chapter of King’s Quest to say that it is not. But then I think back on how much fun I had with Rocket League.

I won’t lie; I haven’t played much since the first DLC pack was released. I gladly gobbled that up and gave Psyonix my money as a huge “Thank You!” for the sheer month of fun I had with their game. I’ve kept up with the news and dutifully downloaded all the patches in the vain hope that one day I’ll come back to this ridiculously fun game.

Rocket League was my go to “drunk game” in July. I loved nothing more than being fucked up and playing the game, somehow becoming one with my car and scoring on fools repeatedly. The short game lengths lend perfectly to this notion of “Just one more game!” until hours had passed by in a blur.

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Ex Machina

2015 wasn’t nearly as good a year for movies as 2014 was. For me the dark sinking pit notion of every summer being glutted with staid, banal superhero movies set in.

Enter Ex Machina. For a modestly budgeted movie, Ex Machina absolutely proved that you don’t need hundreds of millions of dollars to tell a great science fiction story. The movie reminded me a lot of early Christopher Nolan films in that it used nuance and story to great affect, eschewing the crutch of CGI as much as possible.

While the film needs you to empathize with Alicia Vikander’s Ava, the true stars of the film are the conversations between Oscar Isaac’s Nathan and Domnhall Gleeson’s Caleb about what it means to be essentially human on the planet earth.

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Rick and Morty (Season 2)

While I loved Rick and Morty’s first season, I was skeptical if it could have a second season as strong as it’s first. I was stupid and wrong. Rick and Morty’s second season picked up where season one left off and went to previously unthinkable places, all while keeping the overall arc of the season grounded. When the show went to dark places, it still maintained the humor and always paid off, even if it didn’t look like it would initially. Although I’m bummed that it’s going to be a long wait for season 3, I definitely want Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon to be well rested and ready to spill all kinds of sci-fi ridiculousness up in my face.

Check back later for my Worst of 2015 list!
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The Best of 2015