Thursday, January 1, 2009

The best entertainment of 2008

Happy New Year, everybody! 2008 brought a lot of good times - from my last term at Queen's to my first term of medical school. I thought in closing down this year, I might share some of the diversions that helped keep me sane...

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Best Movie

Wall-E

I don't think many people were particularly impressed when the first trailers for Wall-E came out. I remember telling myself: this might be Pixar's first flop... the last unexplored idea of Pixar's founding fathers - and maybe there was a reason for that. How could I have known that a little Pixar magic could take an unremarkable and linguistically-challenged trash compactor robot and thrust him into a compelling story about a dystopian future and recapturing hope, love, and bipedal movement. Wall-E was brilliant, just like everything else Pixar touches.

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Runner-Up

The Dark Knight

Many of you probably feel that this was the real best movie of 2008. Indeed, I didn't expect to like the Dark Knight so much since I didn't much enjoy Batman Begins' departure from Bruce Wayne's comic book roots. But the Dark Knight was an impressive and dramatic thrill ride. It certainly has received enough critical acclaim and doesn't need my approval. But time has dulled my enthusiasm, and I now feel like the Dark Knight was perhaps just a little too dark, not to mention that the Two-Face storyline seemed far too rushed (kind of like Anakin's fall to the Dark Side).

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Best TV Show

Battlestar Galactica

While Heroes was flip-flopping it's characters between good/evil and alive/dead, and Meredith Grey was being her usual retarded self, Battlestar Galactica had me on the edge of my seat in anticipation. It has everything - drama, action, story, sex, violence, and beautiful people. I cared about what happened to every single character in this show. It's just so gritty, so real. It's science fiction, but with an entirely new level of vulnerability added. It does for sci-fi what Heroes did for comic books, except better.

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Runner-Up

Doctor Who

Providing me with a much needed dose of British, Doctor Who always kept me going with just the right combination of lighthearted wit and suspenseful danger. It's a bloody shame that they won't be running a series (that's what they call seasons in the UK) this year - the lead actor is taking a year off to do theatre.

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Best Music

Macross Frontier

I picked up some interesting music this year, including an import of Marit Larsen's "Under the Surface" and Onoscatopoeia's "The Eh List", but nothing kept me listening like the J-Pop stylings of Sheryl Nome and Ranka Lee from the sountrack of Macross Frontier. Macross is an anime franchise that is virtually built on the quality of it's music (and selling CDs), so it's not exactly a surprise there.

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Best Anime

Code Geass R2

With character designs by the acclaimed manga artists known as CLAMP, Code Geass was one of the most beautiful anime that I've ever seen. But beyond that, it had a hugely compelling cast and story. I must admit, I was completely turned off by the first episode - set in an implausible fictional universe with a cliché Japan-as-victim-and-hero storyline. But it soon became clear that the setting was just a prop that could be used to unfold an epic story about intrigue, power, and relationships.

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Best Video Game

Mass Effect

While people might gush about Call of Duty 4 or Halo 3, these games couldn't hold a candle to Bioware's Mass Effect - a game so awesome that I couldn't help but play it... twice. Mass Effect's appeal doesn't just lie in it's rich futuristic environments - so vast that you feel like you really have been transported to another world. It doesn't just lie in the pitch perfect voice acting - so well cast that the characters feel like they're truly alive. It doesn't just lie in the terrific pacing and tight controls, although those certainly don't hurt. It is drawn together by the level of customization and control that you have over your character. You feel a part of the deep, fictional universe that Bioware has created - not so challenging that you are constantly drawn out of character, but balanced just right to keep you immersed and begging for more.

2 comments:

yubin said...

i LOVE WALL-E!!!!!!!!!!

ah ling said...

i cried when i watched wall-e. i had the exact same pre-sentiments about wall-e, i thought it was a dumb cartoon. dark knight is well, wonderful, i was so distracted by Mr. American Psycho's voice, it was so artificial....