2011 was a great year for our “wheelhouse” stuff. Stand out sci-fi comics, games, and tech/gadgets made it really tough for each of us to pick our top 10s. We then mashed those individual lists together to figure out Sci-Guys top 5 of 2011. As we discussed on our last podcast, here is the list:
Season Three got the Sci-Guys hooked, but it is Season Four that has raised questions and kept us captivated.
Although it is the parallel universes, mysterious observers and paranormal premises that make this wheelhouse, it is the characters in Olivia, Peter and especially John Noble’s Walter that keep Fringe grounded in real emotion in the real world.
#4 X-Men: First Class
Much like the vaunted Blackbird plane the X-Men use to fly into danger zones, “X-Men: First Class” completely flew under my radar. Most of the summer hype was focused on Captain America and Green Lantern, so I was X-tremely pleased when I left the theater after watching “First Class.”
Matthew Vaughn and Bryan Singer managed to land some X-ceptional talent for this film. Michael Fassbender steals every scene as Magneto, and James McAvoy does an admirable job fleshing out Professor Xavier. The two had great on screen chemistry—so much so, I really wish we could have somehow had another movie devoted to their adventures together.
In addition to a great cast, this movie had good effects and, most important for me, a good, simple story. The finale begs for another movie, and I will be X-ceedingly upset if we don’t get another chapter. – Mike
With J.J. Abrams directing, you never know what you’re gonna get. And eventually we ended up with an alien who is just trying to get back home. Sound familiar? It should because it’s J.J doing his best Spielberg imitation, and I mean that in a good way. It’s a little bit E.T., some Close Encounters, and even an element of Jaws. But beyond that, it’s less about the alien and much more about the group of kids living in 1979 who witness an incredibly over-the-top train wreck while making their own movie. (Talk about production value!)
Abrams wisely uses a bunch of young unknown actors who do a fantastic job. And the themes of a boy losing his mother, trying to connect with his father, and young love are all surprisingly touching and effective. For people who love movies from the late 70s and 80s, Super 8 is a great nostalgic trip. Not only does it capture the look and feel of 1979, it reminded me of what it was like to be a kid in 1979. – Scott
After Tim Burton proved that we don’t need any more Planet of the Apes films, this looked ill advised to say the least. And did I mention the early reports of CGI-only apes (shudder)? Also it had an August release – the time studios typically send crap movies to die.
Put it all together, and let’s just say we did not have high hopes.
But Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes threw us for a loop. For the first time ever on film the CGI characters move out of the “uncanny valley” and are no longer a distraction. In fact, the effects are so good that CGI Caesar has generated Andy Serkis some deserved Oscar buzz.
But what really makes “Rise” a triumph is the story. Director Rupert Wyatt delivers an unexpectedly deep film about compassion, loss, love, and humanity. Sure, there are some plot holes filled with silly science, and a few overly obvious call-backs to the original films, But the excellent effects, great performances, and honest-to-goodness emotion are more than enough to overcome them.
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes happily smashed our expectations, and now I need and want a sequel. – Jim
#1 Game Of Thrones
The intricate 3D road-map of an opening sequence only hints at the complexity of what is easy to consider the most ambitious and envelope-pushing show in modern TV history. Game of Thrones is known for its violence and eroticism, but watchers of the show know the real star is the casting and dialog.
Can you imagine anyone but Sean Bean as Eddard Stark, Jason Mamoa as Khal Drogo, Maisa Williams as the feisty Arya Stark or poor Jack Gleeson as the most hated character in recent memory, King Joffrey? But the surprising standout star of the show is the serpent-tongued Tyrion Lannister played to snotty perfection by Peter Dinklage. Tyrion must use his sharp wit to keep his head glued to his neck, but your eyes will surely be glued to every mesmerizing moment.
Game of Thrones impressed with its epic story, amazing visuals, and fantastic actors. It truly was must see TV, and it easily walked off with the title of Sci-Guys best of 2011. – John