Pardon the grandiose title of this post, but as the year comes to a close, I like to take a look back at high points (and maybe a few lows) at the movies and on TV.
The Silver Screen
This year was a pretty average year for me at the movies. I watched about 30 theatrical releases. Having been disappointed by the Oscar-friendly films in the last several years, I feel myself moving even further in the sci-fi/fanatasy/action movie direction. I’m becoming less of a film-geek and even more of a genre-geek.
There were a few ho-hum disappointments, including the overhyped summer franchise blockbusters: Pirates, Shrek, Spider-man, Ocean’s, and Transformers was kind of a let-down (though my expectations were not high) as well as The Simpsons Movie (where my expectations were a little higher). The movies that pleasantly surprised me were Grindhouse and Hairspray (both of which I went to see prepared for disappointment, but ended up enjoying).
Other highlights for me included Music and Lyrics and Enchanted (both sustaining my waning interest in romantic comedies a little while longer), Hot Fuzz (which was not quite as funny as Shaun of the Dead, but still worth a laugh), Ratatouille (restored my faith in Pixar after the underwhelming Cars) and earlier in the year, Children of Men, Pan’s Labyrinth, and 300 were all enjoyable in their own unique ways. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Golden Compass, Stardust, Eragon and Beowulf made 2007 a banner year for epic fantasy. I hope the trend continues while the Potter franchise still has two more films to go, and at least until the Hobbit arrives in theatres a few years from now.
I think my favourite this year was The Bourne Ultimatum. In a year of threequels which proved that bigger budgets and more flash do not necessarily make for a more satisfying movie, Ultimatum was tight and well-acted while maintaining the kind of quick, kinetic action sequences that the franchise has become known for. The best thing for me about Ultimatum was that it really worked as the third of a trilogy, wrapping up a lot of story threads from the first two (even presenting alternate perspectives on events of the previous movie). I love that kind of story-telling cleverness.
The Boob Tube
It’s always weird doing year-end wrap-ups about TV because we’re talking not only about the current TV season, but the last half of the previous one (and we TV addicts have such notoriously short attention spans). So, let’s deal with half a season at a time.
The spring brought an awesome run of new-hit Heroes, an exciting show which I loved up until the somewhat disappointing finale (I am now among the many who feel that the second season has lost its way — let’s hope Chapter 3: Villains will redeem this excellent show). Supernatural is another highlight for me (despite the fact that the finale went into generic action overload) with a second season that had an interesting story arc as well as some cool new takes on some pretty well-worn concepts (can there be any original stories told about vampires anymore?). I know it’s a kids show, but if you aren’t watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, you’re missing out on one of my favourites. Last season reached a great climax with a smart villain in Princess Azula (the third and final season that has been showing this fall is building even more on the fun). Sadly, Veronica Mars came to a somewhat lacklustre end in the spring — we so deserved to see Veronica make it in the FBI! I may have lost a favourite show then, but I gained a couple of new faves by discovering The Office and Burn Notice over the summer.
This fall, this fall, what can we say about a season already marred by a production-stopping strike? Well, my most anticipated new show (Bionic Woman) has become my biggest disappointment, but a show that I had given up on (Desperate Housewives) has returned to my good graces — I never knew that Dana Delaney was such a good actress! My favourite new shows have turned out to be Chuck (fun, heart-warming-at-times, action-packed), Reaper (mainly funny, with some supernatural play thrown in), and surprisingly Big Bang Theory (which I didn’t even watch when it premiered, but now I laugh more heartily watching Bang than I do watching the Simpsons). How I Met Your Mother has only gotten better and better (so everyone, go watch it), especially if we’re facing reruns and reality TV come January — ugh!
As bleak as this next year may seem now, I’m still looking forward to some new episodes of Lost, Medium, Torchwood, and the new series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. In the theatres, I’m anticipating new JJ Abrams fare such as monster-movie Cloverfield, and the Star Trek reboot (an entire year from now). Also, it’s a big year for franchieses as Harry Potter’s next movie is coming along with the next Narnia, Indiana Jones, X-Files, Hellboy, Batman, James Bond and Pixar movies also expected. On top of all that, we’re even getting a remake of Get Smart (starring the perfectly-cast Steve Carrell)! The great thing about pop culture is that with as much stuff (both good and bad) that comes out in a year, it all gives way to tons more stuff to see next year. Enjoy!