2014: My Year in Geek, From Jodorowsky's Dune to Bill the Galactic Hero
Evil at its most charming was among the best of 2014.
In just over a week, 2014 will come to a close. That means it's time for that most joyous of traditions -- the year-end list! Everywhere you turn, lists of the best, the worst, the most and the least are springing up, informing you about all the cool shit that you missed or, more likely, giving you validation for the things you agree with and rage for the things you disagree with. Far be it from me to miss out on that fun! My 2014 was full of geeky joys, and these are some of my favorites.
Yes, that's right -- favorites. I don't know what the best movies, games and moments of the year were, because I didn't try all of them. I sampled but a small portion of what's out there, and it would be as dumb as a bag of hammers to claim that the cream of my personal crop represents some sort of authoritative "best of geek." That said, everything on here is awesome, and you should check it out regardless of its year of origin or whether it's "the best." Okay, enough disclaimers. On to the list!Movie of the Year: Jodorowsky's Dune
It was a pretty good year for geek film, with everything from big-budget space opera, likeGuardians of the Galaxy
, to smaller indie stuff likeSnowpiercer
giving geeks a reason to get out to the movies. The best reason, though?Jodorowsky's Dune
, a lovingly detailed look at the greatest science fiction movie never made. Combining interviews with all the surviving principals -- including Alejandro Jodorowsky himself, of course -- with archival footage and a deep dive into the incredible amount of concept art created for the film, it's an incredibly informative doc that's thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end. Also cool, I got tointerview the director
about it.Game of the Year: Earth Defense Force 2025
Fun fact: I don't kill spiders. Not ever. If I can't live and let live, I trap and release. That's in real life, anyway. InEarth Defense Force 2025
, though, I will killall
the spiders, and I will do it while gliding above plastic-looking cityscapes with a dodgy jetpack, firing laser guns that gopew pew pew
. There's a good chance I will reach gaming nirvana while doing so, and I didn't even need to buy a new Xbox or Playstation to do it. I don't know how it stacks up against any of the games on those systems and, frankly, it may be a while before I get to find out. I'm still too busy trying to complete all of its stages and collect all the weapons power ups with the Ranger (ground troops) and Wing Diver (jet-pack-equipped ladies with laser guns) classes. If I'm still not bored of the game's pure, arcadey bug-killing fun by then, maybe I'll take a crack at the other two classes, or just get the downloadable content and keep maxing out my jet-packed future girl's lethality.
Geek TV is in something of a renaissance, and I saw a lot of great stuff this year. None of it was as compelling as Bryan Fuller's adaptation of the Hannibal Lecter mythos, though. Serving as a prequel/reboot of the films and novels, the series looks at the early days of everyone's favorite cannibalistic serial killer, particularly his strange and destructive relationship with FBI profiler Will Graham. UnlikeDexter
, which cast its serial killer protagonist as a something like Batman with a taste for blood,Hannibal
lets Hannibal be every bit as evil as you would expect a serial killer to be, with delicious results. My reservations about the ability of any actor living up to the Anthony Hopkins version of the character were put quickly to rest, as Mads Mikkelsen makes a far more subdued and ultimately more effectively terrifying Hannibal. The brilliant casting doesn't stop there, either -- two seasons in, it's hard to imagine these characters being played by anyone else, in any medium, ever, and that's a hell of an accomplishment for a show rebooting one of the most popular and successful horror/crime films of all time.Zombie Event of the Year: Doc of the Dead
A couple of years ago, a pair of local filmmakers started work on what they hoped would be the definitive documentary on zombie culture. This year, that film came out and the zombie world is a better place for it. In just under ninety minutes,Doc of the Dead
covers the history of zombies in pop culture, looks at the people who love them and asks what on earth it all could mean. It's a damn fine doc, even if I do say so myself (I appear as one of the zombie experts in the film, so Imay
be a little biased). Audiences seem to agree -- I had the privilege of sitting in on a couple of post-screening Q&As, and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive, from both hardcore zombie fans and from regular people who just wanted to know why people go so apeshit for zombies. Don't take my word for it, though -- it's on Netflix, so you can see for yourself.
Cox and Bill's art department on location in Cathedral Gorge, Nevada.
Interview of the Year: Alex Cox for Bill the Galactic Hero I've been huge fan of Alex Cox's work since my teenage obsession with Sid and Nancy. When I discovered Repo Man in my early twenties, I was pretty sure no better movie would ever be made (actually, I'm still pretty sure of that). So when I got a chance to interview Cox about his new, student-created movie Bill the Galactic Hero, it was a literal dream come true. I'm not sure my excitement did the interview any favors (okay, I am certain it didn't, to be completely honest) but it doesn't change the fact that I got to spend forty minutes chatting with the man about his new film, fame and the horrors of dystopian sci-fi come to life. It was the kind of thing that makes being a writer worthwhile, and I will cherish it always.
Find me on Twitter, where I tweet about geeky stuff and waste an inordinate amount of time: @casciato.
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