Best of 2004, Part 3: Films/TV
2004 wasn’t the geek-genre paradise that 2005 appears to be shaping up as, but there were still a few stand-outs for me:
LOST: I actually missed the premiere episode of this series, and only tuned in when The Dastardly Best Friend gushed about it. From the second episode, I was hooked. I remember saying that I was sure that the show would be cancelled after a handful of airings. That always seems to be the way with network TV shows that I like (I fare better with cable)…but ABC suprised me by keeping the show on the schedule, and the American viewing audience surprised me by making the show POPULAR. We’ll see if it lasts–I have all-too-clear memories of the craze-and-later-abandonment surrounding Twin Peaks to be entirely comfortable.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow: I started gushing about this in my blog when I first heard it was being filmed, and the final product didn’t disappoint. Sure, it performed about as well as I expected in the theatres–the modern audience doesn’t quite know how to react to 30s-period pulp stuff that doesn’t feature Harrison Ford–but I loved it.
Van Helsing: Another bit of popcorn fluff, but one that I really enjoyed nonetheless. I’m an absolute nut for the Universal horror films of the 30s and 40s, and the Hammer horror films of the 60s and 70s, so I had zero problem with the goofiness. Made me feel like I was a teenager, staying up to watch Crematia Mortem again.
Ghost In the Shell 2: Innocence: I had the good fortune to see this in the theatre, and I’m glad that I did. The story was fairly standard Japanese existential cyberpunk…but the visuals! Easily one of the best animated films I’ve ever seen.
Hellboy: I’ve been a Hellboy fanatic ever since one of my Skull & Bones co-authors (T.S. Luikart) hipped me to the big red lug, expressing his disbelief that I wasn’t already a fan, since it was a melange of nearly all of my major interests. Now, I’ve got all of the trade paperback collections, the novels, and both short-story collections…and now, thanks to this film, I’ll forever hear Ron Pearlman’s gravel-rumble voice in my head when Hellboy speaks.
Oh–and as an aside, for my fellow Tolkien-geeks:
Here we are….12 hours later, and ready for the next part of my year-end collection of things nifty and neat-o.
I read far less than I wanted to this year–I never got around to it as often as I’d intended. I would love to put Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on this list, but, shamefully, I have not yet read it. I had gotten a few chapters in when my schedule went kerflooey. It’s at the top of the list of things to read in 2005. The other problem is that a lot of what I read this year wasn’t released in 2004. I read reprints of pulp stories from the 1930s (like The Spider, for example), and various books for research (like The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe), all of which had been published earlier than 2004.
Now–on to a couple of books that I actually did read from this year:
Iron Council, by China Miéville: It’s a no-brainer: when China releases a new book, it appears on my years-best list. Not just because I know the guy, but because his work is flat-out the most imaginative fiction I’ve read in years, defying genre limitations. Simultaneously existing within the realms of fantasy, horror, SF and more, Iron Council is the third novel in his Bas-lag series, but like the others can be read as a stand-alone. It’s a very political work (Socialist, specifically–China once ran for MP as a Socialist candidate), and tells the tale of The Perpetual Train: a Collective living on a train that is always on the move–pulling their tracks up behind them, and laying them down in front. The creatures and landscapes described in this book are brilliant–I would cheapen the experience by trying to sum up. Read this book (and the other two: Perdido Street Station and The Scar) NOW.
The DC Comics Encyclopedia: When I was a little sprout, I devoured The Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe and Who’s Who in the DC Universe, encyclopedic collections detailing every character those comic-book universes. Now, DC has done it again, in hardcover–this book collects over 1,000 characters from the DC universe, with great artwork, write-ups on history, and more.
There ya go. Films/TV and Games are still forthcoming.