Rewind 2018: Visual Entertainment

I’m not a huge TV or movie buff, I’m a fairly casual gamer, but I do have a couple consoles and watch more YouTube than I care to admit. Instead of breaking out TV, movies, and games into separate posts for my Rewind 2018, I figured that I’d combine it all into what I’m calling “visual entertainment”. If you know me at all, you probably trust my book or music recommendations and not my TV or movie taste. Let’s keep it that way. The lists below are in no particular order.

TV

  • Super Bowl LII. Yeah, I’m cheating. I just want to brag a bit. After decades of waiting, the Philadelphia Eagles won it all on the back of Nick Foles. It was fantastic to watch, and not just because I’m a long time Birds fan (and Tom Brady hater). It was actually an interesting and high-scoring game, complete with fourth down hijinks, a near comeback by New England, and end of game drama. In addition to watching the Eagles avenge Super Bowl XXXIX, we got a Justin Timberlake halftime show (and the meme kid). So fun to watch as a football fan.
  • Westworld. I loved the multiple storylines happening this season, and even more so the different “worlds” being introduced. Not so sure about the union between it all, and I’d love for Season 3 to tie it altogether with some more origin story and then end it there.
  • Jack Ryan. I’ve been a Tom Clancy fan since childhood. Seriously. Rainbow Six was one of the first “adult” books I ever read, and I subsequently read the rest of Jack Ryan’s saga. On screen, however, Jack Ryan has been less impressive to me. Don’t get me wrong, the Jack Ryan movies have been good…but they certainly haven’t fit the bill as far as Jack’s character goes, much less the actual storyline. As much as it pains me to give Bezos’ world credit, Amazon’s Jack Ryan is spot-on, and Krasinski is a fantastic Ryan. Hope to see more in the future.
  • South Park. For every compliment I give Bezos, I have to watch more South Park episodes ridiculing him and the Amazon empire. Seriously, “Unfulfilled” is one of the best South Park episodes in recent memory, and the underlying commentary is simultaneously hilarious and saddening. In any case, Parker & Stone still have it, as evidenced by this year’s season. Season 23, here we come!
  • House of Cards. No comment on Spacey, but I absolutely love what Robin Wright is doing with Mrs. Underwood. It’s vicious, cerebral, and downright haunting. Having Doug break the fourth wall is a new twist on an old trick, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

Movies

This list would probably be more interesting if it was a list of movies I want to get to rather than movies that I’ve actually watched. But in any case, here you go.

  • Black Panther. Certainly one of the most influential movies of the year, if not the best. The setting was spectacular, the storyline interesting, the acting spot-on, and I’m thankful for a villain that can be identified with. For large swaths of the movie, I was thinking “you know, he’s kinda right”. Pair all of that with the fact that it was scored by Kendrick, and you’ve got a slam dunk on your hands. Wakanda forever.
  • Into the Spider-Verse. Hands down the best animated movie I’ve seen in a while. Fast-paced, engaging, artistically brilliant. Also scored well. I see you Post Malone. Also doesn’t help that I was looking for NYC landmarks throughout the movie, considering Spidey’s from one of the five boroughs.
  • Solo. This is here namely because I’m a fanboy, not because it was an astounding movie. That said, I had heard that it was awful before seeing it, so I feared the worst. It wasn’t. I thought Ehrenreich’s Solo was a perfect portrayal of a young Han and echoed Harrison Ford’s original portrayal well. I, for one, look forward to the other spin-off movies. Here’s to hoping that Rogue Squadron and/or Jedi Academy make the cut.
  • Sorry To Bother You. This movie was a blatant critique of everything in our society, and fulfilled that role better than even Black Panther. It was weird, cultish, and downright absurd, echoing A Clockwork Orange at times and Brazil at others. And I loved it. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but you should watch it.

Games

Again, just like movies, I haven’t gotten to Red Dead Redemption or Spider-Man yet, but certainly want to. I put most of my “spare time” into reading and relaxing, but maybe I’ll have time in 2019 to get to those. In any case, here is the best of what I did play this year (provided they were released in 2018):

  • Celeste. Game of the Year for me. Not close. A story-driven platformer with distinctive game mechanics, Celeste is to 2018 what Golf Story was in 2017: a pleasant surprise. The soundtrack from Lena Raine is addictive and the art direction is stellar, with bright colors offsetting the game’s very serious subject matter: mental health.
  • Super Mario Party. Sure, it’s not the greatest game in the world. There’s not a lot of boards or mini-games or whatever. But what is there is super fun. Stealing people stars still starts fights between loved ones, the different dice create a new element to the game, and the cooperative elements ease the tension a bit. Well done party game overall, and one of the best out there. Particularly if you’re like me and just not that into Smash. Yeah, I said it.
  • Octopath Traveler. I’d love to see a trailer for this video game that had the “in a world” guy doing it 8 different times. LOL. This Japanese-style turn-based RPG has 8 storylines that weave into a cohesive game. Coming from Square, it scratches that Final Fantasy itch for me, and is absolutely gorgeous to boot.

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