Archive for the ‘Best of 2014’ Category

Best of 2014 Closer

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2015 is off and kicking, already delivering quality movies and videogames right here in Australia less than a week in! It’s going to be an incredible year for entertainment media, but if you missed any of my countdowns wrapping up the year that was 2014, here are the links to every one:

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1. Top 10 Disappointments

2. Top 10 Game Cases

3. Top 15 K-Pop Singles

4. Top 5 Game Consoles

5. Top 10 Movie Characters

6. Top 10 Gaming Moments

7. Top 10 Movie Scenes

8. Top 10 K-Pop Albums

9. Top 10 Games

10. Top 10 Movies

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Best of 2014: Top 10 Movies

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My final list for the year was also by far the hardest for me to order. 2014 was an insanely good year for movies, particularly the big budget ones. It was easily my favourite year for movies overall since I started this blog, because for the first time ever there were so many high quality films from which to choose that I could genuinely ignore all those awkward early year films that technically count as 2013 movies in the United States. All thirteen of the films on this page can be counted worldwide as 2014 releases, and that is just so good.

I have my regrets about 2014 at the movies – I didn’t get to see The Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash, Bad Neighbours or 22 Jump Street, didn’t find enough time at the end of the year to watch Snowpiercer, and to be honest I’m kinda bummed I missed 300: Rise of an Empire. But overall I hit a pretty good chunk of my movie targets throughout the year and I stand by this list. I wrote full reviews for the vast majority of these movies, so please check those out via the links provided if you want further information on my thoughts. This has been a lot of fun once again. A happy new year to all!

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VR BEST OF 2014 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s spooky. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.
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10. What We Do In the Shadows

If Taika Waititi’s Eagle vs Shark was an indication of his offbeat comedy promise, What We Do in the Shadows is an uproarious confirmation of his talent. The movie has its cake and eats it too as far as vampire movie tropes, cleverly populating its downtown Wellington apartment from hell with vampires from different centuries, each one making use of a different cliche. Jermaine Clemente of Flight of the Conchords fame and newcomer Cori Gonzalez-Macuer are hilarious every time they appear on screen, as is Rhys Darby in a memorable werewolf cameo. Hilarious viewing.
FULL REVIEW: HERE
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Best of 2014: Top 10 Games

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And so it is, on the first day of an impossibly exciting new year, that we arrive at the ‘big two’ to round off the year that was 2014. This is my top ten favourite videogames released in Australia in 2014. For a game to qualify for this list I need to have either finished it or played at least five hours – whichever comes first (yes, that does eliminate a lot of really good games – we aren’t all superhumans). For clarification’s sake, significant game remakes count – “remasters” do not. So no, Final Fantasy X HD doesn’t count, because it’s a beat-for-beat upscaled port of a decade-old game.

I tend to define myself nowadays by playing as many games as possible, even if that means I only get to play a small slice of each title, just so I can have some sort of opinion on them and be part of a wide gaming conversation. Because I live for that stuff. But these are the games I actually played, and I mean really played, in 2014. When your free time dries up and you need to be more selective with where you put it, as mine did in 2014, your tastes as a gamer tend to boil down to a more easily definable quantity. And when I look at this list of ten games, there is an overwhelming pattern that shows up.

With maybe one or two exceptions, every game on this list falls into one of two categories: heavily story-driven playable narratives, and games where multiplayer interaction is the single defining trait. I hadn’t realised it until I wrote up this list, but it seems I am looking for experiences that bring people together above all else these days, and when that can’t happen, I’m drawn to well-written stories. We’ll see if the glorious slate of huge-name 2015 releases changes that. But for now, please enjoy. The platform on which I played each entry is in parentheses.

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VR BEST OF 2014 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s spooky. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.
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10. Pokemon Omega Ruby (3DS)

Among other things, 2014 was the year that I finally attempted to quantify my appreciation for Nintendo’s many wonderful franchises, and when the main series Pokemon games ended up on the top of that list, being forced to look at that “number 1” next to its name gave me pause. My lifestyle and priorities have changed recently, as they tend to in, you know, life, leaving me with very little time to devote to the competitive battling scene that has defined the last decade of my Pokemon playing existence. Thus I feared that I would begin Pokemon Omega Ruby and get next to nothing out of the experience, and yet its almost as if Game Freak saw this coming, because the game is amazing, boasting some of the best use of the 3DS’ StreetPass feature I’ve ever seen, giving new playthroughs fresh life with the DexNav and adding just enough extra subtlety to an already half-decent narrative to keep it engaging right up until its genuinely stellar post-game content begins. And of course, it’s still an absolute ball to play with and alongside friends.
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Best of 2014: Top 10 K-Pop Albums

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I’m not going to lie – this is a list I do mostly for my own amusement, as I know that K-Pop fans who actually devote the time to listening to albums are kind of scarce. And yet, if you’re reading this, then you are either one of those rare people, or you’re at least curious. In any case, please make yourself at home, sit back and relax as I present to you my ten favourite major album releases in Korean pop music over the course of 2014. In my humble opinion there was a decent amount of good stuff to be found this year.

The list is split into two top fives – one for Mini Albums (essentially EPs) and one for Full Albums, which qualify when they contain eight or more tracks.

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VR BEST OF 2014 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s spooky. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.
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MINI ALBUMS
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5. Holler – TaeTiSeo

I’m sure it isn’t an original expression of opinion to say that the only thing holding up the overall quality of Girls Generation’s non-Japanese album output over the last several years is the work of TaeTiSeo, also known as “What happens when you distill a nine-member group down to its three best / most complementary voices”. Indeed the second album from the SNSD sub-unit is a strong sophomore effort that only falls short of their 2012 debut Twinkle by virtue of having one less track. Holler sees Taeyeon, Tiffany and Seohyun harmonise their way around a handful of vocal showcase songs that push their range and certainly do no harm to the future prospects of these three superstars of Korean pop. The mid-tempo ballads are there, as expected, but Holler also ratchets up the tempo more than Twinkle did, resulting in the highly enjoyable StayEyes and Adrenaline, not to mention a general ‘all seasons’ feel.


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Best of 2014: Top 10 Movie Scenes

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Here’s my favourite annual list once again – my personal top ten movie scenes of the year. These are the moments within 2014 films that drew real reactions from me, mostly either of the teary-eyed or the “That was so sick!” nature. Even if they come from otherwise poor movies, I will still remember these cinematic moments, and if they come from otherwise good movies, well those movies just go up a level and look all the better for it.

Naturally, this is the most spoileriffic list of them all, so please proceed with caution.

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VR BEST OF 2014 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s spooky. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.
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10. The Final Blow – Godzilla

Jeez, I mean – just… Just LOOK at that shot. Badass doesn’t even begin to describe the moment when Godzilla finally bests the “MUTO” menace in his 2014 return to the big screen. It almost makes up for all the flaws in the rest of the movie. Almost.
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Best of 2014: Top 10 Gaming Moments

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Videogames are built on moments, whether those moments be built right into the fabric of the game or simply emerge from the experience of discovery and/or sharing gameplay with others. They are the difference between games you simply play and games you remember. 2014 was positively packed with instances that made gamers start conversations with “How good was it when…” These are the ten that stick out the most in my mind.

MASSIVE SPOILERS FOLLOW for a number of story-focused games, so be warned.

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VR BEST OF 2014 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s spooky. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.
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10. Final World – Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Throughout the majority of my time with Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, I wasn’t exactly paying attention to the story set-up that gave DK and his friends the motivation to traverse the game’s gorgeous and tough levels – I was simply enjoying the challenging gameplay flow, the sweet level design and the satisfying boss fights. That was until the final world, when I realised I had been island hopping rather than just exploring different parts of the same island like in the first DK Country Returns on Wii. I realised this because, after spending most of the game waiting for the “Freeze” part of Tropical Freeze to show up, it suddenly appeared in the form of the entire original DK Island. Each of the 8 worlds from the Wii game appears as a single level in this world, complete with returning music and signature design elements mixed with ice level tropes. A really *cool* touch from Retro Studios.
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Best of 2014: Top 10 Movie Characters

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Let’s get stuck into talking about some movies, then.

2014 was an unbelievably good year for movies, particularly blockbusters, and the characters they brought along with them to the big screens of the world were pretty universally fun to watch. Whether they were adapted from source material in another medium, based on real life people or entirely new creations, there were plenty to celebrate in 2014. There are some films that even made it really difficult for me to pick just one character for this list (and one instance where I just had to pick two). Without further ado, here is my 2014 list of my personal favourite movie characters.

Some mild plot spoilers will follow.

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VR BEST OF 2014 DISCLAIMER
This list represents my opinion only. I am not asserting any kind of superiority or self-importance by presenting it as I have. My opinion is not fact. If you actually agree with me 100%, that’s spooky. Respectful disagreement is most welcome.
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10. TARS – Interstellar

There was a lot about Interstellar that surprised unsuspecting viewers, from its mind-screw of a plotline to its odd twisting tone to its completely un-telegraphed big name acting cameos. And yet perhaps its biggest sucker punch was the appearance and popularity of the ensemble dark horse TARS, a space-faring robot companion with a literal “humour setting”, which allows for a rare and refreshing source of comic relief throughout an otherwise very sombre film. It isn’t just the sarcastic zingers that make him so memorable, though. His visual design is unusually far from the standard Hollywood robot archetype, consisting of four magnetic rectangular prisms that work together to grant the bot a deceptive range of mobility and functionality. Very cool.
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