by Jeremiah Stewart
Well, 2015 is coming to a close, and it has been quite a year for us geeks with huge blockbusters such as Age of Ultron, Jurassic World, and a little Star Wars film. It was a year that also brought us Kingsman, Ant Man, Fantastic Four, Terminator: Genisys and more.
We had several of the DC animated films such as Throne of Atlantis, Batman vs Robin, and Bruce Timm’s return to animation with Gods and Monsters. On TV we’ve had Arrow, Flash, Gotham, Supergirl, Agents of Shield, Star Wars Rebels, and all of the Marvel shows Disney has running on Disney XD.
While there was a lot to be excited about, these are my top 10 geek outs of 2015.
10) The new costume and team look in Arrow
While Arrow was fine last season, it's been a breath of fresh air this season to watch this new-look/new attitude hero team take shape. Dameon Darke is possibly the best villain the show has ever had, and it's been fun watching Thea, Laurel, Diggle, Felicity and Ollie (of course) fight against him. Finally, seeing more green in Arrow as he became the Green Arrow led to one big geek out.
9) Court of Owls in Gotham
Some hated and some loved the first season of Gotham. I loved it. So far Season 2 has been focused on a very strong group of villains. The biggest surprise turned out to be that this was The Court of Owls. They are perhaps the most famous or strongest element added to the Batman mythos in the New 52, and their inclusion in Gotham led to a lot of brutal moments. It showed just really how far Gotham has fallen.
We know it will fall even further before the caped crusader dons his cape and cowl.
8) Trickster in Flash
What a year for Mark Hamill! Yes, we knew we'd see him in The Force Awakens, but he also made appearances in The Kingsman (he was in the comic too), a Batman game and The Flash. The Trickster was a role he owned in the 90s when John Wesley Shipp played the Flash. On the CW, Mark returned as his character with a new look and new attitude that still paid homage to the original version. It’s just really good seeing Mark on the screens again and most importantly...having a blast.
7) Darth Vader the flying Ace in Star Wars Rebels
Throughout the prequels and the original trilogy, we’re told that Anakin Skywalker (aka Darth Vader) is a great pilot. We get to see some of that in A New Hope via the trench run, and a little bit in the prequels. However, the biggest and best moment for him to shine was in the “movie of the week” kick-off of Star Wars Rebels Season 2. There we got to see Darth Vader flying his signature ship against an entire Rebel fleet.
Oh and did I say he was doing this alone and basically won single-handedly? If that is not geek out awesome, what is?
6) Batman busting in and tearing up the place at the end of Batman vs. Robin
There is something about seeing Batman in action that is just awesome. The animated DC film Batman vs Robin continues to show us the tumultuous relationship between Bruce Wayne and his son Damien. At the same time, it also gives us a villain voiced by Weird Al and the Court of Owls (twice in one year). Yet the biggest geek out moment came in the final act when Damien is on the rocks (due to choices) and Batman bursts in wearing an armored suit and just trashes the place.
5) Bruce Timm returning to DC
Bruce Timm made DC animation what it is, giving us Batman: The Animated Series, Superman, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Batman Beyond, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, and even Freakazoid! The DC Animated Universe has changed over the years, especially with the New 52 . That's where we got a new look and a new team of creators behind the films.
Last year, Warner Bros announced that Bruce Timm would return to the directors chair. Would he be directing a show we know and love? In a way, yes, but an all new story titled Gods and Monsters. We'll also get a web series to go with it. So, a TV show and a movie from one of the biggest and best animation directors ever? What's not to love? The movie ended up being DC’s best of the year!
4) Han Solo returning to Star Wars
Now before someone destroys me, threatens to take my geek card for making this number 4, let me explain why it's not number 1. First of all...he isn’t my favorite Star Wars character. My favorite is Luke Skywalker, and he’s not the star of Episode VII. Second, while The Force Awakens is my favorite film with Harrison Ford as Han Solo, it didn't mean that I screamed and clapped in delight after seeing him. Regardless of that, seeing him return to the franchise felt like watching him return “home” and it was really a welcome sight. Even better - he actually looked like he was having fun and enjoying himself for the first time in years.
3) Vision Appearing in Age of Ultron
I am not a Marvel fan, and I am not really knowledgeable in the Avengers. However, even I was excited in the trailers for Age of Ultron when we finally saw Vision open his eyes. Sure enough, the character seen in the film as played by Paul Bettany did not disappoint. Whether it was in his humorous moments or action scenes, Vision was awesome to see on the big screen.
2) Returning to Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park is my favorite film of all time, and this year, the franchise returned to some form with Jurassic World. Not everyone liked the film, but people like me experienced a real emotional response within the opening minutes. We watched a child (who could be any of us) enter the park and explore it all in great detail. The vision of Mr. John Hammond came true in all its glory. It was quite an emotional experience.
1) Martian Manhunter on Supergirl
This is an unexpected number one. Supergirl is not the best superhero show on television, but it is good enough for me to continue watching. Nonetheless, this show did have the biggest geek out moment of the year for me and it involved a character I never would have thought we’d see in a live action setting.
Martian Manhunter, the character many of us LOVED from Bruce Timm’s Justice League series, appeared as a regular in the show as a human. Then came the moment they showed us his true form. This wasn't film, this was TV! How could one not geek out? Who’d have thought we’d not only get him and see him done RIGHT?
Assembly of Geeks has said that sometimes we have those uncontrollable geek outs, and this fan got a big one when the Martian Manhunter, aka J’onn J’onzz, revealed himself!
Jeremiah Stewart is a podcaster and runs the Bombad Radio Podcast where he interviews authors, voice actors, as well as writes and directs Star Wars radio dramas.
Here are some of our reviews for Jurassic World.
My expectations for Jurassic World were low. I loved the original, hated the second one and skipped the third one. After while, I felt there really was no reason to go back. That changed with the Jurassic World concept. I was intrigued by the idea of turning it into a Dino-Sea World attraction. When I walked out of the theater, I found myself very satisfied with Jurassic World as a summer movie-going experience. I liked the characters, the action, the nods to the original and the imagination put into the park. I think the Jurassic Park tie-ins were used effectively and they're definitely some of the best moments in the film. From beginning to end, I was never bored and I never thought it dragged. These days, those things alone can make a film worth the trip. I was glad I chose to visit the Jurassic World again.
I absolutely loved Jurassic World! I know a lot of people were disappointed in the film, but I really enjoyed it. I mean, you can't really go wrong with Chris Pratt, velociraptors and a theme park filled with dinosaurs! My favorite parts were the tributes to the original Jurassic Park film and the scenes with Chris and his raptors. I also liked the mystery plot with Vincent D'onofrio and the Indominus Rex. I figured it out pretty quickly, but I thought it gave them film a depth that I wasn't expecting. I also really liked the emotional chord between the two brothers. As a summer popcorn flick, it didn't need to have strong themes of family, but it did and I really liked that! I can't wait to see where they take the franchise next!
Jurassic World is the cinematic equivalent of the large bucket of popcorn I ate while watching it. I enjoyed it in the moment, but felt like I hadn’t really consumed anything of substance as soon as it was finished. It’s a fun ride, which is what summer action flicks should be. So, on that count, it’s a success. However, the first film had a linear plot that was resolved satisfactorily. This new film contains at least four storylines, only one of which gets any real resolution (that being the relationship between Owen and Claire). By the way, I had to look up Claire’s name. The only names I could remember from the film were Owen and Gray, which tells you all you need to know about the depth of the characters as written. I didn’t HATE the film, I enjoyed it in the moment, but I was left with more questions than answers at the end. I realize this is a setup for sequels, which is fine, but this felt like four movies rolled into one, and 3 of the movies didn’t get fully realized. Tonally, the film zigs and zags from broad comedy to semi-thoughtful discussion on treatment of the animals to medium-octane action. This would be a welcome multi-layered story if these tonal shifts were handled well, but the changes are jarring and erratic. At certain points, I felt like I was watching a Gremlins 2-level satire of the original film, but it didn’t feel purposeful. It felt accidental. Ultimately, I recommend the film to people who enjoy the action of the first film and to those who like dinosaurs an awful lot. Beyond that, there were several missed opportunities and a muddled tone that just didn’t work for this viewer. Also, think about this, the whale-o-sauras in the big water tank is probably dead now because it does not have the ability to hunt the other dinosaurs for food since it’s stuck in the water. That’s a shame.
I went into "Jurassic World" confident that I'd be entertained in the way such blockbuster films portend. I left knowing that the film was sheer pleasure from start to end, commanding not just my attention, but that of my seven-year-old daughter, Harper, who had been clamoring to see it. The film is much more than eye candy and special effects. The dialogue is crackling, the scenery is lush and the characters are fare more dimensional than they're given credit for being. In short, it's not just the perfect summer movie, it's a splendid film.
Grade: Solid A
Geek topics from AoG hosts and contributors.