Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Review

Another year and another yearly review. So without further introductions:


Top 3 films of 2014

The Lego Movie

The trailers suggested that this would be good, but sometimes trailers can be deception (The Phantom Menace, I’m looking at you), as such I was very pleased to find out that this film ended up living up to and even exceeding the trailers the proceeded it.

I love Lego, always have and probably always will do and this was pretty much as perfect a film about Lego as you could possibly find, including a surprising and incredibly touching finale.

Guardians of the Galaxy

This is a film that took most people by surprise, but I always had a sneaking suspicion that this would be the surprise hit of the year and it ended up being just that and is (at present) the most successful film in the US of 2014.

Marvel have been pumping out some excellent films of late, with no apparent end to the quality that it is producing. Guardians of the Galaxy turned out to be a good old fashion Sci-Fi romp of old, with a great soundtrack to boot. It didn’t take itself too seriously and everyone who watched it was just along for the ride in what has got to have been one of the most fun films of 2014.

Gone Girl

This is at the top of my list for film of the year 2014. I have been a fan of David Fincher for many years, but have found that some of his films have been a bit lacking of late. What I loved about Gone Girl is that I knew very little about it. All that I knew was that it was the story of a wife who goes missing and that the husband is under the suspicion for murder, but in truth this is only part of the story and the fact that the remainder of the story was kept under wraps (when most trailers spoil such things) is commendable.

Even discounting the twists and turns in the story, this is a film with a very modern look at relationships and is both witty and clever. I hope that it does well come Oscars, but I think that this is unlikely. Rosamund Pike at least really deserves recognition for her role.

Notable mentions:

Almost made it into my top 3, but decided that Guardians beat it out.

Under the Skin
The most Lynch like film, not directed by Lynch, for a long time.

Scary and also thought provoking.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
A great Comic Book adventure.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
See above.


Top 3 games on 2014

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

This is my first real stab at an MMO, I’ve previously been put off by ongoing subscription fees, so I approached this by buying the PS3 version of the game (very cheap), then upgrading to the PS4 and getting 3 month’s worth of subscription (one month of which came free with the game). This ended up costing a little less than I would pay for a brand new game. I then looked to play as much of a could out of the game within this timeframe, with the hope of ending my subscription at that point.

What I found was a Final Fantasy game which reminded me very much of Final Fantasy XII (a game that wasn’t as widely accepted by most, but one which I really enjoyed). I would go as far to say that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, has probably been my favourite game since Final Fantasy XII and during those 3 months, I thoroughly enjoyed my time (but still have managed to avoid continuing my subscription).

PS The picture above is of my FFXIV character after I completed the game in full bard gear :-)

Alien Isolation

This is the first Alien game to live up to the Alien name, and instead of taking its inspiration from Aliens, it instead looks to Alien. This is much to do with the level of detail which has been put into the game, such as the computer consoles, music and the whole environment. I actually watched Alien again after playing the game and was amazed at the level of detail which had been taken from the film and incorporated so well into the game. This is a rare example of a film to move experience which really relishes its original source material.

The star of the game is the Alien however. Not only in how it looks, which is also spot on, but more due to it unpredictable nature and it ferocity. It is rare for a game these days to have a single foe which is so damn tough that you need to actively avoid it rather than take it on face on (which rarely ends well) and I much prefer this type of game experience than something where you mindless slaughter alien fiends. The game also had a little surprise in the last quarter of the game which I had not expected, nor was spoilt ahead of me playing, which was great.

Mario Kart 8

I love Mario Kart games and every time I think that Nintendo has honed the game to perfection (as I believed in the last couple of games), I’m proven wrong. Mario Kart 8 is the finest game in the series and is an utter joy to play. Nintendo have, in my opinion, managed to hit exactly the tight notes with this game. Whereby in previous games the weapons could seem overpowered, instead, if you are driving well they can slow you, but not totally destroy you place in the pack. There is even a weapon which can be stored to counter the dreaded blue shell, which is always a huge fist pump moment.

Added to the already incredible game are also DLC packs, of which I have already got the first (the second due in 2015). Whilst Nintendo have not been big on DLC in the past, this is both good value and also a great addition to the game.

My game of 2014 undoubtedly.

Notable mentions:

Persona Q
Just stated this, but am loving the reunion with the characters from Persona 3 & 4

Infamous: First Light
I seemed to prefer this expansion over the full game

The Wolf Among Us
Another great adventure from Telltale

A demo, not a game, but boy did it scare the hell out of me.


In previous years I have contained my comments to just Films, Gaming and Life (as my blog suggests), but for a change I thought I would add a few comments in relation to the content on TV.

Over the last few years, it is fair to say that TV programmes, in all their forms have been coming in leaps and bounds. This is aided, not hindered by the rise in subscription online providers such as Netflix and Lovefilm. Whereas previously TV was the domain for B list actors wanting to rise to film, instead actors have been actively pursuing TV work and real stars have come from TV.

The list of great programmes on TV is long, but I thought I’d highlight a few of the great series that I have watched recently.

Breaking Bad
I think I started watching this at the beginning of the year and got through it in a marathon session from beginning to end. A fantastic series throughout and probably one of the strongest TV series in a very long time.

Game of Thrones
I have continued to enjoy the stories from Westeros as they each play out.

American Horror Story
Again, caught up on series 1-3 of this, with series 2 being the strongest by far.

Black Mirror
Watched all of these (although haven’t watched the Christmas 2014 episode yet). Fantastic show with some real standouts.

House of Cards
Series 2 was as compelling as the first, with a very surprising moment in the first episode of series 2.


A few bullet points of memorable things in my life from 2014:

We all thoroughly enjoyed our very first cruise holiday, which was a fantastic relaxing break. I also think that Elliot enjoyed some freedom on the cruise, finding friends and spending time with them instead of being with Mum and Dad all the time. I think that we will likely cruise again in the future based on this experience and money permitting.

During the cruise again, I managed to fulfil an early life goal of purchasing some Lego from Denmark!

Elliot found out that his secondary school would be Elizabeth College and started this in September. We were pleased that Elliot managed to get to the school that he hoped he would go to and also that he seems to have settled in well, adjusting to a different pace of school life.

During a trip to London I went to the Shakespeare Globe, which is something that I have wanted to do for some time and really enjoyed the experience.

Again there are probably lots more that I have missed out, but that will have to do for the year. So finally, I just wanted to wish people a…


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