Top 5 2015 Releases – Movies (outside of Star Wars)

With the 2015 nearly behind us, it’s fun to take a look back at the highlights from what came out of the year and get excited about what 2016 might bring. In regards to my ‘Top 5’ lists, please keep in mind that I am only going to list what I have personally dealt with. I’m not going to write opinions on something I haven’t experienced. Sadly, stupid adult responsibilities prevent me from spending every hour of the day reading comic books, building LEGO, playing Xbox, or watching TV/movies. With that said, there’s a very good chance I’ve missed out on something list worthy. If you think something is missing then PLEASE let me know! If there’s one thing the geeky community is good at, it’s sharing opinions. I want to hear yours!

 

Top 5 2015 Releases – Movies (outside of Star Wars)

 

I don’t make it to the theater nearly as much as I once did (thanks, fatherhood). This year I saw more than usual since my kids are no longer screaming toddlers. There are plenty of movies released in 2015 that I haven’t gotten to yet – so if you see any shocking absences it’s probably because I haven’t seen it. Recommendations are always welcome! Also please note that I’m intentionally writing this prior to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens because my lifelong Star Wars obsession has a tendency to unfairly tip the scales.

 

So without further adieu, here are my Top 5 favorite theatrical movie releases from this year…..

 

#5 – Kingsman: The Secret Service

 

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The Kingsman seemed to take everyone off guard this year. Full disclaimer – I’m counting this in my “theatrical movie release list” even though I missed it in theaters. Right after watching I wrote a review/comparison between the movie and it’s Mark Millar’s graphic novel source material. Spoiler alert – the movie is better than the book…. a statement that is rarely true. Recently I caught three quarters of the movie again on HBO and instantly remembered how much fun the movie was. The Kingsman is making its rounds on the premium channels and is still on Redbox. Check it out if you haven’t yet! I hear there is (somehow) a sequel in development. It’ll be interesting to see how they can pull that one off. There is hope for it though as Matthew Vaughn remains attached to the project.

 

#4 – Krampus

 

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As my recent movie review explains, this year brought us a new holiday classic. Krampus is the trifecta of three pivotal ‘H’ words – horror, humor, and heart. Take the time before Christmas to go see it in the theaters so you won’t feel any regret during inevitable viewings in future holiday seasons. My kids really wanted to come with my wife and I to see this in the theater. I’m very glad I didn’t cave and allow them to join us. Although there are far, far worse horror movies out there with PG-13+ ratings, Krampus has some visuals/frights that would be too much for little ones. I can’t wait to expose it to them when the time is right!

 

#3 – Mad Max: Fury Road

 

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Here’s another one I’m kicking myself for missing in the theaters. I have a few colleagues in my office that paid to watch this in the theater upwards of five times. They hounded me to go but I still didn’t. God dammit were they ever right! Fury Road is a visual feast of perfectly executed action scenes supported by fantastic casting. It succeeds in being a totally immersive experience that leaves you gasping for breath. George Miller made a brilliant film because he took his damn time to do it! He did it right instead of rushing it out in a desperate bid for ticket sales. Now excuse me while I go kick myself once again for not making it to the theater.

 

#2 – Jurassic World

 

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I have very fond memories of seeing the original Jurassic Park movies in the theaters as a young, dinosaur-loving nerd. The original movie (and I suppose the two sequels) are timeless movies that hold up just as well now as they did twenty years ago. Recently I exposed my kids to the bluray versions and through them got to relive that excitement and terror I first felt. With this personal attachment, the prospect of Jurassic World scared the shit out of me for all the wrong reasons. Is nothing sacred to Hollywood anymore? Still, I had to give it a shot because JURASSIC PARK!

 

I took my son and my dad to an IMAX 3D showing opening weekend. My dad took me to the first movie when I was about my son’s age so regardless of how bad the movie could be, I knew seeing it in the theater was destined to be a great memory for us all. Thank flippin’ goodness our fears were unfounded! The movie was everything we wanted it to be.

 

Jurassic World did a fantastic job at paying its respects to the original while not being held in the sequel confines. It solidly set its own path that we’ll thankfully get to explore in the future. Casting was pretty good with Chris Pratt adding his magic touch to the blockbuster. Hooray – they didn’t ruin our childhoods!

 

#1 – Ant-Man

 

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Marvel ended their Cinematic Phase Two with an underdog who rose to the challenge. Ant-Man was a fantastically fun movie which created an origin story the called back to the enjoyment we saw in the first Iron Man. Paul Rudd has always been the kind of actor you’d like to buy a drink – in Ant-Man I wanted to buy him two. The special effects were awesome and unique. I’m very glad I shelled out the extra cash to see it in 3D. This was a rare instance where 3D was used to add depth to the film rather than just as a flashy gimmick. With the movie’s recent release on Blu Ray I will definitely be watching it again soon. If you’re not a comic book movie fan or haven’t seen all of the other Marvel movies then don’t let it stop you from watching Ant-Man. It started out as a self-contained one-off that was looped into the universe and thus doesn’t require the extensive background of the prior films.

 

What were your favorite movies? Think I missed something amazing? Let me know!

Top 5 2015 Releases – Funko’s Pop! Vinyl

With the 2015 nearly behind us, it’s fun to take a look back at the highlights from what came out of the year and get excited about what 2016 might bring. In regards to my ‘Top 5’ lists, please keep in mind that I am only going to list what I have personally dealt with. I’m not going to write opinions on something I haven’t experienced. Sadly, stupid adult responsibilities prevent me from spending every hour of the day reading comic books, building LEGO, playing Xbox, or watching TV/movies. With that said, there’s a very good chance I’ve missed out on something list worthy. If you think something is missing then PLEASE let me know! If there’s one thing the geeky community is good at, it’s sharing opinions. I want to hear yours!

 

Top 5 2015 Releases – Funko’s Pop! Vinyl

 

Crap. This is going to be a tough one to narrow down…. Funko’s Pop! Vinyl is a very addicting collectible. Their endless variety of product licenses ensure they can hook your interest in one way or another. I’ve had to be a bit more choosy with collecting Pop! because they take up a lot more shelf space than my army of LEGO Minifigures. Also, the price point tends to be a touch higher and I have ravenous mouths at home demanding to be fed. In spite of it all (and much to my darling wife’s dismay… again), I have snagged quite a few great selections from Funko’s war machine.

 

I’m intentionally leaving out any that were included in subscription boxes. This was hard because Marvel’s Collectors Corp, Smuggler’s Bounty, and the occasional Loot Crate have sent out some awesome selections. Since these aren’t ones you’d find on a regular store shelf, I don’t want to rank them against regularly retail-circulated choices.

 

Here are my Top 5 favorite Funko Pop! Vinyl figures that were released this year….

 

#5 – Deathclaw

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The Deathclaw – nightmarish bane of every wastelanders existence. Funko did a great job at capturing the likeness of the Deathclaw in semi-adorable Pop! form. I love when a totally new mold has been created for vinyl figures; the attention to detail is commendable over slapping a new color scheme on an existing mold. When I heard they were making a Deathclaw I feared they would skimp on the horns. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case at all for this must-own collectible for any Fallout fan.

 

#4 Cthulhu – Horror Mystery Minis Series 2

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Yes, a mystery mini CAN stand alongside full-sized Pop! in a best of list. I love mystery minis. Their science fiction and horror are fantastic. It’s so tempting to buy an entire box of them just to ensure the good ones can be found. The Cthulhu figure in Horror Mystery Minis Series 2 is one of the most detailed Pop! Vinyl figures around. It boasts more fine details than most of the full sized figures have. From the suction cups under his tenticles to both of his smite-ready clenched fists, this mini is a worthy tribute to the Old Ones.

 

#3 – Spirit Yoda

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If you’re a Pop! collector, make sure to stop in your local Walgreen’s for some hidden gems that can be found exlusively to the hit-or-miss store. The line of exclusive Star Wars Pop! that are currently making their rounds are worth stopping for. You can find Boba Fett in his prototype white armor, Imperial Guards, Snow Troopers, etc. One does stand above all of those great options (even Boba) – Spirit Yoda. This glow in the dark bobblehead is perfect in every way. Normally glow in the dark is thrown in there just to make something collectible, but in Yoda’s case it makes the character. The light blue color and faint green glow totally embodies the spirit form worthy of Master Yoda. Here’s a picture of mine after some decent light exposure –

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#2 – Jabba the Hutt (3 pack)

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I previously did a full review of the vile gangster’s value-pack before so his high list rank should come as a surprise. Run to your local Walmart to find one for yourself before they’re all gone. You get a heck of a lot for $30 in this stand out set. Check out my writeup on it if you need convincing.

 

#1 – Big Daddy

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If you consider yourself a gamer, then I should hope you’ve spent some time in Rapture. The Bioshock series is phenomenal in every possible way. Between its immersive (no pun intended) setting to its captivating visual story, Bioshock sets the bar for what a shooter can and should be. Funko decided to take a trip into the depths of Rapture and through the clouds to Columbia, they  proved once again that we can trust them with our favorite creative properties. Simply put, Big Daddy is perfect. It is superbly crafted to be a standout from other vinyl figures. No detail was skimped. No component of his suit or drill was left out. His menacing stature creates a display-worthy collectible that makes me want to replay every game from the start.
Well done, Funko! If you keep putting must-own out figures like these then I’ll just have to get a bigger shelf. Are you a Pop! fanatic? Which 2015 releases were your favorite?

Top 5 2015 Releases – Graphic Novels

With the 2015 nearly behind us, it’s fun to take a look back at the highlights from what came out of the year and get excited about what 2016 might bring. In regards to my ‘Top 5’ lists, please keep in mind that I am only going to list what I have personally dealt with. I’m not going to write opinions on something I haven’t experienced. Sadly, stupid adult responsibilities prevent me from spending every hour of the day reading comic books, building LEGO, playing Xbox, or watching TV/movies. With that said, there’s a very good chance I’ve missed out on something list worthy. If you think something is missing then PLEASE let me know! If there’s one thing the geeky community is good at, it’s sharing opinions. I want to hear yours!

 

Top 5 2015 Releases – Graphic Novels

 

I have read over 80 different graphic novels thus far in 2015. My wife tells me I have a problem…. she may be right. It is my favorite medium so I personally see it as commitment. But I digress…

 

A few of those 80+ were re-reads of titles that sat on my shelf from years past. Most, however, were ones I’d always wanted to read but never got around to crossing off the list. A surprising few of those graphic novels were actually released in the 2015 calendar year so narrowing it down to a ‘top 5’ list wasn’t all that difficult. Next year I should be able to check out more new releases since I’m in a better place with required reading from comics’ past.

 

Here are my Top 5 favorite graphic novels released this year….

 

#5 – INJECTION: Vol. 1 by Warren Ellis

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Warren Ellis holds a permanent place on my top 3 all-time favorite graphic novel authors. The man has a different view of our world and every page he writes tends to be a window into that view. His latest trade paper release, INJECTION: Volume 1 boasts outside-the-box-styled characters in pieces of an underlying story that is creepily feasible with the proper hints of imagination.

 

INJECTION was enjoyable, yet a tease in many ways. I plan on reading the rest of the story once an omnibus edition or larger collection has been released. I’m sure I would have felt the same about PLANETARY had I not waited for the 864 page beast of an omnibus before reading it – now it is one of my all-time favorite books. A volume with 120 pages doesn’t do justice to the trademark scope Ellis crafts in his stories. I’m confident it’ll be worth the tease of regularly seeing the new issues on the comic book store shelves.

 

#4 – NAILBITER, Vol. 2: Bloody Hands by Joshua Williamson

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NAILBITER is a must for fans of horror comics. It is dark and twisted while still having a backbone of solid dialogue and characters. The concept is very fresh – Buckaroo, Oregon – one town that is the breeding place for some of the world’s most notorious serial killers (16 so far). As the world makes this connection, Buckaroo becomes a media magnet as well as the focal point of serial killer cult followers. It also does a great job at balancing the story focus through key characters like the Edward ‘Nailbiter’ Warren, Nicholas Finch (an often cliche, yet fun protagonist), and the policewoman who is involved on more levels than she would like.

 

I was lucky to find both volume 1 and 2 on the same visit to my favorite used book store. It’s one of the few (non-DC) running comics I’d like to catch up on enough to pick up the new issues when they hit stores. If you haven’t heard of it, and don’t mind some seriously twisted concepts, then NAILBITER should be added to your ‘to read’ list.

 

#3 OUTCAST, Vol 1: A Darkness Surrounds Him by Robert Kirkman

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Robert Kirkman has done something other than The Walking Dead? That’s what I was asking myself when I stumbled across OUTCAST. In reality, he’s done quite a bit outside of the post-apocalyptic adventure he’s so well known for. OUTCAST is an intriguing approach to demonic possession (which I am a total sucker for). It starts off a bit slow but once it finds its footing the story is quite gripping. Although it’s classified with horror, it leans more towards the creepy side rather than shock and gore like other horror-centric comics. I don’t want to go any deeper into the particulars because it’s worth a read. This is definitely a personal priority for me to get current with in 2016.

 

#2 – INJUSTICE: Gods Among Us Vol. 2 by Tom Taylor

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I absolutely loved the first volume. Rather than coming off as a cheap novelization of the video game, both volumes instead give the story much needed depth with engaging characters and dialogue. The second volume started a bit slower than the first, but then quickly got to the elements that have made the storyline fantastic. Everything in the volume culminates quite dramatically. I found myself furiously trying to finish reading before needing to return to work from my lunch break. I’m eager to jump into ‘INJUSTICE: YEAR TWO’ after having my appetite whetted by both halves of year one. You don’t need to be a DC-devotee like I am to enjoy this – it is written in a way to carry equal impact even to those who don’t stick to the comic book cult.

 

#1 – WYTCHES by Scott Snyder & Jock, Volume 1

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READ.THIS.BOOK! I wrote a full review of it after first reading so I won’t rehash anything here. Scott Snyder and Jock are at the top of their game in this unnerving and often emotional journey. It will have you making double takes passing dark, wooded areas. You’ll be suspicious of others when things may not seem quite right. A shudder will go down your spine if there is ever an unexplained clicking noise. WYTCHES belongs in the number 1 spot because it sticks with you long afterwards. The duo of Snyder and Jock is a powerful creative force to be reconned with. Please, PLEASE let volume 2 come out early in 2016!!
Did you read any of the titles I listed here? What are your top 5 graphic novels in 2015? Let me know what you think!