2012: The Best and Worst of Our (Last?) Year
2012 may ultimately end in fire and brimstone …or not, but none-the-less 2012 is nearly over. While we prepare to say goodbye to 2012 (and life as we know it?), it’s time once again for PopCultureAsylum’s retrospective look at the year in movies, TV, Memes and Events of 2012. Here we go!
2012 packed a pretty big-size geeky year for movies. While there are some surefire entries that should be in the “Best of” list that are days from coming out such as The Hobbit and D’Jango Unchained, I also missed such praised offerings such as Cabin in the Woods, Lincoln and Looper. However here’s my favorite movies that I *did* catch:
THE AVENGERS ASSEMBLED!!!!!- Since that post-credits scene in Iron Man in 2003 featuring Nick Fury talking about “The Avengers Initiative” the build up to The Avengers movie began. After going through 2 Iron Man movies as well as movies featuring The Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Thor, it was time for the superteam to assemble on the big screen. After grossing over a billion dollars worldwide, it’s safe to say that the big plan really paid off.
The Dark Knight Trilogy Ends- Just a few months after The Avengers smashed the box offices, Batman showed up to reclaim his place. I didn’t expect it to fill the shoes of the excellent predecessor The Dark Knight but I did feel a bit disappointed with a few of the story elements in this finale. However, Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character John Blake came out as the breakaway star for the film and actually spared it from being on the Worst of 2012 section of this article. While it does definitively ends Nolan’s take on the Batman mythos thus sparing us through the recasts that the previous Batman franchise experienced, it was kind of a bummer to see the franchise end (well until Justice League comes out). Also mimicking Bane’s voice was quite fun!
Bond Returns!– While we were saying goodbye to Christian Bale as Batman, we were more than eager to welcome Daniel Craig back on the silver screen as James Bond. Movie fans such as me were a bit bummed out when MGM’s financial woes caused this movie to be delayed. However, it seemed that the extra time helped create the best of the Craig-Bond movies. Skyfall was very well worth the wait! Some of the elements that we’ve come to love in the James Bond mythos started to come together and there were some fun references to the earlier films! I can’t wait to see the next outing of Craig-Bond.
Wes Anderson Takes Us To Moonrise Kingdom- This latest Wes Anderson movie reminded me a helluva lot of Rushmore. I liked it! While Life Aquatic ranks as my favorite Anderson movie (I know lots hated it but I loved it), this wasn’t a bad offering. The dialogue was all the charm with the 2 child leads and having Bruce Willis and Edward Norton in the same movie as Bill Murray did nothing but help this movie become fun.
Prometheus: Why Are People Hating On It?!?-I went to see Prometheus this year and really enjoyed it! However, the internet exploded with people hating on it. It’s really “The Life Aquatic” all over again; in which I like it, but for some reason it seems like any random person I ask seems to not like it. I need somebody to sit with me and watch it and explain why it’s not a good movie; because I’m clearly not seeing the same thing they are. Sure, the android David does some shady stuff, but damn it if he wasn’t the best character in the movie! Also that “Alien abortion”? That was damn intense!
Walking Dead: Carl Becomes Likable and We Learn That There Are Scarier Things In Prison Than What Happens In The Showers (Hint: It’s Zombies)- By the end of season 2 of The Walking Dead, everyone pretty much hated Carl. His habit of not “staying in the house” caused the death of a major character. I even saw the kid that plays Carl, Chandler Riggs, at Denver Comic Con this summer and had dagger eyes on him (but then felt bad because he seems like a nice kid in real life). However, Season 3 proved to be Carl’s redeeming season as he became a little bad-ass. In addition, we saw the return of Meryl, as well as the on-screen debuts of Michonne, the prison gang, The Governor (arguably the biggest baddie from the comics) and TYRESE!!! (Arguably the best character from the entire comic series). We also saw some great character developments: Rick no longer took chances and may be going a bit crazy, Daryl Dixon (pretty much the Boba Fett of Walking Dead) became Rick’s number 2, T-Dog got more lines, Andrea managed to somehow become more unlikable than she was in season 2 and finally, Hershel turned into magic one-legged Santa Claus.
Fringe Gave Rise to The Observers-Last season, Fringe had a fun episode called “Letters of Transit” in which our future is controlled by the Observers and our beloved Fringe team has been frozen for years in amber. Possibly in a move to kind of apologize for that whole “Firefly thing” Fox decided to do something they haven’t done in a while: Let a sci-fi show with a cult following actually end on it’s own rather than be cancelled. Wisely, they focused the final season on the Observer-controlled future since the whole alternate universe storyline wrapped up last season.
Game of Thrones: The Reign of the Tyrant King Joffery/ War of the 5 Kings-In the first season of Game of Thrones, King Joffery became one of the most hated characters on TV after executing Ned Stark. When Game of Thrones returned this spring, Joffery was still a dick but he was semi-contained by newly appointed Hand of the King Tyrion Lannister. Elsewhere in Westros, Rob Stark’s friend Theon Greyjoy decided to betray his friend and overtake a pretty unguarded Winterfell (making him the 2nd most hated character on the show), Renly Baratheon finds a Queen that has no problem being his beard (aka playing the “I’m totally straight see?” card), Rob Stark became a bad ass, Stanis Baratheon made a deal with the devil lady who gave birth to a smoke monster, Ayria found a new awesome friend that managed to top her “Dance Instructor” Syrio Forel, Dany finds that dragons are kind of hard to care for and spends all season in a single town, John Snow’s vow of chastity gets tested with a wildling girl, and Tyrion kept the badass factor going strong. However, the best part of this year was that TOTALLY BAD-ASS BATTLE AT KING’S LANDING!!!!
Eastbound and Down Ends!…Then Gets a Surprise Renewal-Prior to season 3 of Eastbound and Down, from the showrunners to Danny McBride himself, we were informed that the saga of Kenny Powers was definitely coming to a close at the end of the season. If you recall, Season 2 ended with Kenny getting an offer to enter the minors and bringing him one step closer to returning to the Major League. However this season, Kenny found himself juggling the life of being a father to his son (who was left in his care after April went AWOL) and trying to keep his role as team star out of the reaches of an up and coming star from Russia. In the final episode, Kenny finally gets an offer to return to the big leagues and join the Texas Rangers. Right as he is about to throw his first pitch after 3 seasons of trying to return to superstardom, Kenny walks away and fakes his death to join April and his son Toby. It was every bit a fitting series finale for Eastbound and Down. Then HBO decided to give the show a 4th season. However, Kenny is now believed dead, he chose family over baseball (aka the thing he spent the full show’s run going after), Will Ferrell’s character of Ashley Shaffer was burned alive by a black motorcycle gang after a racial slur, and Steve is now independent without the need to follow Kenny’s path in life, so that more or less resolves all the character’s stories. It seems like it’ll be as if Walking Dead managed to kill off all the zombies but decided to continue the show. I’ll be open to more, I just don’t know what they’ll be able to do with it moving forward.
An Idiot Abroad: Karl’s Bucket List-Being a fan of Karl Pilkington’s input on The Ricky Gervais Show (podcast and animated series), I was thrilled with last year’s debut of An Idiot Abroad. It was pretty much the only travel show in which the host of the program absolutely hated where he was visiting and since it was Karl, the show was a hit! For the show’s second season, Pilkington was given a bucket list with things to do such as “Whale Watching”, “Swimming With Dolphins”, and “Driving Route 66”. It wouldn’t be “An Idiot Abroad” without some sabotage by Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant, so things like “Swimming with Dolphins” turned into “Swimming with Sharks”, “Whale Watching” turned into “Working on a “Deadliest Catch” Type Fishing Boat” and “Driving Route 66” quickly turned into “Riding On Top Of A Bi-Plane’s Wings While The Pilot Does Loops Over Route 66”. I’m a bit bummed that 2013’s 2 episode special will be the end of this series, but there will be more Pilkington in Gervais’ new show “Derek” which is set to debut on Netflix in a few months.
Life’s Too Short: Original Flavor Office 2.0?-I really loved this show when it debuted this year! It’s kind of like The Office (original version) meets Curb Your Enthusiasm following dwarf actor Warwick Davis playing a fictionalized version of himself. This was definitely my favorite new show this year.
Always Sunny Has a Zombie Episode!-After 8 seasons It’s Always Sunny’s quality isn’t quite in the peak form it was in the early seasons, but the show still brings the funny every other episode or two. Last year, we saw “Fat Mac” and this year we got a Halloween treat in the form of a McPoyle wedding turning into a bath salt zombie epidemic! This secured “The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre” as one of my favorite episodes of Always Sunny.
Memes are the very reason the internet exists (and you thought this was some fancy information exchange medium pfft) here’s some of my favorites this year:
Grumpy Cat-The cat Tardar Sauce has joined the ranks of other internet celebrity kitties such as Maru, Lil Bub and Keyboard Cat (don’t pretend you don’t know who these are). Unfortunately, videos of Tardar Sauce reveal that she’s a pretty small cat, which is a bit unnerving since with her being a dwarf-kitty she may possibly have some health issues. I say lets give the poor cat a break for 2013.
Bad Luck Brian-Poor Brian can’t catch a break. We are all bad people for laughing at his misfortunes.
Over-Obsessive Girlfriend-This one’s starting to fizzle out now, but this fall, the internet was afire with over-obsessive Girlfriend’s well-meaning but creepy behavior.
Curiosity Lands On Mars Then Makes Us Fall In Love With It-We’ve had rovers land on Mars before, but I can’t recall a time when a rover created such buzz. From it’s tweets and Four-Square check-ins to it’s discoveries on the red planet, you can’t help but love Curiousity. It is a bit sad that Curiousity will be never come home and will die alone on a Martian desert when its electronics go bad. But home is where you make it! Right buddy? Worth mentioning is that this event made NASA Mohawk Guy famous.
A Man Jumped From The Edge of Space…AND LIVED!-I expected that this guy was going to die, and we were all going to see it live on the internet. But he totally didn’t and for that we can salute the fact nobody will be this crazy enough to top him.
The Shuttles Arrive to Their Permanent Homes-It’s a bit bittersweet to see that the Space Shuttles made one “final flight” on the back of airplanes to the cities that would serve as their permanent homes. Despite this final chapter of the Shuttle Program, it was kind of cool to see the shuttles (and their carrier planes) get carried over the skylines and streets of Washington DC, New York and Los Angeles. I am still feeling bad that Houston didn’t get one of the shuttles.
London Olympics-2012 was a big year; I’m not talking about it being an Election Year either! I’m talking about the 2012 Olympic Games!! I wrote an entry looking back at the big moments earlier this year. We saw some beloved athletes end their careers, A guy named Dong Dong won a medal, Beach Volleyball continued it’s popularity, Oscar Pistorius went the distance and James Bond and the Queen went parachuting. Fun times! We’ll see what Rio has to offer in 4 years.
Disney Buys Star Wars (and Indiana Jones and Willow)-Save for the election, no subject like Disney’s acquisition of Lucas Films divided people more this year. With Star Wars 7 set to release in 2015, we’ll have plenty of whispers running the rumor mill until then over who will direct or star in the next movie. Star Wars is a huge property, it has been selling toys for a very long time and a new movie will just keep that steam going. With all the backlash of the prequels, I think it’s good with a new set of eyes creating a new vision with Star Wars. I’m being progressive and marking this as a “good”. Sure it’s weird to think Disney will be delivering Star Wars, but they did pretty good with their other properties like Marvel and the Muppets. So I think it’s in good hands. Plus Disney will clearly win either way; I just hope that they make a Star Wars section in the theme parks to compete with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.
THE WORST OF 2012
It wouldn’t be a complete year-end list unless we mention the stuff that wasn’t so great this year.
I’m kinda glad my BS detector was working well in 2012. I missed a few major flops like John Carter or Battleship. I did see a few “One and Done” flicks like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, The Campaign and Expendables 2, but those were funny and I knew what I was going into when I saw them. However, there’s a few that I saw that just left enough of a bad taste I wanted to write something. Here we go:
The Amazing Spider-Man-It feels so very wrong to put anything Spider-Man related as a “worst”. I’m a big fan of the wallcrawler. However, being a bit of a Rami fanboy, I waited until the DVD came out until I finally saw it. Unfortunately, I just didn’t dig it. I even watched it a second time to see if it’d grow on me to no luck. I’m not going to beat it up on them retelling the origin of Spider-man so soon (I had all that time since the movie was announced to do that.) I think it’s important to say that I didn’t outright hate it either. I did like that Gwen Stacey is Peter Parker’s love interest, because a movie based on “The Night Gwen Stacey Died” will make a good movie…sorry for the 40 year old spoiler, The webshooters were cool, I liked Dennis Leary’s character, but overall as a movie; I felt it was underwhelming. It didn’t quite pop for me. Skateboarding Peter Parker made me groan a bit, Aunt May just seemed kinda bitchy-complainy rather than the blue haired worrybody we know in the comics, and they kinda contradicted their “Dark Knight-esque realism” by having the Lizard as a bad guy (Electro, Goblin, Chameleon, Mysterio, or even Kraven would have complimented it better). I know I gave Dark Knight Rises a pass despite me having issues with its story, but I still felt like I liked that movie after seeing it; plus they had Joseph Gordon Levitt carrying the movie. Here…nobody, save for Stan Lee’s 3 second cameo, which was his best to date, made it fun. When that’s the takeaway of the movie that’s saying something unfortunately. Hopefully, they catch some lighting in a bottle with the next film when Spidey takes on Jamie Fox as Electro.
Twilight Breaking Dawn 2-I thought seriously about putting this in the “Best of 2012” solely on the fact that this was the last Twilight movie I’ll ever be taken to! Since I made my wife watch Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (a movie that had only a handful of people opening weekend night) I had to go see this. I’m not going to rip on the usual because that goes without saying. However, one thing that irked me is that the entire movie “the Justice League of Vampires” is being assembled to fight “The Legion of Doom of Vampires” and then there’s a big climatic battle and some important characters are killed off. It was a big fight and actually made it the most bearable of the movies I had to go to, I was for a few moments enjoying it….and then it turned out to be a big vision shown to the head evil vampire who decides that the fight wasn’t worth it and everyone goes their separate ways. So to sum it up: everyone assembled, nobody really died and that’s how Twilight ended. At least when Harry Potter ended last year Dumbledore, Snape, Vordemort, and one of the Weasley twins died!
True Blood-While I know True Blood sometimes ventures into the ridiculous, this season was definitely the worst yet. Half of the season was Eric and Bill tripping balls on Lilth’s blood (LSD for Vamps?) and then we just saw Bill go Dark Side. While it was fun to see Russell Edgington return, not even his scenery chewing presence could have saved this season.
Alcatraz-I really wanted this to be better. It had Dr. Grant from Jurassic Park and Hurley from LOST tracking time traveling inmates from Alcatraz prison committing crimes in present day. It wasn’t bad at first and even Hoyt from True Blood showed up as a guest star. However, the show kind of became old hat after a few episodes and I, like everyone else, just generally lost interest. It’s almost to the same level of misfire as Terra Nova was last year. Still love you Hurley and Dr. Grant, this just wasn’t meant to be.
Depending Who You Ask, Either the Right or Wrong Person Won The Presidency…-Let’s get serious for a moment: Election years bring out the ugly monster in people! It divides friends, co-workers and family and then the social networks get crazy. From talks of Secession (hint: you can’t do it!) to people wanting to deport to Canada (Another Hint: It’s a socialist country where gay marriage is legal…you’ll hate it) 2012 has been pretty annoying. Thank God the election is over and it’ll be 3 or so years until our TV is overpopulated with attack ads and people declaring war on each other on Facebook. Despite your political beliefs; we can agree it gets pretty damn ridiculous on the social sites come election time.
Tebow Time Gets Red-hot! (Then Quickly Snuffed Out)-I don’t want to burst any bubbles, but I’m a bit of a geek. If you were to talk to me about sports, unless we’re talking about the Dallas Mavericks, you’re probably going to get a fairly limited conversation out of me. However, at the beginning of the year, I was all about Tim Tebow’s rise to stardom as he went from a 2nd string quarterback to a team leader during the Bronco’s playoff run. I actually had a lot of fun watching him, but then he got traded to the Jets where he only plays for a few yards and then gets sent back to the bench. It’s better to burn out than to fade away (As The Kurrigan from “Highlander” once put it), but I would have liked to see one or two more seasons of Tebow Time.
Aurora Theater Shooting-This happened in my neck of the woods and shook me up quite a bit since this theater was one I’ve gone to a few times and there were a few degrees of separation that were WAY too close for comfort. Fortunately I haven’t been to a midnight release in a few years (I had a wave of calls that morning of people checking on us), but sadly the same couldn’t be said for the 12 victims of the shooting. This definitely cast an ominous shadow over this summer. But I couldn’t praise the surrounding area enough for rallying together to pay tribute to the victims.
Celebrity Deaths-This year we lost Michael Clarke Duncan, Andy Griffith, Robin Gibb, MCA of the Beastie Boys, Dick Clark, Mike Wallace, Davy Jones, Whitney Houston, Don Cornelius, Johnny Otis, Ray Bradbury, Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride.
Gangnam Style- OK I will admit I laughed the first time I saw the video, but then came the overexposure, followed by the horrible parodies. Before long, this became “The Macarena” of 2012. Even the singer kinda got tired of the song. Don’t worry PSY, I think a lot of us are too.
The What I Do, What My Friends Think I do, Ect-It’s a long elaborate inside joke. However the problems with inside jokes are that when presented as a meme, it gets lost on the general population. This is more or less the opposite of what you want a meme to be and this is exactly what happened with this meme.
OK that’s it for this year! Thanks for playing! If we’re not blown into oblivion next weekend, we’ll see what 2013 has to offer!