Simon’s highs and lows of 2007

Grumpy old Simon. What did he think of the films, TV and games he got to experience in 2007? Glad you asked...

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Considering that the site you read right now isn’t a year old yet, a lot’s happened. And it seems fitting that, amidst all the drinking, manic depression and fake resolutions that a New Year brings, there should be some form of salute to 2007. Here’s mine.

MoviesMy favourite movie of 2007, oddly, wasn’t a geek one, but after a couple of hours in the company of The Lives Of Others, I’d defy many people to choose otherwise. Likewise, I had a soft spot for Michael’s Moore’s admittedly-messy Sicko, although again, this ain’t the site to talk about it at.

In terms of flat-out blockbuster moviemaking, nothing for me topped The Bourne Ultimatum in 2007. In a summer where it seemed pretty much everything was a threequel, and that virtually all of them were average-to-shit (Rush Hour, Shrek, Pirates, Spider-man etc etc), Bourne was something really rather special. Expertly directed by someone who thinks about what he’s filming rather than leering at it (yes, that’s you I’m talking about Michael Bay), The Bourne Ultimatum wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t far off as far as action movies go. I also ended up with a surprisingly soft-spot for Die Hard 4. Even after it went silly.

Elsewhere, I’d a lot of time for Pixar’s Ratatouille (a real improvement over Cars), while the fifth Harry Potter film was really well directed and – primarily thanks to Imelda Staunton – was well worth checking out. I also enjoyed Knocked Up, surprisingly warmed to Meet The Robinsons, thought that, er, Hugh Grant’s Music & Lyrics wasn’t bad in an 80s throwback kind of way (it was my wife’s choice) and liked lots of other non-geeky films. For the geek though, it was fairly slim pickings.

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In terms of movie disappointments, there were plenty. Most recently, I Am Legend had real potential, but a limp back third all but neutered it. Two people ruined the ending for me on Facebook too, which was appreciated. Transformers? Again, in spite of – and I appreciate this makes me happily two-faced – enjoying Michael Bay’s stuff in the past, this was a silly mess. A big computer game where it was borderline impossible to work out what was happening, it wasn’t a disaster, but there was potential for so much more. And yeah, I do get and I do like the idea of big robots fighting.

Spider-man 3? Didn’t mind it too much, but it wasn’t great. Fantastic Four 2? Crap. Ghost Rider? Crap (that should earn me two comments alone). The Simpsons Movie? A huge disappointment. Pirates 3? Didn’t bother after Pirates 2. The list could go on.

I’ve got high hopes for 2008, however. The Dark Knight, Iron Man and Indy 4 are reasons alone for this, even if the latter could really go wrong. But I’m a glass half full kinda guy….Television

Considering the third series of Doctor Who ended so poorly – as we discussed in some length many times over – it still nonetheless delivered some smashing stuff over its run. The Family of Blood two parter was wonderful, Utopia was great, and Blink was the single best episode of any TV show to be show throughout the year. It’s Steven Moffat’s best Doctor Who episode to date, and that really is saying something.

Who ended the year with quite a good Christmas special, and with The Sarah Jane Adventures showing Torchwood how a good spin-off should be done, the world looks bright for science fiction produced in Cardiff right now.

Over in America, Lost, for me, went even more off track in 2007, and it’s blatantly struggling to recapture the intrigue it generated back when it began. The ending to the third season gives it some hope, but perhaps the most disheartening thing about the show that we discovered in 2007 was just how far there is yet to go. Another three series, and then there’s no promise of answers? Sooner or later, someone has to throw us a bone.

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24 self-destructed in 2007 with its worst season yet, a mish-mash of silly villains, regurgitated plot, and Kiefer Sutherland running around like he was created on Krypton. Off the back of the season that preceded it, this was a real shame, and there’s little that convinces me so far that this year’s version will be much better.

The Sopranos finally left our screens, and shame on me, I’ve not seen the last series yet. But I’ve got a boxset with my name on it waiting to be watched. My better half also reliably informs me that the last series of The 4400 wasn’t too shabby either, although again, I didn’t get a chance to watch it. And I’m finally getting into Heroes, having bought the season one boxset, and so can’t yet comment on season two. It’s not a very good review of the year this, is it?Beauty and the Geek’s twist of having a geeky girl and a ‘beauty’ man was as pitiful as it sounded, while the majority of new shows haven’t really taken hold. Chuck and Reaper are on my to-watch list, but you try finding either of them on a Freeview box. Fortunately, the US version of The Office has been both brilliant, and much easier to find.

Again, the year ahead looks great: new Battlestar and the final series of The Wire should keep the quality quotient through the roof. Here’s hoping Sarah Connor takes off, too…

Games

Some smashing games in 2007, I thought. I loved the setting of Bioshock, and thoroughly enjoyed it up until the back fifth or so. I’m not convinced it’s got the replay potential I originally thought, but a superb piece of storytelling nonetheless.

November’s double whammy of Call of Duty 4 and Crysis were great, too. The former was perhaps the better, although much shorter, yet the helicopter cover level was perhaps the best thing I played all year. Crysis’s back straight wasn’t great, and it was, ultimately, Far Cry 1.7, but it was terrific fun when it was on top form.

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Elsewhere, I pottered a little around the consoles. I enjoyed Codemasters’ Overlord far more than I was expecting, while the most fun I had on the Xbox 360 was Crackdown. I’ve barely touched it since I finished it, and the first hour or two of it was hard work, but once you build up your powers, it’s the best superhero game in ages.

I’ve just bought The Orange Box too, which accounts for me missing Portal out when everyone else on the Internet it seems put it at the top of their list.

Disappointments? Unreal Tournament III didn’t rock my boat in the way I’d hoped, and I thought this year’s football games all needed work. But it’s still been a fine year for games…

So there you have it. A year in which, blatantly, I needed to watch more. Bah. Roll on the next twelve months…