The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

Top 10 of Twenty Eleven

Instead of making several lists of top video games/top films/top albums/top toenails etc. like usually happens, I decided to just squash them all together and randomise into no real order and make a Top Ten Things Of Twenty Eleven List Thing.

10. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2

When did Harry Potter really end? When the final book came out or the film adaptation? Or like most monolithic franchises, will it ever end?  Doubt it, but at the same time I doubt Rowling is going to do a George Lucas and milk the profits for the next billion years. Anyway, so this summer saw the release of The Deathly Hallows Part 2 in 3D. Two things in that title equal money grabbing, so I saw it in 2D just to be awkward (apparently more people did as well, so suck it 3D.)

But on to the film in question. Warner Bros hyped this film up to insane proportion, and whilst sometimes things get hyped out of proportion, this film both deserved it and lived up to it, it truly is a fantastic finale. Harry, Ron and Hermione have to find the last couple of horcruxes to defeat Voldemort, save the wizarding world and restore peace and justice to the galaxy, wait; I’m talking Star Wars again. The action sequences in the film are fantastic, from breaking the bank at Gringotts, to the final battles against Voldemort, it’s truly fantastic to see how far the series has come since the wonky CGI Troll in the first movie.  It looks really fantastic, it moves at a really fast pace and the additions to the film that weren’t in the book actually help with the characterisation and add to the drama of the final sections.

And of course, the ending which brings everything full circle is really sweet (if not a little short) and cements the series ideas of the importance of friendship and family.

9. Mori’s Vegetarian Noodle Dumpling Dish

Ok, this is going to be tough to explain and the lack of pictures here doesn’t help, so you’ll have to take my word for it. Basically when I was working in London over the summer, I worked near this Asian healthy food place on Marylebone High Street called Mori that specialised in Frozen yogurts and hot soups. Anyway, despite it being blisteringly hot one day, I popped in and thought to myself “screw it” and bought the bucket of the only noodle dish I could get (Spoilers, I’m a vegetarian), which were the “Udon Noodles with vegetarian dumplings” and my good golly was it amazing. The dumplings are exquisite and the noodles are plentiful AND about the size of your pinky. Sure, it’s a bit expensive for the average lunch and eating it in the park, balancing it on your legs whilst trying to read a magazine isn’t ideal, also I could never actually finish it. But it’s probably the nicest dish I’ve had all year. Sorry mum.

8. Zelda – Skyward Sword

Woo! Zelda! Yeah, I love me some Zelda. It’s probably one of my favourite series. I won’t go on about this much because everyone knows how much I love The Wind Waker. Also after Ocarina Of Time 3D ate up a huge chunk of my summer (still on the Master Quest, which I still kinda wish was the main game) I was excited for Skyward Sword.

And unsurprisingly, I love it. The controls feel slightly heavier and a tad awkward on occasion, but their so intuitive and fun that it doesn’t matter. I’m also glad there’s been a step up in the narrative and characterisation, whilst staying true to the series roots. The map is a bit small maybe, but the side-quests and all the other additions really make up for it. I’d go into more detail, but I still haven’t finished it and won’t for a while (I’m in Oxford currently, my Wii is in Leeds, kind of difficult to play) but it’s really worth checking out. Also, the free CD from the 25th Annivsersary Concerts (available with the limited Deluxe Edition) is amazing, just saying…

7. Skyrim

I was going to write an article about this. Then I remembered I already wrote a review about a month back here  and besides, I took an arrow to the knee.

Ha, memes…

6. Doctor Who

The last series of Doctor Who has probably been the strongest since the shows revival. Yes, it probably alienated a good chunk of its viewers by throwing in Lost style questions and ideas, connecting all the episodes and whacking a great big mid-season cliffhangar. Whilst other series of Doctor Who had a clear American influence, this one just exploited it to death and I think the series is honestly better for it, yet it kept its Britishness and style. Doctor Who is pretty much a TV highlight of the year, and for good reason; what other show can have a big space opera story, and the very next having the main characters running round Nazi Germany?

Matt Smith is just an incredible tour de force here, confirming my belief that he is the best Doctor in a long while, perfectly backed up by Rory, who becomes the Badass he deserves to be, his wife Amy, and River Song, whose saga all becomes clear. Kind of…it’s a bit hard to tell… it gets very crazy, slightly infuriating, but devilishly entertaining and all in all a wonderful journey.

5. Making Silent Reviews

So this year, I finally started something I’ve wanted to do for a while, create a video review show, and it kind of happened by accident. It’s not the most popular thing on the internet, but it’s such a lot of fun to do that I really have no intention of stopping.

4. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Belong

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s second album Belong may possibly be the most beautiful album ever. Taking influence from My Bloody Valentine, this album is just the ultimate adolescent soundtrack, filled with soaring melodies and nostalgic lyrics, crooning vocals and lots of fuzz, creating this sort of mystical aura that just immerses you. Tracks like Heart In Your Heartbreak, Heaven’s Gonna Happen Now, Girl Of 1000 Dreams are upbeat, energetic and just bristle with the sound of youth, whilst Anne With an E and Too Tough are as about as heartbreakingly honest as indie pop can get. Honestly, if any of these tracks don’t appear in some teen indie film next year, I will be very surprised.

3. Super

I love quirky American indie movies. I love the simple ideas, but with brilliant characters and shoestring budgets with twee guitar pop soundtracks. I also love superhero movies, and would you know, Super combines both of those. James Gunn’s latest movie casts Rainn Wilson, star of The Office in this surprisingly black comedy drama about a man who loses his girlfriend to a drug dealer and is sent on a mission from god to fight crime in order to win her back, with the help of his 22 year old “kid” sidekick Boltie, who may be completely insane…

It’s not really a “superhero movie” it’s more a comedy/drama/action piece that just happens to have superheroes, or vigilantes if you want to get technical. It gets unfairly compared to Kick Ass, which it doesn’t deserve, because Kick Ass has a more slicker production, a better budget and studio backing. This doesn’t. It’s about as indie as you can get. All the actors were paid minimum wage and it was only screened in about 10 cinemas here in the UK. But it feels genuine and more substantial than a lot of other films I’ve seen this year and boils film-making down to its very essence; Great writing, great acting and great directing all leads to a story where we’re fully invested in the story and really taken to what’s going to happen. Whilst other movies this year have done that, I can honestly say that Super was probably THE movie of the year. It’s available on DVD and Blu-ray for you to check it. It’s really fantastic, it’s dark, but it’s so brilliant and it really says something that in a year dominated by big superhero movies (again) that the best one was the one with no budget.

2. The Horrors – Skying

2009’s Primary Colours was a tour-de-force for The Horrors, throwing out their Victorian gothic style for a more technicolour synth led journey and whilst Skying doesn’t offer a similar reinvention, it builds upon Primary Colours developing their sound until it becomes something new and exciting. The tracks are mostly a slower pace to that of their previous work, and it’s here they really shine, Faris’ vague and broad lyrics and vocals create imagery of the sea and the sky and along with heavy use of atmospheric synths, create this surrealist picture that’s equal parts beautiful and terrifying.

And the thing with a great band like The Horrors, is that they will take this and they could go absolutely anywhere with it and their next album could sound like something that we can’t even imagine, and that is truly exciting.

1. The 3DS

I got a 3DS when it came out, about 4 months ago, that wouldn’t be anything to be proud of, but now Nintendo have finally got their shit together, that’s no longer the case and people are finally coming around to what a fantastic bit of tech it is. Glasses less 3D is a brilliant idea, because 3D glasses are just generally a pain (I wear glasses, putting glasses on top of your glasses is just not practical, especially on the bus) and even though I’m not the biggest fan of 3D, Nintendo have gone and made a handheld console that doesn’t break the bank in terms of cost, whereas the 3D enabled PS3 will have you have to pay about £400 for a TV and then all the extra stuff (I’m not intentionally trying to compare PS3 to 3DS, that’s stupid). Another reasons I love it is, because I got it at launch, Nintendo gave me 20 free games,(Ok, NES games and a few GBA games to download, but still). Plus they’ve improved their online store, friend codes, and general ease of use.

Plus, look the games that are now out or coming soon; Zelda Ocarina Of Time, widely considered one of the best games ever. Starfox 64, the ultimate sci-fi with anthromphic animals experience. Metal Gear, Resident Evil, Cave Story. This year may have gotten off to a shaky start for the 3DS, but it’s proving to be a console worth your time and money. My friend codes 3523-2087-4345. Come on and say hi and kick my ass at Mario Kart sometime!

And that concludes my list of my favourite things of the year. Want to know my least favourite things? (In no order, because that takes time)

The rebirth of the boy band explosion

This wouldn’t be so bad if they were actually good. Also, anyone noticed how the one from the Wanted looks like one of the rejects from this years The Apprentice?

The fandoms of said Boybands.

GET THE **** OUT OF MY TWITTER TRENDING TOPICS AND GO PLAY WITH SKIPPING ROPES OR WHATEVER KIDS DO FOR FUN.

The Muppets Movie being delayed release in the UK until Feburary 2012.

WHY CRUEL WORLD?

Spike Video Game Awards.

My vlog ought to cover why it’s on here.

Star Wars Blu-ray changes.

Want to make your characters heroic sacrifice look cheap? Add a NOOOOOOO to the scene as he plummets, that’ll completely ruin the context.

Torchwood – Miracle Day

Ok, it wasn’t the “worst thing”, parts of it (read as; all of the episodes written by Jane Espenson) were great, but the rest of it was so very “meh” it felt plodding and the conclusion was extremely weak. Where were our aliens?

Bill Pullman was good in it though.

The Smurfs and Transformers 3 make enough money to warrant a sequel.

Looks like Hollywood’s heading up Smurf creek without a paddle…

And that seems like a fitting note to end on, GET OUTTA MY WEBSZONE!!!

Pssst, this article’s just about done, but if you want more of my user generated lists, I’ve made a Spotify playlist of my top 10 albums of the year (maybe, I’m not sure, it was pretty hard to pick) including the two mentioned in this list. If you want to go check that out, the link is in here.

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