I've included Dead Island on this list not for its game play, its beautiful locations or its staggeringly well-made trailer, but because I'm declaring it the last breath of zombie fanaticism. After this, we're allowed to retire zombies as a cultural meme. We've finally gone as far as we can with the undead, and all that's left for us to do is slide back down the pile of headless corpses and move on with our lives.
In a slightly slower, shambling way.
At the end of any pop culture frenzy, the object of obsession has to outwear its welcome. If zombies were a house guest, then Dead Island would be the day you catch it wearing a pair of your underwear because it ran out of clean clothes. Our relationship with the undead has gotten so stale that no one is sincerely excited about the prospect of a zombie apocalypse anymore.
I say "aargh," you say "urrgh," let's call the whole thing off.
We've found every conceivable way to kill zombies; we've put them in every conceivable scenario, and now their ubiquity is getting annoying. But Dead Island marks the first time I've seen a really great zombie story ruined because it's just retreading old ground. There's no new angle on zombies that wasn't already covered in Left 4 Dead or Dead Rising or countless other games and movies, so the whole thing seems pointless. I even partially suspect that the reason the game trailer bore no resemblance to the actual game was because it was frantically trying to find an untapped quadrant of the zombie craze just to keep people interested. We've crossed a line in 2011 -- it's time to move on to some other generalized terror we can all enjoy together, like nanobots or Eskimos or something.
It's probably symbolic of global warming.
At the end of 2010, floods in Pakistan forced hundreds of thousands of spiders up into the trees. Remarkably, several different species of spiders that were usually notoriously territorial started working together, spinning enormous webs and blanketing entire trees. This is the first time these spiders have ever worked together in known history, and assuming this spider co-op proves beneficial to them, there's no reason they would ever go back to the way things were. 2011 may go down in history as the year trees started swallowing children.
In War of the Worlds, the aliens, with all their superior technology and brains, were still defeated by something as simple as a virus. They had reached the highest form of evolution but had somehow lost immunity to the simplest form of attack along the way. The success of that virus against invading aliens is an apt analogy for Tim Tebow's success against every other NFL team.
For anyone who doesn't follow football, Tebow is structurally designed to be one of the best fullbacks football has ever seen. The trouble is that he plays quarterback and his throwing mechanics are so bad that even someone wholly unfamiliar with the sport will look at his passes and think, "Hold on, that can't possibly be right." But somehow, defenses are powerless to stop him from winning games.
As we understand it, the football is supposed to be on the ground 85 percent of the time.
Not since the return of Michael Vick has there been a more divisive player in the NFL than Tim Tebow, which is odd, because Michael Vick tortured dogs, while Tebow just sucks at throwing and loves God a bunch.
2011 is his first year as a starter for the Denver Broncos, and Tebow consistently rushes for more yards than he throws. But more importantly, he's become famous for kneeling in prayer before games. And during games. And after games. In fact, he kneels in prayer with such frequency on the field that his piousness has become an Internet meme. And while his constant mention of God can be exhausting to listen to, even for a Broncos fan, it's shocking to see how many people outright hate him. Among commentators, fans and even people who have no interest in football but love controversy, there is no one who is on the fence about Tim Tebow -- he inspires only love or loathing. Part of that may have to do with how overrated some people think he is -- culturally we hate seeing terrible athletes bathed in positive attention -- but more than likely it's because somehow his combination of wobbly passes and God-loving is actually working.
Expect a lot of mascot sacrifices this weekend.
Since he became the starting quarterback for Denver, their record has gone from a dismal 1-4 to 8-5. Somehow he continues to win games,usually with comeback victories all while making skeptics privately suspicious that maybe there is a God and he does watch football after all.
Let me preface this by saying that I've seen both of these movies and I still had to check IMDb to remember which was which. Studios have consistently proven that they aren't shy about remaking films over and over and over. But 2011 marks the first time I've ever seen two identical middling romantic comedies released at the exact same time.
Well, I say that, but I can't even be sure that these are the films I'm talking about.
This is a turning point. Until now, there's always been a tacit agreement between audiences and filmmakers that as long as Hollywood pumps out remakes of the stories we love, fans will quietly hand over money without complaining too loudly about the lack of originality. But reimaginings are not a renewable resource. At a certain point they have to start pulling stories that are increasingly more recent until the logical conclusion is reimagining a movie that hasn't even been released. I can only assume No Strings Attached and Friends with Benefits were made within a few months of one another as a test on behalf of Hollywood as a whole to gauge exactly what percent of their audience is retarded enough not to notice. The answer, it turns out, is most of us. No Strings Attached was 17th in top-grossing comedies of the year, and Friends with Benefits was 21st. They insisted we were nostalgic for a mediocre story we hadn't even heard yet, and we collectively answered, "OK."
After this year, I fully anticipate seeing identical movies released simultaneously because studios know now that there is no accountability anymore. We will still see both. We may even see them twice if they have a limited IMAX 3-D showing.
Just burn our money, Hollywood. Burn it right up.