McGinnis: The most memorable pop culture creations of the yearWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
They came in film, television, the printed page and the computer screen. They were heroes, villains, and somewhere in between. They were young and old, men and women, beings from another world. The pop culture of the year 2012 brought us a wide variety of individuals who introduced themselves and made an indelible impression on the entertainment world. Here are a few people I met (or was reintroduced to) this year that I will never forget.
Abraham Lincoln. (Written by Seth Grahame-Smith and Tony Kushner. Played by Benjamin Walker and Daniel Day-Lewis.) The nature of being an icon is that your image is malleable in pop culture. The basic story can be teased and played with, adapted into something new, while the core of who they are remains set in stone. This is what Seth Grahame-Smith understood when he wrote the audacious horror/comedy novel “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” a rousing if uneven fiction depicting the most iconic of all presidents as a supernatural warrior. The film adaptation released this past summer bowed to mixed audience and critical reaction — perhaps the mass market isn’t ready yet for quite such an irreverent take on the leader.
But the vision of the man that broke through with the mainstream this year, Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” released in November, was in many ways just as risky as Grahame-Smith’s vision. To attempt to humanize a man who is all-but-canonized in the American mind is a risky proposition. It’s only through the sure hand of writer Tony Kushner and certain Oscar nominee Daniel Day-Lewis that audiences come to accept and identify with Abraham as a human being, who was, through it all, a simple, practical man whose vision would shape the nation forever afterward.
Griffin. (Written by Etan Cohen. Played by Michael Stuhlbarg.) We meet this curious being about halfway through “Men in Black 3″‘s run-time, and from that moment on, the movie is his. Wearing a heavy winter coat and hat in the middle of summer, he lives a million lives simultaneously. He’s described as a multidimensional being who can see every potential outcome of every potential set of circumstances. And as written by screenwriter Etan Cohen, he speaks of them all as if they have already happened, or will happen.
Griffin becomes the beating heart of the latest in the “Men in Black” saga, despite his brief screen time. Michael Stuhlbarg’s remarkable performance brings the character a feeling of both youthful exuberance and a world-weary sadness. He can see the potential and pain of existence all at once. The complex and clever writing of the character harkens back to the work of Douglas Adams and I can’t give a higher compliment than that.
Irene Adler. (Written by Steven Moffat. Played by Lara Pulver.) The new production of “Sherlock” presented by the BBC and shown domestically on PBS’s “Masterpiece Mystery” has taken pop culture by storm, presenting a vision of Holmes which plays up his social rebellion and burning desire to be right. It would take someone special to stand toe-to-toe with Holmes and convincingly beat him at his own game.
And from the second that Lara Pulver’s Irene Adler meets Sherlock for the first time — walking in stark naked — she owns him. The episode “A Scandal in Belgravia” reimagines Adler as a woman who uses her own deductive genius and stunning command of sex appeal to run Holmes in circles and outwit him in every possible way. And when she finally falls at the end, it’s her own emotion that betrays her in ways that I dare not reveal. Holmes meets his match — and clearly loves every second of it.
Lee and Clementine. (Written by Mark Darin, Sean Vanaman and Gary Whitta. Played by Dave Fennoy and Melissa Hutchinson.) The most moving relationship of the year occurred between two video game characters surrounded by a zombie apocalypse. Telltale’s epic “Walking Dead: The Game” introduced Lee Everett, an escaped prisoner who stumbles across a young girl named Clementine who has lost her parents in the outbreak. As we play the game through Lee’s eyes, we begin to care about this girl as much as he does.
As we follow the pair through their journey, we encounter more characters who are trying to survive, but the core of the experience lies in the quiet moments between this surrogate father and daughter. As the story reaches its heart-wrenching climax at the end of episode five, the impact is simply devastating. In lesser hands, this could all have been cliche. With these writers, actors and programmers, it is nothing short of revolutionary.
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