With 2022 coming to a close, The Hype team wanted to share some of our favourites that got us through the year of mass inflation, Omicron and Russia being a really bad neighbour. Without further ado, here are our top picks:
James O’Brien: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is one of the most beautiful films that I have seen in recent memory. Whether through its themes, storytelling, characters, or visuals, it is a work of art on every level. Del Toro creates worlds that are both dark and whimsical, studying our own humanity through a fantastical lens. Pinocchio is the pinnacle of this.
Whereas Collodi’s original version is a cautionary tale that warns children to never be disobedient or dishonest, Del Toro’s adaptation instead takes a far more nuanced approach thematically. It is a powerful exploration of life, loss, family, and grief. We witness the devastating impact the death of a loved one can have on someone, and how difficult it can be to move on. The film also examines the strong bonds that bring us together, most notably, father-son relationships. The message of being true to yourself is another cornerstone of the film, showing how important it is to never be ashamed of who you are. These incredibly human themes help to elevate the story to new emotional heights.
Del Toro puts his unique spin on the source material when retelling this classic. Taking place in Mussolini-era Italy, the foreboding presence of fascism and war is very prominent. This dark look at mankind’s past juxtaposes perfectly with the fantasy elements, setting the stage for an unexpectedly personal journey. David Bradley and Gregory Mann share a very heartfelt dynamic as the grief-stricken Geppetto and the naïve yet stronghearted Pinocchio. They are at the centre of a tapestry of heartbreak and emotion, which left me sobbing in the cinema. Despite its magical nature, this is a deeply human story that will leave anyone reaching for the tissues.
Pinocchio excels the most through its spectacular stop-motion animation. The effort that went into handcrafting this film is utterly jaw-dropping. Character designs are so visually striking, whether it’s Pinocchio’s simple yet lovable look or the ominous yet magnificent appearance of Death. They are unbelievably expressive, with remarkable levels of emotion being displayed through their faces. The world of the film is equally awe-inspiring, from the quaint Italian streets to the otherworldly Afterlife. It all comes together to create a setting that feels so fully realised and alive. This film needs to be seen to be believed.
I love this film. It is a masterpiece. It’s a dark yet magical adventure that left me an emotional wreck, and I highly recommend it.
Luckily Guillermo also made Pacific Rim though, so I’m fine now.
Pinocchio is streaming now on Netflix.
Erin Murphy: Fall Guys
It may be a little unorthodox to choose a game with a 2020 launch date as a favourite from this year. Fall Guys, a lockdown gem, received a makeover this summer as Epic Games revamped it beyond recognition with the introduction of a brand new Season Pass system, new game modes, a new store and by making the game free to play in 2022.
Inventive and engaging game modes have been rolling out under each Fall Guys Season Pass. The Pass offers 100 levels for players to unlock costumes, patterns, emotes and more. The initial Free For All Season Pass featured a stadium-theme and ushered in exciting new rounds including final round Hex-a-Ring, the chaotic predecessor of Hex-a-Gone, and competitive race rounds Track Attack and Speed Circuit.
Launched in September, Season 2: Satellite Scramble, introduced more rounds and variations all with a space theme. Hex-a-terrestrial, the third addition to the Hex-a-Gone family, hit the game and notable characters such as Star Trek’s Spock and Alien’s Xenomorph featured as costumes in the Pass.
The ongoing season, Sunken Secrets, launched this November with an ocean theme. The dive mechanic, which allows your bouncing bean to speedily slide down slime, was introduced and used as the central mechanic in Speed Slider and Hoop Chute, some of the most enjoyable rounds to date. Fittingly, the grand prize for completing this season is a costume of the king of nautical nonsense himself SpongeBob SquarePants and other sea worthy creatures can be won along the way.
The Fall Guys Store received a major face lift too. Show-Bucks are now the currency of choice with Kudos playing a smaller role. Unfortunately for legacy players, all hard earned Crowns were converted to Kudos upon the new update. The Kudos items in the shop are limited and often underwhelming, players get more bang for their Show-Bucks which can be used to buy the ever impressive collaboration costumes. Noteworthy collaborations include, holiday favourites from The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Grinch, animated heroes from He-Man and Disney’s Encanto and gaming icons from Halo and Street Fighter.
The game was made available with cross platform play with the groundbreaking Free For All update last June. The update provided a new voice-chat feature for parties, something that was sorely missing from such a collaborative game.
Along with all the goodies up for grabs in the season pass, players are afforded the opportunity to unlock Show-Bucks which can be used to pay for rare items and subsequent passes. For anyone not looking to spend money in game, some levels of the Season Pass remain free to unlock and regular events take place where all players can complete challenges to win exclusive prizes. Truly there’s something for everyone and with it’s cross platform accessibility you and your friends can fall to victory this winter break.
Fall Guys is available on Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch and PC.
Liam Coates: Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared (DHMIS) is a wonderfully strange caper through the brain of someone who seems to have a very supportive relationship with their imagination. A person who says yes to outlandish ideas far more than they say no. It’s probably the closest thing to a hallucination you’ll find on TV. And it’s brilliant.
To try and summarise it though, would be like trying to cram a hedgehog into a syringe. It just wouldn’t make sense, so I’m not going to try, other than to let you know it’s some of the most entertaining TV to grace our screens this year.
The episodes invariably start with three seemingly bland characters at their kitchen table chatting. Soon enough, the chitchat devolves into hilarious, unsettling antics involving talking briefcases, a train with a substance abuse problem and plenty of strange gore.
If you tried to make sense of it, your head would eventually resemble a fried pancreas. That’s the kind of imagery DHMIS throws at you, and it always gives a jolt of surprise because it’s never predictably placed.
But the final episode in particular reveals that it’s much more than a kids show on drugs. With a much darker tone, it asks to what extent we’re all puppets having our strings pulled, and how do we peer behind the illusion of control we all have over our lives. It’s unsettling in a very different way, with the nonsense of the previous five episodes giving way to a Lovecraftian weightiness that caught me completely off guard.
If you’ve skipped it in 2022, don’t make the same mistake next year, unless you’re looking for a coherent, logical show you’d put on to keep your gran awake. I assure you – she won’t be the same woman you plopped on the couch after digesting this manic soup of colourful curiosities.
For everyone else though, dive right in. As Finn Mc Elwain put it in his review, it’s like nothing else out there.
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared is streaming on All 4.
Image Credits: Netflix, Push Square, Channel 4