Friday, June 30, 2017

June 2017 End Of The Month Report!

| | |
June saw the proper beginning of Summer Blockbuster Season and it was an exciting time for the blog. While we produced fewer reviews this month, it was a big month for reviewing new television shows and the plethora of Netflix movies released this month! Going into July, there's a lot of momentum for the blog; thanks for reading!

We have been continuing to adapt our prior reviews so they have functional links and our new reviews are being released with good new links, so products being reviewed generally have the right products associated with them. We appreciate our readers sticking with us through Amazon reconfiguring, which is likely to be ongoing for a bit longer!

This month, we picked up three new followers on Twitter, but no new subscribers! We are always trying to get people to become regular readers and subscribe, so if you enjoy what you're reading, please subscribe by clicking on the right side of the blog to get updates with each posting. As well, if you read a review that really affects you, be sure to "share" it! PLEASE share a link to the blog, not the content of the article; this keeps people coming to the site and, hopefully, liking what they find once they are here! We're slowly growing our readership, so sharing and subscribing to the blog is an important way you can help! If you’re subscribing, please tell your friends about the blog!

In June, we updated the index pages every few days, keeping them quite useful to our readers. The primary Index Page, is usually updated daily and lets you know what the featured review is and has an up-to-the-day tally of how many reviews have been reviewed in each category! Check it out and feel free to use that as it is a much more useful and organized index to the reviews I've written!

If you enjoy the reviews, please consider clicking on the links in the reviews and purchasing items. We really appreciate all the purchases made through the blog as that keeps us going. As summer shopping picks up, if you're going shopping online, please come through the blog to to it. Thank you so much!

At the end of June 2017, I have reviewed the following:
590 - Book Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Fiction
Star Trek Books
Nonfiction
Graphic Novels
Magazines
959 - Music (Album and Singles) Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Music Reviews By Rating (Best To Worst)
Music Reviews In Alphabetical Order
3258 - Movie and Television Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Movies By Rating (Best Movie to Worst)
Movies In Alphabetical Order
Best Picture Oscar Winner Film Reviews
Television Reviews
The Star Trek Review Index Page (All Star Trek Reviews In Order)!
The Star Trek Review Index Page (All Star Trek Reviews From The Best Of The Franchise To The Worst!)!
The Doctor Who Review Index Page (All Doctor Who Reviews In Order)!
The Doctor Who Review Index Page (All Doctor Who Reviews From The Best Of The Franchise To The Worst!)!
239 - Trading and Gaming Card Reviews
Gaming Cards Reviews
Star Trek Gaming Cards Reviews
Star Wars Gaming Cards Reviews
The Lord Of The Rings Trading Card Game Reviews
Other Gaming Cards Reviews
Trading Cards Reviews
908 - Toy and Christmas Ornament Reviews
with specialized pages for:
Ornament Reviews
Star Trek Toys
Star Wars Toys
Lord Of The Rings Toys
Buffy The Vampire Slayer/Angel Toys
Comic Book, Movie, Television Toys
Plush and Other Toys
1026 - Food, Drink, And Restaurant Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Drinks
Candy
Cereal
Cheese and Meats
Ice Cream
Other Food
273 - Pet Product Reviews
Cat Product Reviews
Dog Product Reviews
Rabbit Product Reviews
114 - Travel Reviews
Destinations Reviews
Hotels Reviews
222 - Health And Beauty Product Reviews
212 - Home, Garden, Appliance and Tool Reviews
108 - Electronics, Computers, Computer Games and Software Reviews
62 - Other Product Reviews

The Featured Reviews For The Month of June is my review of: 2016 Disney's Beauty And The Beast Ornament and the article Why Wonder Woman Will Age Poorly!
Check it out!


The month of June was packed with new, highly-read reviews, especially because of the Twin Peaks revival! For June, the Top Ten Reviews of the month were:
10. You Get Me
9. Wonder Woman
8. "World Enough And Time" - Doctor Who
7. "The Return Part 5" - Twin Peaks
6. "The Lie Of The Land" - Doctor Who
5. "The Return Part 7" - Twin Peaks
4. Travelers - Season 1
3. "The Return Part 8" - Twin Peaks
2. House Of Cards - Season 5
1. "The Return Part 6" - Twin Peaks

I pride myself on being an exceptionally fair reviewer, but one who is very discriminating. I believe that most reviewers are far too biased toward both what is current and toward unduly praising things. I tend to believe most things actually are average and they ought to follows something around a Bell Curve. Mine is a little lopsided, but not as lopsided as most reviewers I know (who would probably have peak numbers between ten and seven)!

For my reviews, the current count is:
10s - 329 reviews
9s - 518 reviews
8s - 998 reviews
7s - 1112 reviews
6s - 1044 reviews
5s - 1321 reviews
4s - 985 reviews
3s - 767 reviews
2s - 376 reviews
1s - 251 reviews
0s - 121 reviews
No rating - 138 articles/postings

There was a decent amount of movement this month, but no new additions to the all time Top Ten Reviews! At the end of June 2017, the most popular reviews/articles are:
10. Oz The Great And Powerful
9. The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bone
8. Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events - Season 1
7. Warm Bodies
6. Iron Man 3
5. Now You See Me
4. Tyler Perry's Temptation
3. The Burden Of Being Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
1. Man Of Steel

Thank you again, so much, for reading! Please share links to the blog with friends and spread the word!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Better Than Most Teensploitation Movies: You Get Me Is A Sleeper Success For Netflix!


The Good: Surprisingly good performances from the young cast, Moments of character, Good direction and pacing
The Bad: Very predictable plot and character arcs, Mostly unlikable characters
The Basics: You Get Me does a good job of creating a thriller for teenagers that utilizes a young cast surprisingly well for a Netflix-remake of Fatal Attraction.


Netflix seems to have two general tiers of films it releases: the movies it cares about (promotes and wants its subscribers to know about) and the movies it produces and quietly slips into rotation. As Netflix works to provide a legitimate stay-in alternative to Summer Blockbuster Season, one of its second-tier releases is You Get Me.

You Get Me is the Netflix-produced, twentysomething-cast rendition of Fatal Attraction. For those who do not want to go out to the movie theaters for a big-screen, special effects-driven blockbusters, Netflix offers a much smaller film packed with amazing locations and young people who help perpetrate the Hollywood notion of beauty. It features dumb teenage characters who are willing to succumb to peer pressure to do drugs with the promise of sex that follows and who leap into stupid sexual situations, much like supposedly mature adults.

The last week of summer, Tyler is dating Ali and he is expanding his horizons with her. Tyler, Ali, and Tyler's friend Gil head to a party. There, Tyler sees Ali getting hugged by Chase and when Tyler confronts Alison, she claims she knew Chase from her time in San Francisco. Tyler meets Chase while getting a drink for Alison and Chase claims that Ali used to be known for giving blowjobs and in a fit of jealousy, Tyler and Ali break up. Leaving the party, Tyler runs into Holly, who was dumped at the party and they drive off to a one-night stand. Tyler and Holly spend a romantic day together in a house that Holly claims to have simply broken into.

Tyler returns home that night and the next morning, he and Ali reconcile. Tyler and Ali begin their Senior year of high school and Tyler is alarmed when Holly enrolls in their high school. When Tyler rejects Holly, Holly becomes upset and tells Tyler that he will be sorry. Holly befriends Alison, Lydia, and Gil so she can be proximate to Tyler and mess with his head. When Lydia becomes suspicious of Holly, Holly poisons her drink, nearly killing her. Holly then claims to be pregnant and becomes increasingly aggressive toward Tyler. As Holly spirals out of control, Tyler works to uncover the truth about her past and keep Ali and his family safe.

You Get Me is one of those films with a painfully-contrived conflict that is enough to make any adult viewer groan and slap their forehead in disgust. The moment Tyler and Ali reconcile, but Tyler lies through omission about hooking up with Holly, the film has a ticking time bomb and a very predictable trajectory. Holly is the archetype of the crazy ex-girlfriend or haunting one-night stand.

It is easy to belittle You Get Me for its young characters and predictable plot set-up, but the truth is that Bella Thorne is pretty amazing as Holly. Thorne is great at leaping in a single blink from sickly sweet to crazy eyes. Her performance might be the embodiment of a modern archetype, but Thorne plays the erratic and obsessive character with a chilling level of greatness. Thorne slowly ratchet's up the crazy in Holly's body language and deliveries, making her somewhat generic lines land with an unsettling quality.

Similarly, Halston Sage has the cute, innocent young woman thing down pat and she consistently delivers her lines with a naive sweetness that is the stuff of teenage fantasies. Taylor John Smith plays an immature young man and he manages to shift between guarded and nervous and appropriately angered by Holly's headgames well. Smith manages to make Tyler seem momentarily empathetic when he tries to backtrack from his lie. In fact, for as unlikable as Tyler's original lie is, writer Ben Epstein does a decent job of balancing the character with an adult-level of responsibility pertaining to his kid sister. Smith rises to the occasion of actually seeming decent when his character is supposed to seem like something other than an idiotic teenager.

The thing is, despite the somewhat predictable plot, You Get Me does what it sets out to do very well. The performances are all good, the direction is wonderful and builds tension surprisingly well and the suspension of disbelief issues are pretty easy to overcome. You Get Me stands as an unsettling thriller that creates a messed up antagonist in a truly disturbing teen drama that keeps just to the right side of realism over melodrama.

For other Netflix exclusive films, please check out my reviews of:
Okja
Shimmer Lake
War Machine
Girlfriend's Day
Take The 10
Clinical
Barry
Spectral
True Memoirs Of An International Assassin
I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House
Mascots
ARQ
XOXO
Tallulah
Special Correspondents
The Fundamentals Of Caring
The Ridiculous 6

6.5/10

For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

Ideal Concept, Middling Execution - New Breyers Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Underwhelms!


The Good: Reasonably priced, Nothing bad in it, Chocolate flavor is not bad
The Bad: Not at all minty, Waxy chocolate bits
The Basics: Breyers Chocolate Mint Ice Cream is a great idea that fails to be executed in a satisfying manner.


For those who do not know my tastes from my many, many reviews, my all-time favorite flavor pairing is chocolate mint. In fact, my favorite flavors are actually dark chocolate mint, but I get excited for pretty much anything chocolate and mint together. So, when I went out to the grocery store and saw the new Breyers Chocolate Mint Ice Cream on sale, it was a no-brainer; I bought some right away.

Alas, though, this is not the most compelling blending of chocolate and mint flavors I have yet had.

Basics

Breyers ice cream comes in a typical half gallon container. The Chocolate Mint Ice Cream is a thick ice cream: the basic ice cream has noticeable layers of mint ice cream throughout the ice cream that represents the Mint component. There are also little chocolate flakes (like chocolate chips, but flat) in the ice cream. At (locally) $4.99 a half gallon, the Breyers ice cream is an affordable, mid-range ice cream. This is a fair value for the ice cream, but given that it is not an exceptional flavor, it seems a little more expensive than the better flavors!

Ease Of Preparation

The Chocolate Mint Ice Cream is a chocolate and mint ice cream with a minor chocolate additive. As an ice cream, preparation is ridiculously simple: one need only open the top of the container, scoop out a half cup and consume! There is no trick to preparing or eating the Chocolate Mint Ice Cream.

Taste

Opening the container of Breyers Chocolate Mint Ice Cream, one is greeted with a very mild cocoa scent. This ice cream smells faintly of sweet milk chocolate, reminiscent of hot cocoa. There is not even a hint of mint in the ice cream's bouquet, even as it nears its melding point.

On the flavor front, the Breyers Chocolate Mint ice cream is very much dominated by the chocolate flavor. This ice cream does not carry any of its promised mint flavor and the chocolate flakes within the Breyers Chocolate Mint Ice Cream are unfortunately waxy, more of a texture than an actual flavor.

The Chocolate Mint ice cream has a strongly sweet aftertaste that does not last very long after the last of the ice cream is consumed.

Nutrition

The Breyers Chocolate Mint Ice Cream is a very dark ice cream with a light swirl of mint ice cream in it. The 1.5 quart container represents twelve half-cup servings. In the half-cup serving, there are 150 calories, 70 of which are from fat. The eight grams of fat represent 12% of the RDA of fat, with 25% of one’s RDA of saturated fat coming in the 5 grams of saturated fat in this ice cream. One serving has 15 mg of cholesterol (that’s 5% of the RDA!) and 60 mg of Sodium (3% RDA). The only other real nutrients are two grams of protein and 6% of the RDA of Calcium in the Chocolate Mint Ice Cream.

Breyers has decent ingredients. Made primarily of Milk, cream, and sugar, there is nothing unpronounceable in the ingredients list. The Chocolate Mint Breyers is Kosher and gluten free.

Storage/Clean-Up

Breyers ice cream is both a frozen and a dairy product, so it is pretty obvious that it must be kept frozen in order to remain viable. Kept frozen it remains fresh for months; ours would have remained viable until September 6, 2018 had we not eaten it up well before then!

The Chocolate Mint ice cream is fairly dark frozen dairy dessert. As a result, when the ice cream melts and gets onto fabrics, it will require one to wash it right out. The chocolate ice cream and Mints will melt and stain. On nonporous surfaces, the ice cream wipes off exceptionally easily.

Overall

The Breyers Chocolate Mint ice cream is a decent idea - I've been hoping for a good chocolate mint ice cream to balance the Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip options for years - but the chocolate flavor completely overpowers the ice cream, making it a vastly harder sell than it ought to be for those who love chocolate mint.

For other Breyers frozen dairy desserts, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Girl Scouts Thin Mints Ice Cream
Blasts! Banana Split Frozen Dairy Dessert

4.5/10

For other food reviews, please visit my Food Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Not The Amazing Anti-Meat Argument One Might Hope For: Okja Reminds Us To Not Name Our Steaks.


The Good: Decent CG effects, Seo-Hyun Ahn acts like a pro opposite the effects, Generally good acting
The Bad: Painfully obvious themes, Simplistic plot, Unlikable characters
The Basics: Okja painfully blurs the lines between making a statement on the condition of the meat processing industry, animal rights activism, and the perils of making a food animal into a pet.


When it comes to Netflix Original Films, there have been none that have had the press momentum prior to their release like Okja. Okja, streaming today, has one of the most acclaimed casts yet for a Netflix film - Tilda Swinton, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jake Gyllenhaal being the most recognizable to American audiences - and was originally debuted at the Cannes Film Festival where it garnered a lot of positive press. Before sitting down to Okja, all I knew about the film was that Steven Yeun of The Walking Dead was in the movie and my wife warned me that, having recently lost our beloved Siberian Husky Myah, the film might be a little depressing for me.

Okja is the latest film in a fairly recent trend of movies that try to expose the conditions under which our food is made. Unlike something like Fast Food Nation (reviewed here!), which focuses on the United States and casts a wide net over the industry, Okja tells a far more intimate story. Okja almost instantly illustrates why most of us have different animals for food than we do for pets.

Opening in 2007, in New York City, Lucy Mirando takes over the powerful multinational Mirando company. Under her leadership, the new super pig that was born and reproduced in one of her holdings is being developed for future consumption. The twenty-five super pigs are shipped to different parts of the world for a ten-year competition to see which one will grow into the largest and most delicious super pig in the world. Ten years later in Korea, Mija lives with her grandfather in the hills, spending her days running around playing with her massive super pig, Okja. With the competition rushing to a close, Mija's grandfather lies to her and tells her he has bought Okja, but when a film crew comes to their home to see Okja, the truth comes comes out and Okja is taken away.

With Okja having been abducted to Seoul before her journey to New York City for the final portion of the competition, Mija runs away from home to rescue her beloved companion. Mija makes it to the Mirando offices in Seoul just in time to see Okja being taken away by truck. Mija manages to run and jump onto the truck transporting Okja, when animal rights activists smash into the truck and Okja is freed. Okja runs through Seoul wreaking havoc before she and Mija are rescued by the Animal Liberation Front activists. The leader of the ALF, Jay, tells Mija about the truth about Mirando's laboratories and he tells her that the ALF's plan is to use Okja as a spy in Mirando's laboratories. K, however, lies to Mija and Okja is taken to New York with the spy technology needed to expose Mirando.

Okja is being hailed as a masterpiece of animal rights, with viewers lauding it for illustrating just how horribly we treat animals in the food processing industry. Okja does not actually do that with any effectiveness. Instead, it simply makes painfully explicit why most people do not raise pets for food. There is a disconnect between food and pets; most people wouldn't eat meat if they got to know their food animals in advance of their slaughter. So, while Okja is being hailed as brilliant and a masterpiece, it plays out much more like a "simple problem, simple solution." In today's society, in our modern world, if one ants to be able to enjoy a hamburger, it helps not to spend time on the killing floor of a slaughter house. It is easy enough to avoid the entire thematic conflict presented in Okja.

Okja takes the stance that using animals for food is inherently and entirely wrong. For sure, in the real world, the meat industry is problematically regulated and slaughterhouse conditions are not ideal for humans or the animals slaughtered there. The Animal Liberation Front takes an extreme view about animal rights and when Jay details the ALF agenda, it is hard to take him seriously as a reliable narrator. Okja does not satisfactorily explain how the ALF got reliable intelligence on the Mirando Corporation, so it is easy to write off Jay's claims initially as the crackpot theories of extremists.

Lucy Mirando certainly appears - in closed-door meetings - as fairly idealistic and ethical, which helps to undermine the idea that Jay is a credible narrator. Lucy is clearly being manipulated by the more corporately-inclined Dawson, but for much of the film, Lucy is not presented as an actual or credible villain.

The performances in Okja are all good. Jake Gyllenhaal is virtually unrecognizable as the Mirando media presence, Johnny Wilcox. Paul Dano, Lily Collins and Steven Yeun are all credible in their intense performances of animal rights activists. All of the animal rights activist performers are great in their reaction shots throughout Okja. Tilda Swinton is her usual wonderful self as Lucy Mirando. Swinton gives viewers something new at the film's climax where she does a spot-on Jane Lynch impersonation. Shirley Henderson seems to be playing the same type character she did on Doctor Who and Harry Potter and Seo-Hyun Ahn does fine playing a little girl in love with her pet.

The direction in Okja is good.

Unfortunately, in addition to having a simple conflict with a simple solution, Okja is riddled with continuity problems. Most significant is that during the ALF's abduction of Okja, Jay has to speak through Kay for Mija to understand. Mija does not understand English initially, so Kay translates. But much of the scene has Jay speaking without Kay translating any to Mija. In a similar fashion, the suspension of disbelief in Okja is strained beyond the breaking point when Johnny Wilcox has access to the breeding area and behind-the-scenes laboratory area of the Mirando Corporation. That's simply not a location a figurehead or public face for the company would traditionally have access to and the scene - while monstrous - stands out as troubling in an unrealistic way.

Ultimately, Okja is a new presentation of the same arguments Fast Food Nation made a decade ago, that Vegans make every day and that omnivores with a strong "ignorance is bliss" lifestyle maintain in order to enjoy their burgers, chicken nuggets, and dolphin-safe tuna. And yes, I get it, humans are terrible. But so is Okja.

For other Netflix exclusive films, please check out my reviews of:
Shimmer Lake
War Machine
Girlfriend's Day
Take The 10
Clinical
Barry
Spectral
True Memoirs Of An International Assassin
I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House
Mascots
ARQ
XOXO
Tallulah
Special Correspondents
The Fundamentals Of Caring
The Ridiculous 6

3/10

For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

White Rain Apple Blossom Shampoo: A Decent, Basic, No-Frills Shampoo


The Good: Inexpensive, Cleans hair, Lathers well, Decent scent
The Bad: Scent does not endure, No conditioning properties, Dries hair out without using a conditioner
The Basics: White Rain Apple Blossom shampoo is a decent staple shampoo that does what it promises: no more, no less.


When it comes to shampoos, there are so many that have so many "features" that it is hard to recall that at its core, all a shampoo is supposed to do is clean hair. We've gotten so used to shampoos that condition and smell great - many of which can do so fairly inexpensively - that when an objectively average shampoo comes along, it is sometimes hard not to see it as somehow defective. White Rain Apple Blossom shampoo is one such shampoo.

White Rain presents an inexpensive, but effective, shampoo with its Apple Blossom Shampoo. It is a shampoo just strong enough to cut through greasy hair and clean it. The scent is good, but not particularly enduring and the shampoo has no conditioning properties. It is a good, basic, staple shampoo.

White Rain has been expanding its line of inexpensive shampoos and conditioners. In virtually every market in the United States, White Rain shampoos and conditioners may be found on sale for $1.00 for a 15 fl. oz. bottle. Apple Blossom shampoo seems is a fairly standard scented shampoo for all hairs that does not seem to rely on gimmicks and is not bad for a staple shampoo. The 15 fl. oz. bottle is a flat-sided tube bottle with a flip-top lid that is easy enough to open with one hand.

Inside the bottles is Apple Blossom shampoo and it is a light green translucent gel. This shampoo has good leg and is more viscous than watery. The scent is a delightfully potent apple smell. In fact, one of the key selling points for me was that in the store, it seemed like this would be a powerfully-scented shampoo which would satisfy me both in the shower and well afterward. Alas, though, Apple Blossom smells good in the bottle and it smells good in the shower, but it does not take long after one's hair is clean for the scent to fade completely.

When in the shower and one's nostrils are opened by the steam (I tend to like very hot showers) this shampoo diffuses incredibly well. This shampoo made the bathroom smell powerfully of apples and the scent was very good. It cleaned other scents off my hair, which was nice. But, within half an hour of using the shampoo alone, the scent of apples could not be found at all in my hair.

When it comes to use, this is a simple shampoo and one need only flip the lid and dispense a small amount into the palm of the hand before applying it to the hair. The Apple Blossom shampoo requires only about a quarter-sized dollop to clean a full head of hair. This lathered up well, which meant I could get away with using less of it. I have long hair and as a result, shampoo can be an annoying expense when the shampoo I am using does not lather up and clean well.

In the case of the Apple Blossom, it lathers up wonderfully, such that a quarter-sized dollop can easily stretch to coat a very full head of hair, like mine. Used judiciously in this way, the 15 oz. bottle easily lasts a full month to six weeks with daily hair washings. This makes its value a little greater than some shampoos.

As a shampoo, it works. Hair comes out looking and feeling cleaner after its use than before. I think the most objective test for a shampoo is to see if hair is cleaner using the shampoo vs. rinsing your hair with water alone and for the basic functioning of a shampoo the Apple Blossom shampoo lived up to that basic litmus test.

I tend to like shampoos that leave my hair smelling delightful, like whatever scent they have lured me in with. Given that the Apple Blossom Shampoo seemed to smell significantly like apple in the stores and in the shower, I was a little disappointed when it did not endure long on my clean hair.

White Rain Apple Blossom Shampoo has no discernible conditioning properties. There is a separate conditioner that has the same scent. As it stands, Apple Blossom works fine as a day to day shampoo that will clean your hair, but for those looking for a bold scent, actual moisturizing qualities, or something that will do more than simply strip away dirt and bothersome scents, this is not the shampoo for you, with or without its accompanying conditioner!

For other shampoo reviews, please check out my reviews of:
Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Weightless Shampoo W/Imbe Oil & Aloe
Just For Men ControlGX Grey Reducing Shampoo
VO5 2-In-1 Normal Shampoo & Conditioner

5/10

For other health and beauty product reviews, please check out my index page!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

About As Bad As The Rest Of The Franchise: Transformers: The Last Knight


The Good: Great cast, Most of the special effects
The Bad: Banal plot, Lack of real character development, Terrible lines delivered unconvincingly by great actors.
The Basics: Transformers: The Last Knight is not great, but it is more par for the course than being truly terrible.


Transformers: The Last Knight is out and the press for it has been pretty bad in general. I'm feeling like bucking that trend to argue that the cinematic Transformers has been pretty lousy in general and Transformers: The Last Knight is pretty much what one expects as opposed to being an all-out terrible film. Transformers: The Last Knight is bad, but lately I've seen far worse films.

Michael Bay has not been recreating Casablanca for the past ten years with the Transformers franchise. He makes films for Summer Blockbuster Season filled with explosions, computer-generated special effects, and direction that lasciviously passes the camera slowly over whatever female lead the film possesses. To be fair to Transformers: The Last Knight, there is far less of the camera exploiting women than in the four prior installments of the franchise. Unfortunately, there are more retcons that place Transformers and alien technology on Earth in the past and make the movie fit very poorly into any continuity with the others, despite the fact that more of the cast from the first three movies recurs in Transformers: The Last Knight.

Opening in Briton during Camelot, Merlin and Arthur enlist Transformers to thwart their enemies. Flashing forward to the present, some Transformers have taken refuge in other countries, while in America the teenager Izabella uncovers a downed Transformer in the ruins of a baseball stadium. Izabella is a homeless girl who is rescued by Cade Yeager. The pair are hunted back to Cade's junkyard by the American military. Colonel Lennox has become aware that the Decepticons under the newly resurfaced Megatron are hunting something that they believe Cade has.

Off Earth, Optimus Prime crashes into Cybertron, which is headed toward Earth with the planet's creator, Quintessa. Quintessa reprograms Optimus Prime to wipe out humanity and remake Earth into a new homeworld for the Transformers. The chase of Cade Yeager takes him to England where Sir Edmund Burton has been part of the line of humans working with Transformers to protect the Earth. Burton brings in Vivian Wembley, the last surviving descendant of Merlin, who has access to technology and information that sends her and Cade under the sea to recover an artifact that will allow them to thwart the Decepticons, Quintessa, and the ensorceled Optimus Prime.

Transformers: The Last Knight is exactly what one expects of a Transformers movie. The human characters are mundane, poorly characterized and deliver far more expository dialogue than anything that is clever and defines the characters in unique and interesting ways. Transformers: The Last Knight picks up after Transformers: The Age Of Extinction (reviewed here!), so it begins with the Transformers abandoned by Optimus Prime who flew off Earth at the end of that film.

Blending the main characters from the early Transformers films - Lennox, General Morshower, and Agent Simmons - with Cade Yeager and newer Transformers like Hound, Transformers: The Last Knight just continues the banal franchise with more explosions, more robot on robot fights and an absurd predicament that absolutely defies rational physics. Transformers: The Last Knight asks viewers to accept as credible that there is a scientist who denies the existence of magic and fantasy in a world with Transformers who fails to point out that a planet-sized object rushing toward Earth would completely destroy the Earth long before that object starts ripping apart the surface and extracting massive chunks of technology. Only the least-sophisticated viewer could believe that the Earth could survive in any recognizable way after the events of Transformers: The Last Knight.

Arguably the most disappointing aspect of Transformers: The Last Knight is that Jeff Bridges does not appear in the movie in any form. Astute fans will note that in Transformers: The Age Of Extinction one of the sound clips used as Bumblebee's dialogue was from The Big Lebowski. Transformers: The Last Knight is like a mini-reunion for The Big Lebowski (reviewed here!) with the return of John Turturro and John Goodman (albeit as a voice-only actor in the film) and the introduction of Steve Buscemi as the Autobot Daytrader. And that was the most exciting aspect of Transformers: The Last Knight.

Sir Anthony Hopkins is wasted as Sir Edmund Burton and it seems like the only reason he is in the film to get the venerable actor to call someone a dick and make other remarks that are well-below his usual level of diction. Stanley Tucci's cameo in the film is virtually unrecognizable and newcomers Laura Haddock and Isabela Moner add nothing significant to the mix. Marc Wahlberg is fine as Cade, but it seems like outside his physical performance, the main reason to have him in Transformers: The Last Knight is to pull off a scene where characters act amazed that Cade has been celibate for years.

The Transformers themselves are hapless robots in Transformers: The Last Knight with no clear sense of boundaries or sensibility. Optimus Prime is reprogrammed by his creator . . . but Bumblebee being willing to sacrifice himself and deliver lines in his own voice is enough to change his programming?! And Prime leaps back up to Cybertron with other Transformers not worrying that he'll simply be reprogrammed again and come back murderous again?!

So, Transformers: The Last Knight is just a pretty bad action adventure film that does the usual Summer Blockbuster Season thing that has been done by the franchise four other times and by far better movies many, many more times.

For other films currently in theaters, please check out my reviews of:
Rough Night
The Mummy
Wonder Woman
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Baywatch
Alien: Covenant
Guardians Of The Galaxy, Volume 2

3.5/10

For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

An Average Cinnamon Cereal With A Great Name: Kellogg's Cinnabon Cereal Is All Right!


The Good: Good flavor, Decent nutrition, Good scent
The Bad: A little more expensive than other, comparable, cereals, Not the most distinctive flavor
The Basics: Kellogg’s Cinnabon cereal is all right, but not as incredible or distinctive as one might hope for with the Cinnabon name.


When it comes to prepared foods, one of the oddest trends in the past few years has been the random licensing of major restaurants to home-based foods. One supposes that the restaurants, seeing their popularity plateau or having reached optimum market penetration within their specific niche, look to continue growing or offset losses when their fad food falls out of favor. As such, companies like Taco Bell, Panera Bread, and Dunkin' Donuts license their brand name to other companies to appear on the packaging of similar products to their restaurants' menu. One of the latest companies to move into the home foods market is Cinnabon and rather than just sell their cinnamon rolls in more stores than their restaurants and carts, Cinnabon has leased its name to Kellogg's for a cinnamon bun cereal.

And Kellogg's Cinnabon cereal is all right, but hardly extraordinary or distinctive, which is somewhat surprising given that Cinnabon bothered to put their name on the product.

Basics

Kellogg’s Cinnabon cereal is a fairly obvious sweetened corn cereal made to look like tiny cinnamon rolls. The standard box of Cinnabon cereal is 9 oz. That represents approximately nine servings and I managed to get eight and a quarters servings out of the box before it was just broken pieces and cinnamon dust. The Cinnabon cereal is comprised of tiny cinnamon roll pieces that are approximately 3/4" in diameter and 3/8" thick.

Ease Of Preparation

Cinnabon cereal is a breakfast cereal, so this is one of the low-impact breakfast options as far as preparation goes! Simply open the box of Cinnabon cereal, pour out a cup (I’ve taken to using a measuring cup) and add 1/2 cup of milk to it. I have discovered, as part of getting healthy, that one of the biggest challenges one might have with breakfast cereal is actually eating the serving size recommended by the manufacturer. Given that I have been monitoring my intake for the last two years, I am now able to enjoy only 1 cup of Cinnabon cereal in a sitting!

For the purposes of my reviews, and my regular consumption, I only use skim milk (fat free) milk when reviewing Cinnabon cereal.

Taste

Opening the box, Cinnabon cereal emits a powerful cinnamon aroma. The cinnamon scent is strong and distinctive, though there is nothing that clearly links the aroma to cinnamon rolls specifically. The scent from the Cinnabon cereal is good, but not distinctive to cinnamon rolls as opposed to any other cinnamon-based cereal or baked good (like coffee cake).

On its own, the Cinnabon cereal is sweet and dry. The Cinnabon cereal is predictably cinnamon flavored, but it is coated with a sweet sugary that mimics well the flavor of icing on a cinnamon roll. The cinnamon and sweetness are quite good, even if the cereal is not so potent that it instantly reminds the consumer of a cinnamon roll.

With milk, the cinnamon flavor flows into the milk, though the sweetness is maintained in each of the pieces of Cinnabon cereal. The flavor of the sugary and cinnamon pieces does not get diluted, even with the milk in it. The flavor is maintained in each and every bite.

The Cinnabon cereal has a strongly sweet aftertaste that does not stay in the mouth for very long after the last of the cereal is consumed.

Nutrition

Kellogg’s Cinnabon cereal is surprisingly nutritious on its own, though it does have vitamins and minerals sprayed on it. Made primarily of degerminated yellow corn meal, sugar and cinnamon topping, there is nothing unpronounceable in Cinnabon cereal. Given that there is a separate listing of vitamins and minerals, it is clear that Cinnabon cereal is one of those cereals where the nutrients are then sprayed onto the cereal, making it important to drink the milk with this cereal in order to get all of the nutritional benefits out of it.

A single serving of Kellogg’s Cinnabon cereal is 30 grams, 1 cup. In that serving, there are 120 calories, with 20 calories coming from fat. This cereal has 2 grams of fat (3% of the RDA) without any saturated or trans fats in it. There is also no cholesterol in the Cinnabon cereal. With 115 mg of sodium and a single gram of dietary fiber, this is a fairly good choice for those striving to improve heart health. With two grams of protein and 40 mg potassium, the Cinnabon cereal has a decent number of vitamin benefits to it. On its own, this cereal has 25% of the RDA eight vitamins and minerals.

Storage/Cleanup

Cinnabon is a cereal, so as long as it is kept sealed in its box, it ought to remain fresh for quite some time. Obviously, when you are done pouring the cereal from the box, fold down the plastic inner wrap to help maintain the cereal’s freshness. The box I picked up two weeks ago had an expiration date of January 29, 2018, so this seems like a safe cereal to stock up on!

Cleaning up after Cinnabon cereal is simple as well. Simply brush away crumbs left by it and you are done! It is that simple! This is a cereal that discolors the milk added to it, though, so if the milk gets on your clothing consult a fabric guide to clean it out.

Overall

Cinnabon cereal is all right, but in no way exceptional.

For other Kellogg’s cereals, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Cinnamon Frosted Flakes
Frosted Mini-Wheats Pumpkin Spice
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Chocolatey Almond cereal

5/10

For other food reviews, please visit my Food Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the food reviews I have written!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

The 1980's Lose Their Glow With Season 1.



The Good: Acting is okay, A few moments of humor
The Bad: Mediocre direction, Dull plot, Unlikable/uninteresting characters/Predictable character arcs
The Basics: Glow Season 1 fails to maintain the viewer's interest.


Netflix usually has a strong record with its television shows, as opposed to its original release films. So, when the streaming service releases a new television series, I have a long habit of binging it right away and reviewing it. As such, it says something that it has taken me so long to get through the first season of Glow. Glow dropped four days ago and its first season consisted of ten (roughly) half-hour episodes. And it took me until today to finish trundling through the season to review it.

Glow is a pretty simple concept for a television show and the fundamental problem with the frequently-boring first season of the show is that it does not get much more complicated than its original set-up, even though it tries through a Lost-esque series of character revelations involving backstories for the main characters. In fact, the more Glow attempts to flesh out its characters, the more it feels like a show we have seen before . . . with better, more interesting, more likable, characters.

Set in the 1980s, Ruth Wilder is an aspiring actress who is very serious about her craft, but who has not had much in the way of work. She loathes the crappy roles being written for women and has trouble getting cast as a result. Ruth is set up to audition for G.L.O.W. - Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling and the coked-up director, Sam, cuts her fairly early in the audition process. But, when Ruth goes to assert herself during a training session, her best friend Debbie (a former soap opera actress) comes in and starts a legitimate fight with her in the ring, based upon the fact that Ruth slept with Debbie's husband. That inspires Sam to cast both of them for the project.

Soon, though, Sam's ambitions for a long narrative and compellingly-derived characters for each of the actresses falls prey to the producer's desire to save and make money and just show off women wrestling. So, despite Ruth, Debbie, Cherry, and Arthie having smart ideas for their characters, they are quickly put into little boxes based upon their ethnicity or appearance and they find themselves moving toward doing a pretty generic wrestling show.

The thing is, Glow Season 1 has moments of potential, but it focuses far more on the setting and weird esoteric details instead of the characters. So, for example, in the eighth episode, a decent chunk of time is wasted showing the pregnancy test Ruth takes. We get it; it's the 1980s - pregnancy tests were different then. But we got that the show was set in the 1980s from the soundtrack and blue jeans of the first episode, long before we see the classic Tampax packaging and the drawn out pregnancy test. This robs the episode of the chance to actually develop some of the characters. In the same episode, when Sheila is having a birthday party foisted upon her, Jenny is saddened when she does not have the chance to get Sheila to blow out the candles. The sadness she emotes is presented, but it lacks impact because Jenny has had virtually no presence in the show up until that point.

In a similar fashion, Glow seems to be obsessed with pushing the envelope by showing what can't (traditionally) be shown on television. So, while rejecting that there will ever be a time when two black women wrestle two KKK-outfitted women, Glow Season 1 actually shows that match. Characters use blow, screw, and have affairs and abortions. The problem is, there's a whole "who cares" aspect to the first season of Glow - it plays like a behind-the-scenes soap opera documentary of a sports movie with incredibly narrow appeal.

The death knell of Glow Season 1 is that in a television show with a predominately female cast and most of the protagonists are women doing something that is vaguely covered under the banner of "female empowerment," Marc Maron steals the show. Maron's character of Sam is the director, who wrangles the women and is a smarmy washed up guy, is a variation on his quasi-autobiographical character from Maron. But Marc Maron steals every scene he is in and makes an often dismal show watchable.

Unfortunately, there is not enough Marc Maron, not enough character, not enough cleverness or originality to make the first season of Glow worth watching.

For other works from the 2016 – 2017 television season, please check out my reviews of:
"World Enough And Time" - Doctor Who
"The Return Part 8" - Twin Peaks
Orange Is The New Black - Season 5
House Of Cards - Season 5
The Flash - Season 3
Supergirl - Season 2
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season 3
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 4
Sense8 - Season 2
Dear White People - Season 1
Legends Of Tomorrow - Season 2
The Walking Dead - Season 7
Thirteen Reasons Why - Season 1
Grace And Frankie - Season 3
Iron Fist - Season 1
Love - Season 2
Santa Clarita Diet - Season 1
A Series Of Unfortunate Events - Season 1
One Day At A Time - Season 1
Travelers - Season 1
The OA - Season 1
Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
"Invasion!" - Arrow
Luke Cage - Season 1
Stranger Things - Season 1

3/10

For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

Monday, June 26, 2017

Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core Is Interesting And Worth Trying!


The Good: Flavorful and true to the chocolate and brownie flavors, Good ingredients
The Bad: Low nutritional value, Vanilla ice cream flavor barely asserts itself
The Basics: Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core Ice Cream is delightful, even if it could have been executed just as well without the vanilla ice cream.


Every now and then, I encounter an ice cream flavor that tries to be too much. With the Ben & Jerry's Core flavors, I have not had that issue much at all, but with the Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core ice cream, it certainly has an issue. Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core is a chocolate and vanilla-based ice cream with chocolate brownie batter and brownie chunks and the chocolate elements are so potent that they overwhelm the vanilla ice cream. The Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core would be just as good with just chocolate ice cream; the vanilla ice cream pretty much just takes up space. Despite that, it's still a very good ice cream.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, Core flavors of ice cream are ice cream flavors that have, essentially, the “topping” of the ice cream in the pint, presented as a cylinder going through the center. So, for example, in the Caramel Sutra Core, if one looks at the top of it, there is a circle in the center of caramel (it is actually a column that goes straight down to the bottom of the pint) surrounded by ice cream. It’s a neat concept and the Brownie Batter Core has two flavors of ice cream with bits of brownie blobs all around a center of brownie batter.

Basics

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream comes in a pint container. The Brownie Batter Core Ice Cream is a smooth ice cream on the vanilla bean side and the caramel side is grainy, which is accented by the dry cookie pieces. The cookie core is obvious and not as plentiful as the core in some other Ben & Jerry's Core flavors.

At (locally) $5.99 a pint, the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is an mid-range ice cream, especially compared to other ice creams and while the Core concept is unique to Ben & Jerry’s, it is not such an incredible execution of the concept as to justify the inflated ice cream price.

Ease Of Preparation

The Brownie Batter Core Ice Cream is a mildly loaded ice cream, where the core additive blends with one of the two ice creams in the mix. As an ice cream, preparation is ridiculously simple: one need only to open the top of the container, scoop out a half cup and consume! There is no trick to preparing or eating the Brownie Batter Core Ice Cream! No matter how one tries to consume it - blended together or with each of its independent elements, it is in no way extraordinary.

Taste

Brownie Batter Core ice cream smells delightfully chocolatey, just like fresh-baked brownies. The aroma is powerful and clear, instantly insinuating the flavors that one will consume.

On the flavor front, Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core ice cream is a delightful mix of chocolate and vanilla ice cream . . . both of which are instantly overpowered by the flavor of the chocolate sauce and brownie batter chunks within the ice cream. The vanilla flavored ice cream has no chance to assert itself opposite the powerful chocolate additives. The brownie flavors are distinct and clear and present in every bite.

The Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core ice cream has a faint sweet, slightly dry aftertaste to it. The aftertaste is neither overwhelming or enduring; the flavor lasts in the mouth for only a few minutes after the last of the ice cream is consumed.

Nutrition

The Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core Ice Cream is a fairly dark ice cream with a noticeable additive and it is not at all healthy, though it does use decent ingredients. The pint represents four half-cup servings. In the half-cup serving, there are 270 calories, 130 of which are from fat. The fourteen grams of fat represent 22% of the RDA of fat, with 40% of one’s RDA of saturated fat coming in the 8 grams of saturated fat in this ice cream. One serving has 60 mg of cholesterol (that’s 20% of the RDA!) and 65 mg of Sodium (3% RDA). The only other real nutrients are four grams of protein, 10% of the RDA of Calcium and Vitamin A in the Brownie Batter Core Ice Cream.

Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core has decent ingredients. Made primarily of Cream, liquid sugar and Skim milk! There is nothing unpronounceable in the ingredients list. The Brownie Batter Core Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is Kosher, but not marked as gluten free. There are no allergy warnings on the pint.

Storage/Clean-Up

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is both a frozen and a dairy product, so it is pretty obvious that it must be kept frozen in order to remain viable. Kept frozen it remains fresh for months (the pint I purchased last week would have lasted until April 2018, had I not gobbled it down well before then).

The Brownie Batter Core ice cream is very dark, for both the chocolate ice cream and brownie flavors. Consult a fabric guide for getting the dairy or brownie components out of whatever you get it on. On nonporous surfaces, the ice cream wipes off exceptionally easily.

Overall

The Ben & Jerry’s Brownie Batter Core ice cream is flavorful and good, even with the vanilla ice cream in it.

For other Ben & Jerry’s ice creams, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Spectacular Speculoos Cookie Core Ice Cream
Mint Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream
Ben & Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk

7/10

For other ice cream reviews, please visit my Ice Cream Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Maturbatory Visual Nonsense: Why "The Return Part 8" Sucks.


The Good: Kyle MacLachlan's brief performance
The Bad: Virtually plotless, Terrible direction, Utter waste of time, No character development, No real performance moments of note.
The Basics: "The Return Part 8" is one of the worst episodes of Twin Peaks as it quickly turns into an utter waste of time.


With the new Twin Peaks episode "The Return Part 7" (reviewed here!) finally presenting characters who have caught up to the viewers there is a burden going into "The Return Part 8." With Albert, Gordon and (in Twin Peaks) Deputy Sheriff Hawk each coming to the realization that Agent Dale Cooper was not the person who came out of the Black Lodge twenty-five years prior and someone else has been walking around in his body for the past quarter-decade, Twin Peaks now has a burden of actually advancing the story. "The Return Part 8" has to start moving the story of Agent Cooper's journey back toward Twin Peaks in a way that starts to surprise viewers. Outside the surrealism of the Twin Peaks revival, the story has been fairly straightforward and outside Agent Cooper's unorthodox escape from the Black Lodge where he has possessed Dougie Jones's body and so much of the action actually happening away from the town of Twin Peaks, the story has been a long trip to get characters in the Twin Peaks world where viewers have been for the past twenty-five years since the season two finale (reviewed here!).

"The Return Part 8" utterly fails on that front.

Cooper, having just been let out of prison by extorting the Warden, discovers there are three tracking devices in the car. His co-conspirator, Ray, drives the pair away from prison toward The Farm. When the pair pulls off the road, Ray manages to get the drop on Cooper and he is shocked when shadowy forms appear to swarm Cooper after he is shot. The "ghosts" appear to rescue Cooper, though Ray drives off and calls Philip before the body disappears.

In Twin Peaks, Nine Inch Nails performs at the Road House. After, the episode leaps back to July 16, 1945 White Sands, New Mexico for the detonation of the nuclear bomb. The episode transitions into scratchy surreal footage which includes a gas station with a leak, explosions and what appears to be the Black Lodge's resident Arm vomiting forth eggs and a screaming person (who appears to be Bob). The Giant appears in the sequence again, opposite a woman who is sitting in an ornate room (it's black and white, so it is unclear if this is the Black Lodge in the past or something else entirely), before he ascends the stairs to dream forth many things, including Laura Palmer, who the woman casts down to Earth. Then in the 1950s in New Mexico, a man takes over a radio station and uses his voice to influence people listening to the radio.

"The Return Part 8" continues to raise the menace of Cooper as he threatens Ray and manages not to tell Ray that he has already killed the woman Ray loves. Kyle MacLachlan does an exceptional job at playing every scene Cooper is in with an undertone of violence. Cooper is the Bob-infested embodiment of evil from the Black Lodge and when Cooper orders Ray to pull off the highway, MacLachlan manages to infuse the banal lines with the implication of murder. Indeed, viewers who jump into "The Return Part 8" without knowing that Cooper has arranged to have a gun in the glove compartment, will be well-prepared by the murderous tone that MacLachlan uses that the possibility exists before the gun is shown.

The musical interlude by Nine Inch Nails is weird and somewhat off-putting. Viewers who might want concrete answers about just who came to rescue Bob from Cooper's body - and, in fact, what happened to his body - are likely to be disappointed that the episode leaps to a mid-episode musical number (so far in the revival episodes, musical numbers have closed out the episodes). Nine Inch Nails has had a long-running collaboration with director David Lynch, so it is no surprised that he would allow Trent Reznor's band to appear to promote last year's NIN album with them performing "She's Gone Away."

The thing is, "The Return Part 8" asks viewers for a petty huge leap in the suspension of disbelief category. Fortunately, the episode does not keep viewers waiting beyond the episode. The idea that Cooper has survived for twenty-five years and is going to be shot (and killed) by Ray (who is a virtually unknown new character) in the season's eighth episode seems more ridiculous than plausible. So, having the Nine Inch Nails performance followed immediately by Cooper sitting up at least allows viewers to believe they are not being asked to endure something more unbelievable than ghosts helping to keep Cooper alive.

"The Return Part 8" does not recover from its painfully simplistic plot point, though, and it is almost like director David Lynch had to fill the rest of the episode, so he just threw together a boatload of surreal images and explosions like a student filmmaker trying to develop something visually experimental. The problem is that by "The Return Part 8," the patience of the viewer is pretty well spent. The first episode of the new season of Twin Peaks was virtually unrecognizable and had almost no characters viewers care about, the third episode had an extended dreamlike sequence that allowed Agent Coper to escape the Black Lodge . . . the random surrealism has become blase and bland; we need to have some reason to believe that the random shit David Lynch is throwing up on screen is related to Agent Cooper's journey back to Twin Peaks or with the downfall of Cooper.

Does "The Return Part 8" show the origin of Bob in our world? Who the fuck knows; the episode is nowhere near coherent or clear. Usually, David Lynch's surreal divergences get some credit for being beautifully-directed, but "The Return Part 8" does not even get that. Much of the episode is dark and noisy and the viewer has to strain to see things that are cast completely in shadow and cannot be seen. The special effects are not special as they are not rendered in such a way that the viewer can actually comprehend them.

In a similar fashion, the "surrealism for the sake of surrealism" thing is very much over for Twin Peaks by this point. Viewers need answers and statements; "The Return Part 8" is a meandering collection of visual garbage that does not concretely tie into any aspect of Twin Peaks with any level of clarity. And I get it; crazed old man hypnotizes a bunch of people with his voice, kills a couple people and ends up at some point becoming disembodied in a way that he is part of the spectral team who resurrects Cooper. It's not that I don't "get" the elements that can be tied to the episode's concrete beginning; it's just a shitton of work to tie it all together and it is not compellingly tied to the rest of the season or Twin Peaks. Leaping back to historical events in New Mexico with disconnected characters and people previously only seen in Agent Cooper's visions without progressing the primary narrative is just the cinematic equivalent of bait and switch.

Ultimately, "The Return Part 8" is one of the worst episodes of Twin Peaks ever produced as it does not advance the story, develop the characters, allow the performers to show off any real talents or even tell a coherent story using the medium with any finesse. It is masturbatory visual garbage that could be any random film school project without having any relevance or tie to Twin Peaks.

For other works with Carel Struyken, be sure to visit my reviews of:
"The Return Part 1" - Twin Peaks
Men In Black
"The Thaw" - Star Trek: Voyager
Addams Family Values
"Cost Of Living" - Star Trek: The Next Generation
"Half A Life" - Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Addams Family
"Menage A Troi" - Star Trek: The Next Generation
Twin Peaks - Season 2
"Manhunt" - Star Trek: The Next Generation
"Haven" - Star Trek: The Next Generation
Ewoks: The Battle For Endor

.5/10

For other television reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |