Tag Archives: reviews

The Rock is Terrifying – Review

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Central Intelligence definitely has all the appearances of a mass-market, mainstream product of the Hollywood movie factory.  After all, you have Kevin Hart – who has been blowing up with his new stand-up movie, 2 Ride-Alongs and 2 Think Like a Mans… and Dwayne Johnson, who has been subtly trying to get my attention in comedy movies for some time now.  Why not just the adrenaline-charged serious action movies, Dwayne?

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Johnson has been walking that typecast line for a while.  With knockout roles in GI Joe, The Fast & Furious series, and remakes like Walking Tall, Escape From Witch Mountain, and the upcoming Jumanji, he has more or less played the same character, with varying degrees of charisma depending on the movie’s requirements.  With his intelligence varying from doofus Pain & Gain levels to the cunning Hobbs introduced in Fast Five, I have yet to see him in a role that required more from him than an angry, determined look and a muscle flex.

Kevin Hart, similarly, has been in the same role for much of his movies: the insecure, self-absorbed goofball that always tries to talk his way out of situations.  I actually began to tire of this character after the second Ride-Along movie, and I was prepared to groan at his resurgence with this new venture.

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Surprise, surprise, Kevin Hart is the straight man in this movie.  His character, nicknamed in high school as “The Golden Jet,” is not only a normal person, but he’s faced with very real passions, problems, and insecurities.  He’s worried that he peaked in high school, and that he is less of a man because of it.  This insecurity leaks into his relationships.

Meanwhile, The Rock has been thrust into the comedic role.  The movie not only calls his sanity into question throughout the entire running time, but also uses close-ups to show… emotion?  On The Rock?  It’s like they gave him one of those charts with the different feelings and what they look like.

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Central Intelligence is hilariously fun.  Kevin Hart is satisfyingly fresh and comical as the straight man because that’s what makes his stand-up funny; he’s a relatable, insecure guy with real concerns.  Seeing that man flustered is too funny.

The Rock is hilarious because he’s honestly terrifying.  Not in his usual way – in a deranged way.  If one of my friends began acting like he does in this movie, I would have run far, far away within the first five or six minutes.  Most of the laughter at Johnson’s antics starts with nervous laughter.  The action is fun, over-the-top, but not 21-Jump Street insane.

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That’s not to say that this is a perfect movie.  No way.  The beginning of this movie reminds me of 17 Again in all of the wrong ways, and features some of the most horrendous CGI of the decade.  The Golden Jet’s love interest is vapid and cardboard, convinced that they need counseling with little to no evidence of any real problem between the two.  Yet somehow, I know that when this title goes on sale I’ll be there to swoop it up.  Definitely worth a Red Box night with the lady.

On a scale of Doom to Fast Five, I give this movie a Get Smart.  It’s funny, full of action, and has some excellent scenes, but has little to actually remember.

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Slapfish – (Food Review)

Slapfish in Huntington Beach has some of the most delicious seafood experiences you could ask for.  Especially if you come during Slappy Hour, which is 3-5pm, and then 8 to Closing.  The wife and I were watching David So talk about it, which activated our own curiosity.  Being impulsive and adventurous as a couple, we simply had to go.

We ordered many things, so that we could get the full experience, as well as to justify the long distance.  This was also some photogenic food, so never fear.

First there was the free check-in special, which was some kind of chowder toast thing.  Not really impressive.

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Then came the chowder fries.  The chowder was okay, which oddly enough meant that the fries were the highlight of the dish.  They were crunchy and well-seasoned.  The chowder just kind of made them soggy.

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Value item of the day was definitely the Ultimate Fish Taco – $4.00 during Slappy hour.  The thing was HUGE!  I thought it just looked big, but then I tried to pick it up like a taco and it was heavy, and it held its own shape, because it was indeed a big old slab of fish.  Definitely go for this if you’re pinching pennies and wanting seafood.

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The clobster grilled cheese was deeeeeelicious!  Soft, tender morsels of lobster and crab, and they didn’t overdo the cheese, either.  It wasn’t too heavy.  Butter, bread, American cheese, lobster, crab, yes yum yum yum.  My wife and I were splitting everything so we could try a little of everything.  She offered me the rest of her half of this sandwich.  I replied, “Are you crazy, I’m not trying to die, we have all this food to cover!”  Weirdly though, it came out sounding like “Yes please yum nom nom mm so good I hope this never ends.”  Maybe I have a speech impediment.

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We only ate half of the surf and turf burger, which basically just tasted like a burger.  The flavor of the seafood didn’t feature unless the seafood morsels were eaten separately… which proved to be the way to go, because they were definitely good!

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But yo ho yo ho the best was yet to come!  The lobster grinder! Lobster, crab, and shrimp stuffed into a fresh, toasted, eggy and buttery brioche bun.  I doubted this dish because it looked small but I tasted it and now I believe.  This was 13.50.

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So was this worth the many many miles we traveled to LA?  Having not tried it before, absolutely.  I wouldn’t go back for the sole purpose of going here, but if I’m ever nearby again I’m pretty sure some animal instinct in me would be able to detect it if I got within 5 miles.  I ate enough that I was significantly screwed up afterward.  My eyes glazed over and I fumbled with my words like I had just learned how to trace my name and had gotten lost on my way to the lego bucket.

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Such was my state that my wife thought that I hated the experience until I had recovered and was able to convey to her how much I had enjoyed myself.

Also, the servers were very nice and polite, and the food came out faaast… faster than it would take the average person to finish reading this article.  5 stars for that!  Way to earn the tip!

They also offer a soda fountain with pure cane sugar, but I didn’t partake because my wife wanted me to live.

The Man-Bag Movement

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Not that I need validation or anything, but that’s Terry Crews with his man-bag. Mine looks more rugged than his, but I wouldn’t say that to his face.

I admit it – I have joined the Man-Bag Movement.

I’m a disorganized person.  It’s a fact.  I have a horrible short-term memory, so the best way for me to find something is for me to leave things exactly where they last were, so I can use CSI skills to find them.  Nothing drives me crazier than not being able to find something because somebody moved them.

Growing up, I often clashed with my parents, particularly my father on this point.  It would get to the point that he would eventually swoop in and clean my room – which wouldn’t last long, because I would wreck the place again looking for the one particular adapter he put in some drawer.  The only one I could trust to put things in a place where I would put them was my brother, mostly because he and I shared a room for a long time before I got my own room, so he was well-practiced in the art of Respecting Older Brother’s Things.  While I pursued my Bachelor’s I couldn’t take the mind-clutter of keeping things neat (an apparent term of my continued “tenancy” at my parents’ place) and just paid him to clean my stuff every weekend.

Then I got married.  When I showed my wife how my workspace functioned and the best way to keep it together for me, she was horrified.  The first time I lost my wallet, she was not happy.  The 90th time I lost my phone, she nearly snapped.

“What you need,” she said, more or less, minus the strong language, “is a purse.”

At the same time, I was going through a clothing transition.  As a professional, I wanted to project a certain image with my look.  I had always taken my clothing for granted as a kid, mostly due to my schools always having a uniform policy.  In college, I noticed that clothing definitely made a difference.  I wanted to make the permanent switch to my “adult professional” look.

This wasn’t a problem.  In fact, as a big guy, my pockets were huge.  I was a professional beast on weekdays.  On weekends, however, my pockets bulged, pulling my pants down and even damaging the cloth.  It should be noted that the weekend is also the only time my wife really sees me.  Going out would take about a 30 minute head start for me to gather my bearings, let alone the possessions I would need.

A backpack would work, but my shoulders are much too broad to actually wear one.

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So I bought a man-bag.  I thought it would be the same as having a cinch sack in which to dump stuff.  Not even close!  It’s not about the container, it’s about the structure.  Grabbing my bag is like putting pants on with pockets already loaded for the situation.  The main pocket has the wallet inside, the outside pocket fits the phone.  The portable battery has its own compartment so it’s not in the way of the reach for the wallet.

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It feels nothing like a backpack.  The bag rests behind me until I swing it to my side to grab my phone like Indiana Jones reaching for his bag of sand – nothing like the hassle of fishing a wallet from a backpack.  When it’s time to go, I’m ready in seconds, waiting for my wife to be ready – as God intended.

(This kind of reminded me of high school too, because I used to wear my school-supplied laptop on my body.) I feel like if half the people who scoff at the use of a man-bag used one for three weeks, they would never go back.  First week to see the practicality, second week to use it on-the-go, third week to start exploring the other lesser-used parts of the bag.

If you want to look at the one I got, it’s here.

This is the obligatory paragraph where I admit my wife was right – and that not only was she right, but she was right while I was wrong – an important distinction.  It is apparently important that despite the win-win situation of me being more organized, I also acknowledge that on some scale there is an aspect of this situation in which she is the winner and I am the loser, and I acknowledge it here.

Oh shut up, guys, haters wind up single and alone.

Finn’s Star Wars Adventure – Review

So I know this review is considered “late” by movie standards, but the rule seems to exempt Star Wars movies, as I know there are people still writing their personal reviews of A New Hope… so I feel that my thoughts are still worth recording and presenting.

I’m split like Two-Face about this movie.

On the one hand, this movie does a lot of things right to the Star Wars franchise.  The prequels’ hugest mistake was that it moved Star Wars away from being an adventure movie series.  Nobody was experiencing new things, everyone was an expert and engaging in political negotiations and such.

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Episode IV: A princess fleeing Darth Vader with plans to destroy the Death Star?  Adventure!  Excitement!

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Episode I: Jedi sent to mediate the taxation of trade routes, which are in dispute.  They are called on to settle things between a Trade Federation and a planet you just introduced with a monarchy ruled by a 14-year-old girl who has so much makeup that she is instantly alienated from the audience until halfway through the movie?  Did you even make it past the words “taxation of trade routes” in that sentence before your eyes went half-lidded?

The Force Awakens follows a girl with an unknown past who has only really stayed on one planet, and a stormtrooper who has only known an upbringing with the Empire – both people who have experienced very little of the rest of the galaxy.  These characters go through new things with the audience and can react like the audience, instead of like smug little experts (old Han Solo…).

So now we’re back on an adventure!  There are plenty of similarities between A New Hope and this one.

  • Dark villain introduced in first few minutes and kills someone.
  • Big bad guy ship opens movie.
  • Droid given secret information and then abandoned on a desert planet.
  • Stormtrooper rescues prisoner from the bowels of enemy territory.
  • Lightsaber duel at climax.
  • Superweapon threatening Rebel Base in seconds before exploding.

We got to see some new things.

  • We got to see a pedestrian (non-Jedi) use a lightsaber.
  • We got to see a “inferior saber.”
  • We got to see troopers actually shoot people.
  • Blah blah blah minority blah blah woman main characters.

We also got to see a villain at a crucial point in his character development.

I really enjoyed Finn’s character, and how he has all the experience the Resistance needs, but other than that nothing else that would make him “street-smart.”  Finn freaks out during all the times that I would freak out.

Poe Dameron was interesting.  He was a cocky, arrogant, male character thrust into the role of a damsel in distress.

Then there’s Kylo Ren.  On one hand, horrible horrible name.  I get that you’re tired of Darth Villain being the dude behind stuff but between “Kylo Ren” and “Supreme Leader Snoke” I’m having a hard time taking anything seriously.

However, I like the character arc that he immediately represents.  Instead of showing us a cold, transformed villain (seen it) we have a villain at the very start of his transformation.

So yes, fun movie.  I predicted most of the story, but that’s okay!  True to form, they know we really wanted to see Old Luke’s power, so they slapped in a flashback so we could see Mark Hamill’s name and get excited and then just made him part of the cliffhanger.  Now they’re challenged with doing the ESB of the new trilogy…

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“Good Luck.”

Then there’s the part that infuriates me: in one deft move Disney has destroyed the EU and relegated those stories to “Star Wars Legends.”

Wow, way to relegate decades of acquired knowledge and emotional investment.  Knowing their futures and their place in a larger extended universe is part of what gave the movies replayability.  Now every character is gone?  No Jacen Solo becoming Darth Caedus?  No death of Chewbacca wracking young Anakin Solo with guilt?  No Thrawn?  No Mara Jade Skywalker?  No Lowbacca, Jedi Wookiee?  No Jaina?  No Zekk, no Kyp Duron?  No Tenel Ka, losing her arm in a lightsaber accident?

… Oh well.  It was only my childhood.

Rob De Niro, Here to Class Up Your Light Drama – Review

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Anne Hathaway is the character with an arc, but Robert De Niro steals viewer interest, as usual.

The Intern may be forgettable as a light drama with very little actual drama, but one has to also keep in mind that there is a reason for certain genres to exist. Even if you are catering to a specific genre or audience, however, it is important for movies to have that layered feel; that feeling that there is a world beyond the screen, and that the characters are living their lives offscreen while you’re watching different ones.  This movie is not for those who text while watching a movie – which is rude anyway.  This movie is for those that actually watch movies and need a break from having to strain their brains (such as in the Fantastic Four remake, where the viewer is constantly having to go “okay, NOW what just happened and why?”).

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Ben (De Niro) talks about the merits of tucking in your shirt.

This movie is a feel-good drama starring a kind, cheerful old man named Ben Whittaker (De Niro).  He keeps busy, eventually taking an internship to shake up his life.  Ben is a living example of what old people could do if they were still willing to adapt to new things.  His can-do attitude and initiative make him stand out to the founder of the company, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) and become fast friends.

The message that this movie seems to send is that some things in life are timeless, completely immune to the changing dynamics of modern internet business.  I only wish students believed me when I told them that it doesn’t matter what they know or what they study – as long as no matter what they do, they do it with maximum enthusiasm and a commitment to work hard, they’ll get a good recommendation out of any employer.

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There’s nobody to hate in this movie.  Not a bad thing, but some may find it… unsporting.

Interesting characters are flawed characters.  Which is why if you watch a lot of movies, you might get exhausted from seeing all the nasty, unsavory people movies have to offer.  This movie is a nice break from that, as there’s nobody really to hate in this whole thing.  It’s not a movie to watch by yourself, though.  Watch it with your significant other, then return it to RedBox the next morning, whistling.

Rather than hold to a consistent narrative, it seems more like the creators of this movie thought “How can I just make people feel good about the world for like 2 hours?”  The feel-good drama is not a hugely populated genre.  In fact, in college I might have ridiculed such a thing.  However, in a world where Donald Trump might become President, it’s not the most unwelcome thing in my life.

I give this movie a mathemagical score of 7 out of 10.  Single people, I’d tell you to watch the latest Hunger Games, but that movie was awful.  Don’t.  You’re better off just playing a video game and going to bed.

7-Eleven Pizza (Food Review)

Before I get into this review, I have to divulge some information.  Pizza is one of my favorite foods.  I consider myself a definite pizza expert when it comes to the pizza choices around me, and especially when it comes to the major chains out there.  I’m a major believer in all of the parts needing to be there: The Crust, The Sauce, The Cheese, The Toppings, and The Love.  That said, my expectations were not immense when conducting this review.  I eat Little Caesar’s now and then, and I was expecting about that caliber of a pizza pie.  I was pleasantly surprised by the presentation of the pizza.

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Not too bad.  It also smelled pretty amazing and pretty darn fresh!  So I was excited to get it home and to get into this bad boy.  I was pretty hungry, so I was expecting to enjoy myself regardless of quality.

No Crust

The crust gets a no.  It was soft, with no resistance as I bit into it.  If I have to say it explicitly, I will: The word Lunchable floated through my head.  This is often the part of the pizza that can save an experience.  To its credit, I didn’t taste a huge amount of grease, and the flavor profile was very similar to Papa John’s, which probably meant that the dough and everything was indeed fresh.  But the texture was wrong.  The Crust earns a score of “No.”

No Sauce

The sauce was there.  Well, there was a reddish liquid paste separating the cheese from the crust.  I didn’t taste a lot of grease in there or anything… but the sauce might as well have phoned it in, because there was no flavor in there whatsoever.  It was there to be a liquid in a sea of solids.  It was about as appetizing as it sounds.  The Sauce also earns a score of “No.”

No Cheese

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I know this is starting to sound like some kind of pizza nightmare.  The cheese is this kind of swimmy flavorless layer that separates you from the sauce… which really just separates the cheese from the crust.  I didn’t know you could feel disappointment by the slice.  The cheese stands alone.

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.. oh, I’m sorry, was that joke cheesy?  Good.  Something in this review should be.

No Toppings

The pepperoni had NO CRUNCH and NO SPICE.  WHAT?!

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Pepperoni with no flavor and no crunch?! Toppings are usually the part that gets too much emphasis!  Pepperoni with no flavor and no crunch is just roni.  I got no use for roni.  Roni is gross and disgusting.  Roni is the stuff people put in Subway sandwiches to make it a “spicy Italian.”  Roni causes violence in our streets.  The Roni gets a “No.”

No Love

Pizza is a social food. With each bite I could inexplicably feel myself losing Facebook friends.  Why did somebody approve pizza for 7-Eleven and then pay absolutely no attention to the execution?  I expect this silliness with some gas station offering it by the slice but if you’re going to sell whole pizzas across the street from Little Caesars I expect at least a written apology from you… or at least don’t try to hide the Lunchable logo on the box.

I’m a big guy, so it’s obvious I didn’t get this way by being a food snob.  You want to fool yourself with a pseudo-pizza? Get a Hot Pocket.  I’m going to give this a mathemagical score of 2 out of ten.

Thousand.  Ten-thousand.