Saturday, January 21, 2017

Against All Odds Of Set-Up, Take The 10 Is Pretty Good!


The Good: Good performances, Some very funny lines
The Bad: Derivative plot, Generally unlikable characters
The Basics: Take The 10 is a crime comedy that has its moments, even if it is overly familiar at times.


As the Trump Administration begins, the Republicans have once again set their sights on the National Endowment Of The Arts as their "big ticket" budget cut. Sitting down to watch another Netflix Original Film, Take The 10, it seems like the production and distribution for art films is more or less safe in Netflix's hands. Even comparatively poor people end up supporting the arts through Netflix given that their subscription fees help to pay for the billions of dollars Netflix spends to create original content each year, though it's not the socialist ideal of free art for all citizens to help enhance and create a culture, it is better than living in a country without free speech where there is no art being produced.

That said, Take The 10 gets the "indie, support-the-arts" feel by starring two actors who have never been top-billed for a film before. Josh Peck and Tony Revolori, who was probably best known for his role in The Grand Budapest Hotel (reviewed here!), headline Take The 10 and the film has to succeed or fail on their performances, as opposed to their celebrity. And Take The 10 succeeds, when it does, based largely on Revolori's ability to credibly play the everyman in an interesting way. But more than feeling fresh and artistic, Take The 10 feels like a mash-up of Clerks (reviewed here!) and Go (reviewed here!). In fact, even without seeing the film for years, Take The 10 seemed entirely reminiscent of Go.

Opening with Chris and Chester driving along talking about acting and sex scenes when they are shot at, Take The 10 flashes back to earlier in the day. Chester sells his car on Craigslist to Carlo, but has to pick up Chris and go to work before making the sale. While Chris wants to go to a concert, Chester is determined to go to Brazil with the money from the sale of his car. Chester is called into his boss's office where Danny tells his employee he knows Chris and Chester robbed a shipment and sold the product to a competing grocery store. Danny tries to extort Chester and Chester puts him off by promising him the money from the sale of his car. Instead, he makes a plan to flee after the car is sold. Chester meets Carlo and his cousin, who insists on riding in the trunk during their test drive. Carlo has Chester drive the car to a house where he and his cousin shoot up the place. Chester manages to flee by purposely getting into an accident with a rich guy while stuck in traffic on the freeway.

The day restarts with Chris being woken up by his scumbag, scalper brother, Johnny. After swiping some of his brother's fake tickets, Chris barely covers Chester's register (using it to steal cash from the grocery store) before going to try to trade his brother's fake tickets with a legitimate scalper's tickets. Back at work, Danny is tweaking, waiting for Jay (the drug-dealing scalper that Chris is in the process of ripping off) to bring him coke (which Chris has now stolen). Jay arrives, demanding the $3,000 Danny owes him, which puts him in a bind, leading him to steal from the store and sending Chris and Chester on a desperate caper to make enough money to survive the day.

Writer and director Chester Tam has some wonderful lines in Take The 10. Tam also plays Jay and he actually manages to find just the right balance between humor and violence to sell the weird mash-up that has become its own subgenre within the last decade. Never stepping over into the explicitly gory or violent, Take The 10 manages to deliver some very funny lines that act as high-minded non-sequitors to the lowlife characters. While Take The 10 might be derivative of Go (and not just for the jumbled nature of the storytelling for the film), Chester Tam manages to deliver a lot more humor and social commentary than other, similar films.

Take The 10 is led by Josh Peck and Tony Revolori, but features the more well-known actors like Fred Armisen and Andy Samberg in cameo roles. I was pretty psyched to see Emily Kuroda, who was in Gilmore Girls (reviewed here!), and Kevin Corrigan. But Chester Tam is the one who steals all of his scenes. Tam has a great sense of comic timing for delivering his deadpan lines for Jay. Jay is an interestingly conflicted character and Tam does a decent job of making him much more funny than menacing.

What Take The 10 lacks is a consistent spark. Chester and Chris lack the chemistry of, for example, Dante and Randal. Tony Revolori is predictably great and Josh Peck is good as Chris, but the opening scene where they are having a quirky conversation about pop culture is not followed up with similar scenes. As such, the two do not have much of a relationship that is believable. Chief among the character issues with their backstory - why are they actually friends?! - is that Chris talked Chester into a heist and it is unclear why Chester did not use the money from that to buy his coveted trip to Brazil.

Netflix has an unlikely success with Take The 10 in that the balance is funnier and more clever than it originally appears. Take The 10 is short and derivative, but it is fun and its original simplicity is replaced with some nicely clever lines and a film that evolves into something worth watching. And if Netflix is one of the new custodians of art in America and Take The 10 is the the kind of thing viewers can expect from Netflix, perhaps we might all survive the next four years without the NEA.

For other Netflix exclusive films, please check out my reviews of:
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

6/10

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.
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Just Shy Of Super, The 2016 Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Superman Ornament (Almost) Soars!


The Good: Generally good sculpt, Good facial sculpt, Cool base
The Bad: Left-heavy, Light on coloring detail
The Basics: Part of the triumvirate of Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice, the 2016 Superman ornament is all right, if not extraordinary.


It seems like for every major cinematic event based upon a comic book property, Hallmark is right there to generate ornaments based upon the characters or key scenes to try to creat enduring tie-ins with their ornament line. In early 2016, Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (reviewed here!) hit screens and Hallmark bet big on it. For their October ornament release, Hallmark Keepsake released a set of three ornaments based upon the three essential characters in Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. The release of the 2016 Superman Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice ornament was timed to play off the anticipated popularity of the DVD/Blu-Ray release of the film and it appears to have been produced in adequate quantities to do that and leave a surplus of the ornaments at the end of the season.

The 2016 Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice is more average than extraordinary, but it is still a pretty wonderful sculpt and a good idea for a Hallmark ornament.

Basics

The Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Superman ornament faithfully presents Superman in his blue and red film costume. This is Superman in his textured blue and red suit, faintly yellow belt and red cape. The ornament, released in 2016, is fair for an ornament based upon the costume used in Zack Snyder’s Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice film. With such a decent three-dimensional model, Hallmark was able to create an ornament that features a decent facial sculpt, surface details and coloring. Measuring four and a half inches tall, four inches wide and two inches deep, the Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Superman ornament is one of six DC super hero-based ornaments released by Hallmark in stores in 2016 and it was intended to be paired with the Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Batman ornament and accented with the Wonder Woman ornament sculpted from the same source material. The Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Superman ornament came with an original retail price of $15.95 and there were plenty left over at the end of the season.

The Hallmark Superman ornament is made of durable plastic. Superman’s costume is colored in bold blue and surprisingly bright red. He is ripped with well-defined arm and leg muscles underneath his textured costume. The Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Superman ornament has the traditional Superman symbol on his chest and it is molded with a slightly raised quality. The facial sculpt for the Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Superman looks just like Henry Cavill, which is an improvement over prior Superman ornaments based upon Henry Cavill's portrayal of Superman!

Unfortunately, the coloring of the Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Superman ornament is just a little off. The skin tones are monotonal as opposed to having rich coloring, which is unfortunate and undermines the potential realism of this ornament. Beyond that, the red seems way to bright compared to the muted blues of the rest of Superman's costume; it looks like a weird amalgamation of Superman's comic book and Zach Snyder film costumes.

Features

As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, the 2016 Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Superman ornament could have a sound chip or a light-up function. He has neither, but honestly it would have been a hard sell to make a gimmick for this ornament.

The Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Superman ornament does include a stand, which is a typical for most ornaments. The stand is a 3" wide, 2" deep, 1/4" tall silver-gray stand that is designed to appear like the Superman/Batman symbol . . . save that it is only half of the symbol. The ornament includes a little stand that plugs into the back of Superman's foot and from there, the Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Superman ornament stands perfectly stable. The thing is, the stand looks fairly ridiculous without its other half and if it is even a little warped, it throws off the balance for both the Superman and Batman ornaments. After exploring seven pairs of these ornaments, I found all but one were thick enough to have no issues with warping (some earlier Marvel ornaments had thinner bases, which did warp!).

Balance

As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake 2016 Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Superman ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate superhero Christmas Tree, this Superman ornament would be wonderful if it wasn't left-heavy. The ornament has the standard steel hook loop embedded into the top, back of Superman, between his shoulders. From there, the ornament, when affixed to a tree with a hook, swings very easily and is heavier on the left side than on the right, which makes Superman looks a bit lopsided.

Collectibility

Hallmark Keepsake began delving into the collectibles market in 1991 with Star Trek when it introduced the exceptionally limited edition U.S.S. Enterprise ornament (reviewed here!). Since then, they have made ornament replicas of almost all major franchises like DC comics, The Wizard Of Oz and Harry Potter. The Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Superman ornament was vastly overproduced and was easily found after the winter holidays. In fact, it has not held its value since the end of the Christmas season, which has made it a staple on the clearance rack at Hallmark stores and easily found in the secondary market at prices below its original release price.

Overview

Fans of Superman, Zack Snyder’s vision of Superman, Henry Cavill, and DC comics characters are likely to find the Superman ornament to be good, but not all it could be making for a less-inspired than truly great ornament release. There are, certainly, worse Superman ornaments, but this one is just a little light on coloring details and a bit overproduced to truly thrill ornament collectors who love DC Comics characters.

For other DC Universe Hallmark ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2016 Supergirl DC SuperHero Girls ornament
2016 Wonder Woman Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice ornament
2016 Batmobile Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice ornament
2016 Catwoman Batman television series (Limited Edition)
2015 The Joker Batman television series (Limited Edition)
2015 Lynda Carter As Wonder Woman
2014 Bane The Dark Knight Rises (Limited Edition)
2014 1989 Batmobile
2014 Defender Of Mankind Superman
2013 Man Of Steel
2013 The Joker The Dark Knight Rises
2013 Descending Upon Gotham City Batman ornament
2012 The Bat The Dark Knight Rises Limited Edition Ornament
2012 Catwoman ornament
2012 "Beware My Power" Green Lantern ornament
2012 The Dark Knight Rises
2011 Batman Takes Flight
2011 Green Lantern
2010 Limited Edition Harley Quinn
2009 Wonder Woman ornament

5.5/10

For other ornament reviews, please visit my Ornament Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Friday, January 20, 2017

Review This Again: Falling Into You By Celine Dion!


The Good: Good vocals, Generally good sound, Good use of c.d. capacity
The Bad: Some cheesy lyrics, Repetitive musical accompaniment, All the best songs are available on compilation albums.
The Basics: Falling Into You ages surprisingly poorly, with its best tracks easily being found on Dion's many compilation albums.


[There is a big meme in the art community going around now called "Draw This Again." In the meme, artists illustrate how they have grown in their chosen medium by putting side-by-side pictures of art they created in the past and now. My wife had the great idea that I should do something similar with my reviewing. So, for 2017, I will be posting occasional "Review This Again" reviews, where I revisit subjects I had previously reviewed and review them again, through a lens of increased age, more experience, and - for some - greater familiarity with the subject. This review is one such review, where I am re-experiencing Falling Into You after many years and with more experience as both a reviewer and one who has heard much of the Celine Dion library. The album was originally reviewed here!]

When it comes to Celine Dion's works, there are few albums less worth reviewing than Falling Into You. Falling Into You sold more than 11 million copies in the United States and over thirty-two million copies worldwide. It is one of the undisputed best-selling albums of all time. I decided to listen to the album for my Review It Again project because I had the fundamental question: Is Falling Into You any good? Falling Into You is popular, but popularity is not always indicative of enduring quality. To answer that question, I picked up the European Deluxe edition of Falling Into You, which has two more tracks than the standard U.S. release.

Falling Into You is good, but it is heavily frontloaded. Celine Dion is good on Falling Into You, but all of the best songs can be found with other superlative songs by her on compilation albums - the listener is not missing out on any truly great Celine Dion tracks by getting the highlights on one of her many compilation albums. If one picked up a compilation album, would they truly be missing anything by not getting the up-tempo, overproduced dance track "Make You Happy?" I think not. Falling Into You has some wonderful tracks, but the rest are utterly forgettable (I would love to poll a random sample of the thirty-two million album buyers and ask them to either quote or hum a few bars from "Seduces Me" and my assumption now would be most would not be able to).

With sixteen songs, clocking out at 75:54, Falling Into You does an excellent job of using the whole capacity of a compact disc. Falling Into You is a collaborative effort on many fronts but it is dominated creatively by writers/producers Jim Steinman, Jean-Jacques Goldman, and David Foster (producer only). Steinman was still riding high on the success of Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell (reviewed here!), which he was the main writer and producer behind and his works for Celine Dion help to frame and define the operatic sound on Falling Into You. Celine Dion, for her part, is a performer on Falling Into You; she sings the songs that others wrote, produced and engineered/played instruments on.

Falling Into You is a much more erratic album than many people seem to want to admit. Opening with two big ballads, the album suddenly goes poppy and then into a dance-pop number. There are very few organic transitions in the track to track development of Falling Into You. Some of the musical transitions are actually disturbing; the lonely, heartwrenchingly-delivered ballad "All By Myself" is followed "Declaration Of Love," which has a pop-Country/rockabilly sound to it. At least on the bonus album, that is followed by Dion's cover of the Carole King classic "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman." The bulk of Falling Into You is loaded with keyboard and percussion-driven pop tracks that are produced to highlight Celine Dion's vocals.

Celine Dion's vocals are exceptional on Falling Into You. What surprised me listening to Falling Into You all of these years later was how much the album relies upon backing vocals on many songs. "Dreamin' Of You," for example, stops using Celine Dion's vocals to carry the song and ends with a final third that is essentially just background singers carrying the song out. "I Love You" begins the same way and even Dion's popular tracks like "Because You Loved Me" include fairly excessive backing vocals. When she is allowed to present herself, Celine Dion performs in an exceptional soprano voice and is able to hold notes for an impressive amount of time. "I Love You" actually allows Dion to present a sugary quality to her voice that is very endearing and sells the lines in the song quite well!

What struck me about truly listening to Falling Into You this time was that Celine Dion picks some songs to perform that have particularly lame rhymes. Dion is known for schmaltzy love songs, but some of the lines are just worthy of wincing when one hears them. Even in 1997 when Falling Into You was released, the rhymes "I'm falling into you / This dream could come true / And it feels so good falling into you / Falling like a leaf, falling like a star / Finding a belief, falling where you are / Catch me, don't let me drop! / Love me, don't ever stop" ("Falling Into You") were hardly fresh!

That is not to say that Dion is unable to sing phrases that she makes resonate (even today!). The resilience Dion sings of in "I Don't Know" is compelling and universal. And the power of love exhibited when Dion sings "You were my strength when I was weak / You were my voice when I couldn't speak / You were my eyes when I couldn't see / You saw the best there was in me / Lifted me up when I couldn't reach / You gave me faith 'cause you believed / I'm everything I am / Because you loved me" ("Because You Loved Me") makes that hit a truly worthwhile song. Not all things that are popular are bad!

But even lyrically, Falling Into You is terribly frontloaded. Almost all of the best lines on the album are on the first few songs, while later songs get saddled with lines like "Call the man / Who deals in love beyond repair / He can heal the world / Of hearts in need of care / Shine a light ahead / When the next step is unclear" ("Call The Man"). This helps to create the perception that Falling Into You has a few good songs, but is not a particularly cohesive or strong album.

Falling Into You is a fairly average album; it peaks incredibly early and has several unmemorable tracks in its second half (after "I Love You," it pretty much falls apart). For those looking for Celine Dion works now, Falling Into You is hardly essential; its best tracks are all on compilations, making the rest of the album somewhat superfluous filler.

The best track is "It's All Coming Back To Me Now," the low point is probably the incongruent "Declaration Of Love."

For other Review This Again reviews, please check out:
The Times They Are A-Changin' - Bob Dylan
Little Earthquakes - Tori Amos
Minutes To Midnight - Linkin Park

4.5/10

For other music reviews, please visit my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Delicious, If Pricy, Kala Beautiful Beans Simply Peppered Roasted Fava Beans Are Fun!


The Good: Flavorful, Some decent nutritional aspects
The Bad: Prohibitively expensive, Packaging is inconvenient for people with large hands
The Basics: The Simply Peppered roasted fava beans from Kala Beautiful Beans are enjoyable, but are tough to recommend given how pricey they are.


As I continue to make my way through the food subscription box that has given me a lot of fodder for review and enjoyment, I find myself delighted by the fact that I did not have to buy most of the box's contents. In the case of the Kala Beautiful Beans Simply Peppered roasted fava beans, I am exceptionally pleased that I got a chance to try them, but I am would not have wanted to purchase them on their own; they are so expensive comparatively. The Kala Beautiful Beans Simply Peppered roasted fava beans remind me of the corn nuts I had in my youth.

Outside the expense, the Kala Beautiful Beans Simply Peppered roasted fava beans are easy to recommend, though for someone who has big hands, like me, the opening at the top of the pouch bag is a bit small for reaching in to get al the goodness out!

Basics

Kala Beautiful Beans Simply Peppered roasted fava beans are a ready-to-eat snack that attempts to zest up fava beans, which I am fairly sure I had never had before now. While I might not have had fava beans before now, at least not as a snack, the Kala Beautiful Beans Simply Peppered roasted fava beans are intended as a snack that one eats like they would nuts. Packaged in a 5 oz. stiff plastic bag, the fava beans are kept fresh until opened. After unsealing the the top of the bag, consumers have access to the fava beans are inside.

The Simply Peppered roasted fava beans look just like flattened yellow beans or peas. Most of them are glazed and have pepper embedded in the glaze.

Ease Of Preparation

These are flavored beans, so preparing them is as easy as opening the bag they come in and consuming them. There is no trick or work beyond that needed to eat Simply Peppered roasted fava beans.

Taste

The Simply Peppered roasted fava beans smell peppery and delightful. The aroma is comparatively mild, but distinct.

On the flavor front, the Simply Peppered roasted fava beans are well-flavored, in a way that is more mild for most of them than I would have expected. The beans taste like dehydrated peas; dry and a little mealy. The dry, pea-like flavor is cut by the black pepper flavor that makes them pop. The black pepper flavor is not so oppressive that it consumes the whole flavor palate, nor can it cause the consumer to sneeze from the spiciness.

The Kala Beautiful Beans Simply Peppered roasted fava beans leave a fairly strong pepper flavor in the mouth. The aftertaste is very dry and endures for several minutes after the last of the beans is consumed.

Nutrition

Having reviewed many types of nuts and other salty snacks that are similar to the fava beans, I am not surprised that on the nutrition front, Kala Beautiful Beans are not universally impressive. A serving is considered 30 grams of beans which is about half a cup. With the standard recommended serving size, the beans have 6 grams of fat! That's 9% of the RDA of fat, with 4% of the RDA coming from the half gram of saturated fat! The Kala Beautiful Beans Simply Peppered roasted fava beans have 140 calories per serving, with 50 calories of that being from fat. There is 2% of the RDA of calcium and seven grams of protein, which is almost enough to make one look the other way on the fat content! There is also a smattering (6% RDA) of Iron in the Kala Beautiful Beans Simply Peppered roasted fava beans.

The ingredients list for these Simply Peppered roasted fava beans is fairly short, which is nice because most of the ingredients are natural. Kala Beautiful Beans are made primarily of Fava Beans, sunflower oil, and salt. There is nothing unpronounceable in these nuts and the ingredients are generally healthy. Obviously, these nuts are manufactured on equipment that processes nuts.

Storage/Clean-up

Just as with the preparation, Kala Beautiful Beans Simply Peppered roasted fava beans nuts are low stress when it comes to storage and cleanup. Storage is simple when the nuts are kept in their bag at room temperature or cooler. Kept sealed in their bag, these nuts would not expire until April 5, 2017.

Kala Beautiful Beans Simply Peppered roasted fava beans are easy to clean up after as well. Simply wash your hands after eating, though they do not leave one with any salty residue on one's hands.

Overall

Kala Beautiful Beans Simply Peppered roasted fava beans are flavorful and enjoyable, but not so flavorful as to make one want to shell out $8.50 a bag!

For other snack reviews, please visit my takes on:
Wise Butter Flavored Air Popped Popcorn
Tangled Tree Honey Roasted Pecans
Everybody's Nuts! Garlic & Onion Pistachios

7/10

For other food and drink reviews, please Food Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Poor Barry Doesn't Quite Fit Anywhere!


The Good: Good performances, Decent direction
The Bad: Tone, Aimless plot, Mediocre characters
The Basics: Barry somewhat vaguely explores the pressures Barack Obama faced as a young man when he moved to New York City to study at Columbia University.


As the sun sets (literally) on the Obama Administration, I realized that I had not watched any of the films (there were at least two released in 2016) based upon the life of Barack Obama. I think I had avoided watching films like Barry before now because I wanted to avoid my instant outrage if the art presented the Barack Obama character as a liberal firebrand (those of us who pay attention to politics knew from the beginning that he was far more of a centrist than a liberal). But, considering that I watched the mockumentary Donald Trump's The Art Of The Deal: The Movie (reviewed here!), I figured I ought to watch something that seriously attempted to present Barack Obama. I went with Barry, which was a Netflix Original Film released about a month ago.

It is important to note that this review is for Barry, as it stands on its own as a film; not the actual life of Barack Obama. As such, any commentary I make regarding this film is based entirely upon what appears in the movie, not anything to do with the actual historical persona of Barack Obama. While Barry might be based upon events in the life of Barack Obama, I make no assumptions as to knowing what aspects are real and what are not; the film is categorized as a drama, not a biography. As such, references from this point on the "Barry" or "Barack Obama" refer to the fictionalized version from the film Barry.

So, when I write that Barry Obama (he only goes by Barack for a single line at the end of the film) was an aimless youth who seemed to bring more conflict into his life than was inherent in his surroundings or in the people he encountered, I mean entirely that the Barry of Barry is so burdened.

In August, 1981, Barry arrives in New York City with a suitcase and a letter from his father, whom he only met once. After spending a night on the street, he tracks down his coke-using, womanizing friend Saleem and shortly thereafter gets squared away at Columbia University. In one of his classes, Barry meets Charlotte, a young woman who is charmed by him and takes him out dancing one night. The two start dating and hanging out to watch political events on television, though Barry makes a point of playing basketball and shopping from street vendors in Harlem.

Barry becomes conflicted when he learns that PJ, a young man he plays basketball with, also goes to Columbia. Soon, Barry finds himself torn between hanging out with Charlotte and learning about how people like PJ grow up in government housing. Barry seems very happy with Charlotte until he brings her to his neighborhood and later accompanies her to a wedding.

If the plot description to Barry seems like it descends into a rather vague, mushy description, such is the problem with the film. Barry is a character study, but the character is plagued by the issues he brings with him and it is hard to invest in the character. Barry is happy with Charlotte and Charlotte accepts him and actually loves him for his charm, intellect, and kindness. Barry, however, seems unwilling to commit because he does not know who he is. Barry makes ethnicity an issue in the relationship in a painfully inorganic way; he feels like he does not fit anywhere, so he makes himself not fit anywhere.

On the plus side, Barry illustrates very well how one's upbringing does not determine their outcome. Barry is aimless and does not know what he wants or what he believes; viewers know that this young man eventually becomes the President Of The United States Of America. While there is an obvious gap of years between the events of Barry and the historical person Barack Obama becomes, Barry is useful in implicitly illustrating that aimless young people can find their way.

Also well-executed in Barry is the acting. Anya Taylor-Joy is a scene-stealer in Barry as Charlotte. Taylor-Joy emotes well - especially in the scenes where her co-star, Devon Terrell plays cool and conflicted - and has moments where she explodes with charm. Jason Mitchell continues to illustrate the range that made him a powerhouse performance in Straight Outta Compton (reviewed here!) as PJ. Mitchell might be relegated to a supporting role, but he makes the most of it, reminding one instantly of a young Terrence Howard with the subtlety of his portrayal of PJ. Avi Nash easily steals the award for "Best Barack Obama Impersonation" in Barry as he effortlessly transitions from his Pakistani-English accent to a flawless impersonation of the future President!

Devon Terrell is good as Barry. Terrell has remarkable physical control to portray Barry in ways that are both new and awkward - characterizing well a youthful, pre-political Barry - and measured. There are moments, especially late in the film, where Terrell sets his jaw and those who have watched Barack Obama in debates will find it instantly familiar.

While Barry features nicely a character who walks into a world surrounded by smoking, drinking, and drugs, the film fails to make him compelling or engaging by the way it neglects the intellectual half of the character's development. There is a single scene, very early on, where Barry is in a class and participates (there is a later scene where Barry is in a lecture and walks out). The viewer is supposed to understand that Barry is smart by the fact that he reads a couple of books, got into Columbia at all, and dismantles the rather facile argument of a militant black street preacher. Barry fails to compellingly illustrate an emotional and intellectual conflict within the character; instead, Barry is characterized as a young man suffering deeply from father issues who applies an ethnic motive to everything he encounters.

That makes for a less compelling or universal narrative and a remarkably unsatisfying character journey for the title character, even if it is presented in a way that delivers a consistent mood of youthful uncertainty in an impressive way.

For other Netflix exclusive films, please check out my reviews of:
Clinical
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

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.
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Garnier Fructis Frizzy, Dry, Unmanageable Hair Fortifying Leave-in Conditioning Cream Works!


The Good: Moisturizes hair well, Great scent, Exceptionally easy to use
The Bad: EXPENSIVE
The Basics: Garnier Fructis's Triple Nutrition Dry, Damaged Hair Fortifying Leave-in Conditioning Cream is easily the most effective Leave-in Conditioning Cream I have yet used.


For years, I neglected my hair. The truth is, I get busy and I focus on other things and I just don't pay as much attention to my appearance as I probably should. Yes, married life is like that; because I have love in my daily life, I don't work on selling myself all that hard. That said, I've been working on showing my wife that I prioritize her and being healthy for her, so when I asked her what I could improve myself to continue to entice her, one of the instant appearance aspects she came up with was "fix your hair." So, I started using more aggressive hair conditioners and I started using Garnier Fructis Frizzy, Dry, Unmanageable Hair Fortifying Leave-in Conditioning Cream. Garnier Fructis Frizzy, Dry, Unmanageable Hair Fortifying Leave-in Conditioning Cream is, easily, one of the very best hair care products I have tried and despite its expense, it is worth it!

Garnier Fructis is well known as a quality brand and the Garnier Fructis Frizzy, Dry, Unmanageable Hair Fortifying Leave-in Conditioning Cream certainly bolsters that reputation fairly! The Garnier Fructis Frizzy, Dry, Unmanageable Hair Fortifying Leave-in Conditioning Cream is a product that works and after two months of use after each shower, my hair has a noticeable difference in appearance and manageability.

Garnier Fructis Leave-in Conditioning Creams are part of an expensive line of hair care products that tend to be found for an average price of $7.00 for a 10.2 oz. bottle in most markets, that I have found, in the United States. The bottles are round and slippery when wet. The top of the Garnier Fructis Frizzy, Dry, Unmanageable Hair Fortifying Leave-in Conditioning Cream is a pull top, squirt style bottle top. With the smooth sides of the bottle and the tight pull top opening to the bottle can make the Garnier Fructis Frizzy, Dry, Unmanageable Hair Fortifying Leave-in Conditioning Cream a little harder to get into, which is fine because it is not used in the shower (it is applied after). A single bottle lasted me about two and a half months.

Frizzy, Dry, Unmanageable Hair Intensely Smooth is a Leave-in Conditioning Cream; there is no trick or special skill to using it. Simply place a dollop on your hand and rub it into your mostly-dry hair, as close to the end of one's hair. For those with long hair (like me!), apply the Garnier Fructis Frizzy, Dry, Unmanageable Hair Fortifying Leave-in Conditioning Cream for the bottom portion of the hair, away from the scalp. The thick leave-in conditioning cream spreads very slowly through the hair and is aided by actually combing the leave-in conditioning cream through one's hair.

The Garnier Fructis Frizzy, Dry, Unmanageable Hair Fortifying Leave-in Conditioning Cream claims to both smooth and moisturize hair, which it does amazingly well when one uses it on a regular basis. After two weeks of daily use, I noticed my hair was less dry and cracked than before. After two months of using this leave-in conditioner, I have no problem getting a comb through my hair at any time I want. That is something I have not been able to do for, literally, twenty-two years!

As far as the scent, Garnier Fructis Frizzy, Dry, Unmanageable Hair Fortifying Leave-in Conditioning Cream smells delightfully of apricots. The apricot scent is strong and delightful in its sweet and sour aroma! The scent of the Garnier Fructis Frizzy, Dry, Unmanageable Hair Fortifying Leave-in Conditioning Cream remains in one's hair for about a day with normal use and normal activity (i.e. not working out!).

The Garnier Fructis Frizzy, Dry, Unmanageable Hair Fortifying Leave-in Conditioning Cream smells great, truly does heal split ends and completely fixes dry and damaged hair to leave it smooth and entirely manageable. The Garnier Fructis Frizzy, Dry, Unmanageable Hair Fortifying Leave-in Conditioning Cream delivers real, noticeable results and also leaves hair smelling amazing, doing all it promises with no real issues in usage. That makes it a fairly ideal leave-in conditioner.

For other conditioner reviews, please check out my takes on:
Shea Moisture Mongongo & Hemp Seed Oils High Porosity Moisture-Seal Masque w/Baobab Protein & Apple Cider Vinegar
Suave Professionals Rosemary Mint Conditioner
VO5 Honeydew Smoothie Conditioner

8.5/10

For other health and beauty product reviews, please be sure to visit my Health And Beauty Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A Step Down From Season One: Agent Carter Season 2 Stumbles!


The Good: A few well-delivered performance moments, Hints of character complexities
The Bad: Predictable reversals, Problematic overall plot, Lack of emotional connection to the characters, Generally uninspired performances
The Basics: Agent Carter Season 2 creates minimal ties to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe while further undermining the character of Peggy Carter.


Far too often, there is a mentality from marketing types to buy into the old adage "more is better." As the Marvel Cinematic Universe struggles around its critical mass for blockbusters (eventually, there will be a Marvel Cinematic Universe film that performs more like The Wolverine, reviewed here, than Guardians Of The Galaxy!), it is hard not to argue that Marvel and Disney have saturated television as much as the audience can accept and the creative team can deliver upon. While Netflix is doing a decent job at bringing the "street level heroes" to the small screen, ABC keeps desperately trying to churn out another Marvel Television series. Even as it failed to sell a Bobbi Morse-based pilot (for a second time!), ABC produced the second season of Agent Carter. Agent Carter clearly needed some retooling after its first season (reviewed here!) and for its second season, Agent Carter moves to the West Coast.

That, alas, does not make it better.

The second season of Agent Carter starts to seed the fundamental problems with the S.S.R., which could credibly lead to HYDRA easily infiltrating the earliest incarnations of S.H.I.E.L.D., but the show does not quite get where it needs to to close the loop on that idea. Instead, Agent Carter Season 2 is a season-long struggle for Peggy Carter to keep a powerful new element out of the hands of a HYDRA-like organization.

Months after getting Dottie locked up, Peggy Carter arrives in Hollywood when a body is found in a small lake . . . after the lake has abruptly been turned entirely into ice. As the investigation into the Jane Doe in the lake leads to an increased body count, Carter discovers that there is a connection between an energy company's experiments and the death. Meeting with the scientist Dr. Jason Wilkes, Carter learns of the existence of Zero Matter, which is an element with unearthly and possibly sentient properties! When Wilkes is infected with the Zero Matter, he becomes incorporeal, which hurts Carter, who had started to develop a romantic attraction for him.

But the new director of the West Coast SSR, Daniel Sousa, and Jarvis leap into action to help Carter try to unravel the mysteries surrounding Zero Matter and the nefarious, secret organization that is hell-bent on acquiring the dangerous material. The mystery centers around a corrupt politician and his actress girlfriend . . . until Jack Thompson pops up from the East Coast SSR and starts working with Vernon Masters. Together, Carter, Sousa, and Jarvis must unravel the mystery and save the SSR from the same organization that want the Zero Matter!

Agent Carter is immediately plagued by its use of a comparatively weak protagonist. The executive producers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continue to underestimate women; no one would expect an Iron Man movie to hinge on anything other than the heroics of Tony Stark or a Spider-Man film to work only as an ensemble piece. (While it is not Marvel . . .) Wonder Woman is a powerful enough character to carry her own movies and television series's and does not need a whole team to win the day. Peggy Carter does not have the resonance or inherent strength and the executive producers and writers seem to have no idea how to credibly put her at the forefront of her own show. As a result, Agent Carter Season 2 sinks into crummy ensemble cliches like a robbery episode and a large musical number instead of presenting Peggy Carter as well-rounded and resourceful-enough to do all she needs to on her own. Agent Carter Season 2 could have been great if it had been a female-driven, period piece version of MacGuyver.

Instead, Peggy Carter finds herself outwitted by a secret organization, whose headquarters she infiltrates exceptionally early in the season, and a scientist/actress who has nothing on Natasha Romanov!

As well, the second season of Agent Carter has credible issues in the way it fits into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Viewers are asked to believe that the SSR stumbled upon Zero Matter and all of the evidence and information surrounding its creation and it took more than sixty years for someone else in the MCU to replicate that particle?! If HYDRA agents were there at the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D., with access to all the SSR data and records, wouldn't there have been a whole generation of super-villains long before Ant-Man sprung up all using or attempting to generate Zero Matter?!

The second season of Agent Carter is largely plot-based instead of focused on character decisions. Still, in the second season, the key characters in Agent Carter are:

Agent Peggy Carter - Still disrespected by the American-run agents of the SSR, she heads out to Hollywood to see Jarvis and Howard Stark and is dragooned into working a case with the West Coast SSR. There, she falls for Dr. Wilkes, befriends Jarvis's wife and works to unravel the mysteries surrounding a scientifically impossible event in Hollywood. She goes undercover to learn about the organization Dottie was trying to get access to and slowly unravels the mysteries surrounding why that organization wants Zero Matter,

Edwin Jarvis - Howard Stark's butler, he is tired of ferrying around Starks' celebrity guests and is thrilled to get back into the field with Carter. His love for his wife comes to the forefront when she is mortally wounded and he vows revenge,

Jack Thompson - Tasked with getting information from Dottie and then encouraged to take part in a cover-up by Vernon Masters, the new Director of the East Coast SSR proves to be as ambitious and corrupt as Carter and Sousa believed he could be,

Daniel Sousa - Having taken the position as Director of the West Coast SSR in order to get away from Peggy Carter and his feelings for her, he is now engaged. But when Peggy Carter comes back into his life, he finds it tough to juggle his feelings for her and his commitment to his fiance. He supports Carter's investigation, but does not spend excessive time in the field with her,

Dr. Jason Wilkes - A brilliant scientist working for an energy company, he studies the properties of Zero Matter until he is "infected" by it and becomes (essentially) a ghost. He has real chemistry with Carter, but the longer he is incorporeal, the more susceptible he becomes to the machinations of Whitney Frost,

and Whitney Frost - A world-renowned actress, she has worked deep cover for almost her entire life. Actually a brilliant scientist only playing house with a rising star politician, she encounters the Zero Matter and becomes obsessed with it. She starts to study the Zero Matter and reasons how to make more and take control of it, though she starts to hear voices from the Zero Matter!

The second season of Agent Carter is not impressively performed. Hayley Atwell seems to have peaked with her range for Peggy Carter and Enver Gjokaj is relegated to performing soap operatic emotional swings in the second season. Wynn Everett established Whitney Frost fairly brilliantly, but after the episode in which Frost's backstory is detailed, Everett is not given anything even remotely as emotionally significant to play in the season.

At the end of it, the second season of Agent Carter feels like a forced attempt to keep the series going more than an organic and compelling continuation of the character and story arcs begun in the prior season.

For more information on the series, check out the reviews of the individual episodes at:
“The Lady In The Lake”
“A View In The Dark”
“Better Angels”
"Smome & Mirrors"
"The Atomic Job"
"The Life Of The Party"
"Monsters"
"The Edge Of Mystery"
"A Little Song And Dance"
"Hollywood Ending"

For other works from the 2015 – 2016 television season, please check out my reviews of:
Orange Is The New Black - Season 4
The Flash - Season 2
Game Of Thrones - Season 6
Grace And Frankie - Season 2
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 3
The Walking Dead - Season 6
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Season 2
Legends Of Tomorrow - Season 1
Jessica Jones - Season 1
Daredevil - Season 2
House Of Cards - Season 4
Rick And Morty - Season 2
Doctor Who - Season 9

.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.
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Unremarkable Rogue Still Has Its Moments!


The Good: Moments of character, Most of the artwork
The Bad: Incredibly simplistic plot, Some very unclear artwork in the action, Suspension of disbelief for the big moments
The Basics: Rogue is a collection of the first major story for the titular character, but tells an unfortunately simplistic and problem-riddled story.


Despite generally enjoying what little I know about the character and having a crush on Anna Paquin since her first outing as Rogue in X-Men (reviewed here!), until today, I had not tracked down any Rogue graphic novels to actually learn about Rogue from the source material. Today that changed when I got in two graphic novels focused on Rogue and the first I read and am now reviewing is simply Rogue. Rogue is a trade paperback anthology that compiles all four issues of the first Rogue comic book mini-series from 1995 . . . because apparently it took quite a while to convince either readers or Marvel Comics that Rogue could carry her own title.

Rogue is an anthology that gives Rogue more of a backstory than she had been granted in the decades prior. Going into the narrative essentially blind on the character, most of the broad strokes in Rogue were very easy to pick up. The nature of the characters' powers, the ongoing feud between assassins and thieves, etc. was written in a way that was fairly accessible. Ironically, for Rogue, the title character is being used more as a pawn in a scheme surrounding Gambit than being a story where the young mutant truly thrives and is focused upon!

After flying around, messing with some National Guard jets, Rogue returns to Earth to journey to Mississippi. Before she can leave New York, though, she has to deal with would-be rapists and Remy (Gambit), whom she is now dating. Rogue tells Remy that she needs to go back to Mississippi to see Cody, the boy she kissed and put into a coma, thus discovering her mutant abilities, years ago. When Rogue goes to visit Cody, he is gone from his room and she is almost immediately attacked. To keep Cody safe, she agrees to get a message from Bella Donna, who blames Rogue for some missing memories and threatens Rogue with ending Gambit's life.

Shaken, Rogue springs into action, while Bella Donna attempts to consolidate her power over the Assassin's Guild, which she has just inherited. Bella Donna is challenged by the External, Candra, who wants Gambit when Bella Donna is through with him. Rogue rescues Gambit from Bella Donna's assassins and then heads off to New Orleans to try to stop her, without Gambit. While Gambit gets himself captured, Rogue fights her way to Bella Donna's mansion where she confronts the thief Gris-Gris and the mutant Fifolet. Despite being briefly incapacitated by voodoo powder, Rogue fights off the lackeys until she is confronted by Candra. But Candra's endgame is different from Bella Donna's; she betrays the head of the Assassins, robs both Bella Donna and Rogue of their powers and sets them against each other.

Rogue is written with a lot of dialect - both for Rogue's Southern drawl and Remy's cajun accent. The writing is clear enough that it is understandable, though there are passages that it helps to read aloud just to get the cadence's right! Far more irksome than the accents are the obvious expositions, like the writers describing Rogue and Gambit's relationship when they are first seated together talking at the bar, Harry's Hideaway. Rogue's revelation to Remy about her history with Cody is presented far more melodramatically than with realism, which is a bit disappointing.

Also disappointing is how the assassins are hyped, but have minimal impact within the narrative. Gambit surviving the legendary assassins seems dubious, as does Rogue - though at least Rogue contemplates how to defeat them using her X-Men training. For the major conflicts, though, there are remarkably few consequences - until Candra takes away Rogue's abilities (which include invulnerability thanks to what she did to Carol Danvers in the past).

That said, when Rogue is stabbed, the internal dialogue is quite good. Having been invulnerable for so long, Rogue has had a muted sense of touch and that is an extraordinarily good detail.

Alas, not all of the details in Rogue are so good or so well-executed. The artwork, for example, is very hit or miss. While all of the characters are easily recognizable, the visuals are not entirely clear when it comes to movement and action within the panels. Chief among these is during Rogue's fight with Bella Donna. Rogue commits to a course of action - ". . .this!" - and in the panel the action is not at all clear. Is she punching? She had been doing that. Is she taking a step back? Who knows?! The artwork is seriously inscrutable.

Ultimately, Rogue was interesting and accessible enough, but it was hardly a compelling Rogue solo story . . . or a story that satisfactorily revealed something new about her backstory.

For other works with X-Men, please check out my reviews of:
House Of M By Brian Michael Bendis
The Road To Civil War By Brian Michael Bendis And J. Michael Straczynski
Avengers Vs. X-Men: It's Coming

4/10

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

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mace Is Fleshed Out As "The Patriot" For A Banal Reversal!


The Good: Performances are fine, Good direction
The Bad: Boring reversals, Very straightforward plot
The Basics: "The Patriot" finally delves into Director Mace's story . . . only to undermine the character.


When it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is hard not to argue that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. bears the unfortunate brunt of the decisions made about the Universe at higher levels. While the "street level hero" shows occasionally allude to the blockbuster films, they occur within comparatively insular worlds (so far, just within different boroughs of New York City!) and, as a result, do not have to try to incorporate the sweeping changes films like Doctor Strange (reviewed here!) make to the universe. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., on the other hand, has to adapt to the changing universe and that pushes the show in ways that are not always inorganic. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe going into supernatural territory with Doctor Strange, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is being forced to blend "magic" with the Inhumans with the very spy-based Life Model Decoys that are now preoccupying the fourth season of the show. Unfortunately, the Life Model Decoy plotline is pushing Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. into an unfortunately repetitive place . . . especially considering that the last time a core character was replaced with a doppelganger, it was Agent May.

"The Patriot" picks up right after "Broken Promises" (reviewed here!) and it is impossible to discuss without some spoilers as to where Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been. Immediately before "The Patriot," Director Mace's political adversary was revealed to be fully in bed with the Watchdogs, to the extent that she was willing to kill her own now-Inhuman brother, and Dr. Radcliffe was revealed to be using Aida to try to get his hands on the Dark Hold himself. Radcliffe has Agent May in captivity, while the Life Model Duplicate May works within the S.H.I.E.L.D. base as his agent. "The Patriot" is immediately burdened with continuing the charade of LMD May in a credible way, while dealing with the fallout from Aida, the return of General Talbot, and finally explore Director Mace's backstory.

Jeffrey Mace does a p.r. event with Daisy to legitimize her place in S.H.I.E.L.D., claiming that her fugitive status was part of an undercover operation. During the event, Coulson and Mack witness General Talbot conspicuously transferring a case to an aid. When a sniper attacks, Daisy leaps into action while Director Mace is evacuated. Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Simmons is unnerved by agents attempting to study Aida's head. Fitz visits Dr. Radcliffe and advises him to stay away from S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters for a while. On the way back to h.q., the quinjet suffers a catastrophic failure and Mack, Mace and Coulson are the only survivors of the crashed vehicle. Before he will let Coulson head for hire ground to activate the satellite phone, Mace insists on trying to find his assistant (who was blown out of the plane).

In his attempt to find the Dark Hold, Radcliffe and Aida disagree about the methods Aida and LMD May might use. Mace is quickly revealed to be looking for the case attached to his aid's wrist. May wakes up and frees herself from Radcliffe's machines before Aida stops her escape. The survivors of the crash find that the Watchdogs are in the area, already searching for the case when they come upon it. While Talbot desperately tries to get answers out of the sniper, Simmons learns the truth about Mace and the mysterious briefcase. At the crash site, Mack and Coulson create a distraction while Mace recovers the case and opens it . . . exposing Mace's secret in the process! While the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents struggle to rescue Mack, Mace and Coulson, the downed trio fights to stay alive while the Watchdog/HYDRA agents hunt them!

"The Patriot" is another packed episode of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it is hard for viewers not to miss more intimate stories where a character is truly explored. So far, Director Mace seems to only have super strength as an Inhuman quality and at the outset of "The Patriot," that is his big apparent power. "The Patriot" creates a mystery around the briefcase that Mace is desperate to recover, which allows Project Patriot to be introduced to the narrative. The revelation of Mace's secret is surprisingly dull and given that there had been no significant manifestations of his powers outside basic super strength (Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Luke Cage all have that plus something more!), the idea behind Project Patriot is not nearly as surprising as it should have been.

John Hannah is good in "The Patriot." Far too often when a character is revealed to have villainous intentions, they start playing as evil whenever they are not interacting with the primary characters. Hannah plays Radcliffe as cool in the scenes with Fitz and he manages to suppress anything remotely villainous from his bearing in the way he plays the scientist. Instead, Radcliffe has a pretty solid character and Hannah plays him with consistency instead of making him suddenly into an obvious, generic adversary (as happened with Grant Ward, for example, when he was outed as HYDRA). Fortunately, in "The Patriot," Radcliffe steps back from being the Big Bad by admonishing Aida for using lethal force against S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.

Simmons continues to show glimmers of character development in "The Patriot." There is something inherently frustrating about watching Simmons in the episode as she goes toe to toe with Talbot and gets the General to acknowledge that she has operational control over S.H.I.E.L.D. . . . but then she cedes that control to Talbot instead of pursuing her own agenda. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. does not seem to know quite what to do with the character as she was jealous of Aida, no longer seems to have a strong emotional connection with Fitz and has begun to rise within the intelligence portion of S.H.I.E.L.D. (as opposed to the scientific division of the spy organization). But the writers seem unwilling to commit to giving her real power and pushing her character in a new direction as she keeps getting "put in her place" by Mace and now Talbot. That is disappointing to watch.

Mallory Jansen is good in the role of Aida in "The Patriot." Jansen is able to credibly play robotic with her deliveries and that makes her character feel fairly organic. Ironically, the big picture of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally becomes obvious in "The Patriot;" Lincoln Campbell and Hive had to be eliminated from the narrative before introducing LMDs because they were the two characters who could credibly expose every LMD ever! Come to think of it, Lash had to be taken from the narrative in order for Mace to credibly be used as the Director for the past several months in the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. narrative.

But here's the thing about "The Patriot;" it is not long into the episode before the viewer sits and wonders "what the hell is Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. now?!" S.H.I.E.L.D. is touted as a spy organization, but there is no adversary that Coulson and Mace's team is actually infiltrating or fighting - there is no coherent villain at their level within the Marvel Cinematic Universe at this point. So, they are spies in name only. At this point, Ghost Rider is gone, but the Dark Hold remains, so S.H.I.E.L.D. is an organization that is more or less the caretakers of supernatural artifacts in the world? And Fitz has a thing for Aida and the Inhumans are mostly gone, so it is hard to define just what the show is trying to do at this point.

"The Patriot" feels that aimless; it has a lot of elements thrown in and none truly pop or develop in a satisfying way.

For other television works with doppelgangers, please visit my reviews of:
"I Will Face My Enemy" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"The Zygon Inversion" - Doctor Who
"The Adversary" - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

4/10

For other reviews of elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, please check out my Marvel Cinematic Universe Review Index Page for a listing of all those reviews!

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