Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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.
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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.
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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.
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Joyful Perfection Makes For A Wonderful Anniversary Tribute! (My 300th Ornament Review!)


The Good: Surprisingly good balance, Excellent sculpt and coloring, Great size for the price, Impressive audio clip (for duration, volume, and quality!)
The Bad: None that I can find (though it is magnetized)
The Basics: The 2016 Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary ornament is a perfect ornament, much to my surprise!


As I make preparations for the whole new season of Hallmark ornament releases, I am finishing up the last of last year's ornament evaluations. 2016 was my biggest year for Hallmark ornament reviews and I was very excited by the width and breadth of the Hallmark ornament line. As I began to recognize just how many ornament reviews I had done and how many I had left, I decided that for my 300th ornament review, I wanted to review a truly special ornament. So, when I pulled out my wife's 2016 Disney's Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary ornament today for review, I was prepared for special; I was pleasantly surprised by perfection. The 25th Anniversary "Beauty And The Beast" ornament is wonderful and, perhaps unsurprisingly, perfect.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, “Beauty And The Beast” is a holiday ornament that features the the title characters dancing in front of the castle's somewhat expository stain glass window. Those who love the Disney animated film Beauty And The Beast (reviewed here!) will instantly recognize the scene and characters depicted in the ornament. The protagonists, a portion of the floor and the windowframe backdrop are all effectively incorporated into the 2016 Beauty And The Beast ornament.

Basics

“Beauty And The Beast” recreates dance scene between Belle and the Beast on a piece of the castle floor right in front of the stain glassed window that shows Belle dancing with the Prince. The sculpt is incredible, with all of the characters looking incredible and accurate. Measuring 5 1/2" tall, 4 1/8" wide and 2 1/8" deep, the “Beauty And The Beast” is comparatively huge and sold out fast from most Hallmark Gold Crown stores at the original issue price of $24.95. Despite 2016 being pretty well flooded with Disney ornaments, the 25th Anniversary Beauty And The Beast ornament was a pretty fast sell-out.

The Hallmark “Beauty And The Beast” ornament is made of a durable plastic and has the floor, windowframe and characters incredibly well-sculpted and then attached to one another. One of the instantly impressive aspects of the 2016 Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary ornament is that there are no noticeable seams on the ornament. The 2016 Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary ornament features instantly recognizable characters for Belle, with even the most subtle smile molded into her face, and the Beast. The castle floor and windowframe are molded with deep lines between the stones, which makes it look real, like it was constructed. The 2016 Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary ornament is molded precisely and accurately, making for one of the highest-quality Disney ornaments Hallmark ever produced.

On the coloring front, the Beauty And The Beast ornament is incredible. The window would seem to be the weak spot of the 2016 Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary ornament as it is a sticker instead of a translucent plastic insert (which other ornaments have done in the past). Rather incredibly, the sticker matches the tone and coloring of the characters on the ornament and the castle portion frame looks incredible with the coloring. The shading and depth of the rocks plays beautifully off the pearlescent quality to Belle's yellow dress. Every line of the colors for the Beast's outfit is crisp and clean; this is an immaculately colored ornament, down to the pin on the Beast's front ruffles.

The sculpt and coloring of the 2016 Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary ornament is incredible.

Features

As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, “Beauty And The Beast” has a battery-powered sound effect and it comes with two watch batteries to activate the sound effect. The sound effect is simple: pressing a button concealed that is fairly well-concealed in the rocks on the front right of the ornament causes the main song "Beauty And The Beast" to play from a speaker on the bottom of the ornament. This is Angela Lansbury singing the main song from the line "Tale as old as time . . ." through one chorus of the song. Despite the fact that Lansbury's character is not on the ornament, the sound clip works! The sound is clear and instantly recognizable to the fans.

Hallmark includes the batteries needed to operate the ornament. There is no light effect to the 2016 Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary ornament, but it is wonderful on its own without one.

Balance

As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake “Beauty And The Beast” ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate Disney Christmas Tree, the “Beauty And The Beast” ornament is an incredible ornament. The ornament has a steel hook loop that comes out of the top of the windowframe backdrop. From that position, the ornament hangs perfectly level. This is an exceptionally stable ornament that only sways when it (or the tree) is bumped or the button on the base is pressed.

Collectibility

Hallmark Keepsake began delving into the collectibles market in 1991 with Star Trek when it introduced the exceptionally limited edition original U.S.S. Enterprise ornament (reviewed here!). Since then, they have delved into virtually every other collectible franchise in an attempt to cash in on every major license. The Disney line-up has had a ton of ornaments made for it, with Beauty And The Beast being incredibly well-represented long before the 2016 Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary ornament. Despite that, the 2016 Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary ornament has exploded in value, arguably because of its quality. This ornament was one of the few non-limited edition Disney ornaments that was a sell-out in 2016 and fans seem to have responded to that. This was an incredibly pricy ornament initially, though it appreciated in value already. While the 2016 Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary ornament might seem expensive even at collectible prices, it is worth it!

Overview

2016 Beauty And The Beast 25th Anniversary ornament has a great sound clip, incredible balance and looks good in both sculpt and coloring, making it one of the best Disney - and best Hallmark - ornaments ever!

For other Disney Beauty And The Beast Hallmark ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2016 Lumiere Beauty And The Beast (Limited Edition)
2014 All Eyes On Belle Beauty And The Beast ornament
2013 Beautiful Belle Beauty And The Beast

10/10

For other ornament reviews, please visit my Ornament Review Index Page, there you will find an organized listing of all the ornaments I've reviewed!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Saturday, June 24, 2017

"World Enough And Time" Begins Capaldi's Final Arc Exceptionally Well!


The Good: Very well-plotted, Decent acting, Good effects and direction
The Bad: Light on theme
The Basics: "World Enough And Time" opens the final arc of Peter Capaldi as The Doctor by killing Bill . . . only to resurrect her in a new form of danger!


As Peter Capaldi's tenure on Doctor Who rushes towards its end, there is something ironic about the resurgence of Missy in the narrative. Missy is the latest incarnation of The Master and replaced the John Simm version of the character. Simm played The Master during the final arc of Russell T. Davies's run of Doctor Who before Steven Moffat took over as showrunner. So, with Moffat's run winding down, there is something ironic about both Missy and The Master, as portrayed by John Simm, returning to the narrative in "World Enough And Time."

"World Enough And Time" follows on the events of "The Eaters Of Light" (reviewed here!), which put Missy on the TARDIS in the role of Chief Engineer. While Nardole and Bill do not trust Missy, The Doctor has decided to take a chance on her and he is working actively on rehabilitating her. "World Enough And Time" is a proper Missy mission for Doctor Who.

Opening with The Doctor, with much longer hair, landing the TARDIS in an ice field, then coming out to collapse into regeneration, "World Enough And Time" flashes back. The TARDIS lands on a four mile long colony ship that is holding station near the mouth of a black hole. Bill and Nardole accompany Missy out of the TARDIS; The Doctor has Missy on a test run for being decent and not killing. Unfortunately, no sooner has the team stepped onto the colony ship's command center than they are addressed by someone elsewhere on the ship and a moment later, a blue man appears on the bridge. The alien holds Missy and her Companions at gunpoint and demands to know which of the group is a human. When Bill admits that it is her, The Doctor rushes out of the TARDIS to try to defuse the situation. Unfortunately, the alien shoots Bill and kills her.

Moments later, the lifts arrive on the bridge and mysteriously-wrapped humanoids come for Bill. They claim to be able to fix Bill and before they can be stopped, they take Bill's corpse away to the furthest reaches of the colony ship. There, Bill wakes up with a mechanical heart in her chest and she is told by the roguish Mr. Razor that she has been recovering there for weeks. While Bill explores the mysterious hospital and the polluted world of the bottom of the colony ship, horrified to discover humans are being altered in a hideous conversion to evolve them to survive the trip to higher levels. Meanwhile, The Doctor, Missy and Nardole figure out how the colony ship is experiencing time dilation and they prepare to make a journey to rescue Bill.

"World Enough And Time" is a set-up episode and it puts a big burden on the next episode, though it is astonishingly good in and of itself. In fact, the issues "World Enough And Time" has in the larger continuity of Doctor Who need not be addressed in this episode given that they work to place the important characters in the story, as opposed to trying to place the episode in the larger continuity. That said, "World Enough And Time" starts as a lively Missy episode and they quickly turns into a Bill episode whereby she is put into an increasingly dangerous situation and she comes to understand the nature of the setting that The Doctor and his team are walking into.

Missy reaches the logical point in her season-long character arc as The Doctor takes a chance on her redemption and the idea that Missy has spent more than a thousand years in isolation make her fuzzy memory in the episode work. "World Enough And Time" marks the return of the familiar and delightful Missy; she is crazy, witty and fun to watch for almost her entire time on screen.

Bill, sadly, is killed early in the episode and the mechanical method of her return is well-foreshadowed even for those who did not have the revelation spoiled by the episode preview last week. Bill waits and waits for The Doctor while she slowly comes to understand how the people on level 1056 are dying and just what Conversion is. It is a slow descent into horror for Bill's character and it is hard not to feel bad for the brief Companion when she is shot clear through her chest. The viewer easily feels worse for her by the episode's end, though in this way the larger continuity of Steven Moffat's tenure of Doctor Who becomes a little bit of an issue; Moffat created a virtually identical reveal for Bill's fate at the climax of his first real Missy episode.

"World Enough And Time" takes time to explain the gravitational physics of time - though the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Blink Of An Eye" (reviewed here!) did something very similar - near the black hole and that keeps The Doctor and his team out of much of the narrative. Instead, this is very much Bill's episode as she gets to know Mr. Razor, who seems quirky and like a weird lifeline for The Doctor's Companion.

"World Enough And Time" is well-directed and clever, even if it is light on any sort of themes. The episode is plot-heavy and works on multiple character revelations, but it is insular within Doctor Who; it is not making any form of larger statement, which is a hallmark of great science fiction. But for the first time in a long time, Doctor Who delivers a truly solid and truly great episode, even if it is somewhat limited to being essential only to fans of the series itself.

For other works with John Simm, please check out my reviews of:
"Utopia"
"The Sound Of Drums"
"Last Of The Time Lords"
"The End Of Time, Part 1"
"The End Of Time, Part 2"

9/10

For other Doctor Who episode and season reviews, please visit my Doctor Who Review Index Page!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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How Did Real Chocolate Make Them Less-Than?! Peeps Delights Chocolate Mousse Candies!


The Good: Good taste, Great scent, The milk chocolate is flavorful
The Bad: Comparatively expensive, Marshmallow is virtually unflavored
The Basics: Peeps Chocolate Mousse Delights marshmallow candies are all right, but not exceptional.


My wife stocked me up recently on a wide variety of all sorts of flavors of Peeps candies, despite the fact that original Peeps (reviewed here!) have never truly been a staple around our house. Ironically, a long time ago, I reviewed Chocolate Mousse Peeps (reviewed here!), so when I sat down to review the Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps, I had a reasonable hope that the newer Peeps would be a step up, perhaps even achieving perfection for Just Born Peeps. Unfortunately, it seems like the recipe was changed in the years in between or the real chocolate of the Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps completely overwhelms the flavoring within the marshmallow to make it a far more average confection than an extraordinary one.

Basics

Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps are a marshmallow candy that were introduced in 2017 during the Easter Season. Thus far, they are a pack of three Chocolate Mousse Peeps chicks with about 1/8" milk chocolate coating the underside of the chick. These are not coated in milk chocolate all the way around and they were produced exclusively by Just Born. The three pack of Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps tended to run $1.99 - $2.99, which is a bit more than the average price of a four-pack of the regular Peeps.

Each Chocolate Mousse Delights Peep is almost two inches long by 3/4" wide by 3/4" tall and they are sugar-coated marshmallow candies with a very thin milk chocolate shell on the underside.

Ease Of Preparation

Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps are simple to prepare. Simply unwrap the plastic around the tray and pull each one out. Each of the Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps is contained within its own plastic tray. Unlike the regular Peeps, the Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps tend not to have their sugar fall off. As a result, they seem to be more clean and easy to eat; simply remove it from the package and consume!

Taste

Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps smell delightfully of chocolate and the chocolate aroma is strong and distinct. The bouquet is very accurate to the smell of milk chocolate mousse.

On the flavor front, the Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps are entirely dominated by the milk chocolate on the bottom of the Peeps. The Chocolate Mousse flavor taste is incredibly mild. In fact, the marshmallow portion of the Peeps tastes almost entirely of generic marshmallow. The mousse flavor does not carry through the marshmallow flavoring, but the chocolate on the bottom makes it a fairly well-flavored Peeps Delight candy.

The Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps have a strong chocolate aftertaste that dissipates a few moments after the last Peep is eaten.

Nutrition

Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps are a candy, not a health food packed with nutritional benefits. The three Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps in a package are a single serving. A serving has 160 calories, thirty of which are from fat. Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps have two grams of saturated fat, which is 11% of one's RDA of saturated fat. There are 15 mg of sodium and 1 gram of protein in each three Peep serving. There are no vitamins or other nutritional benefits to Peeps, outside 2% of one's RDA of Iron and Calcium.

The main ingredients in Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps are sugar, milk chocolate and corn syrup. Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps are gluten free, but are not Vegan compliant considering there is gelatin, milk fat and carnauba wax. There is nothing overly unfamiliar in the ingredient list, so these are not the worst candies ever on the nutrition front.

Storage/Clean-Up

Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps are easy enough to store. The Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps my wife picked up last month had an expiration date of November 2017, so keeping them at room temperature or below seems to keep them fresh for a long period of time.

Clean-up is as easy, unless the milk chocolate melts onto something. Because the sugar does not seem inclined to fall off, truly the melting milk chocolate - or the melting Peep - is the only real worry. Like the preparation, there is nothing hard about storing or cleaning up after this candy. The milk chocolate, though, does seem susceptible to melting.

Overall

Chocolate Mousse Delights Peeps are all right, but they do not pop the way I would have hoped coming in.

For other Peeps candy reviews, please check out:
Blueberry Delights Peeps
Chocolate Creme Peeps
Candy Cane Dipped In Chocolate Peeps

5.5/10

For other candy reviews, please visit my Candy Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Mainstream Fetish: The Misogyny Of Sucker Punch [Review This Again]


The Good: Moments of direction, One or two performances
The Bad: Problematic plot, Constantly unsettling tone, Lack of distinct or intriguing characters, Most of the acting, Poor editing, Unrelenting misogyny in the writing
The Basics: Sucker Punch twists a disturbing creepy setting and a horrible personal tragedy into a masturbatory visual fantasy that falls utterly flat.


[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 Sucker Punch after many years, devoid of the hype that surrounded the movie and with more experience as both a reviewer and one who has seen more works by co-writer and director Zack Snyder. The film was originally reviewed here!]

My wife and I recently began watching the television series American Gods and it did not take long into the series before I found myself looking at actress Emily Browning, who plays Laura Moon in American Gods, and thinking that she looked somewhat familiar. The "somewhat" became clear the moment I realized that she was the same actress who played the lead in Sucker Punch; with only six or seven years between the first season of American Gods and Sucker Punch, Emily Browning's appearance did not significantly change. Instead, the reason it took me so long to identify the actress on American Gods was that she had more than three expressions on the television show. In Sucker Punch, Emily Browning's performance is unfortunately limited to staring blankly, expressing anguish, and screaming defiantly.

Sucker Punch is one of those films I recall being very excited about, swept up at the time in the promotions for it, and then incredibly disappointed by it when I rushed out to see it in the theater. My enthusiasm for the film was originally sparked by how much I enjoyed Zack Snyder's cinematic rendition of Watchmen (reviewed here!), but when I watched Sucker Punch, I recalled only feeling like it was a half-assed rewrite of Brazil (reviewed here!). But, seeing Emily Browning episode after episode on American Gods, I felt like perhaps I had misjudged Sucker Punch and I decided to watch Sucker Punch again.

I was wrong about Sucker Punch in my initial assessment.

Sucker Punch is worse than it initially appeared; on many levels. I have often been called a tough reviewer, one who is much harsher in evaluating films than many other reviewers. When it came to Sucker Punch, though, I quickly discovered in watching the movie again that I was not nearly stringent enough in my standards.

Watching Sucker Punch again, this time on a smaller screen, the film's flaws are far more glaring. While the movie initially appeared to be visually-spectacular, one of the things that caught me in watching Sucker Punch again was how unfortunately choppy much of the editing was. Given that I alternated between utterly bored by and appropriately horrified by the story, the fact that Sucker Punch cannot be relied upon to be considered even a visual masterpiece made the film an utter disappointment.

Sucker Punch is a film that attempts to be clever, but quickly degenerates into visual garbage. The movie focuses on a young woman who is not even given a proper name in the film. "Babydoll" is only given that name when she is committed to an insane asylum, as part of her fantasy sequence where she tries to escape the horrors of her new reality. Sucker Punch opens with Babydoll's mother dying, her step father getting custody of her and her sister and her mother's will granting everything to Babydoll and her sister. When their step father advances upon Babydoll to rape her, she resists, but in barricading herself away from him, she leaves her sister vulnerable to his attack. While the stepfather assaults her sister, Babydoll recovers his gun and breaks into her sister's room. There, she tries to kill her stepfather, but accidentally kills her sister. Babydoll is in shock when her stepfather has her committed to an insane asylum in Vermont where he bribes the orderly, Blue Jones, to have Babydoll lobotomized.

Five days into her stay in the asylum, Babydoll is set to be lobotomized against her will. And attentive viewers will notice that the film is pretty much over at that point. What follows this opening set-up is Babydoll having fantasies of the asylum being a very different place and within that dream, she imagines escape fantasies involving herself and four other inmates of the asylum.

Sucker Punch is a dark set up for absolute narrative garbage. The entire film is established as a cheap reversal flick where only the least-observant audience will notice that the narrator completely shifts as Babydoll transitions from the lobotomy chair to the stage within a brothel nightclub. The thing is, as unsophisticated as that is, Sucker Punch becomes even more clumsy as it nears its climax. One of the other patients at the asylum, Sweet Pea, becomes the film's protagonist in the film's final moments and that makes Sucker Punch one giant narrative tense slip, where its characters and dreams within a dream make no rational sense.

Co-writer Zack Snyder hopes viewers will not notice that the film does not make rational sense as Babydoll is given the role of apparent protagonist when she is constantly a victim and damsel in distress . . . always bailed out by men. For sure, Babydoll and her comrades have grand fantasy sequences where they slaughter steampunk zombies, orcs, dragons, samurai warriors, and twisted men, but it is hard to ignore two things: 1. those sequences are supposed to be analogies for training as the young women learn to work together and fight alongside each other (which makes no sense because in the fantasies, they are entirely proficient in every way) and 2. the sequences are fantasies for Babydoll escaping her reality . . . which is supposed to be her dancing in such a sexy and seductive way and objectifying herself that it distracts all of the men around her.

One of the fundamental issues with Sucker Punch is that it acknowledges its own sickness early on, but does nothing to fix it. Sweet Pea's proper introduction to Sucker Punch is the young woman, playing Babydoll in a play, rejecting the premise of sexualizing a lobotomy victim. Sweet Pea wants better material than a rape fantasy to portray and that is, sadly, the last moment where a woman is given an opportunity in Sucker Punch to stand up for herself and stand up against the patriarchy in a coherent way.

So, what follows are five chicks running around in short skirts, dancewear, tight tops, underwear, stockings, Hot Topic fetishwear, etc. shooting guns, running, and swinging swords when they are not in a more mundane fantasy where they are being constantly assaulted, exploited or menaced by men within the asylum/club.

The real peak of suckitude (it's hard to take Sucker Punch seriously, much less evaluating it like it deserves a high level of diction to deconstruct) is that with the writing being so terrible, only two performers are truly allowed to break out and show genuine range . . . and they are both men. Sucker Punch might have ass-kicking women on screen, but the female characters are monolithic and hard to empathize with. To be clear, it is easy to be horrified by Babydoll's abuse and her accidental killing of her sister. But that's over in the first ten minutes and the rest of the movie has Emily Browning running around wearing very little, performing with a blank expression for Zack Snyder's elaborate rape fantasy. Browning, Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jamie Chung are given surprisingly little to do as the female characters other than cosplay and run around.

So, it is somewhat surprising when Oscar Isaac and Scott Glenn steal Sucker Punch. Glenn plays the sensei character who actually has a chance to smile in his final scene and play (no matter how nonsensical the leap is) a character who is genuinely good in a dark mess of a film. At the other end of the spectrum is Oscar Isaac. Isaac portrays Blue Jones with constant menace and a skeevie quality that is unsettling to watch. There is not a hint of the jubilation he portrayed as Poe Dameron in The Force Awakens (reviewed here!) or his innate charisma. Instead, Isaac is a thoroughly despicable villain in Sucker Punch and he rides the tone of constant menace and misogynistic malice from beginning to end.

Ultimately, Sucker Punch is a mess and on the small screen, it becomes even more obvious how bad the film's content actually is. The sound for Sucker Punch cranks up the music and plummets for the dialogue. Sadly, even if one watches Sucker Punch with the volume muted, it is no better a film. Sucker Punch could be called "empowering to women" only as tongue in cheek; Sweet Pea nails it early on - Sucker Punch is a sick fantasy wherein young women at their most vulnerable are subjugated, robbed of their identity and ultimately given an entirely irrational narrative in place of an authentic story.

For other works with Jamie Chung, please check out my reviews of:
Flock Of Dudes
Big Hero 6
The Hangover Part III
The Hangover Part II
I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry

1.5/10

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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Friday, June 23, 2017

Weak And Less-Distinct, Trading Phrases Chocolate Toffee Tea Is Not Bad!


The Good: Good ingredients, Nicely caffeinated
The Bad: Weak, Generic tea flavor, Comparatively expensive
The Basics: Trading Phrases Chocolate Toffee tea is momentarily intriguing, but the execution of the idea is not borne out by the flavor.


When my wife picked up some Trading Phrases Chocolate Toffee Tea, we both thought that it would be a slam-dunk for me. I love chocolate and I've had some good chocolate flavored teas. So, when I brewed up some of the new Chocolate Toffee Tea, I was pretty psyched. Unfortunately, the Trading Phrases attempt at the flavors does not live up in a satisfying way to its promise.

Basics

Chocolate Toffee Tea is a black tea from Trading Phrases. This is a tea blend that is a black tea with a bunch of additives to it, though it is mostly natural. The Trading Phrases Chocolate Toffee is a loose-leaf tea.

Ease Of Preparation

As a tea, Chocolate Toffee is fairly easy to prepare. One and a half teaspoons of the loose leaf tea will make a full 8 oz. mug full of tea. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, though the tea leaves cannot be reused for a second brewing.

To prepare Chocolate Toffee tea, bring a pot of water to 212 degrees (Fahrenheit) and pour it over the tea leaves (once they are in the steeping chamber). This tea takes three minutes to steep according to the directions. In my experience, it gets no stronger after three minutes, which is a little disappointing because this was a fairly weak-flavored tea.

Taste

The Trading Phrases Chocolate Toffee tea has a fairly mild and sweet aroma to it. The smell of sweet, buttery toffee blends nicely with the aroma of black tea. There is nothing in the scent that even hints at chocolate.

On the tongue, the Chocolate Toffee tea tastes dry and slightly sweet. The flavor is mostly black tea, though it has a dry sweetness to it, reminiscent of sweetened chocolate. The flavor has no real taste of toffee to it - there is nothing buttery in its flavor - the chocolate barely holds its own against the black tea. As a result, this is a mostly tea-flavored tea with hints of dry cocoa to it.

The Trading Phrases Chocolate Toffee tea has a temporarily dry aftertaste to it.

Nutrition

The ingredients to this tea are more diverse than many other teas, but the dominant ingredients are: black tea, cocoa beans, and toffee bits. There is nothing that cannot be pronounced in this tea.

In terms of nutrition, this tea is devoid of it. One 8 oz. mug of this tea provides nothing of nutritional value to the drinker. There are no calories (save what one adds from sugar, if one adds it), no fat, sodium, or protein. This is, however, a caffeinated tea and it packs a bit of a caffeine kick to it!

Storage/Clean-up

Chocolate Toffee tea is very easy to clean up, provided the brewed tea does not get on fabric. The tea leaves themselves may be disposed of in the garbage, or composted if you have a good garden and/or compost pile. The tea itself will stain a mug a faint brown if it is left there for days on end, but otherwise may be cleaned up easily by rinsing out whatever it is brewed in.

Chocolate Toffee is a fairly dark brown tea and as a result, it will stain any light fabrics it comes in contact with. As a result, it is highly recommended that one not let it linger on anything they wish to protect and not have stained. It may be cleaned off if the spill is caught quickly, but if it lingers, it is not at all easy to wash out of clothes, linens or other fabrics.

Overall

Trading Phrases Chocolate Toffee is a mediocre tea that is not rich in a true, promised, flavor, but it is not a bad flavored tea, making it a tougher sell than it ought to have been.

For other tea reviews, please check out:
Celestial Seasonings Jammin’ Lemon Ginger Tea
Stash Christmas Eve tea
Oregon Chai Dreamscape Herbal Chai Tea

4/10

For other tea reviews, please visit my Food And Drink Index Page for a complete list!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Women Can Be Just As Stupid At Men: The Gospel Of Rough Night.


The Good: Good initial characterizations, Decent performances
The Bad: Not at all funny, Mediocre direction, No big performance moments, Lousy characters
The Basics: Rough Night very quickly illustrates that women can make a movie as terrible as an comedy focused on idiotic men.


When it comes to summer comedies, it is a rare thing for major studios to bother with chasing the female demographic. Come to think of it, Summer Blockbuster Season seldom bothers with women, so when Rough Night was announced, I was actually intrigued. Scarlett Johansson has a tendency to pick good projects, so despite the initial plot of Rough Night sounding like something I would not be inherently drawn toward, I had some faith in it based upon Johansson participating in it. Sadly, Rough Night is one of Scarlett Johansson's big misses on the big screen and it is such a bad film that it is almost enough to make viewers believe that there is an organized conspiracy in the entertainment industry against women. The business of making movies is a business and if movies focused on women, featuring women fail at the box office, it makes a business argument against making films with women for women. So, if there ever were a conspiracy designed to rig the filmmaking business against women, movies like Rough Night would be at the heart of such a plan.

Rough Night is a d-rate rewrite of The Hangover (reviewed here!) with a predominately female cast. Sadly, Rough Night seems significant mostly for the idea that women can make movies that are just as horrible as anything a man can make. This is, sadly, not a milestone one would suspect women would be striving to achieve, but Rough Night reaches for that brass ring and never lets go of it. Unlike something like The Hangover, that managed to be a surprisingly funny and clever summer comedy, Rough Night burns its funniest moment out in the first five minutes and then falls flat for the remaining hour and thirty-six minutes.

In 2006, Jess, Alice, Blair and Frankie are dormmates, where Alice manages to be the first woman to win beer pong against one of the fraternities. Ten years later, Jess is running for the Senate and is planning to get married. Alice reunites the quartet in Miami for Jess's bachelorette party, which she has planned out as a rowdy weekend. Jess's biggest campaign donor loans her a beach house in Miami, made almost entirely of glass, and Alice is irked when Jess's Australian friend Pippa joins the bachelorette party. When Jess wants to poop out for the night, Frankie supplies the women with cocaine, which they do before going out for the night. Returning to the beach house, the women are thrilled when the stripper Frankie found on Craig's List arrives. Unfortunately, when Alice lustily leaps upon the stripper, she knocks him over, killing him.

Freaked out because they were high at the time and do not believe they can go to the authorities with the dead body in the house or dispose of it well (whatwith anyone being able to see in), the women fight over what to do next. When they decide to dump the body in the ocean, the swinging neighbors become an issue. While Blair takes on the neighbors, the others try to dispose of the corpse. But things get even more complicated when a stripper arrives and the nature of the man who was killed comes into question.

Rough Night is not particularly funny, the funniest joke actually comes up early and is related to Jess's political career, more than any of the issues that follow during the bachelorette weekend. At the core of the problems with Rough Night is that the characters are all monotonal and the plot motivates the decisions made in the film more than the characters. Jess is well-established as an aspiring politician, Frankie is a political activist, and Blair is nearing the end of a rough custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband. But Frankie has a pretty massive supply of cocaine and betrays her NSA-loathing values by owning a cell phone, Jess is incredibly willing to do cocaine and seems to trust that none of the weekend's activities might make it to social media and ruin her campaign, and none of Blair's friends know that she is getting divorced (which is one of only two elements of characterizations he is given). In other words, the characters are established, but then they act entirely against their initial characterization; they are not growing and developing in the course of Rough Night, their characterizations is simply betrayed.

With much of the humor in Rough Night falling flat and the characters not being particularly well-defined, the predictable nature of the plot arc robs the movie of any lingering entertainment value. Rough Night plods to a pretty obvious end with much of what one expects coming to pass, like the loathing Alice has for Pippa getting resolved and the failed relationship between Blair and Frankie getting rekindled. The acting talents of Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell and Ty Burrell are completely wasted in Rough Night given that none of the main performers are given anything that truly stretches their range to do.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Rough Night is that the film degenerates into a familiar level of misogyny and violence against women that is pretty common in films that try to blend comedy and violence. One would think that in a comedy intended for women, with female protagonists, perhaps it would avoid scenes with women getting the crap kicked out of them or taken advantage of sexually, but Rough Night treads into the unfortunately banal, familiar, and stupid range that one expects of Summer Blockbuster Season comedies.

It's unfortunate that co-writer and director Lucia Aniello went for the lowbrow instead of the audacious for her big screen, Summer Blockbuster Season debut.

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

2/10

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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Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Rare Disappointment From Suave: Suave Professionals Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage Conditioner


The Good: Fairly priced
The Bad: Less effective than other Suave Professionals conditioners, Medicinal scent, Not cone-free (is that even still a thing?)
The Basics: Suave Professionals Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage Conditioner is not at all the highlight of a usually good line.


After a bit of damage from a styling product, my hair is pretty much, finally, back to normal. As such, I've been more willing to experiment with hair care products once again. So, when my wife picked me up a bottle of Suave Professionals Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage Conditioner, I thought nothing of starting to use it. Unfortunately, I did notice some mediocre results and on my experimental days with the conditioner - wherein I used only the Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage Conditioner and no leave-in conditioner - I noticed my hair was less manageable and voluminous than the other days. In other words, on its own, Suave Professionals Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage Conditioner is not strong or effective enough to satisfy consumers.

The Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage conditioner is a little more expensive than the average Suave conditioner and it is not cone free. The third ingredient in this conditioner ends in "-cone," so this product cannot be considered cone free. Given how the Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage conditioner appeared to do nothing noticeable or significant to the benefit of my hair, this is the first conditioner that might actually illustrate to me that "cones" are bad for one's hair care!

Suave has been expanding its line of inexpensive shampoos and conditioners into the professional haircare market where they are trying to compete with shampoos and conditioners from the likes of Pureology. With Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage Conditioner, the brand takes a bit of a hit. In virtually every market in the United States, Suave Professionals shampoos and conditioners may be found on sale for $6.99 for a 28 fl. oz. bottle. The Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage conditioner has a strongly medicinal aroma to it. The 28 fl. oz. bottle is a flat tube bottle with a flip-top lid that is easy enough to open with one hand. While it gets slippery when wet, it is easy enough to hold onto because of the flattened sides.

Inside the bottles is Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage conditioner and it is a white colored cream, which resembles hand cream or body butter in its consistency. This conditioner is one of the thicker ones I have encountered it truly requires one to work it into the hair. It does not leave a scent on the hair; at least, I could find no scent in my hair ten minutes after my hair was dry.

When it comes to use, this is a simple conditioner 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 Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage conditioner requires a decent-sized dollop to condition a full head of hair. After one has cleaned their hair with a shampoo and rinsed it out, this may be applied to the hair. I have better than shoulder-length hair and it takes approximately a heaping half-dollar-sized blob of conditioner to make it stretch through my mane. Like most conditioners, this does not lather and instead it is applied to the hair and scalp almost like a butter.

In the case of the Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage conditioner, as I've noticed often with conditioners lately, there is about a three-to-one ratio to the shampoo because conditioners do not dilute out from lathering. As a result, the 28 oz. bottle may last only a few weeks with daily hair conditionings.

The Suave Professionals Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage Conditioner did surprisingly little for my hair. Used without any other conditioning products, my hair became more dry, less-manageable and breakage increased. This was not an ideal hair conditioner.


Added to that, the Suave Professionals Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage Conditioner had a pretty terrible scent. The scent might not last on the hair very long, but the strongly medicinal smell was a big detraction while in the shower. The acrid, medicinal smell made me flinch the first time I used the conditioner it was so unpleasant.

It is rare when a product line is made up, entirely, of winning products. For Suave Professionals conditioners, the Natural Infusion with Awapuhi Ginger & Honeysuckle Anti-Breakage conditioner is definitely the loser of the line!

For other Suave conditioners, please check out my reviews of:
Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Smoothing Conditioner
Suave Professionals Almond + Shea Butter Conditioner
Orchid Petal

3/10

For more haircare reviews, please check out 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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