Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 2014 End Of The Month Report!

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W.L. Swarts Reviews The Universe continued well through April with a few ironic twists! This month’s most hit review was not the early review of an expected blockbuster, but rather an indie film that pretty much sucked! We were bolstered well by independent cinema reviews as well as new reviews of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes and some cool television reviews!

This month was a growth month for W.L. Swarts Reviews The Universe! We focused on building our readership and producing some real quality reviews and to that end we succeeded. We might not have broken any records for the blog this month, but it was a solid month of reviews with a decent chunk of reviews in the docket for a continued strong May with some big new movie reviews forthcoming!

This month at W.L. Swarts Reviews The Universe, there we had no new additions to the Top Ten Of All Time. This month, we put special emphasis on food, new indie cinema, the musical works of Sting and Joni Mitchell and Star Trek: Enterprise episodes! Thanks for all the "likes" for those posts, as well as all of the new hits on older reviews!

This month, we picked up two new subscribers, which we are VERY excited about. We are always trying to get people to become regular readers and subscribe, so if you enjoy what you're reading, please subscribe by clicking on the right side of the blog to get updates with each posting. As well, if you read a review that really affects you, be sure to "share" it! PLEASE share a link to the blog, not the content of the article; this keeps people coming to the site and, hopefully, liking what they find once they are here! We're hoping to continue to grow our readership this year, so sharing and subscribing to the blog is an important way you can help! If you’re subscribing, please tell your friends about the blog!

In April, the index pages were very regularly! The primary Index Page, which we try to update daily, lets you know what the featured review is and has an up-to-the-day tally of how many reviews have been reviewed in each category! Check it out!

If you enjoy the reviews, please consider clicking on the links in the reviews and purchasing items. We really appreciate all the purchases made through the blog as that keeps us going. Thank you so much! Thanks so much to all of the shoppers who have been spending during tax refund season and going through the blog to do so!

At the end of April 2014, I have reviewed the following:
495 - Book Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Star Trek Books
Graphic Novels
862 - Music (Album and Singles) Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Music Reviews By Rating (Best To Worst)
Music Reviews In Alphabetical Order
2535 - Movie and Television Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Movies By Rating (Best Movie to Worst)
Movies In Alphabetical Order
Best Picture Oscar Winner Film Reviews
Television Reviews
The Star Trek Review Index Page (All Star Trek Reviews In Order)!
The Star Trek Review Index Page (All Star Trek Reviews From The Best Of The Franchise To The Worst!)!
203 - Trading and Gaming Card Reviews
Gaming Cards Reviews
Star Trek Gaming Cards Reviews
Star Wars Gaming Cards Reviews
The Lord Of The Rings Trading Card Game Reviews
Other Gaming Cards Reviews
Trading Cards Reviews
728 - Toy and Christmas Ornament Reviews
with specialized pages for:
Ornament Reviews
Star Trek Toys
Star Wars Toys
Lord Of The Rings Toys
Buffy The Vampire Slayer/Angel Toys
Comic Book, Movie, Television Toys
Plush and Other Toys
758 - Food, Drink, And Restaurant Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Cheese and Meats
Ice Cream
Other Food
211 - Pet Product Reviews
Cat Product Reviews
Dog Product Reviews
Rabbit Product Reviews
107 - Travel Reviews
Destinations Reviews
Hotels Reviews
166 - Health And Beauty Product Reviews
172 - Home, Garden, Appliance and Tool Reviews
93 - Electronics, Computers, Computer Games and Software Reviews
36 - Other Product Reviews

The Featured Review For The Month of April is: Divergent, which I was largely unimpressed by.
Check it out!

The month of April had a lot of movement within the month and was (predictably) dominated by new reviews, with some interesting resurging reviews (like How I Met Your Mother Season 1!). For April, the Top Ten Reviews of the month were:
10. Snowpiercer
9. ”Nothing Personal” - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
8. The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The Rise Of Electro
7. How I Met Your Mother - Season 1
6. In Your Eyes
5. The Top Ten Episodes Of Frasier
4. The Top Ten Episodes Of Star Trek: Voyager
3. ”The End Of The Beginning” - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
2. ”Turn, Turn, Turn” - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
1. Authors Anonymous

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

For my reviews, the current count is:
10s - 290 reviews
9s - 417 reviews
8s - 801 reviews
7s - 898 reviews
6s - 815 reviews
5s - 1069 reviews
4s - 776 reviews
3s - 621 reviews
2s - 280 reviews
1s - 195 reviews
0s - 88 reviews
No rating - 64 articles/postings

There was a decent amount of movement this month, but there were no new entries into the Top Ten. At the end of April 2014, the most popular reviews/articles I have written are:
10. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
9. Safe Haven
8. Oz The Great And Powerful
7. The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bone
6. Warm Bodies
5. Iron Man 3
4. Now You See Me
3. Tyler Perry's Temptation
2. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
1. Man Of Steel

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

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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A Little More Watery Than Extraordinary, Illy Issimo Mochaccino Is Only Average.

The Good: Flavorful, Inexpensive
The Bad: A little weaker than I would want for either of the main flavors
The Basics: Illy Issimo Mochaccino is a mild Italian Espresso Style Coffee Drink that is good, but not incredible.

Every Friday and Saturday for the last few weeks, I have picked my wife up a coffee drink so she has something from me on her way to work. There are very few that I try myself, but when I bought her the little can of Illy Issimo Mochaccino at the local discount store, I decided to indulge. The Illy Issimo Mochaccino was a nice way to wake up, but it is by no means the strongest coffee drink I have ever tried.


Illy Issimo Mochaccino is an Italian Espresso Style Coffee Drink, like Starbucks style prepared coffee beverage. Unlike a sports drink which is targeted to replace specific nutrients the body loses while working out, Italian Espresso Style Coffee Drinks are intended to provide quick energy and an alternative to hot coffee products. The Illy Issimo Mochaccino comes in an 8.45 fl. oz. aluminum can. This is a slightly smaller than normal drink can and it is opened with the usual metal tab which gives the consumer access to the beverage.

The 8.45 oz. can is a single serving of Illy Issimo Mochaccino and it is very easy to drink it down in a single sitting.

Ease Of Preparation

Illy Issimo Mochaccino is a liquid in the 8.45 oz. can which is best served chilled. The Mochaccino is mixed easily by shaking it gently and that insures that if the contents have settled one gets a homogenous fluid. I recommend refrigerating the can first as the somewhat diluted flavor seems accented when it is room temperature.


Illy Issimo Mochaccino smells like chocolate. Opening the can, I was surprised by how there was no scent of the metal can. Instead, this smells just like chocolate milk, without a hint of coffee to the bouquet.

On the tongue, Illy Issimo Mochaccino is strongly the flavor of coffee with a sweetness to it that cuts through any coffee bitterness. The chocolate flavor blends with the coffee fairly well. There is no hint of milky flavor to this coffee beverage. Instead, there is a slightly watery taste to it. The somewhat diluted taste undermines the usually strong chocolate and coffee flavor of mocha coffee drinks.

Due to the somewhat diluted flavor of the coffee drink, the Illy Issimo Mochaccino actually leaves a far milder aftertaste than virtually any other coffee drink I have yet tried.


As an Italian Espresso Style Coffee Drink, Illy Issimo Mochaccino is made primarily of coffee, milk and sugar. There are a few preservatives, but a lot less than one might expect. Nutritionally, Illy Issimo Mochaccino is nothing one wants to try to live off of. Illy Issimo Mochaccino has 19 grams of sugar and one hundred calories, ten of which are from fat. As well, there are 55 mg (2% RDA) of sodium in each serving (which is one can full). There are no significant nutrients in this beverage.


Illy Issimo Mochaccino comes in an aluminum can and it does not need to be refrigerated to stay good. Despite finding it at the discount store, the Mochaccino does not expire until August 6, 2014.

This drink is an opaque brown color, but if it gets on light fabrics it will certainly stain them. Consult a care guide for your clothes, though I suspect light clothes would need bleach to get this out. Still, the drink wipes off surfaces easily with a cloth, assuming they are impermeable.


Illy Issimo Mochaccino is good, but it is far more average than it is incredible.

For other coffee drinks, please check out my reviews of:
Tim Horton's Fine Grind Coffee
Starbucks Discoveries Vanilla Latte
Maxwell House Dark Roast Coffee


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

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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“Nothing Personal;” It’s Entirely Average Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

The Good: There’s nothing really bad in the episode.
The Bad: There’s nothing especially compelling in the episode.
The Basics: As the first season moves toward its conclusion, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a plot-heavy episode in “Nothing Personal” which sees the return of Maria Hill.

By the time Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. reaches “Nothing Personal,” the show is struggling to remind viewers what is unique about the series. In the wake of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (reviewed here!), which was essentially just a spy thriller. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the key to keeping a show about the spy community going is capitalizing on the unique elements of the characters and world of the show. In the case of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the key to keeping Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. engaging, is exploring in a compelling way how generally normal humans deal with spying in a world where there are superheroes, mutants, and teched up supervillains operating on the same playing field.

Unfortunately, by “Nothing Personal,” the show has skewed exceptionally far away from the premise and into pretty generic spy thriller territory. “Nothing Personal” only has the presence of a cyborg, Deathlok, to remind viewers that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is set in a world that is now our own. Sure, they mention Coulson’s resurrection and Man-Thing, but for the most part, “Nothing Personal” is just an episode that continues to work with the fallout of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the U.S. government hunting the Agents.

Picking up immediately where “The Only Light In The Darkness” (reviewed here!) ended, Agent Hill’s multiple tails are incapacitated, by May who tells her that Coulson needs help. While Coulson’s team tries to figure out what happened to the Bus. Fortunately, a note was left behind for the team and Simmons almost immediately finds Koenig's body. With Skye and Ward making it to Los Angeles where Skye begins to decrypt the hard drive, Coulson and his team confim that Ward is a H.Y.D.R.A. agent and they work to track down the Bus. Almost as soon as they find where Skye went with the drive, Providence is infiltrated by General Talbot, the U.S. military and Agent Hill.

While May hunts for the person who actually executed the T.A.H.I.T.I. project, Colonel Talbot threatens the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with prison time. As Skye stalls with Ward, Coulson reveals to Hill that Ward is a H.Y.D.R.A. agent and they leave Providence together. When Skye plays her hand, fleeing the diner puts her in the custody of Ward and Deathlok. While Skye witnesses the brutality of H.Y.D.R.A., the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents contemplate how best to attempt a rescue now that they have fought the U.S. military and truly become fugitives.

“Nothing Personal” is a decent progression episode of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., even if it relies heavily on the prior episodes to do what it accomplishes. Outside the soap operatic elements in the relationship between Fitz and Simmons and a single leap that Coulson makes (Coulson deduces, correctly, that Skye is playing Ward when he sees the footage of the two of them leaving Providence together instead of worrying that Skye was a H.Y.D.R.A. agent, too), “Nothing Personal” is a smart character study of the characters in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.. May continues to be determined and loyal to Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. and Skye begins her inevitable resistance to Ward. Despite the formulaic nature of the long arc that “Nothing Personal” is a part of (the moment Skye was captured, it pretty much set up a “Skye gets tortured for how to unlock the drive while the Agents come together to rescue her and save the world”), the episode plays out well.

Skye is actually given a pretty awesome dilemma, which was not predictable, in the way Deathlok utilizes torture to get what he wants from Skye. While tormenting another is a very traditional form of torture, there is a cool moment in “Nothing Personal” where Deathlok forces Skye to consider the question of whether or not Skye is a killer, a person willing to do all of the wrong things she accuses Ward of. Throughout the episode, Chloe Bennet plays Skye like a woman whose mental wheels are constantly turning. Fortunately, Ward is not played as stupid in “Nothing Personal,” which makes him a reasonably good antagonist.

Fans of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. might begin to wonder in “Nothing Personal” about Ward’s relationship with the supernatural. In “Yes Men” (reviewed here!), Ward encountered an Asgaardian weapon that tapped into his subconscious. While that episode might be looked at as a bit of foreshadowing for the Ward character, given how evil Ward is supposed to be in “Nothing Personal,” one has to wonder just why the experience with the staff affected the double agent so profoundly.

“Nothing Personal” is notable for the return of Agent Maria Hill, last seen at Stark Enterprises in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Hill has become a professional defendant before Congress in “Nothing Personal” and her easy return to the spy game makes it seem like the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier was mostly inconsequential. I long wondered why Cobie Smulders was not pursuing more of a role in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. while she finished the final season of How I Met Your Mother; it certainly would have given Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hill’s place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe more impact. So, while it is nice to see Hill and Smulders again, the idea that Hill vetted Ward back in the day just makes S.H.I.E.L.D. seem like it was staffed by the least competent people in the world. In fact, the most efficient and smart Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. so far had his autopsy in the first five minutes of “Nothing Personal!”

“Nothing Personal” is not bad, but it is entirely unextraordinary. The episode continues to be a plot-centered story where the characters are reacting more than motivating the direction of the series. “Nothing Personal” seems to illustrate that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is going for the most predictable reversals (if the pattern follows and Ward is actually killed in the season finale, the pattern would have Simmons actually pulling the trigger). That does not make the episode disappointing, just familiar.

For other works with Cobie Smulders, please visit my reviews of:
"Pilot" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Avengers
Safe Haven
How I Met Your Mother - Season 6
How I Met Your Mother - Season 5
How I Met Your Mother - Season 4
How I Met Your Mother - Season 3
How I Met Your Mother - Season 2
How I Met Your Mother - Season 1
The L Word - Season 2

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Complete First Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season here!


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

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Summer Blockbuster Season’s Softcore Entry Is The Undisciplined Making The Rules!

The Good: Frances Conroy makes it through her lines without breaking to say, “This is the dumbest thing I’ve been in since Catwoman”?
The Bad: Terrible editing/pacing, Abysmal acting, Universally unlikable characters, Horrible dialogue, Predictable plot progression.
The Basics: My choice (so far) for the Golden Razzies, Making The Rules is an all-around terrible film with nothing to recommend it.

As Summer Blockbuster Season breaks in theaters, I find myself fascinated by the counterprogramming. While the major studio releases are carefully-timed, big-budget, special effects-driven films, smaller studios try to create sleeper hits that might get noticed or meet a different demographic. Competing with the early releases, like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, is Making The Rules. Making The Rules is a Jaime Pressly and Robin Thicke vehicle. Pressly is a virtual unknown to me as she has played supporting characters in films I’ve seen, but not led a cast before and Robin Thicke is a musical artist who might be best known for pulling focus from Miley Cyrus during her award show performance in the “nude” two piece a few years back.

Making The Rules is not going to be the big cinematic break for either Thicke or Pressly. If this is not the cinematic work that buries the career of writer/director Jimbo Lee, it would be surprise. Making The Rules is plagued by sloppy editing (Lee apparently does not want to waste a moment of footage and, as such, in the first two minutes of the film there is an extended shot of a hospital that goes on for almost twenty seconds with nothing at all happening) and odd mistakes with continuity (if Frances Conroy is not playing Abby’s mother, whose mother is she supposed to be?! And if she is Abby’s mother in the film, how can Matt break the news of Abby’s injury to her after she picks Abby up from the hospital?!). Apparently Lee’s concept for competing with Hollywood’s most sought-after writers and big films filled with lots of movement is to create a painfully static film filled with predictable conceits, bland performances, dull characters, and script issues that might have easily been fixed by observing real life, as opposed to writing (apparently) based off soap opera dialogue.

One day at work, Abby is cutting something in the kitchen when she cuts her hand. The cut is severe enough to send her to the hospital, where her mother picks her up as opposed to her husband, who she does not want to bother. Abby struggles with figuring out how to do things around the house for a couple of days before her husband Matt returns from his own work to notice she is injured. While out to lunch with Matt, Abby and Matt have a little spat and while Matt is paying the bill, Abby draws the attention of Shaun. Shaun is an ex-boyfriend who has now opened a hair salon and suggests she come to visit. After a lunch out with her friend Becca, Abby considers changing her hair style and the possibility of having Shaun work on her hair. When she has to go to a laundromat, she runs into Shaun again and she visits his apartment to pick up some pictures she left there after their break-up.

When Matt goes away for two weeks of contracting work and after a lunch with her mother convinces her to change her life, Abby finds herself having an affair with Shaun again. Encouraged by her friend Becca to have a baby quickly, Abby frets because she is late and her pregnancy test confirms that she is pregnant. Abby begins to worry that the baby might be Shaun’s, but she continues to see Shaun. Over the course of the summer, Abby begins to look forward to life as a mother until Jimbo Lee takes a page from Nicholas Sparks’s playbook and goes toward tragedy, melodrama, and blah resolution as opposed to any sort of character growth and organic direction for Abby.

Amid static shots of a clothes dryer running, long shots of partially-busy streets, and Abby eating out at several Los Angeles restaurants after she is unemployed, Making The Rules feels much longer than the seventy-eight minute runtime. Making The Rules plays out like a porn film where all of the sex and nudity are cut out. Jimbo Lee’s camerawork is bored and boring, focusing far too long on the subjects on screen while nothing is actually happening and the writing is so stiff that I was shocked to discover Lee’s writing resume was not packed with jobs on porn or daytime soap operas. The relationship conversations almost all sound like they were written by soap opera writers who feel they have to explain everything that viewers are seeing on screen and the scenes themselves feel like lead-ins to every cheap porn – repairman visits the lonely housewife, wife sits around an ex-boyfriend’s house looking at pictures of the two of them together, restaurant affair, etc. Moments that might appear to be subtle – implying the initial affair by simply showing clothes spinning in a dryer unattended – are undone almost immediately by scenes that make the affair obvious and other scenes that are baffling (Abby has a lunch with her mother where her mother tries to convince her to make changes in her life after the affair is initiated). Lee appears not to understand that filming in high def also means that it’s painfully obvious when one tries to use water in the place of hot tea . . . and the list goes on.

The characters in Making The Rules are easily some of the stupidest to ever appear on screen, even if they are not supposed to be. When a woman claims that she would be “fucked” if her husband finds out about her affair, one has to wonder why she is kissing the guy she is having an affair with while eating at a local restaurant. For sure, Los Angeles/Silverlake are huge, but the odds of running into someone who will recognize you in your own neighborhood are dramatically higher than going somewhere entirely different or eating in. Given the sheer number of times Abby is seen eating or cooking, one has to consider that part of the point of Making The Rules is to attract the crowd that eagerly watches Kitchen Nightmares or celebrity chef programs. Either way, much of the film is spent with Abby sitting around complaining about her life, while eating, and whining about the affair she’s having while still putting herself squarely in the path of temptation.

Conceits like the husband who does not notice the haircut and the best friend who notices it instantly play out in Making The Rules poorly, exactly like the conceits they are as opposed to feeling like parts of an organic story.

Jaime Pressly plays Abby in a thoroughly unlikable way. When she is not stiff as Abby, Abby is being impatient, mean and/or boring. There is no sense that Abby actually appreciates the consequences of her affair until she gets pregnant and even after, she just seems vacuous and impulsive as opposed to conflicted or interesting. Pressly has no on-screen chemistry with Tygh Runyan (Matt) and her idea of sex appeal in scenes with Robin Thicke appears to be opening her wide eyes even wider. At a time when divorce is so easy to get, it is unforgivable having characters in a loveless marriage without a realistic sense of how the two characters ever came to be together . . . and what keeps them together. Abby and Matt have nothing binding them for most of the movie.

Making The Rules is like Tyler Perry’s Temptation (reviewed here!) without the moralizing or the secondary characters who have a life of their own . . . or, I suppose, a built-in audience that guarantees the film’s financial success. None of that is what major studios want going into a project and that might be why Making The Rules is unlikely to be a sleeper hit at all. The single point I’m giving the film is mostly due to Frances Conroy’s presence in the film and the way she gets through the philosophical technobabble without wincing. How such a wonderful actress gets sucked into so many terrible projects is about as big of a mystery as how Making The Rules ever got made.

For other works with Frances Conroy, please check out my reviews of:
Love Happens
The Wicker Man
Six Feet Under


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

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Splurging On Soft Food: Cesar Canine Cuisine Filet Mignon! (My 100th Dog Product Review!!!)

The Good: Myah enjoys it, Generally good ingredients
The Bad: Comparatively expensive, Not the most healthy dog food.
The Basics: Myah enjoys Cesar Canine Cuisine Filet Mignon dog food, but it’s unlikely to be one I make a habit of providing for her.

I’ve never been sold on the television commercials for wet dog foods that trade on the gourmet nature of wet dog foods. In fact, the economic detraction of soft dog foods has long been the reason I have avoided them. Lately, however, my wife and I have been buying our cats all sorts of new (to us) foods and treats. As a matter of fairness, we decided to get some treats for Myah. When our local grocery store did a massive clearance of pet products, one of the ones we picked up for Myah was Cesar Canine Cuisine Filet Mignon dog food. On clearance for $1.50 for a 10 oz canister, the Cesar Canine Cuisine Filet Mignon is still very expensive, especially for a larger dog like our Siberian Husky, Myah.

Cesar Canine Cuisine Filet Mignon dog food is a food that uses meaty ingredients as the primary ingredients, which is one of the reasons it is more expensive than virtually every dry dog food on the market.


A single serving of Cesar Canine Cuisine Filet Mignon dog food is ¾ to a full 10 oz. can per ten pounds of dog, which means Myah would need about five cans a day and that’s just not in the cards for a thrifty family like mine! The Cesar Canine Cuisine Filet Mignon dog food is a brown meat paste, much like a meat pudding or corned beef hash (without the potatoes). It comes out of the can pretty easily and is more solid than fluid.

Ease Of Preparation

As a wet dog food, preparation of Cesar Canine Cuisine Filet Mignon dog food is as easy as opening the can and working the meat paste out of it. After it is out of the can, it helps to mash it up for the dog to consume it easier.

Myah’s Reaction

Myah ate up the cans of Filet Mignon dog food very fast. As a soft food, it is more aromatic than the dry foods, so she eagerly devoured all that we put in her bowl. This was a food she ate quickly whenever it was placed before her.

The Filet Mignon food left Myah’s breath smelling meaty, but not bad.


Cesar Canine Cuisine Filet Mignon dog food has a nice, meaty scent that dissipates quickly, especially for a wet dog food. Made primarily of meat by-products, water and animal liver, only a few of the ingredients are natural before the list turns into a chemistry equation of minerals intended to enrich the somewhat bland food. According to the guaranteed analysis, Cesar Canine Cuisine Filet Mignon dog food has at least 9% crude protein, 4% crude fat, but no more than 1% crude fiber and 82% moisture. As a wet dog food, this is not incredibly nutritious, but it also means when serving your dog Cesar Canine Cuisine Filet Mignon dog food, one need not necessarily have a ton of water nearby for them.


Cesar Canine Cuisine Filet Mignon dog food is good, but very overpriced for the size of the serving and the nutrition it possesses (or lack thereof).

For other dog food reviews, please be sure to check out:
Zignature Limited Ingredient Formula Lamb Formula Dog Food
Solid Gold Wolf King Bison
Mixables Colorado Cookout


For other pet product reviews, please check out my Pet Review Index Page for an organized listing of the pet product reviews I’ve written!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Monday, April 28, 2014

Jim Beggarly Writes A Decent Character Study Where Nothing Happens In The Kitchen

The Good: Decent characters, Good acting
The Bad: Virtually nonexistent plot, Unremarkable direction/visual stylings
The Basics: An unambitious indie film, The Kitchen is a good study of late twentysomethings/early thirty year olds set during a party where nothing really happens.

Before Laura Prepon’s acting career rebounded from a post-That 70’s Show slump with her edgy role in the Netflix series Orange Is The New Black (season one is reviewed here!), she did some indie films. One of the most understated and least commercially successful was The Kitchen. The Kitchen has a very young cast and it’s impressive for the sheer amount of talent that is evident in the film packed with conversations but no real action. Laura Prepon and Dreama Walker (who was losing Don’t Trust The B----- In Apartment 23 when The Kitchen was being released) headline The Kitchen.

The Kitchen is notable in that the entire film is set within the set of the titled room of the house of the protagonist. This forces director Ishai Setton to get the performers to emote with their faces and he actually captures most of the emotional expressions and nuances of the performers. Unfortunately, The Kitchen is so insular and cramped with characters that the viewer becomes desperate for something, anything, real to happen but the experience is much more of a character study that starts, ends, and exists within the very limited confines of the initial premise of the film. Unlike a movie like Magnolia (reviewed here!) where the film is packed with characters, The Kitchen does not develop the characters and it does not go anywhere. The Kitchen is also dreadfully short, so the characters just detail more of their original characterization, whereas Magnolia is long, moves the characters forward, and things (eventually) happen.

On the morning of Jennifer’s thirtieth birthday party, Jennifer breaks up with her boyfriend of two and a half years, Paul. Her friends descend upon the house, including Stan who is not secretly in love with Jennifer, Pam (Paul’s best friend), and Kim and Amanda who both slept with Paul. Penny, Jennifer’s sister, is around and tries to push Stan to either out himself or admit his love for Jennifer. Penny is pregnant and getting an abortion next week and one of Jennifer’s friends is pissed that Stan hired a band other than his own for the event.

As various people come in and out of the kitchen, including a mentally unbalanced photographer who is off his medication, they explore their feelings, desire, and relationships with one another. This includes Penny taking Jennifer’s defense when Paul shows up and she witnesses him playing both Kim and Amanda. Jennifer spends most of the evening trying to woo an artist to her new gallery that she is impulsively opening while she also attempts to hook up with anyone to feel like she is no longer in a slump.

The Kitchen is one of those movies that is tough to discuss; little actually happens. The elements that are established early on all come to resolution in the most predictable and safe possible ways. This means that for a film that talks about abortion quite a bit in the beginning does not result in an abortion at the end (instead, there is a “true love conquers all” type storyline that comes largely out of nowhere for its resolution) and when one artist falls through, Jennifer Parker discovers the only other artist who actually appears in the movie will meet her needs. The rest of the movie is just conversations.

And, like most vignettes at a party, the conversations in The Kitchen are interesting enough, but it is hardly great or ambitious filmmaking or storytelling. That doesn’t make The Kitchen bad, it just makes it unremarkable. As one might expect most of the characters are absolutely ridiculously good looking, the house is furnished in a way that is pretty remarkable considering the protagonist has to have at least two roommates to afford the place.

The acting in The Kitchen is good, but even Laura Prepon does not wow the viewer in the film. To be fair to Prepon, those who have seen her in That 70’s Show and Orange Is The New Black have seen her play characters both rational and angry, so Jennifer does not offer her anything truly new to express. Dreama Walker is good as Penny, but also is unremarkable given the lack of depth the character is given.

The result is a well-made, conceptually interesting film with no flair or reason to truly recommend the work.

For other works with Catherine Reitman, please visit my reviews of:
Friends With Benefits
Post Grad
I Love You, Man
Knocked Up
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Thank You For Smoking
Space Jam


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

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Sunday, April 27, 2014

From A Particularly Fallow Period . . . Avengers: Assault On Olympus Disappoints!

The Good: Decent character work
The Bad: Very plot heavy story, Boring, Unrealistic dialogue for the time period, Bland coloring, Simplistic artwork
The Basics: Avengers: Assault On Olympus is a fractured “graphic novel” that compiles eight issues of Avengers from 1987 and makes one wonder how the book survived such a problematic storyline.

As many of my loyal readers know, last year in my study of graphic novels was my She-Hulk Year and while it is over, I continue to find graphic novels that include the heroine and read them when I have the chance. I was, in fact, a bit disappointed at my local library system’s inability to get in a significant number of the She-Hulk books I was eager to read and have, instead, slummed it with whatever I can find that includes Jennifer Walter, the She-Hulk. Unfortunately for me, that includes such wastes of time as Avengers: Assault On Olympus.

Avengers: Assault On Olympus embodies many of my fundamental problems with “graphic novels,” which are (in a vast majority) usually trade anthologies; collections of comic books as opposed to a coherent single narrative. In the case of Avengers: Assault On Olympus, this is painfully obvious as one “chapter” ends with a significant event (in this case, the abduction of Hercules’s body) and then digresses to a completely different story for a “chapter” (a one-shot issue) to focus on Jarvis (the butler at the Avengers Mansion) before bothering to pick up the story that was already in progress. As a result, Avengers: Assault On Olympus comes across as sloppy storytelling and it is more of a chore to read than a pleasure.

Avengers: Assault On Olympus opens in the wake of a brutal attack on Avengers Mansion that has left The Avengers brutalized and battered. Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp, is in charge of the Avengers and while she and Captain America easily thwart would-be burglars to the mansion, she finds herself plagued by self-doubt and stress. Recruiting the Druid, the Wasp puts herself on reserve duty and leaves the team of the Doctor Druid, She-Hulk, Thor, Captain America, the Black Knight, and Captain Marvel to figure out who is in charge of the Avengers and lead them. While the Avengers figure out the new leadership issue, Jarvis recovers from his wounds from the attack and resolves to remain the butler at the Avengers Mansion when it is reopened and Thor is implicated in the theft of Hercules’s unconscious body.

While investigating the disappearance of Hercules, with Captain Marvel leading the team, a mysterious man uses mind control to set She-Hulk on a rampage. With Thor gone, the team is stretched thin to take her down, but in the process, they realize that the stranger is none other than Dionysus. That leads the Avengers to the ethereal plane of the Greek Gods to try to find Hercules and Thor and return them to our realm. But a trip to “Hades” and the ethereal Olympus leaves the Avengers even more battered, despite getting aid from a reluctant Namor and Wasp!

One of my pet peeves, in any medium, is sloppy research. In the case of Avengers: Assault On Olympus that takes the form of a troubling lack of differentiation between Greek and Roman gods and disappointingly common mistakes in places. In this case, writers Roger Stern and Bob Harras make the common mistake of using Hades as a place name; in Greek Mythology, Hades is the God Of The Underworld, but the Underworld is actually Tartarus. While that is a common error in popular culture, the fact that the writers identify the god in charge of Hades as Pluto is just sloppy . . . like grade school caliber sloppiness!

Sadly, Avengers: Assault On Olympus is not only plagued by issues with what some might call minutia. Instead, the book suffers from a fractured series of storytelling that makes the volume appear to be exactly what it is instead of what it strives to be; it is a collection of comic books and each of the eight stories within Avengers: Assault On Olympus has a sense of trying to sell itself as opposed to working to a single coherent narrative. The result is a book that reads as being all over the place, especially the chapter that diverges to tell the whole history of Jarvis the butler in relation to the Avengers. And, given how little the Wasp appears in the book, starting with her time of doubt over her ability to lead is a weak opening for the book (her departure might have been a far more powerful end note for whatever volume preceded this one).

What Avengers: Assault On Olympus does have is decent moments of character, even if I am not personally invested in most of the characters in the book. Janet Van Dyne, Captain Marvel, and Jarvis are each given strong internal narratives within the story that allow them to become more well-rounded and realized as heroic characters. At the points where Avengers: Assault On Olympus gives the characters room to breathe, moralize and emote, the writers flesh them out well.

Unfortunately, the character moments are not the bulk of Avengers: Assault On Olympus. Instead, the bulk of the book is a plot-based search/chase/combat story that reads like a typical comic book without any real depth or sophistication. Somehow, the writers and artists also manage to make the characters look and sound like they are from a drastically earlier era, instead of 1987 when the books were written. For example, on page 14, She-Hulk is seen carrying a massive computer that would be more at home in 1950 than 1987. Similarly, the villains on page 6 use phrases like “It’s black as pitch in here!” and “We been had!” which are more like 1930s jargon than how we spoke in the late 80s.

The artwork in Avengers: Assault On Olympus is dreadfully simplistic with the colors being monotones as opposed to anything approaching interesting or realistic depth or shading to them. On the whole, Avengers: Assault On Olympus is a very juvenile work of comic book storytelling and one that may easily be passed by; there’s a reason none of the new media enterprises surrounding the Marvel Cinematic Universe is pulling from this era in the history of The Avengers!

For other Marvel graphic novels, please check out my reviews of:
Avengers: The Search For She-Hulk
Civil War: Marvel Universe
Daredevil Reborn


For other graphic novel reviews, please check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Prequel Mirror: “In A Mirror, Darkly” Retcons The Mirror Universe!

The Good: Good acting, Decent effects/costumes, Wonderful continuity/concept
The Bad: Poor make-up for Trip, Predictable character reversals.
The Basics: The history of the Mirror Universe is fleshed out well with “In A Mirror, Darkly,” which not only introduces the Mirror Universe to Star Trek: Enterprise, but ties up a loose end from Star Trek.

As the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise wound down, the show had a tendency to try to make the show match the original Star Trek more and more. As a result, fans were thrilled by arcs that included Klingons, genetically-engineered humans, and Vulcan katras; the Mirror Universe was a natural subject of an episode and “In A Mirror, Darkly” leapt right into it. For those unfamiliar with it, the Mirror Universe was an alternate universe in the Star Trek franchise that was introduced in the episode “Mirror, Mirror” (reviewed here!) where the benevolent Federation had developed instead into a merciless Empire. The franchise revisited the Mirror Universe in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and now it retconned the Mirror Universe with “In A Mirror, Darkly.”

While “In A Mirror, Darkly” is not overly dependent upon “Mirror, Mirror” to truly understand the episode, the episode is enriched entirely by viewers having seen Star Trek: First Contact (reviewed here!) and the episode “The Tholian Web” (reviewed here!). One of the lingering continuity mysteries of the Star Trek franchise could have been what happened to the U.S.S. Defiant in “The Tholian Web” . . . if only people believed that Star Trek had been developed with a real sense of continuity instead of being bottle episodes.

Opening with First Contact in the Mirror Universe, Zephram Cochrane kills the Vulcan visitors. Decades later, the I.S.S. Enterprise under the command of Captain Forrest is working to keep rebellion in the Empire down. While the sadistic Dr. Phlox works with Reed to develop the Agony Booth, Archer finds Forrest’s inability to invade Tholian space to get technology that will help them win the war frustrating. Archer stages a coup, deposing Forrest and orders the reluctant T’Pol to get a Suliban cloaking device to Engineering to have Tucker install it so they can invade Tholian territory.

Approaching a specific warp signature, the Enterprise finds and attacks a Tholian ship. After capturing the Tholian pilot and finding the location of a ship lost in Tholian territory, the Enterprise heads to find the ship under Archer’s tenuous command. With the cloaking device sabotaged, the Enterprise is exposed in enemy territory. As Archer’s suspicions of his entire crew rise, he finds himself working to watch his own back. T’Pol and the Vulcans aboard the Enterprise break Forrest out of the brig. Her attempt to take over the Enterprise with Forrest is successful, largely because of a mindmeld she had with Tucker. But Archer is not so easily defeated; his mission was to find a ship from the future and an alternate universe which is being held by the Tholians and explored. When the Enterprise arrives at the Tholian spacedock, Archer works to take the U.S.S. Defiant to bring an end to the war and put himself in a more powerful position within the Empire.

“In A Mirror, Darkly” is a somewhat familiar episode for fans of the Star Trek franchise. While “Mirror, Mirror” was audacious, return trips to the Mirror Universe are largely about how twisted the familiar characters in each series can be. In that way, “In A Mirror, Darkly” completely lives up. All of the characters from Star Trek: Enterprise are altered for their Mirror Universe personas; Archer is more volatile, Reed and Mayweather are M.A.C.O.S., Tucker’s face is scarred, and T’Pol and Sato wear outfits that show off a bit more skin.

While the Mirror Universe episodes usually afford the performers a lot of lot of opportunities to perform in different ways, “In A Mirror, Darkly” is a lot more tame in that regard. Jolene Blalock has never been a very successful emotionless Vulcan, so the passionate and devious version of T’Pol is hardly audacious. Similarly, Tucker and Archer have both been played angry plenty of times by Connor Trinneer and Scott Bakula, respectively. The only real actors who benefit in “In A Mirror, Darkly” are Linda Park, who has a good number more scenes as Sato in the episode and John Billingsley who plays Phlox as utterly psychotic.

“In A Mirror, Darkly” is the first of two parts and while other episodes of Star Trek are not essential for understanding the episode, they do enrich the episode. The payoff with the Defiant and the Tholians is an interesting one that is well-executed in the episode. But because the episode happens entirely in the Mirror Universe without any crossover from our universe, the lack of menace is palpable. It is hard for the viewer to get truly invested in the events of “In A Mirror, Darkly” because no matter what happens in this – and its follow-up – episode, it will have no effect on the characters viewer know and (presumably) love. As a result, this is a fun episode, nothing more.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Enterprise - The Complete Fourth Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the final season here!


For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, put in order from best to worst, please visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Saturday, April 26, 2014

One Of The Cutest Ornaments EVER! The 2013 Mint Chocolate Chipmunk Ornament Is Astonishingly Still Available!

The Good: Good sculpt, Awesome balance, Cute as hell! Inexpensive
The Bad: Noticeable seam, Lack of collectible values
The Basics: The 2013 "Mint Chocolate Chipmunk" ornament is probably the cutest ornament ever . . . despite the obvious seam and lack of collectible value!

When it comes to Hallmark Christmas ornaments, I have a tendency to review the genre ornaments almost exclusively. The genre ornaments interest me the most and I have experiences with the subjects of most of them outside the ornaments that make me have an appreciation for them. Recently, though, I bought my wife a Christmas tree for her to have (one of the synthetic ones that will probably last her entire lifetime). After I picked her up her ideal Christmas tree, I figured out that at some point, she’d probably need some ornaments of her own. To that end, I started getting her some. The first monthly ornament for her that I picked up was the Mint Chocolate Chipmunk.

Both my wife and I love mint chocolate (everything) and my wife has an affinity for chipmunks. My wife’s dog, the one she had when our marriage began and I had a few decent years of getting to know before our geriatric cocker spaniel gave up the ghost at sixteen years old, Mitzie, used to love chipmunks. Mitzie would only dig after chipmunks in our yard and she tried to point them out to my wife and I whenever she saw them. So, the Mint Chocolate Chipmunk ornament was one that my wife instantly was drawn to and I was super psyched when I found after Christmas for 75% off!

And this is a super-cute, awesome ornament for anyone who likes cute animals.


The Mint Chocolate Chipmunk ornament is a smiling chipmunk that is holding a big ice cream cone! The ornament is just Mint Chocolate Chipmunk, a chipmunk standing on an ice cream sandwich with a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone. The ornament, released in 2013, is a ridiculously cute chipmunk standing on his hind legs, holding his ice cream cone in his two paws with his little pink tongue ready to lick the ice cream cone. This ornament is a monument to cute.

Hallmark clearly made quite an effort on Mint Chocolate Chipmunk, but the ornament is very simple and clearly assembled; there is a troublingly obvious seam that goes all the way around the ornament (laterally). The seam is really the only problem with the ornament’s construction. Measuring three and one-eighth inches tall, one and one quarter inches wide and one and three-quarter inches deep, the "Mint Chocolate Chipmunk" ornament is a medium-sized Hallmark ornament. This is also one of the least expensive Hallmark ornaments. Originally, it retailed at $14.95, which might have been expensive, but there were so many left after the holiday season that most are available easily for in the $4 range (which is a perfect price for the small plastic ornament).

The Hallmark "Mint Chocolate Chipmunk" ornament is made of a durable plastic, but the coloring is done entirely in monotones, which is fine. Most of the chipmunk is appropriately brown, but the white on his fur is replaced with mint green that makes it look like the chipmunk ate so much mint chocolate it turned! The cone and ice cream in the ice cream sandwich upon which the chipmunk is perched are bright green with brown speckles in it. This is a very cute ornament and well-colored.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, "Mint Chocolate Chipmunk" could have a sound effect, but it does not. Instead, this is a less-expensive option that is just the cute animated character.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake "Mint Chocolate Chipmunk" ornament is to be hung on a Christmas tree. And the "Mint Chocolate Chipmunk" ornament is a great option for anyone who wants a family tree or who loves animals. The ornament has the plastic hook loop embedded into the top center of Mint Chocolate Chipmunk's hatted head. This is fairly obvious and necessary for the ornament. Hanging there, the ornament is absolutely perfectly balanced. This Mint Chocolate Chipmunk ornament also comes with a green ribbon that helps it hang perfectly.


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 (click here for that review!). Within a few years, every major franchise from Star Wars to A Nightmare Before Christmas to Indiana Jones started making Hallmark ornaments. "Mint Chocolate Chipmunk" is a non-genre ornament that is not intended to have collectible value and, instead, is a generic, family-friendly ornament that Hallmark produced. It will probably never get back up to its original retail price for value, which is fine because it is a great inexpensive ornament.


Fans of mint chocolate, chipmunks, Hallmark ornaments, and pretty much anything that is adorable will find the Mint Chocolate Chipmunk ornament to be a nice one worth hunting down now that it is inexpensive and easily available at Hallmark stores even now!

For other Hallmark ornaments, please check out my reviews of:
2012 Michael Oher Baltimore Ravens ornament
2013 Milton Waddams Office Space ornament
1995 Barbie Debut (Brunette) Club Exclusive ornament


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

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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A Disney Opera: The Little Mermaid Soundtrack!

The Good: Easily listenable, (Mostly) Tells a story, Amusing
The Bad: Story seems incomplete, Liner notes are incomplete
The Basics: Surprisingly enjoyable, The Little Mermaid Soundtrack is deficient in the latter half sufficiently to not be able to recommend it.

It seems of late that I'm beginning most of my reviews with disclaimers of sorts. Thus, allow me to begin this review by saying that I've never seen the film of Disney's The Little Mermaid. Some years ago, I was attending a Star Trek convention and the guest was Rene Auberjonois and when a little girl asked him to sing "Les Poissons," he belted it out with great vigor and good humor. It was easily one of the most purely amusing moments of my life; seeing the actor who played such a stern character I so respected breaking out into a Disney song about slaughtering fish. I found myself smiling, probably ridiculously.

Recently, I discovered one of my friends actually owned the soundtrack and I decided to borrow it, if for nothing else than to hear "Les Poissons" again.

So, The Little Mermaid Soundtrack is an attempt to make opera accessible to children and as someone just beginning to learn about opera, I have to say, the soundtrack does a lot right. The story in lyrics is about a spoiled young mermaid, who desires nothing more than to be able to go out on land and live under the sun as opposed to under the sea. So, after her mentor advises her to enjoy the surroundings she has, she makes a pact with a sorceress who grants her her wish at the cost of her voice. The mermaid then goes topside, has a run in with a French chef and sees someone who is entranced by her beauty and silence and desires to kiss her.

Unfortunately, that's where the opera falls apart. On my first listen, I was irked because the lyrics stopped, but then I realized that the lyrics end because the protagonist is having attention paid to her, but she has no voice. I liked that. Except that her voice never returns. That's fine for an adult story and I'd truly be impressed if the little mermaid actually never received her voice back. However, the last two tracks, then would seem to be contradictory: track 19 "Eric to the Rescue" is a violent, chaotic piece, evoking images of imminent danger. Now, if the protagonist never receives her voice back, I'd interpret that as Eric didn't quite make it to her rescue; it fits the music and the story up until that point. Eric (who, we assume is the one advised to "Kiss the Girl" in track 10) has fallen in love with our silent protagonist, who finds herself in need of rescue, and (because her voice is never heard again) attempts to rescue her from whatever she danger awaits her. And he fails.

Works for me.

The problem with this interpretation is that the final track is entitled "Happy Ending." So, I'd take this to mean that Eric rescues the protagonist, but she's caught with the consequences of her decision to live on land and never speaks again. If the film is that good, I might actually watch it!

The lyrics are competent for a children's opera; they tell a simple story well, without much flair. Unfortunately, after "Kiss the Girl" through the end of "Wedding Announcement" the pieces are entirely instrumental and often quite short. Without the track titles to guide one, the story that was begun is almost completely lost; there's a reason the protagonists in operas aren't silent.

As a musical work, the album is mostly cohesive, if occasionally unimaginative.

I was severely disappointed that the compact disc did not mention who the vocalists were. Alan Menken and Howard Ashman give themselves plenty of credit for writing the music and lyrics, but nothing to those who actually sing the lyrics. The disc is listenable, even repeatably, but it doesn't do much after its attempt to tell a story is over and that's frustrating; it's not like the music between track ten and seventeen is particularly evocative of images like great classical music is, either. It FEELS like music for a soundtrack, attempting to fit to specific visual images.

Too bad; when it started, I got into it quicker than I suspected I would.

This c.d. is best suited for children or others who enjoyed the film; not those who are looking for a comprehensive piece of music. The strongest track is still "Les Poissons" and the weakest link is "Fireworks."

For other soundtrack reviews, please visit my takes on:
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Soundtrack
Music From And Inspired By I Am Sam
Watchmen 2-track single


For other music reviews, please check out my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing of all my music reviews!

© 2014, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Thursday, April 24, 2014

An Adventurous Confection, Jelly Belly Prehistoric Eggs Are Worth Trying (But A Tough Sell To Stock Up On)!

The Good: Good overall taste, Fun and whimsical.
The Bad: EXPENSIVE, Not at all healthy/nutritious
The Basics: Jelly Belly Prehistoric Eggs are an interesting activity candy that is worth trying once or twice, but not an exceptional product for more than the whimsy.

I am a huge fan of Jelly Belly and of seasonal candies. As we’ve hit the time of year when I spend the most that I do annually on candy, I thought it was cool to return to the works of my favorite candy company and try something new (to me) from them. That’s the Prehistoric Eggs candy and I was psyched to try them. Right now, my criteria is a little skewed. After all, I’ve just stocked up on a year’s supply of Cadbury Crème Eggs (reviewed here!), so when I try a new candy like the Prehistoric Eggs, one of my thoughts is “would I want to stock up on these?”

Unfortunately, the Prehistoric Eggs are not worth stocking up on, though they are an interesting candy to try. It’s not a bad candy, it’s just not as distinctive as the other two and for the $1.50 - $3.99 price I’ve found for them locally, it’s too tough a sell for trying more than twice.


The Prehistoric Eggs is a flavor of Jelly Belly Chocolate Candies with a gummi candy inside. This is part of their growing line of non-jelly bean candies! Jelly Belly Prehistoric Eggs are approximately two and a quarter inches long by one and a half inches wide by just over 1” thick at their widest points and shaped like a big, speckled egg! Interestingly, the packages do not define the flavor of the gummi inside, so each one is a surprise.

The Prehistoric Eggs from Jelly Bellys are fairly new and thus are only available in individual 1.4 oz. packages, or cases of the same. This is represents a single serving and is pretty much how the entire candy industry produces their packs, so (for a change) I have no beef about the packaging. Each egg has a hard chocolate shell which surrounds a gummi candy. I discovered pretty quickly that there is no easy way to break the shell away from the gummi. The gummi inside my Prehistoric Egg was an orange pterodactyl.

Ease Of Preparation

These are chocolate and gummi candies, not cracking open a priceless Prehistoric Egg and hoping for something yummy inside! Consuming these is as easy as opening the individual package and biting the candy. There is no additional prep needed, except responsible disposal of the packaging. This is one candy that is a bit big for most people’s mouths and thus harder to suck the chocolate away on.


The Jelly Belly Prehistoric Eggs have no aroma to them. The candy shell that surrounds the chocolate keeps the flavor and scent completely sealed. There is no hint of smell from these (my animals, who frequently visit me when I am writing reviews, made no move toward the Prehistoric Egg even after I removed it from the packaging.

The candy shell surrounding the chocolate is hard and generically sweet. It is like a super-thick coating for an M&M’s type candy and it chips away from the chocolate. It tastes sugary, like hardened icing on a cake that has been sitting out.

The next layer is the chocolate and it is a somewhat grainy (textured) milk chocolate that smells darker than it actually is. I suppose sealing the scent in makes the chocolate scent more concentrated. Biting into the chocolate, I was surprised by how chewy it was. As it turns out, the chocolate does not fracture around the gummi. As a result, the gummi and the chocolate flavors blend some. The chocolate, though, it a very generic milk chocolate. I was impressed that the chocolate did not have a generic, waxy, mass-produced flavor to it, but it was not exceptional in any way. It was sweet and chocolatey, but indistinct.

Gummi candies are what Jelly Belly does best (well, if one looks at jelly beans as a gummi!) and the orange pterodactyl inside is an orange, sugary coated gummi. The orange scent is strong and distinctive and very inviting. The gummi, however, is virtually flavorless as it sits on the tongue. Only when one chews the gummi does it release a strong orange, citrus flavor. The sweet and sour orange flavor is strong and exactly what one expects from Jelly Belly; it is flavorful and true to orange.

Together, the Prehistoric egg, slightly masticated, tastes like an orange chocolate confection that is lightly slightly sweet to begin with and finishes strongly chocolate and slightly dry. The flavor is intriguing and leaves sweet sticky bits in one’s molars, but no other aftertaste.


Again, these are chocolate and Gummi candies, not anything actually eggy or fossilized, so they are not at all nutritious. Outside that, it behooves one to realized that Gummi Candies, even Jelly Belly Gummi Candies, are not a legitimate source of nutrition, though Jelly Belly could have infused these with Vitamin C, as they do for some of their other gummi candies. These are a snack food, a dessert, and are in no way an adequate substitute for a real meal. A serving is listed as a single egg, with each serving having 180 calories.

Each Jelly Belly Prehistoric Eggs has quite a bit of fat (90 calories worth from 10 grams of fat) and two whole grams of protein. These are not Vegan compliant because they contain milk! They have only 5 mg of Sodium and they are made in a factory that processes peanuts! The main ingredients are sugar, chocolate liquor, and milk.


Jelly Belly Prehistoric Eggs have a shelf life of a couple of years; the one I picked up last month had a March 1, 2015 expiration date (and I got it from a discount store, which suggested to me that it was a product that was not moving elsewhere). They remain freshest when they are kept in their package and they ought to be kept in a cool environment. Storing them in hot places is likely to make the chocolate melt and gummi candy denature. Kept in a cool, dry place, the Prehistoric Eggs seems to retain its flavor well.

As for cleanup, unless one allows the Prehistoric Eggs to get hot to the point that the chocolate melts after the sugary coating has melted, there should be no cleanup necessary.


The Prehistoric Eggs are an interesting candy to disassembled and enjoy or have a cool mixed flavor experience in the mouth. But the overall candy is a lot more work than payoff for the expense and one of the harder sells from Jelly Belly.

For other Jelly Belly candies reviewed by me, please check out:
Draft Beer jelly beans
Raspberries & Blackberries
Soda Pop Shoppe Gummi Bottles


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

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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