Saturday, May 31, 2014

May 2014 End Of The Month Report!

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W.L. Swarts Reviews The Universe had a very slow May. Beleaguered with longer hours at work, I was a bit less productive this month . . . but we’re set up for a much better June! This month’s most hit review was actually the second-best hit review of the entire year, which was a surprise for me! We were bolstered well by independent cinema reviews, additional food reviews, and the final few episodes of the first season of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

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 the final 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 no new subscribers, which is not surprising given how little we were able to produce. 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 May, 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 the summer and going through the blog to do so!

At the end of May 2014, I have reviewed the following:
499 - Book Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Star Trek Books
Graphic Novels
866 - Music (Album and Singles) Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Music Reviews By Rating (Best To Worst)
Music Reviews In Alphabetical Order
2551 - 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
730 - 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
764 - Food, Drink, And Restaurant Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Cheese and Meats
Ice Cream
Other Food
212 - 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
175 - 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 May is: The Double, which I was largely impressed by.
Check it out!

The month of May had a lot of movement within the month and was (predictably) dominated by new reviews, with an interesting resurging review (Girl Meets Boy?!). For May, the Top Ten Reviews of the month were:
10. The Clone Wars - Season 6
9. The Worst 10 Episodes Of Star Trek: Voyager
2. ”Ragtag” - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
7. Making The Rules
6. ”The Beginning Of The End” - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
5. Walk Of Shame
4. The Top Ten Episodes Of Frasier
3. The Top Ten Episodes Of Star Trek: Voyager
2. Girl Meets Boy
1. Bad Neighbors

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 - 292 reviews
9s - 418 reviews
8s - 803 reviews
7s - 902 reviews
6s - 823 reviews
5s - 1077 reviews
4s - 780 reviews
3s - 624 reviews
2s - 284 reviews
1s - 195 reviews
0s - 88 reviews
No rating - 65 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 May 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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One Of Those Ice Creams That Makes You Rethink The Health Aspects Of Desserts: Haagen-Dazs Peanut Butter Ice Cream!

The Good: Tastes good, Great ingredients
The Bad: More expensive than other ice creams, Not at all healthy!
The Basics: Haagen-Dazs Peanut Butter Pie ice cream is a limited edition flavor that is really good, but terribly unhealthy, unlike so many other premium frozen desserts.

When limited edition flavors go out of vogue or fall out of season, they get clearance at my local grocery store. The latest one I picked up is the Haagen-Dazs Limited Edition Peanut Butter Pie ice cream. Given that the ice cream does not expire until late Fall, the current clearance (which is part of a larger ice cream clearance locally) is not about freshness, it’s about what products the companies want to have on their shelves. And it’s a good flavor, but it is one that is arguably one of the least health-conscious ice creams Haagen-Dazs has ever produced.

Even so, on clearance, it is affordable and so delicious that it is worth trying if one can still find it!


Haagen-Dazs ice cream comes in a 14 oz. (almost) pint container. The Peanut Butter Pie ice cream is a smooth ice cream with chunks of chocolate crust. Peanut Butter Pie is mostly smooth with chunks in every two bites. This ice cream is basically one homogenous flavor with dry bits throughout.

At (locally) $4.99 a pint, the Haagen-Dazs Ice cream is an expensive frozen dairy dessert. That I found it on clearance for $2.49 was the primary reason I bought the pint of ice cream! That said, it’s never a hard sell for me to want to try desserts based on other desserts.

Ease Of Preparation

The Peanut Butter Pie Ice cream is a basic ice cream with only one additive. As an ice cream, preparation is ridiculously simple: one need only open the top of the container, remove the safety seal from the top, scoop out a half cup and consume! There is no trick to preparing or eating the Peanut Butter Pie Ice cream!


Haagen-Dazs Peanut Butter Pie ice cream smells strongly and distinctly of peanut butter. The aroma is nutty and sweet and alluring to anyone who loves peanut butter.

On the taste front, the Peanut Butter Pie ice cream is sweet and creamy. It tastes like peanut butter and milk. The ice cream is sweet and it is broken up by dry, chocolatey pieces of chocolate pie crust. That makes it taste like one of the most flavorful versions of cookies and crème ice cream on the market! The flavors of peanut butter and chocolate are distinctive and real, with a perfect embodiment of the tastes they are supposed to possess.

This ice cream has a very dry aftertaste to it.


The Haagen-Dazs Peanut Butter Pie Ice cream is a comparatively thick ice cream with a firm, obvious additive. The 14 oz. container represents three and a half half-cup servings. In the half-cup serving, there are 310 calories, 190 of which are from fat. The twenty-one grams of fat represent 32% of the RDA of fat, with 50% of one’s RDA of saturated fat coming in the 10 grams of saturated fat in this Ice cream. One serving has 70 mg of cholesterol (that’s 23% of the RDA!) and 130 mg of Sodium (5% RDA). The only other real nutrients are seven grams of protein and 8% of the RDA of Calcium and Iron in the Peanut Butter Pie ice cream.

Haagen-Dazs has decent ingredients. Made primarily of Cream, skim milk and sugar, Peanut Butter Pie Ice cream is all natural! There is nothing unpronounceable in the ingredients list. The Peanut Butter Pie Haagen-Dazs is neither Kosher, nor gluten free. There are no specific allergy warnings on the package, though this ice cream is noted to contain milk, peanut, wheat, and egg ingredients, so it is very much not Vegan compliant.


Haagen-Dazs 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 (my pint had an expiration date of October 4, 2014, which made it even more baffling why it would be clearanced now, other than that Haagen-Dazs is pulling this limited edition flavor).

The Peanut Butter Pie ice cream is fairly light off-white/tan color and will stain if the ice cream comes closer to room temperature, especially because the pie crust pieces. As well, when the ice cream melts and gets onto fabrics, it will require one to wash it right out. On nonporous surfaces, the Ice cream wipes off exceptionally easily.


The Haagen-Dazs Peanut Butter Pie ice cream is a delicious ice cream that perfectly embodies the flavor it is supposed to . . . at a price to both the pocket book and the waist line!

For other Haagen-Dazs products, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Vanilla Bean Gelato
Coconut Macaroon Limited Edition Ice Cream
Blueberry Crumble Limited Edition Ice Cream
Black Cherry Amaretto Gelato


For other food 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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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Strong Enough For Kitchens, Mild Enough For TefLon, The Brillo Estracell No Scratch Scrub Sponge with WedgeEdge Works!

The Good: Inexpensive, Durable, Easy to use and clean
The Bad: Has to be broken in
The Basics: An easy-to-use kitchen sponge, the Brillo Estracell No Scratch Scrub Sponge with WedgeEdge holds up, but needs to be “softened” before it is truly usable on non-stick kitchenware.

My mother-in-law gave my family a wonderful gift this past winter; a whole set of non-stick pots and pans to replace the ones that have gotten scratched over the years here. In keeping brand new pots and pans looking (and working) well, I have been rigorously testing new (to me) scrubbing sponges. The new top of my list are the Brillo Estracell No Scratch Scrub Sponge with WedgeEdges, which I picked up and have been using on the new pots and pans for the past month. Brillo Estracell No Scratch Scrub Sponge with WedgeEdge are a marginally pricier kitchen sponge (one gets two for the price of three discount-brand kitchen sponges), but they hold together very well and, after about two day’s use are soft enough to use on Teflon without scratching it.

The Brillo Estracell No Scratch Scrub Sponge with WedgeEdge is a 4 3/4” long by 3 1/4” wide by 1 1/4" thick kitchen scrubbing sponge! This is a purple sponge with a white scrubbing pad (reminiscent of steel wool, but made of vinyl and therefore not as abrasive as its steel counterpart) fused to the top. The scrubbing pad accounts for 5/16” of the sponge’s thickness. Like most kitchen sponges, the Brillo Estracell No Scratch Scrub Sponge with WedgeEdge arrive out of the package flexible but firm and ready to clean.

As far as basic kitchen cleaning goes, the Brillo Estracell No Scratch Scrub Sponge with WedgeEdges are exceptional. The sponge side soaks up spills efficiently and the scrubbing side actually is ideal both for abrasiveness and the way it does not scratch non-stick surfaces. This sponge is a great staple item. Also cool is the shape which gives the sponge more edge strength (the bottom is not at a 90 degree angle to the top, so this is a parallelogram shape that has edges that act like a cleaning wedge for getting into tight corners nicely.

What separates it, on the positive side, from other kitchen sponges, is how easy it is to clean. In the normal course of serving as a kitchen sponge, the scrubbing side and the sponge may encounter quite a bit of grease, dirty water, and fluids that might make a kitchen sponge smell moldy and unhygienic. That has never once been the case with the Brillo Estracell No Scratch Scrub Sponge with WedgeEdges I have used, though. This sponge may easily go through the dishwasher to get cleaned and completely revitalized! Put it through a normal dishwashing cycle – the sponge will not break apart at all! – squeeze it out after the cycle is done and give it about an hour or two to dry some and it is fresh, as if it just came from the package! In fact, after laundering it thus just once, the “abrasive” side is soft enough to use on a non-stick surface.

Unlike other Estracell products I’ve used, the scrubbing pad on this sponge does not separate easily from the main sponge. That makes the Brillo Estracell No Scratch Scrub Sponge with WedgeEdge the best scrubbing sponge I’ve yet found and it is more than worth the initial price, regardless of how few one gets (compared to the cheap brands!).

For other kitchen product reviews, please visit my takes on:
Brillo Estracell Heavy Duty Scrub Sponge
Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Scrub Sponge
Domestix Supreme Clean Kitchen Scrubber Sponge


For other home and garden product reviews, please visit my Home And Garden Review Index Page for a concise listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Monday, May 26, 2014

Marvel Finally Gets Its Perfect Film With X-Men: Days Of Future Past!

The Good: Acting, Character work, Plot, Special effects
The Bad: Minutiae
The Basics: Mixing all of the best elements of the franchise, X-Men: Days Of Future Past resets the mutant section of the Marvel Universe with unparalleled success.

For all of the complaints that some might have with films based on DC Comics properties, the writers and directors of films from that comic book company have managed to succeed where Marvel Enterprises has failed. Twice. Those adapting DC Comics properties have managed to make two perfect films, which is a rarity and an exceptionally hard thing to do for action-adventure/science fiction/comic book genre films. And yet, for all the issues with making a movie that tends to rely upon trying to balance a story fans will love with creating a self-contained film that holds up independent of allusions to other films or books, to date, DC Comics properties had yielded the best results with The Dark Knight (reviewed here!) and Watchmen (reviewed here!). With the release of X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Marvel Enterprises finally scores a film that is damn near flawless, is thoroughly entertaining, and provides a compelling dose of character development and larger thematic elements to make a statement worth experiencing again and again.

To be fair to Marvel, the X-Men films have been some of the most consistently wonderful films based upon comic books; from Bryan Singer’s first dalliance in the universe fourteen years ago, the characters became a platform for discussing broader themes of alienation, prejudice, and fear. Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of X-Men: Days Of Future Past is how the film is constructed as a time-travel movie that is remarkably devoid of temporal problems and makes some of the most successful and rewarding allusions to prior films in the franchise. Is X-Men: Days Of Future Past dependent upon all of the X-Men films that preceded it? Yes and no. Yes, if one wants to get the richest possible experience out of viewing the film; no, in that the film ultimately acts much like Star Trek (reviewed here!) did to reboot that franchise. For the Star Trek franchise, there is a Universe 1.0 and a Universe 2.0. In a similar way, X-Men: Days Of Future Past ultimately introduces the X-Men Universe 2.0 to viewers. It is worth noting that X-Men: Days Of Future Past is loosely based upon the graphic novel Days Of Future Past, which I have not read; this review is purely one of the film.

Opening in a bleak future in Moscow where a small band of surviving mutants are hunted by Sentinels (robotic/organic killing machines that absorb the abilities of the mutants they fight to learn how to better kill mutants), the world has become a dark and desperate place. Most of humanity is dead (as the Sentinels zealously killed the humans who carried the genes that could give rise to future mutants) and mutants like Storm, Blink, Colossus, Bishop, Warpath, Sunspot, Kitty Pryde, Wolverine, Magneto and Professor X represent some of the last of mutantkind. After what appears to be a losing battle in which only Kitty Pryde and Bishop escape, the surviving mutants rendezvous in China a short time earlier. Kitty reveals to Logan just how they accomplished their “escape;” during the battle, she sends Bishop’s consciousness back in time a week or two in order to let their small band know where the Sentinels will hit them and when and they manage to evade the Sentinels by using Blink’s portals to simply not be there. Xavier and Magneto, hearing this and seeing its success, realize that this same technique has the potential to prevent the rise of the sentinels in the first place. To that end, they want to send a consciousness of a mutant back to their earlier body to stop Mystique from getting captured by Bolivar Trask, the inventor of the Sentinels, so he can never develop the adaptive technology that leads to the new wave of Sentinels. Unfortunately, Kitty is fairly certain that Xavier’s mind would never survive the trip back in time because of the mental torsion that comes with her technique. Logan, however, with his incredible healing power, could survive the trip, so he volunteers to be sent back to 1972 to try to save the world. The two catches: his body must be kept alive in the future long enough for him to succeed in his mission and he has to reunite the younger Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr.

Arriving back in the early 1970s where he is shocked to discover that the technique worked, Logan sets about to finding Xavier. While Logan heads to Xavier’s estate turned school for gifted youngsters, Mystique breaks a team of American mutants being used by the U.S. military out of Vietnam, where they were being sent home to be experimented upon by Trask. Trask, for his part, tries to sell the U.S. government on his nascent Sentinel program, but finds the Congressional leadership unwilling to spend money to create a weapon to use against American citizens. Logan finds that Xavier is disillusioned and is living at the school with only Hank McCoy. Having lost everything, Xavier is little more than a drug addict, as he has started to use one of McCoy’s treatments which allows him to walk, but at the cost of his telepathic abilities. Logan details his plan to try to save the future and even comes up with the means to get Erik out of his maximum security prison far underground at the Pentagon. After managing to convince Logan and Xavier, the trio picks up a mutant (Quicksilver) and they spring Magneto. Magneto quickly becomes game to find Mystique and in France, at the peace conference that would end the Vietnam War, Logan’s team encounters both Trask and Mystique. The stakes are raised in the past as the attempt to stop Mystique goes sideways and Trask gets a sample of what he needs, which breaks apart the alliance between Eric and Charles, while in the future, the team protecting Logan’s body is besieged by Sentinels!

There were several points in X-Men: Days Of Future Past where I found myself wondering if Bryan Singer and the writing team could pull off the concepts they were trying to present. For a time-travel film, the movie has remarkably few issues with temporal mechanics. In fact, it even has a built-in safety that is never addressed within the movie; if the first attempt to send Logan back fails, Kitty could send Logan’s consciousness to a few weeks earlier and try again! But three things stood out as potential sore spots that the writing team and Bryan Singer manage to adeptly pull off. First, from the moment the meeting in France falls apart, the characters are stuck in a clusterfuck of mistakes. Team members turn on one another, Trask gets a blood sample, and Logan’s consciousness slips back out of his body. The amazing thing is, even as all of the plans in the past go horribly awry, the film manages not to feel like a huge mistake. Instead, the characters keep pressing forward and innovating to adapt to their new circumstances and the brilliance of that is that it makes what could be a comedy of errors into a film intensely motivated by the characters. On the character front, X-Men: Days Of Future Past takes a turn that is reminiscent of the cave scene in The Empire Strikes Back (reviewed here!) when it stops all of the action dead and moves for a philosophical conversation between the two Xaviers. The right turn in tone manages to work because the character’s journey is finally rectified in a sufficient way; Xavier can only rise to the heroic heights he needs to with help from himself and the infusion of personal strength plays out in an innovative way. Finally, the moment Magneto starts using his massive power to lift a stadium into the air, my stomach sank with the feeling that the entire sequence was going to be a pointless digression only to serve the needs of fans of extreme special effects. But there again, Bryan Singer pulls the sequence off (and I’m proud to say I figured out the purpose of the sequence moments before it was revealed!).

One of the problems with films based upon the X-Men has always been that there are so many characters to service and fans are bound to feel that some characters they might care about are getting the short end of the story. Cinematically, the X-Men films have largely (smartly) focused on Logan (Wolverine), Charles, and Erik (Magneto) above all the others. X-Men: Days Of Future Past is much the same, save that Magneto’s part is minimized in favor of adding more Mystique. For sure, Magneto is present, but much of his part in the film is to battle for Raven’s soul. Mystique has an actual character arc, fighting like an underground resistance fighter to an outright terrorist/assassin to a hero for her cause for which she is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. The character balance in X-Men: Days Of Future Past is sufficient to make for strong arcs for the main characters, though there are some elements that are hard not to miss. Most notable of those is the character of Rogue, whose footage was excised from the film months ago in order to get into the action earlier. Sadly, we shall have to wait months for the DVD/Blu-Ray release to confirm the theory that the body that a young scavenger finds in a pile in New York at the film’s outset is, in fact, Rogue’s (Rogue dying in the film’s early moments would justify the implicit relationship that Kitty Pryde now has with Iceman). Nicholas Hoult as the young Beast is given a truncated arc that makes him mostly into Xavier’s sidekick (without the chance for him to have any reflective, emotive, moments with Mystique). Most of the thrill in X-Men: Days Of Future Past on the character front comes in the form of cameos of X-Men past and present (even Emma Frost is given a nod if one watches the special effects closely as one of the final Sentinels seems to have her abilities!).

That said, the character journey of Charles Xavier roots all of the fantastic elements of X-Men: Days Of Future Past in a profoundly human journey. Xavier is essentially experiencing the holocaust that Erik Lehnsherr always warned him about and that Magneto fought to prevent. That Xavier’s only chance to help save the future and prevent that holocaust means that Wolverine must appeal to him at a time when he was the least hopeful makes for a compelling story in which a disillusioned man must learn to feel hope again. Amid all of the wicked cool special effects sequences and character turns, the story of Charles Xavier’s hope being rekindled grounds the film incredibly well.

By contrast, Wolverine’s journey in X-Men: Days Of Future Past is largely only appreciated by fans of the franchise. Wolverine is essentially a plot tool in X-Men: Days Of Future Past, but the climax of his journey is one that completely justifies the faith viewers have in the franchise. In that regard, X-Men: Days Of Future Past truly rewards fans of the franchise with payoffs to little moments seeded in earlier films. Magneto’s final line in X-Men: The Last Stand might have been paid off by the mid-credits scene in The Wolverine, but it entirely justifies his place in the future scenes of X-Men: Days Of Future Past as a full ally of Xavier’s. One of the few niggling continuity issues (in franchise, as opposed to in-film) is how Wolverine got his adamantium claws back (he lost them in The Wolverine and the mid-credits scene in that film pointedly illustrated that he did not get them back).

On the acting front, X-Men: Days Of Future Past is exactly what one would hope for. The cameos are wonderful and returning cast members do amazing jobs of reclaiming the roles they are known for. Omar Sy and Bingbing Fan are nice additions to the mutant mix as Bishop and Blink, though they are not given much to do – Kitty Pryde works on Bishop and Fan’s presence is nowhere near as impressive as the special effects used to illustrate Blink’s powers. Quicksilver is cool and he is performed with the film’s most comic presence by Evan Peters. And while Bolivar Trask might be presented with something of a monolithic façade, Peter Dinklage makes him entirely watchable. Even Josh Helman brings enough moments of suspicious eye movements and calculated tone to his deliveries to sell the menace of Stryker in his younger form.

The real moments given to the performers are given to James McAvoy (Charles Xavier in 1972) and Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) to pull off. And they do. McAvoy plays Xavier with a tormented quality that we have not seen from Professor X before and yet, he manages to make the character feel like the same one that was introduced in X-Men: First Class. There are few films that so successfully find a previously likable and empowered protagonist wrestling with such crippling defeat and pulling it off the way McAvoy does as Xavier in X-Men: Days Of Future Past. He does this with a slouch and stare that sell the lost man who is essentially an addict and he plays it well.

Jennifer Lawrence plays Raven and whether she is in full blue make-up or essentially herself, she is given some of the key emotional moments in X-Men: Days Of Future Past and she knocks them out of the park. Lawrence plays Raven as strong and internally motivated with great posture and a sense of dignity that radiates from her. She embodies the “mutant and proud” slogan her character mocked in the prior film. But the key for her range comes in a scene that could simply seem to be an answer to plot questions fans of the franchise had. When Mystique learns the fates of the mutants who accompanied her and Erik after the Cuba incident, Lawrence plays shock and sadness wonderfully and Mystique is shaken to her core without the actress delivering any lines.

Some have said that X-Men: Days Of Future Past is inaccessible to non-fans, but the film is strong enough on context clues to answer all of the questions new viewers might have. Just as the film does not make explicit what Bishop’s mutant power is - it can be inferred enough through what happens to him to allow the viewer to enjoy his brief time in the film – the key elements of Charles’s lost nature, Logan’s pining for Jean Grey and even Erik’s rage are presented in a clear enough way that their characters make sense. Ultimately, X-Men: Days Of Future Past uses its broad canvas to tell a story that burns through its two hour, ten minute runtime at a lightning pace and makes viewers pine for more. Hopefully there will be a Director’s Cut that restores more footage to X-Men: Days Of Future Past; between that potential and the promise of the next sequel on the heels of one of the best franchise-ending scenes in all science fiction film history, fans have much to be excited about for the future of the X-Men franchise. But in the wake of a time travel movie that looks back and intimates about the future, X-Men: Days Of Future Past reminds us to enjoy the now and this is just the film to enjoy now with!
For other movies based upon the Marvel comic books, please check out my reviews of:
Guardians Of The Galaxy
The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise Of Electro
The Wolverine
The Avengers
Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance
Captain America: The First Avenger
X-Men: First Class
Iron Man 2
The Incredible Hulk
Spider-Man 3
Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer
Blade: Trinity


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, May 25, 2014

Rapidly Diminishing Returns: Why Weeds Isn’t Worth It!

The Good: Moments of character, Moments of humor
The Bad: Repetitive, Terrible protagonist, Ridiculous plot
The Basics: In a story that does little more than prove that enough is never enough, Weeds (the complete series) wears out its welcome long before all eight seasons are viewed.

There are few television series’s that I continued with based on inertia alone the way I did with Weeds. Weeds is a 102 episode (roughly a half hour each) television series that has an immediately original concept that is quickly milked to death and then extended for about six more seasons. The show, which aired on Showtime, won awards for the acting of Mary-Louise Parker (for no discernable reason that I can find given how poorly she acts and differentiates her character of Nancy Botwin from, for example, her character of Amy Gardner on The West Wing, reviewed here!) and writing (from series creator Jenji Kohan), but otherwise was a frequently-nominated strike out for comedy on the awards circuit. The thing is, outside the premium cable amount of drugs and nudity presented, Weeds has shockingly little going for it and that is never more clear than when one sits down and watches Weeds The Complete Series.

The full-series boxed set has all of the content of the previously released DVD (or Blu-Ray) sets of:
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6
Season 7
and Season 8.

While I usually do an intensive analysis of a television series’s plot and characters, I find that with Weeds, I am unable to muster up the enthusiasm. What is the show about? Nancy Botwin and her family and the people she uses. Who is Nancy Botwin? Nancy Botwin is a high-functioning sociopath whose husband dies in the series premiere. Botwin and her two children live in Agrestic, a gated community for the wealthy and privileged. When her husband dies, Nancy is forced to acknowledge that she has no marketable skills and so in order to maintain her standard of living, she becomes a pot dealer in the suburbs.

What follows is the story of Nancy Botwin and her descent into crime. Nancy, accompanied by her brother-in-law who lusts after her, her two children and various sidekicks dimwitted (Doug and Dean) and treacherous (Heylia and Celia) gets into trouble with rival dealers and suppliers, local law enforcement and the DEA. She gets out of her troubles by lying to, having sex with or marrying her adversaries when simply setting her enemies against one another or burning a place to the ground does not work. And then she runs away. Dragging her family, Doug, and whichever other lackey is around at the time with her, Nancy relocates to San Diego, Dearborn (Michigan), New York City and Connecticut over the course of the series. So, Weeds is a simple idea relocated repeatedly in an attempt to stay fresh, but utterly failing after its first two seasons to engage the viewers sufficiently to be worth the investment of time and money.

What is so bad about Nancy Botwin? Nancy shows no real regard for anyone in her life. She uses her children as an excuse to do horrible things and she is willing to turn on even her kids when the situation calls for it. In fact, outside protecting her son Shane from a murder charge after he kills a woman in defense of Nancy, Nancy shows no real regard for even her children (whom she claims to be doing everything for). Moreover, Nancy drags Andy around and constantly uses him, even after she learns that he is hopelessly in love with her. She has no qualms about using his love for her to get what she wants from him and then abandoning or betraying him. She is, literally, a sociopath the way she betrays everyone with her single-minded focus on her own survival. As a result, she is neither an empathetic character, nor one who is particularly enjoyable to watch.

What is so bad about Weeds then? In addition to having a pretty lousy protagonist, Weeds has a disturbingly limited concept that makes no real sense. Nancy Botwin is faced with a big financial crisis, like millions of Americans are every day. She makes a bad initial choice, which is to stay in Agrestic and become a pot dealer. The thing is, America is huge and there are plenty of places she could move (one garage sale would have given her more than enough money to move to a place with a lower cost-of-living) and get a job to make ends meet. So, the show starts off with a lousy decision . . .

. . . and then it just keeps making the same bad decision over and over again. There are several times in the course of Weeds where Nancy Botwin gets ahead: she is not just scraping by, she has more than enough to keep her and her family provided for for the foreseeable future. And she never quits while she is ahead. Instead, she gets into increasingly preposterous situations that force her and her family into worse (usually life-threatening) situations. And she never learns. Weeds sucks because Nancy Botwin is horrible, short-sighted, and remarkably stupid for a drug-peddling mother and she is surrounded by idiots who continue to let her use them over and over again. And the ones who manage to escape the dark cloud of Nancy’s influence . . . invariably return to her, even after they can acknowledge how abysmal she actually is!

Outside Mary-Louise Parker, the acting in Weeds is good. Justin Kirk, especially, is impressive with an uncommon amount of range and depth as Andy Botwin. Young actors Hunter Parrish (Silas Botwin), Alexander Gould (Shane Botwin) and Allie Grant (Isabelle Hodes) all grow up over the course of the eight-season series and illustrate an incredible amount of talent and performance ability, even when their characters are emotionally stunted. Like Mary-Louise Parker consistently hitting on only one note, Kevin Nealon plays Doug Wilson with a constant goofy quality one expects from anyone who saw him perform on Saturday Night Live in the 1980s or 1990s.

The end result is a simple analysis for a simple show: Weeds is not clever, not particularly original after the set-up and not enduringly great in any way, shape, or form. That makes it easy to pass up and not worth adding to one’s permanent library.

For other shows that premiered on Showtime, please visit my reviews of:
Dexter - Season 1
The L Word
Dead Like Me
Jeremiah - Season 1
An American Crime


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

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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On Some Velvet Morning, Stanley Tucci And Alice Eve Play Two Expert Manipulators!

The Good: Well-written, Amazingly well-acted, Decent direction
The Bad: Characters are uninteresting, Cinematically unremarkable
The Basics: Neil LaBute presents a play on film that is all about characters who are complicated and conflicted with Some Velvet Morning.

As I find myself with less and less time these days, I think it makes a statement when I make a choice to go to the movies to actually review new films. I’m not, for example, wasting my very limited time on Godzilla and my budget for indie films has been slashed. So, when I took the time to watch Some Velvet Morning based solely on the presence of Stanley Tucci in the film, it meant that I was, if anything, biased in favor of the film. The truth is, I think Stanley Tucci is one of the most underrated actors of our time. In Neil LaBute’s latest drama, Some Velvet Morning, Stanley Tucci is wonderful, even if the character he is playing is terrible.

That, though, is the essence of great acting; when an actor can completely disappear into a role and give viewers something completely different from what we’ve seen from them before. And in Some Velvet Morning, Stanley Tucci is unsettling and plays the role of Fred with a rage that is boiling just beneath the surface for much of the film that is unlike anything I have ever seen from him before. His character of Fred lacks the easygoing, loose body language charm of, for example, his character from Easy A (reviewed here!). He asserts himself as an actor who can truly do anything in Some Velvet Morning, which makes sense because of his strong theater background. Some Velvet Morning is essentially a play on film, so it is hardly extraordinary moviemaking, though anyone who enjoys character-driven, artsy movies or theatrical plays is likely to enjoy the experience.

Velvet is laying on her couch on a random morning, listening to music, when the doorbell rings repeatedly. She gets up and is shocked to see Fred standing in her doorway with all his luggage. Velvet cautiously invited him in and he reveals that he has left his wife of twenty-four years, Miriam, once and for all. Velvet suggests Fred call his wife, but he engages her in conversation, asking her for a glass of water and getting her to talk about where she is in life. She is reserved and tells him she has friends to meet. Fred draws out that his son, Chris, is still seeing Velvet, despite being married to a woman named Mandy. Fred begins to converse with and manipulate Velvet.

Upset when Fred refers to her as Velvet, ?? (we never learn Velvet's real name) insists that she is not the woman Fred remembers and she storms upstairs. Fred follows her and pushes her for the origins of the nickname “Velvet,” which is much darker than he ever imagined. But she quickly recants and insists she needs to go out. The two continue to verbally spar and when Velvet calls to let Chris know that she will be late, it makes Fred believe he can finally quit feeling love for his former mistress. But their conversation and their manipulations of one another continue, with Fred oscillating between anger and affection, disappointment and hopefulness.

What keeps Some Velvet Morning watchable is how the characters are layered and the film is not at all a monolithic or sterile as its setting (the entire movie occurs in a single house, in about three rooms and a stairway) would suggest. Fred is clearly a manipulator and long before his overt anger comes out, there is an impressive undertone of rage that he embodies early on as he simply insists that Velvet sit beside him. But while Tucci’s Fred is almost instantly characterized as a reprehensibly human being who is clearly manipulating Velvet, Velvet pushes Fred’s buttons and manipulates Fred as well.

To that end, Some Velvet Morning takes a bit of trust to keep watching. For the first half of the film, Some Velvet Morning is largely Fred working his game and his erratic nature makes it seem like he is emotionally beating the hell out of Velvet, but in the latter half, Velvet comes into her own. Velvet knows a game when she sees it and in the second half of the movie, she has moments of taking delight in the way she can push Fred and manipulate him. When Velvet details her history of prostitution with Fred, there are moments she clearly stabs at him with the intent to hurt him.

What surprised me most about Some Velvet Morning was Alice Eve. Eve seems to be typecast more often than not; indeed, she plays Velvet initially with a reserved quality that is virtually identical to her character from Star Trek Into Darkness (reviewed here!). But as Some Velvet Morning progresses, she starts giving a more layered performance. Velvet is smarter than she initially appears and she is onto Fred’s game. So, as Velvet begins to poke back at Fred, Eve manages to portray a similar level of deviousness. The moment Velvet first puts her hand on Fred’s knee, the viewer knows that she is playing Fred just as he is playing her. Alice Eve makes the move look effortless and she sells the “not by accident” body language, even as she delivers lines that make her character seem ignorant of her own power. Eve sell’s the film’s end and (without spoilers) when the movie takes a turn for the horrifying in the final nine minutes, it is her emotive abilities that unsettle and shake the viewer. For someone who has spent the film working another character into a boiling rage, Velvet becomes sympathetic when that yields a terrible result and Eve lands the moments in a way that jars the viewer.

Stanley Tucci is masterful in Some Velvet Morning. The only comparisons I have are that he plays the role of Fred as a cross between the intonations of Kevin Spacey and the body language of Brad Pitt. The combination is irresistible and it becomes distinctly Tucci’s own performance. In simpler terms, while there are moments that seemed familiar (Tucci’s moments of whimsy as Fred reminded me of Spacey’s performance in House Of Cards’s first season when Frank Underwood is on television and has an unexpected meltdown), it took so long for me to place why there was some familiarity to the film.

Neil LaBute fully redeems himself for The Wicker Man (reviewed here!) with Some Velvet Morning, though the scale of this film is much, much smaller. LaBute is an exceptional writer, but as a director, Some Velvet Morning makes him appear somewhat more mediocre. Some Velvet Morning is essentially a play on film and LaBute fails at some key moments to capitalize on the film medium. Most notably, he has the camera way too far back during a kiss late in the film. The moment lacks intimacy, he fails to capture the characters’ reactions and the moment lacks depth because LaBute keeps the full “stage” in shot as opposed to getting tight in on the characters.

That said, it has been a long time since I’ve seen a film with only two characters that actually held my attention and interest. Some Velvet Morning has some oddities to it (not the least of which is that the Production Designer gets third billing before the title in the opening credits!), but it manages to keep what could be a claustrophobic or unsettling film moving along in an entirely watchable way.

For other films with Alice Eve, please check out my reviews of:
Men In Black 3
She's Out Of My League
Sex And The City 2


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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Wrestling With Consequences, Setting Up The Next Chapter: Green Lantern Corps: Alpha War!

The Good: Good character development, Decent artwork, Engaging story development
The Bad: Incomplete story, Somewhat predictable
The Basics: Green Lantern Corps: Alpha War turns the focus on John Stewart and Guy Gardner as they are manipulated as part of the Guardians’ machinations to bring about the rise of the Third Army!

As I finally have a little more time to read, I have been catching up on the various graphic novel series’ that I enjoy. While I have generally enjoyed Green Lantern, the companion book, Green Lantern Corps tends to be undervalued and underrated. Perhaps it is because the protagonists in Green Lantern Corps are John Stewart, Guy Gardner, and the non-human members of the Green Lantern Corps that the title is treated as the ugly stepsister of the DC Universe. The truth is, I like the nonhuman Green Lanterns because they afford the writers decent opportunities to explore alien planets and create different dynamics that involve tensions that can be written about easily because they are not taboo (it’s easy to make religious and political allegories when the characters are from different worlds and their issues are at least given the appearance of being something other than what educated readers will recognize them as). As for Guy Gardner, he was an obnoxious Green Lantern created during a phase when Lobo was popular and John Stewart always bore the burden of being one of the replacements for Hal Jordan; the initial premises of the characters turned off more readers than the characters they have developed into.

Still, with time enough to read on my breaks, I happily picked up Green Lantern Corps: Alpha War, which is Volume 2 of DC’s “New 52” line for their (somewhat awkward) continuation of Green Lantern Corps. I write “somewhat awkward” because the Green Lantern section of the DC Universe includes the most references to pre-New 52 reboot DC Universe. So, as the Green Lantern Corps’s story has continued despite the rest of the universe getting revamped (including, oddly enough, new meetings between Batman and Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern for the first time), it has actually become one of the stories I enjoy more if for no other reason than I was enjoying the direction of the Green Lantern Corps going into Blackest Night and Brightest Day. Green Lantern Corps: Alpha War picks up where Green Lantern Corps: Fearsome (reviewed here!) left off and it acts, in part, as a prologue to and continuation of Rise Of The Third Army (reviewed here!). As the Green Lantern Saga is heavily serialized, without reading Fearsome or knowing anything about the plotline involving the Third Army, Green Lantern Corps: Alpha War loses some of its punch. The magnitude of some of the events in Green Lantern Corps: Alpha War are diminished.

In the wake of John Stewart killing Green Lantern Kirrt Kallak while both were being tortured for information by a hostile alien force in order to save the Green Lantern Corps and possibly the entire universe, Stewart and Gardner are part of a team to bury the Yellow Lantern power battery on OA. Gardner, pissed about the tactical ramifications of burying the power source that feeds off fear on OA knocks the massive battery on its side and when he is called in front of the Guardians, he assumes it is to be reprimanded. Instead, he is given a promotion to the new, unique, rank of Green Lantern Sentinel and retasked to act directly in concert with the Guardians themselves. At the same time, the Alpha Lanterns receive a transmission of Stewart actually killing Kirrt Kallak (without the events that preceded or followed it) and they arrest Stewart.

John Stewart’s arrest sparks a loud, angry debate in the Corps and divides the Green Lanterns between those who believe Stewart should die for his crime and those who believe that the Alpha Lanterns have vastly overstepped their jurisdiction. Guy Gardner, not content to sit on the sidelines when the Guardians tell him to lay off the Alpha Lanterns, mounts a force of Green Lanterns to stage a jailbreak for Stewart. The resulting conflict between the Green Lanterns and the Alpha Lanterns leads Alpha Lantern Varix to make a sacrifice that sees the end of the elite group of Internal Affairs Lanterns. After an interlude with Guy Gardner’s backstory, the Guardians continue their plan to replace the Green Lantern Corps with the Third Army by dispatching John Stewart to the farthest reaches of the galaxy in search of Mogo (who might be reforming) and sending Guy Gardner on a task which will divide his loyalties and attention.

Green Lantern Corps: Alpha War develops the characters of Guy Gardner and John Stewart well and Peter J. Tomasi deserves quite a lot of credit for that. Tomasi takes what could be a very plot-based story and makes it feel very character-driven. Gardner, Stewart, the Green Lantern Corps and Gardner’s adversary Xar are each working as pawns of the Guardians. But instead of a conspiracy theory story, the machinations of the Guardians are executed in the background of the book. That makes the motivations of the Alpha Lanterns, Guy Gardner and John Stewart stand up independent of the conspiracy the Guardians are executing. The Alpha Lanterns have jurisdiction over judging Stewart’s crime, but they lack a clear mandate/set of guidelines. The conflict is organic in Green Lantern Corps: Alpha War and there is a decent added complication with John Stewart’s unwillingness to fight his fellow Lanterns or the will of the Guardians.

Moreover, the artwork in Green Lantern Corps: Alpha War is exceptionally good. All of the characters are recognizable and the vividness of the coloring in the book is wonderful. Bright coloring is pretty much essential for a Green Lantern book and Green Lantern Corps: Alpha War possesses that. The characters are so well-defined and clear that when Fatality makes an appearance late in the volume, she is instantly recognizable despite having been absent from the Green Lantern narrative for quite some time.

Green Lantern Corps: Alpha War does well what so many graphic novels fail to do; it continues the story that precedes it and foreshadows the elements of the next chapter while still telling a complete story of its own. While the flashback story of Guy Gardner’s origins as a Green Lantern might be redundant to some, it was actually the first story I read that had it. That divergence sets up the significance of Xar’s return and use by the Guardians and it helps illustrate the magnitude of Gardner’s actions in the final chapter of the book.

In the end, Green Lantern Corps: Alpha War is a good volume that does much of what one hopes for in a graphic novel and it is enough to convince readers that the Green Lantern Corps is still a vital part of the DC Universe!

For other Green Lantern Corps books, be sure to check out my reviews of:
To Be A Lantern
The Sinestro Corps War Volume 1
Tales Of The Sinestro Corps
The Sinestro Corps War Volume 2
Ring Quest
Sins Of The Star Sapphire
Emerald Eclipse
Blackest Night: Tales Of The Corps
Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps
Revolt Of The Alpha Lanterns


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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Friday, May 23, 2014

Finale 2.0, “These Are The Voyages . . .” Ends Star Trek: Enterprise And Star Trek: The Next Generation

The Good: Interesting retcon for Riker, Inside jokes, Moments of concept
The Bad: Nothing stellar on the plot or character front
The Basics: In a one-shot finale episode, “These Are The Voyages . . .” has an old Star Trek: The Next Generation episode revisited with Star Trek: Enterprise as a Holodeck program within in!

Cut short (or, for those of us who were not fans, finally going off the air after being dragged out for far too long), Star Trek: Enterprise had a surprisingly controversial finale. Instead of ending Star Trek: Enterprise on its own strength, with the logical end point for the series – the founding of the United Federation Of Planets - “These Are The Voyages . . .” (the series finale to Star Trek: Enterprise) concluded with an episode that devoted a decent chunk of time and more in the way of actual character development to Star Trek: The Next Generation! After years living in the shadow of the prior Star Trek series’s, Star Trek: Enterprise surrendered to the probability that no one would ever accept the show the way they fell in love with Star Trek: The Next Generation, the executive producers and writers hedged their bets and essentially created a “lost episode” of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

On the clever front, “These Are The Voyages . . .” occurs within the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Pegasus” (reviewed here!). In that episode, Commander Riker had to make a tough choice. To help him get the emotional strength to make his tough decision, Riker disappears (in this retcon episode) to the Holodeck. Revisiting the final mission of the NX-01 Enterprise, Riker begins to get the inner strength that we are supposed to believe he did not have before that. Go figure.

During the mission to recover the U.S.S. Pegasus, Commander William Riker is troubled. Having encountered Admiral Preston, his former commanding officer, and learned that he plans to continue pursuing illegal military operations with cloaking device technology, Riker finds his loyalties divided. To make the difficult decision as to whether or not to betray his former commander by outing the secret mission the Pegasus was on when it was lost, Riker takes Counselor Troi’s advice and visits the holodeck. There, Riker relives the final mission of the NX-01 Enterprise.

On its way to the signing ceremony for the United Federation Of Planets’s charter, the NX-01 Enterprise is diverted when Shran pops up. Presumed dead for the four years prior, Archer brings Shran aboard and he reveals that his daughter, whom Archer never knew existed, has been kidnapped. Calling in his favor with Archer, Shran and the Enterprise go to the Rigel System to make the trade. Getting his daughter back, Shran returns to the Enterprise. But the raiders who kidnapped Shran’s daughter catch up with the Enterprise and in their zeal to capture Shran, Tucker steps up to protect his captain and his captain’s Andorian ally.

“These Are The Voyages . . .” unfortunately undermines both Star Trek: Enterprise and the character of Commander William T. Riker. Riker has been known to make tough decisions prior to the seventh season of Star Trek: The Next Generation (which is when “The Pegasus” happens). So, the idea that the events of “The Pegasus” are so daunting that he needed to use a mission of the NX-01 Enterprise just to do the right thing is somewhat preposterous. More than that, the two halves of the episode do not really jive. Archer does not make any particularly tough or world-shattering decisions in his half of the plot. And Tucker, who dominates the character front of the Star Trek: Enterprise portion of the episode, makes a fast decision that is no more difficult or different from his other, prior decisions.

As a result, “These Are The Voyages . . .” glosses over most of the Enterprise crew on the character front. T’Pol and Tucker reference their defunct relationship but because the episode happens over five years after the prior episode, “Terra Prime” (reviewed here!), there is a real emotional disconnect in the characters. The idea that Shran has been presumed dead for years and that Archer so quickly accepts his return is an abrupt one. Shran pops back in and given that the Enterprise crew has had some experience with shapeshifters, that Archer just accepts his sudden appearance is as disconnected as the other elements of the story.

“These Are The Voyages . . .” tries to use all of the main cast of Star Trek: Enterprise, but they are glossed over very quickly. Riker taking on the role of Chef is an amusing in-joke (Chef is never actually seen in the series) which gives him access to all of the crewmembers, but with one or two lines each, there is no real depth to the character arc of the episode.

What “These Are The Voyages . . .” ends up being is an episode that brings real closure to the modern Star Trek era; reminding viewers why they loved the Star Trek franchise. It wasn’t Star Trek: Enterprise they loved and, ironically, the finale to the show illustrated that.

[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 finales, please visit my reviews of:
“Turnabout Intruder” - Star Trek
“The Counter-Clock Incident” - Star Trek: The Animated Series
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
“All Good Things . . .” - Star Trek: The Next Generation
“What You Leave Behind” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
“Endgame” - Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Nemesis


For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, please visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Intriguing, But Not Perfect: Multigrain Cheerios Peanut Butter Cereal Is Worth Trying!

The Good: Nutritious, Affordable, Nice sweet taste.
The Bad: With milk, it is not flavorful enough
The Basics: General Mills Peanut Butter Cheerios cereal is good, but might be one of the best examples of a cereal that is better before it is added to milk!

Lately, my local grocery store has been putting all sorts of cereals on sale and I thought that was a great time to start picking up breakfast cereal again and reviewing them! My first of the new cereal reviews is Multigrain Cheerios Peanut Butter flavor. And it’s good, but it does not truly hold its own against skim milk, which makes it a tougher sell to someone like me, who loves full, robust, flavors.


General Mills Peanut Butter Cheerios cereal is a new twist on an old cereal – Cheerios has been around my entire life! It looks like a mostly smooth ring made of baked corn, oats or some blend of rice, sorghum, and barley. The corn Cheerios in this mix are bright yellow, the oat Cheerios are dull brown, the other Cheerios are a lighter brown, much like regular Cheerios. Each Cheerios ring is approximately 1/2” in diameter and about 1/8” tall.

The standard box of Peanut Butter Cheerios cereal is 11.3 oz. That represents approximately eleven servings and that seems to be accurate given my experience so far. This cereal is comprised of just the cereal rings themselves, with nothing else in them. All three types of Cheerios seem to be mixed in with equal frequency.

Ease Of Preparation

Peanut Butter Cheerios cereal is a breakfast cereal, so this is one of the low-impact breakfast options as far as preparation goes! Simply open the box of Peanut Butter Cheerios cereal, pour out a three-quarter cup serving (I recommend actually using a measuring cup, especially if you are monitoring your intake) and add 1/2 cup of milk to it. I have discovered, as part of getting healthy, that one of the biggest challenges one might have with breakfast cereal is actually eating the serving size recommended by the manufacturer. This is not a problem with Peanut Butter Cheerios, though, as the 3/4 cup serving seems to be a pretty decent amount of the cereal!

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


Peanut Butter Cheerios smells strongly of peanut butter. In fact, anyone who loves peanut butter will be enticed by the aroma from this cereal, which is nice.

As for taste, dry Peanut Butter Cheerios cereal is dominated by the dry flavor of peanuts and that flavor quickly dissipates. The flavor of peanuts is replaced by the grainy, but sweet, flavor of the multigrain Cheerios. The aftertaste from the dry Multigrain Peanut Butter Cheerios is exactly what one expects from peanut butter. The flavor is nutty with a hint of something oily. That secondary flavor is the embodiment of peanut butter flavor.

Drenched in milk, the Peanut Butter Cheerios lose most of their flavor. They are consistently sweet, but the peanut butter flavor that these Cheerios possess when dry seems to wash off into the milk. The milk has a nutty taste, even when the Cheerios take on a generically sweet, overly grainy flavor. There is no strong aftertaste to the cereal after it has been placed in milk.


General Mills Peanut Butter Cheerios cereal is fairly nutritious on its own and with skim milk! Made primarily of whole grain corn, sugar, and peanut butter. Most of the ingredients, before the added vitamins and minerals, are easily identifiable in the Peanut Butter Cheerios. This cereal has some preservatives in it, but it also has a separate list of vitamins and minerals, which implies that this is another cereal that has nutrients sprayed onto it. That makes it very important to drink the milk after one has consumed the actual cereal.

A single serving of General Mills Peanut Butter Cheerios cereal is 28 grams, 3/4 cups. In that serving, there are 110 calories, with 15 calories coming from fat. There are no saturated or trans fats in this cereal, nor is there any cholesterol. With 130 mg of sodium and 2 grams of dietary fiber, this is not a bad dietary choice for those striving to improve heart health. With two grams of protein and 85mg potassium, Peanut Butter Cheerios is not the absolute healthiest cereal on the market, but it is a decent start to one’s day, at least on the dietary front. On its own, this cereal has significant percentages of eight vitamins and minerals, most notably 50% of the RDA of Folic Acid!


Peanut Butter Cheerios is a cereal, so as long as it is kept sealed in its box, it ought to remain fresh for quite some time. The box of Peanut Butter Cheerios cereal I purchased two weeks ago had an expiration date of February 17, 2015. I am quite positive it will be gone well before then. Obviously, when you are done pouring the cereal from the box, fold down the plastic inner wrap to help maintain the cereal’s freshness.

Cleaning up after Peanut Butter Cheerios cereal is simple as well. Simply brush away crumbs left by it and you are done! It is that simple! This is a cereal that does not discolor the milk added to it, but even though one should drink that up to get all the vitamins and minerals General Mills added to the cereal, they do not risk staining their clothes from potential spills.


Peanut Butter Cheerios cereal is healthy, but it is not a powerful-enough peanut butter flavor to make it a must-buy. Even so, it is worth trying, even if just for the novelty!

For other flavors of Cheerios, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Cinnamon Burst Cheerios
Dulce De Leche Cheerios
Chocolate Cheerios


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

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