Friday, September 30, 2016

September 2016 End Of The Month Report!

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September was a very big month for production on the blog and we reviewed a lot of new, independent movies, Netflix shows and the new episodes of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. among other things! Our Artist Of The Month for music reviews was Selena Gomez and we made it through her entire body of musical work (though one of those reviews still has yet to be posted!) in the month. While it might not yet be reflected in the Top Ten, we finished the month big with reviews of every episode and the full season of Luke Cage!

Unfortunately, September saw Amazon changing its Affiliates programming, making virtually all of the product ads associated with reviews go wonky and not render properly. This is, potentially, devastating to us as we now have thousands of reviews, each with multiple links and re-coding each review would be a painstaking and annoying process that would probably take years to accomplish. Going forward, we are using new widgets, but for past reviews, things might not look so good.

This month, we picked up three new followers on Twitter, but no new subscribers! 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 slowly growing our readership, 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 September, we updated the index pages every few days, keeping them quite useful to our readers. The primary Index Page, is usually updated daily and 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 and feel free to use that as it is a much more useful and organized index to the reviews I've written!

If you enjoy the reviews, please consider clicking on the links in the reviews (at least the ones that render properly!) and purchasing items. We really appreciate all the purchases made through the blog as that keeps us going. As back-to-school spending picks up, if you're going shopping online, please come through the blog to to it. Thank you so much!

At the end of September 2016, I have reviewed the following:
557 - Book Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Star Trek Books
Graphic Novels
936 - Music (Album and Singles) Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Music Reviews By Rating (Best To Worst)
Music Reviews In Alphabetical Order
3025 - 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!)!
The Doctor Who Review Index Page (All Doctor Who Reviews In Order)!
The Doctor Who Review Index Page (All Doctor Who Reviews From The Best Of The Franchise To The Worst!)!
229 - 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
865 - 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
942 - Food, Drink, And Restaurant Reviews
with specialized index pages for:
Cheese and Meats
Ice Cream
Other Food
252 - Pet Product Reviews
Cat Product Reviews
Dog Product Reviews
Rabbit Product Reviews
114 - Travel Reviews
Destinations Reviews
Hotels Reviews
198 - Health And Beauty Product Reviews
201 - Home, Garden, Appliance and Tool Reviews
105 - Electronics, Computers, Computer Games and Software Reviews
56 - Other Product Reviews

The Featured Review For The Month of September is my review of: The Honest Kitchen Grain Free Base Mix Dog Food and my Featured Article: The Top Ten Essential Star Trek Experiences!
Check them out!

The month of September was awash in movement and it is no surprise that almost all of the biggest reviews were new movies and television reviews, with another big new Netflix film topping the chart! For September, the Top Ten Reviews of the month were:
10. Other People
9. The Flash - Season 2
8. Clone Wars Anakin Skywalker Mighty Muggs Figure
7. Zoom / Flock Of Dudes (TIE!)
6. Antibirth
5. The Whole Truth
4. "The Ghost" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
3. Cardboard Boxer
1. ARQ

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 - 321 reviews
9s - 490 reviews
8s - 942 reviews
7s - 1048 reviews
6s - 976 reviews
5s - 1244 reviews
4s - 926 reviews
3s - 715 reviews
2s - 338 reviews
1s - 228 reviews
0s - 110 reviews
No rating - 121 articles/postings

There was a decent amount of movement this month, but there was no movement in the all time Top Ten Reviews! At the end of September 2016, the most popular reviews/articles are:
10. Beautiful Creatures
9. Safe Haven
8. Oz The Great And Powerful
7. The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bone
6. Iron Man 3
5. Warm Bodies
4. Tyler Perry's Temptation
3. Now You See Me
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!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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"Code Of The Streets" Finds Everyone Hunting Chico To Establish The Conflict In Luke Cage!

The Good: Good direction, Decent performances and character moments
The Bad: Very basic plot, which is heavily dependent upon the prior episode.
The Basics: In many ways, "Code Of The Streets" is the second part of the pilot episode of Luke Cage as it belabors resolving the last thief for the junkyard robbery in the prior episode.

Whenever a new element is added to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I find myself fascinated by how the producers of the new work try to find the balance between the established Marvel Cinematic Universe and striking out in a direction unique to the new work. With Luke Cage Season 1 dropping on Netflix today, it is strange to see a new work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that harkens back so frequently to The Avengers (reviewed here!), as opposed to newer works (including Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.) which could be called back to. "Code Of The Streets" continues to explore a Harlem still rebuilding from The Incident with Luke Cage hiding out there.

Picking up where “Moment Of Truth” (reviewed here!) left off, "Code Of The Streets" continues the tradition of creating serialized television that builds on the prior episodes and makes an episode that is rich in consequences that resonate throughout the season. As a result, it is tough to discuss "Code Of The Streets" without some references as to where Luke Cage has been already. Given that "Code Of The Streets" resonates with consequences from the shootout at the junk yard where three young men robbed Cornell Stokes in the middle of a gun sale he negotiated, the prior episode is heavily referenced in the new one.

Opening with Luke Cage standing outside the Crispus Attucks Center when a thug puts a gun to his head, the episode flashes back to Detective Misty Knight envisioning the shootout at the junk yard. Back at the barber shop, Pop and Cage discuss how Mariah Dillard and Stokes extort people in the neighborhood. Stokes comes in for a shave and quietly puts out the word that he is searching for Chico. Detectives Knight and Scarfe to get information on Chico so they might find him.

Stokes and Dillard continue their hunt for Chico to recover Stokes's money, while Cage manages to track down the young man. Chico refuses to return to Pop's or return the money he stole. Shortly after Cage returns to Pop's, Chico turns up . . . unfortunately in view of Turk Barrett, who rushes back to snitch to Stokes's people. Knight and Scarfe arrive, searching for Chico. Cage attempts to set up a parlay with Stokes to make peace over Chico and the robbery, though Stokes is unimpressed by Pop using Cage as an intermediary. Acting on Turk's tip, Tone brings a team to the barber shop to try to find Chico . . . and tragedy ensues, setting Luke Cage on his course for the season.

Early in the first season of Luke Cage, the writers and executive producers took time to explore culture and make a number of references to black American authors and artists and "Code Of The Streets" is no exception to that. While the show eventually gets lazy and detail-oriented only for the plot and machinations of the characters involved, in "Code Of The Streets," there is a richness of allusions that helps characterize Harlem.

Luke Cage is given more overt characterization in "Code Of The Streets," which helps to bring him from being a supporting character to leading his own show. Cage continues to be wary of being seen by Shades Alvarez and he confides in Pop that he was originally from Georgia. Cage utilizes his tracking skills, as seen in Jessica Jones and for those who came to Luke Cage from that series, using the tracking skill is a nice touch to tie the two together. And, while Cage clearly recognizes Alvarez, Alvarez does not seem to recall Stokes yet.

While Misty Knight is finally named in "Code Of The Streets," it is Pop who has the most significant effect on Luke Cage in the episode. Pop not only reveals more hints of Cage's backstory, but he helps to characterize himself and his establishment as a true leader and a true community resource. Mentor characters are frequently treated as monolithic in genre works, but Pop is surprisingly well-rounded in his brief time in "Code Of The Streets." The flashback that illustrates Pop's violent past is an excellent blending of showing and telling the character's history.

The other significant character dynamic that is fleshed out in "Code Of The Streets" is the relationship between Cornell Stokes and his cousin, Councilwoman Mariah Dillard. Dillard illustrates a demanding side in "Code Of The Streets" and Alfre Woodard infuses a sense of menace into her. Woodard plays Dillard subtle, while Mahershala Ali continues the rise of Cottonmouth as an overtly dangerous and powerful character. Stokes is dangerous and Ali has the gangster almost always fidgeting with his fingers to help infuse the idea that Stokes is somewhat unbalanced. Ali finds the right contrast between the twitches and physical restraint to make Stokes seem well-rounded and not a parody of a villain.

Director Paul McGuigan uses tension remarkably well in "Code Of The Streets." Before starting the episode with an incredibly tense moment that the viewer knows will be revisited later on and the amazing shaving scene, McGuigan creates an episode of television where the prevailing feeling is that anything can happen. So, it is delightful when the scene does not turn into a bloodbath or a gun fight. The tension when Cage visits Stokes in the club to pitch parlay is cool in that none of the characters are yet aware of Cage's powers. While some of the shots are unfortunately telegraphed - most notably Tone purposely dropping the payment owed to Pop on the floor - most of "Code Of The Streets" looks good.

The appearance of Faith Evans in the Harlem Paradise Club continues to add a flavor and depth to the setting that feels very authentic. Despite its dependence upon the first episode to truly appreciate the magnitude of the hunt that is on for the entirety of "Code Of The Streets," the second episode of Luke Cage is well-crafted and engaging to watch.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Luke Cage - The Complete First Season, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season here!

For other works with Mike Colter, please visit my reviews of:
Jessica Jones - Season 1
Men In Black 3
Brooklyn Lobster
Million Dollar Baby


For other Marvel movie, television season and episode reviews, please check out my Marvel Cinematic Universe Review Index Page for a listing of those reviews!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Teen Pop-Rock Generica: Kiss & Tell Fails To Thrill!

The Good: Catchy tunes, Listenable, Moments of voice
The Bad: Overproduced, Repetitive, Some truly lame rhymes, Short
The Basics: Kiss & Tell was the musical debut of Selena Gomez & The Scene . . . and it is pretty surprising there was ever a follow-up!

It is always very interesting to me to see who is able to successfully traverse one medium to another - like singers who show genuine talent for acting or actors who make magnificent directors or writers who prove they have the chops to executive produce a television show that is consistently great. Selena Gomez got her start as a child actor, arguably because she was on kids shows and had a very natural "cute" factor that got her foot in the door. But, as her tenure on the Disney Channel came toward an end, Selena Gomez - like Miley Cyrus before her - made the transition from child actress to young pop star. The debut album of Selena Gomez & The Scene was Kiss & Tell.

Kiss & Tell is a debut album full of rookie mistakes that achieved some measure of commercial success arguably because it was exceptionally well-promoted at the time. Had Selena Gomez not been associated with the Disney brand, the Disney Channel and ABC probably would not have utilized their influence to push the product and the album would have been forgotten with the one-hit wonders and the could-have-beens. But in the final analysis, Kiss & Tell feels much more like a product than it does a musical expression or anything truly artistic.

With only thirteen songs, totaling 42:20, Kiss & Tell is very short. Selena Gomez & The Scene are responsible for co-writing only two of the tracks. Gomez provides all of the lead vocals and some of the backing vocals, while members of The Scene play the primary instruments, which are guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. Kiss & Tell feels like a product in that most of the songs have multiple producers and engineers and the album has a hodgepodge sound to it that seems to be the result of it lacking an executive producer that had a clear musical concept for the album. Kiss & Tell is the musical shotgun approach to attempting to make hit pop songs.

Musically, Kiss & Tell is largely an album filled with very generic pop-rock songs. While the album begins with "Kiss & Tell," a song that sounds like it could have come from pretty much any garage rock band, most of the album treads more toward pop. Indeed, only "Crush" stands out as having similar noticeable guitarwork that promotes the instrumentation with a tune and a sense of edge to it. Kiss & Tell is a mix of rock, pop and one or two tracks (like "Tell Me Something I Don't Know") that try to edge closer to hip-hop. Kiss & Tell, predictably, does not have a cohesive overall sound.

"I Promise You" has good vocals that promote Selena Gomez's natural voice, but not her range. In fact, outside only one real stretch for a high note in "Crush," Gomez plays it musically safe and many of the producers obscure her natural vocals with production elements. Even the ballad "The Way I Loved You" drowns out Gomez's vocals at some of her most raw moments! Kiss & Tell does not present any truly audacious or musically interesting vocals.

On the lyrical front, Kiss & Tell is something of a mess. The album has some moments and Selena Gomez is actually singing some of what she knows by singing about young love on some of the songs. On "I Promise You," Gomez creates an effortless sound and there is something authoritative in the earnestness of her delivery. When Gomez sings "They say that we're just too young / To know / But I'm sure heart and soul / That I am never letting you go / When it's right it's right / And this is it / 'Cause I'm walking on air / Every single time that we kiss" ("I Promise You"), the listener believes the singer has a clear idea of what she is singing about.

But Kiss & Tell is plagued by songs with terrible, predictable rhymes. The poetics of "I picked you out in a crowd of a thousand faces / Yea, I found you oooooooo / I chose the whys and the whens all the random places . . . Well you think you are the one who got me boy / But I got u / I've been playing with you like a lil toy" ("I Got U") were stale long before Selena Gomez & The Scene used them!

The other real mark against the writing on Kiss & Tell is its duration. Most of the songs are in the three minute range, but they utilize a lot of repetition. For example, the word "more" appears in the song "More" at least 34 times in a song about three and a half minutes in duration! There is a mind-numbing quality to the repetition in the song and it is not the only song that suffers from repetition problems.

Ultimately, Kiss & Tell is an entirely unremarkable debut for Selena Gomez & The Scene. It is a product that started Selena Gomez down the path to be a popular icon and a cash cow for big corporations, but it lacks any of the artistry and talent that later works by Selena Gomez exhibited. The best track is "I Promise You," the low point is "More."

For other works with Selena Gomez, please visit my reviews of:
The Fundamentals Of Caring
Revival (Deluxe Edition)
The Big Short
Hotel Transylvania 2
Behaving Badly
Stars Dance
Hotel Transylvania
When The Sun Goes Down - Selena Gomez & The Scene
A Year Without Rain - Selena Gomez & The Scene
Horton Hears A Who!


To see how this album stacks up against every other musical work I have reviewed, please check out my Music Review Index Page where the reviews are organized best to worst rated!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Meandering Into Adequacy: Luke Cage Season 1 Stumbles!

The Good: Decent performances, Good start, Special effects, Supporting characters
The Bad: Plot meanders, Adversaries quickly become lame, Very repetitive fight sequences, Language, Loses artistry as the season progresses
The Basics: Luke Cage Season 1 gets off to a good start, but falls fast and hard as it progresses.

When I look back upon things I review, there are sometimes works that I come to believe - over time - I have judged too harshly initially. It is hard for me not to think that perhaps I was a bit rough in my rating of Jessica Jones Season 1 (reviewed here!) given that it has been out for less than a year and it is now the element of the Marvel Cinematic Universe I have watched and rewatched the most. I have returned to binge Jessica Jones an average of once a month since it was first released and I keep going back because I enjoyed it complexity and darkness, the layers it possesses and the performances of the cast. But, in rating it as a more average program because of its plot arc and the divergent episodes, I came to feel I did a bit of a disservice to Jessica Jones Season 1.

As I sat down to watch Luke Cage Season 1, I was determined not to make the same mistake. Unfortunately, Luke Cage is just not as good as the other Netflix-produced Marvel television series's. The first season of Luke Cage suffers from its derivative nature, lackluster villains, and a season's pacing that is unfortunately erratic. While there is a level of authenticity to the language used in Luke Cage Season 1, it is tough to sit through the sheer volume of time the words "bitch" and "nigger" and its derivatives are thrown around. And for Luke Cage, Misty Knight is presented in the first season as a much more consistent and efficient protagonist.

The first major issue with the first season of Luke Cage is that the show attempts initially to tell a complex story that has a number of layers. While ambition is usually laudable, by casting out so many initial antagonists to Luke Cage, none of the adversaries seems particularly formidable. In piecing together the threads of the antagonists' motivations, each of the enemies comes to be very simply rendered and motivated and the show has to stretch out its story to accommodate the leads it established. Fundamentally, Luke Cage is not given an antagonist who seems to be even remotely in the same league as him, so the time it takes him to resolve the conflicts they set up undermine his innate strength. So, more villains rise and fall; more than any other television season I've seen in recent memory, the first season of Luke Cage feels like it lacked enough material to tell a single story and took a shotgun approach to storytelling instead.

Luke Cage is laying low in Harlem, working at Pop's Barber Shop and the Harlem Paradise Club where he is paid under the table and keeps off the grid. When the local gangster and owner of the Harlem Paradise Club, Cornell Stokes, arranges an illegal weapon sale to try to raise money for his cousin's political campaign (and to repay the money she misappropriated in order to fund the club's refurbishment), two of the young men who hang out at the barber shop double-cross the buyers and Stokes to steal the money for the transaction. That sets off a series of bloody events in Harlem that leave Stokes struggling to retain his rising influence over Harlem and keep his cousin, Councilwoman Mariah Dillard, on the defensive. As Cage attempts to broker peace between thugs and Stokes, some of Stokes's men get triggerhappy. So, Luke Cage starts to systematically attack Stokes's assets.

But Stokes has allies in the police force, local government, and from a higher-up gangster, who uses his liaison Shades Alvarez to apply pressure to Luke Cage. While the police close in on Luke Cage, Detective Missy Knight looks objectively at the truth and comes to believe that Stokes, Dillard, and others are actually responsible for the chaos sweeping through Harlem. With the help of Claire Temple and Missy Knight, Luke Cage works to exonerate himself from the crimes he is implicated in and avoid being returned to prison.

The rising action of the first season of Luke Cage happens very fast, leaving a significant portion of the season floundering to find its footing. Early in the eighth episode of Luke Cage, the viewer is likely to wonder "how can this possibly go on for five more full episodes?!" And even the process of getting to that eighth episode is an agonizing wave of derivative moments. Anyone who has watched the other elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially Daredevil, is likely to be utterly unimpressed by Luke Cage as very little of it is truly original. Cottonmouth dispatches his first victim in a way that is instantly reminiscent of Wilson Fisk beating the life out of a Russian mobster, the entire sequence of attempting to get a corrupt cop to the police headquarters feels familiar to everyone who saw the Daredevil season finale "Daredevil" (reviewed here!), and when the season's ultimate villain finally arrives, he is so bat-shit crazy that it is hard to believe he ever rose to his position of power.

Sadly, some of the best-executed moments of Daredevil undermine what could have been the best moments of the first season of Luke Cage. To wit, the first season of Daredevil had not just one, but two moments when fans of the comic books rolled their eyes, said, "They can't kill that person; they're integral to the story" and then the show pushed the envelope by killing vital, recurring, characters from Daredevil lore. Luke Cage Season 1 - from what very little I know about the source material - does the exact same thing. And the late-season adversary who is pulling the strings? Daredevil Season 2 did it with the Blacksmith.

That said, Luke Cage has its moments. In the latter half of the season, Misty Knight gets a knock-out episode with "DWYCK" and Luke Cage's origin story is presented early enough in the season to be satisfying. When a villain finally comes along who seems to have the potential to end Luke Cage, the scientific description of Luke Cage's condition are actually very satisfying in the way they are presented. But, again, for fans of the other Netflix Marvel Television works will notice that the scientific exploration of Luke Cage comes up right around the same time in the season as the scientific revelations about the nature of Kilgrave in Jessica Jones. It's like the writers and producers of Luke Cage just gave up on trying to create something original and focused on flash over substance for the first season. Even Luke Cage's power's are expanded upon in the first season of Luke Cage; more than just being invulnerable, Luke Cage exhibits more consistent and extreme super-strength than he had in Jessica Jones (where Jones was the strength powerhouse!)

To better understand the series, it helps to know who the main characters are. In the first season of Luke Cage, the principle characters are:

Luke Cage -The power man who was once used in a prison experiment before he became a fugitive and fled under his new alias, he is living in hiding off-the-grid in Harlem. He continues to mourn his dead wife, Reva, while hooking up with women like Misty Knight. He has impervious skin and a mysterious past. When he recognizes Shades Alvarez as the Harlem Paradise Club, he becomes concerned that his secrets might be revealed. He gets locked into a battle of wills against Cornell Stokes and he works to keep Pop's barber shop open in order to keep the community together,

Misty Knight - A whip-smart detective working in Harlem, she is Scarfe's partner. Quick, resourceful, and strong, Misty hooks up with Luke Cage the night before he becomes a person of interest to the police. While others attempt to frame Cage, she is skeptical of the "evidence" that is presented to her. She is able to put together in her head crime scenes in order to "see" exactly what occurred at a crime scene. When Diamondback arrives in Harlem, she is disarmed by him and she has to question her career and loyalties. She is tasked with hunting down Luke Cage,

Pop - The local mentor who runs a barber shop that is supposed to be neutral territory. He takes Luke in when Cage arrives in Harlem. He tries to use Cage to arrange a parlay with Stokes in order to de-escalate the violence in Harlem,

Mariah Dillon - City Councilwoman for Harlem and cousin to Cornell, she helped to fund Cornell's club, illegally moving around funds. She is politically ambitious, clever, and very wary of crime in Harlem. She is opportunistic and when her stash of cash is taken off by Cage, she tries to use politics to stop Luke Cage. Even as Diamondback arrives in Harlem in the wake of a personal tragedy, she formulates a plot to not only stay alive, but retain her political influence,

Scarfe - Knight's partner, he is an old-school detective. He is also a corrupt cop who begins to smell weakness when Cornell Stokes stumbles. In attempting to exploit Stokes's weaknesses, he is put in mortal danger . . . until he is able to enlist Luke Cage because of his inside information on Stokes's organization,

Claire Temple - Having left Metro General following the hospital's incident with The Hand, she is laying low with her mother when she encounters Luke Cage again. She attempts to motivate Cage to stay in Harlem and use his powers for good in overt ways. When Cage is wounded, she struggles to keep him safe and get him the help needed to keep him alive by tracking down the man who experimented upon Cage,

Shades Alvarez - An enforcer for Diamondback and a man who was in prison with Luke Cage back in the day, he arrives to aid Stokes when the guns and money are stolen from Stokes. He is a mysterious man who wields influence by using Diamondback's name. When he recognizes Cage, he informs Stokes and when there is a power vacuum in Harlem, he works to keep Dillon alive and in power to use for Diamondback's purposes,

Diamondback - A bat-shit crazy weapon's merchant who has access to abandoned Hammer tech, he lets Shades work in his name until the situation in Harlem becomes untenable to his interests. He keeps Dillon in power and strikes fear into Misty Knight by taking her weapon and threatening her with it,

and Cornell Stokes - A club owner in Harlem, he is called Cottonmouth by those who deride him. He is Mariah's cousin. He has a murderous temper and seizes power by acting as a gun runner in Harlem.

The first season of Luke Cage is an awkward mix of a crime drama and a political conspiracy story . . . before it degenerates into a weird revenge fantasy story. In other words, the first season of Luke Cage is pretty much all over the map. Many of the moments in the first season of Luke Cage degenerate into fights and it does not take long before the people shooting at Luke Cage or punching him becomes painfully repetitive. While there are some initially cool moments of combat for Luke Cage, there are no distinctive sequences like the stairwell sequence in the second season of Daredevil.

What is good in the first season of Luke Cage is the acting. Mike Colter is able to play Luke Cage with a slow erosion of his character's initial resistance to get involved. When playing Carl Lucas for the big flashback episode, Colter manages to find the right balance between making it clear he is playing the same character and illustrating a strong divide between who he was before Cage became super-powered. Colter has wonderful acting ability for using his facial expressions and the few moments he plays the character as raw and honest, he effectively transitions Luke Cage from a supporting to a solid lead.

Rosario Dawson effortlessly returns to the role of Claire Temple and when she returns to the Marvel Universe, she almost singlehandedly revitalizes the stagnating Luke Cage. What keeps Luke Cage watchable even through its slowest moments where the Dillon plot seems more like something out of a Shondaland drama is Simone Missick as Misty Knight. Missick is cool, plays clever expertly and she is one of the few people who plays her role in a way that the character becomes completely credible for being in the time, place, and position she is in. Missick is engaging when she has Knight flirting and the way she watches everything while investigating makes the simple act of a person standing still scanning her surroundings into riveting television.

There are no villains in the first season of Luke Cage that rise to the heights of other Marvel Cinematic Universe villains. Alfre Woodard and Mahershala Ali seem more like parodies of their villainous characters than organic, well-developed antagonists. When Erik LaRay Harvey finally appears in the first season of Luke Cage as Diamondback, he is so far over-the-top that he almost guts the credibility of the season. In fact, when Diamondback appears, the viewer is almost forced to ask aloud, "Why the hell aren't they doing anything with Shades instead?!" Theo Rossi plays his antagonist to Luke Cage with the most depth and subtlety, but he is criminally underused for the bulk of the season.

While the first season of Luke Cage makes a number of wonderful allusions to other elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the devil is in the details and Luke Cage falls down on some key details. First and foremost, President Obama is mentioned in passing. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the current president is President Ellis (and his term would have been long enough to essentially encompass the whole Obama Administration). As well, while it is cool to see a Miles Ahead poster in Luke Cage's apartment, it opens up a huge conceptual can of worms in the MCU. Don Cheadle plays Brodie/War Machine in the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe . . . so in the MCU, there should be no actor Don Cheadle. So, who directed and starred in Miles Ahead in the MCU?! This conceptual problem is not unique to the MCU, but to the best of my knowledge, Luke Cage is the first example of a time when an advertisement within the universe featured a major actor who played a significant role in the MCU.

Ultimately, Luke Cage has about three hours of essential character moments that explores some truly compelling moments in the story of Luke Cage. The rest is filler.

For a better understanding of what this season comprises, please check out my reviews of the individual episodes in the season at:
"Moment Of Truth"
"Code Of The Streets"
"Who's Gonna Take The Weight?"
"Step In The Arena"
"Just To Get A Rep"
"Suckas Need Bodyguards"
"Blowin' Up The Spot"
"Take It Personal"
"Now You're Mine"
"Soliloquy Of Chaos"
"You Know My Steez"


For other television season and episode reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for a listing of those reviews!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee Is Good, Not Exceptional Or As Complicated As It Promises!

The Good: Reasonably priced, Good aroma, Good flavor, Company's ethics
The Bad: Does not have complex and subtle flavors it promises, Requires grinding.
The Basics: Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is a decent low acid medium roast coffee, but it does not have the promised flavors it advertises.

I love coffee. I should love coffee; I drink a lot of it. I have become enamored over the years with both dark coffees and flavored coffees, but my personal appreciation has led to a professional set of standards when it comes to reviewing coffee. I am almost constantly disappointed by how flavored coffees fail to live up to their promised flavors. As a result, there can be perfectly adequate coffees that get sub-par ratings because they just are not all they claim. Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is one such coffee.

Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is good, but the bag promises a Caribbean Delight coffee with a dark chocolate flavor. It certainly lives up on the former promise, but not the latter flavor.


is a Canadian coffee producer and their gimmick (if it can be called that) is that the beans are organically grown in the shade of the rainforest and the company is a Fair Trade company. For Fair Trade coffee beans, Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is very competitively priced (even outside my local discount store!). The bags of Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee weigh 10 oz. and are whole bean. Because this is a whole bean coffee, grinding is required. We use a Cuisinart Supreme Grind Coffee Grinder (reviewed here!) and that worked wonderfully to bring out the flavors of Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee. Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is easily protected from absorbing scents of other foods and the bag can be resealed using the wire-based "tie."

Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is aromatic, but surprisingly light on flavor compared to other flavored coffees, even Medium Roast blends.

Ease Of Preparation

Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is a fairly easy coffee to prepare, assuming one has a coffee grinder and a scoop! First, open the bag. Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is vacuum sealed when first purchased. After opening foil bag, one must grind the beans. We recommend grinding it fresh to get the most out of the coffee flavor, as it releases its flavor when ground and if it sits around ground, it is likely to absorb flavors from the air around it. Once ground, procure a scoop (not included) and measure out one heaping tablespoon for every two cups of water in your coffee maker. Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is intended for automatic (drip or percolating) coffee makers, like my Hamilton Beach coffee maker (reviewed here!). This is NOT an instant coffee. As a result, it needs to be brewed.

Consult your coffee maker's instructions for how to brew the coffee. However, as far as the basics go, you'll need a coffee filter, like the Crucial Coffee #4 permanent filter (reviewed here) we use, into which you put the Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee and then brew through your coffee maker.


Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee smells like coffee and coconut. The aroma is good, but not overly strong. Instead, this is a very subtle-smelling coffee.

In the mouth, Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee tastes bitter and like coffee. The Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is not at all the strongest coffee flavor, which makes some sense given that it is a medium roast coffee. The bitterness from the very basic coffee flavor finishes with a very vague fruity flavor that never quite pops to the coconut, hazelnut or caramel flavors that Manatee Gourmet Coffee promises. The medium roast Caribbean Delight Coffee is low acid and it truly lives up on that front. Unfortunately, the coffee flavor is very basic and none of the flavors truly reach their potential.

The bitterness from the Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is completely cut by creamer or a little bit of sugar. With creamer or sugar, Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee does not embody any more of the flavors promised on the bag.

Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee has a very bitter aftertaste. This is not overly surprising, but unless one cuts the coffee with creamer or sugar, the bitter aftertaste lingers in the mouth for several minutes after one last consumes it.


This is coffee, not something that has nutrients in it! Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee does not contribute anything to one's daily recommended allowance of anything. Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is composed of 100% Arabica Coffee and natural and/or artificial flavors.

This is a caffeinated blend, but the Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is a low acid blend that does not agitate the throat or stomach for those who are sensitive to such things. The Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is not the most potent caffeinated blend, but it is surprisingly low acid, which is nice.

Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee is not marked as Kosher (I'm not certain why), but Manatee Gourmet Coffee is a decent company that donates money to saving the manatees. That is pretty awesome.


Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee ought to be stored sealed in its bag with the top folded down. Coffee is known to absorb flavors of food nearby it, so keeping the bag folded tightly closed is highly recommended. The bag came to us fresh, but we used it up well before its expiration date.

After brewing, coffee grounds ought to be disposed of. This is not an ideal coffee to make a second pot with (second brewings I attempted came out 1/4 - 1/3 as potent as the first brewing), so this is not an ideal coffee for the coffee miser. These grounds may be thrown in the trash when used or put in a compost pile, if available. Coffee grounds make great compost.


Manatee Gourmet Coffee Caribbean Delight Coffee smells all right and has very low acidity, but is not the most powerful coffee flavor and does not have any of the promised secondary flavors.

For other coffee reviews, please visit my reviews of:
Starbucks French Roast Coffee
Edward’s Flavored Coffee Boston Cream Pie Coffee
The Coffee Fool Fool's Caramel Nut Coffee


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

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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A Promising Beginning For Luke Cage Comes In The "Moment Of Truth!"

The Good: Character establishing, Most of the performances, Direction
The Bad: Very basic plot set-up, Minor acting and character issues for smaller parts
The Basics: "Moment Of Truth" opens Luke Cage well enough to draw in an audience, even if it is very much a set-up episode.

When it comes to elements of the Marvel Cinematic (and its broader Television) Universe, there was no element I was more excited about before it aired than Daredevil Season 1 (reviewed here!). I had become a bit of a fan of Daredevil in the Marvel Comic books, so I was eager to see justice done to the series on the small screen. I was very interested in Jessica Jones (Season 1 reviewed here!) when it made its debut on Netflix, but the truth is that at the time, I was very much part of the "why the hell are they choosing this obscure character to focus on?" crowd. But, out of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there has been no work I have gotten more excited about without knowing anything about the source material than Luke Cage. The character of Luke Cage made his MCU debut in Jessica Jones and he was captivating enough that without knowing much about the character in advance, I began to genuinely get enthusiastic for Luke Cage Season 1 on Netflix. That begins with "Moment Of Truth."

"Moment Of Truth" is a pilot episode that has inherent advantages and burdens. The advantage it possesses is that the character has been introduced and had initial characterization in another work. That makes Luke Cage instantly accessible to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's audience. The burdens that "Moment Of Truth" has are to both explain just where Luke Cage has been since he disappeared at the end of Jessica Jones and to define his story in a way that both allows him to stand on his own and does not completely redefine the established character. The burden on Luke Cage is more than just finding the balance between fans of the character from the comic books and creating an enthusiasm for people who tune in to just the television show; it is those burdens plus the pressure of growing a character already established while making him accessible to those who turn on Luke Cage without seeing Jessica Jones and start the character's journey with "Moment Of Truth."

And "Moment Of Truth" finds that balance, though the episode is very much a slow burn.

Opening in Pop's Barber Shop, with Luke Cage sweeping up clippings while the young Dante and Shameek getting haircuts and talking basketball, when Patricia Wilson comes in to pick up her son and gives Cage her number. Cage tells Pop that he is not looking for a relationship and he wants to keep laying low. After paying part of his rent, Cage goes to work as a dishwasher at Cornell Stokes's nightclub. Cage is asked to fill in for a bartender. There, Cage meets a mysterious woman and stumbles through flirting with her.

Stokes meets in his V.I.P. room with Councilwoman Mariah Dillard, who is running for re-election. Stokes is raising money for Dillard's campaign, by arranging a weapon's sale for a client. But, during the sale at a junkyard, some of Stokes's men get greedy and kill the buyers and steal the money before one of the three traitors from Stokes's organization freaks out and Shameek kills him. Learning of the deal going south, Stokes begins an internal investigation. Stokes is visited by Shades Alvarez, who is acting as an intermediary between Stokes and Diamondback. Together, they track down Shameek and recover half of the money that was stolen, at the expense of the thief's life.

Luke Cage is presented in "Moment Of Truth" as a hard-working man who is a fugitive who was altered without his consent and that starts to deepen his character from his Jessica Jones introduction. In "Moment Of Truth" the viewer learns that Cage was once incarcerated - he claims he was framed, which fits his established character - and we see a flashback to his time inside, which is how he recognizes Shades Alvarez. "Moment Of Truth" references Cage's dead wife, Reva, and in Luke Cage she has more lines right away than she did during her scenes in Jessica Jones.

"Moment Of Truth" very smartly shakes up the formula from the prior Netflix Marvel Cinematic Universe outings as it introduces the primary antagonist right in the pilot episode and establishes a tone that is very much "man vs. society." Cornell Stokes is presented as a corrupt club owner in Harlem, who has ties to Hammer Industries, the corporate antagonist from Iron Man 2 (reviewed here!). Unlike the prior two Netflix Marvel series's, there is no real mystery to who the antagonist is in Luke Cage. By the end of "Moment Of Truth," the viewer absolutely knows that Stokes is the Kingpin of Luke Cage.

The climax of "Moment Of Truth" appropriately lands the episode. Luke Cage opens as a business conspiracy with a gangster and politician (metaphorically) in bed with one another in Harlem while the protagonist works to lay low and fly under the radar. "Moment Of Truth" is a slow burn character arc that leads the protagonist to finally act. The movement of Luke Cage from hiding fugitive to protector of his landlord's restaurant is a slow one, but it sets Cage up as a smart, powerful hero that makes one want to tune in for the next episode right away.

References to "the incident," allusions to Hammer, a callback to Wilson Fisk, and the hints of Jessica Jones are what connects "Moment Of Truth" instantly to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.

"Moment Of Truth" is dominated by Mahershala Ali as Cornell Stokes. Cornell is a thin, vicious man who leaps into the power position in Luke Cage with a caliber reminiscent of The Kingpin from Daredevil. Indeed, what Wilson Fisk did with an SUV door, Stokes does with his bare hands and director Paul McGuigan does a beautiful job of lighting Ali with a red light to give him a demonic appearance during his key scene. But long before Stokes beats the life out of a man with his bare hands, Mahershala Ali establishes the character as a credible, smooth-talking operator who has taste and has built a small but powerful club in Harlem. Ali steals his scenes and immediately establishes Stokes as a subtle villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe who is overtly powerful and violent when he has to be, without any sense of being over-the-top the way many Marvel villains are.

By comparison, Mike Colter returns to the role of Luke Cage with an entirely understated quality. Colter flashes the smile in his eyes even as his mouth remains in a perfect poker face. Luke Cage is a highly-restrained character and "Moment Of Truth" works so well because Colter is able to wonderfully play the part with incredible physical control.

"Moment Of Truth" is well-directed by McGuigan, who is tasked with establishing a complex setting in a comparatively confined amount of time. The flashbacks and dream sequences are judiciously used and the timing and direction for Stokes's "King" scene is impressive. McGuigan finds the right balance between the carnage shown and that which is left off-screen.

Ultimately, "Moment Of Truth" is a beginning that puts a lot of pieces in play for Luke Cage. As far as set-ups go, it's a decent one, but there are moments that are less compellingly-presented. Why Cage lies to Pops about not seeing anything before the young men go rogue is not satisfactorily explained and Detective Scarfe's shocking ignorance makes it tough to believe off the bat that he might be a Detective. But for the most part, the episode builds well to satisfy those tuning in for something sufficiently complex and smart, even if the story is just at its beginning.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Luke Cage - The Complete First Season, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season here!

For other pilot episodes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, please visit my reviews of:
"AKA Ladies Night" - Jessica Jones
"Into The Ring" - Daredevil
"Pilot" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"Now Is Not The End" - Agent Carter


For other Marvel movie, television season and episode reviews, please check out my Marvel Cinematic Universe Review Index Page for a listing of those reviews!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Fable On Racism Gets PG Treatment: Zootopia

The Good: Moments of theme, Some good voicework, Decent animation
The Bad: Predictable reversals, Obvious character arcs, Troubling theme issues
The Basics: Disney's fable Zootopia is well-executed, even when it is obvious and there are issues with the theme.

When it comes to reviewing media works, one of the reasons so many people flock to the early reviews is that any interpretation one reads there is bound to be original. In fact, one of the dangers of reviewing older works - even those only a few months old like the Disney animated film Zootopia - is that a reviewer can find their interpretation of a movie to be one that is entirely derivative. Disney animated films are not my cup of tea all the time, but my wife is a big fan and tends to want to watch all of them - either in the theater or as soon as they hit Blu-Ray and DVD. As a result, I end up watching a lot of Disney movies, even if it is when they drop on DVD. In the case of Zootopia, rather than go too far into my own thoughts on the subject, because I encountered an interpretation of the film that truly hits the nail on the head, it behooves me to reference that instead of desperately trying to rephrase my shared thoughts on the film.

The interpretation of Zootopia that anyone reading reviews of the film ought to see is the "Honest Trailer" for the film. For those unfamiliar with them, "Honest Trailers" are videos produced by Screen Junkies and are humorous clips of a movie that rework the trailer as if the Truth In Advertising Laws applied to the film industry. As a result, Screen Junkies tends to strip away the hype that accompanies trailers - which tend to be loaded with the film's high points and elements that obscure the actual plot and character balance - and replace it with a substantive presentation of what the film is actually about. The "Honest Trailer" for Zootopia absolutely nails the true nature of the movie. In fact, Screen Junkies, in making humor and truth, exposes Zootopia for what it truly is: an animated film that attempts to explore racism and instead becomes something that is terribly racist in itself.

Zootopia is a classic fable - a story using animal characters intended to reveal deeper truths about people. Set in a fictional city called Zootopia, Zootopia features animal characters who live in peace and harmony, despite the fact that the city and its suburbs includes both predators and prey animals. Zootopia uses the diversity of animals in its setting to explore racial stereotypes and it is supposed to teach the viewer that racism is wrong. Unfortunately, Zootopia manages to simply reinforce racist stereotypes for the vast majority of the film. In a world where a young rabbit worries about running afoul of a fox out of ingrained fear that was passed down to her by her parents, that rabbit discovers that the first fox she meets is, in fact, a con man. Despite how they drive, the sloths are slow, the weasels are thieves, the desk sergeant at the police department is a fat, donut-eating glutton, and the polar bears are thugs for the mob, for example. While Zootopia never becomes nearly as offensive as Shark Tale (reviewed here!), it still falls drastically shy of actually confronting and combating racism.

Judy Hopps is a rabbit from Bunny Burrow who takes part in the Mammal Inclusion Initiative to graduate the police academy and get assigned to the animal paradise Zootopia, where predators and prey live together in harmony. Despite her parents' fear of the big city and foxes there who might menace Judy, Hopps heads off to the Zootopia where Chief Bogo assigns her to be a meter maid, as opposed to a beat cop like she was trained to be. Assigned to write 100 tickets a day, she rushes out and gives out 201 tickets before noon before she sees a fox, Nick Wilde. Wilde wants to buy an elephant pop for his son, but the elephant denies him service. Feeling guilty over prejudging Wilde, Hopps buys the fox the frozen dessert before she discovers that he is just running a scam. After parting ways with Wilde, Hopps chases a weasel suspect into Little Rodentia, which earns her the ire of Bogo. Returning to the Zootopia Police Department, she sees Mrs. Otterton trying unsuccessfully to get Bogo to pay attention to her missing person's report for her husband, Emmitt Otterton. Before she can stop him, Hopps volunteers to take the case and help the Ottertons and Bellewether, the deputy mayor, hears her before Bogo can get her off the case.

Chief Bogo challenges Hopps to close the case within 48 hours or quit the police force in disgrace. Looking over a picture of Emmitt Otterton, Hopps realizes that Wilde might be involved in the disappearance and hunts him down. While he is not involved, Hopps deputizes Wilde to help her with the search. The clues take the two to the DMV and then into mob-run Arctic Town. Their search takes them to the limo driver who drove Otterton and discovers that the driver, a jaguar, was attacked by Otterton. The pair makes the discovery right before the jaguar goes savage and attacks them. In the process of following the clues, Judy Hopps uncovers a massive conspiracy in Zootopia.

In many ways, Zootopia is a very typical political conspiracy thriller. The mystery is a medium for jokes about different races - in this case in the form of the various animals of Zootopia - and while it is a generally funny film, it never becomes a caper. Because the plot is a familiar one, the character arcs for Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde are very predictable. The reversals in Zootopia are so obvious, they will only entertain children . . . children too young to understand the allegory of interethnic relationships that acts as a the heavy-handed subtext for the movie.

That said, Zootopia moves right along and looks very good. The animation is very well-rendered both for the character designs and the various settings of Zootopia. Zootopia features decent voice acting. Led by Ginnifer Goodwin as Hopps, Zootopia has an impressive cast. Wilde is played by Jason Bateman in a voice acting role that sounds nothing like his speaking voice or any other character he has played. In fact, Bateman sounds like he is doing an impression of Robert Downey Jr. the entire film. With a supporting cast including J.K. Simmons, Idris Elba, Nate Torrence, Shakira and Octavia Spencer, Zootopia features performances that are very expressive all-around.

Racism is a complex issue, but when a work wants to confront the issue well, the key is illustrating that stereotypes are inaccurate representations of a group of people. Zootopia does not do that. While it entertains, it falls dramatically shy of being substantive in the way it desperately seeks to attempt relevance.

For other works with Ginnifer Goodwin, please check out my reviews of:
Walk The Line
He's Just Not That Into You
Once Upon A Time - Season 1
Once Upon A Time - Season 2


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

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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Underwhelming To All Three: Pop'n Bites Salmon Flavor Cat Treats Are Not Our Cats' First Choice!

The Good: Good aroma and ingredients, Inexpensive
The Bad: Minimal dental benefits, None of our cats truly love them
The Basics: All three of our cats will eat Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor treats, but none of them go right for them!

Reviewing cat treats is a mix of objective factors - nutrition, ingredients, price - and subjective factors, most notably how my cats react to the product. With three cats, it becomes fairly easy to determine what products are a hit with the felines. Because cats are not always the most discriminating animals, sometimes I have to do comparative testing with my cats. When it came to the Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor treats, the product was solidly average - the nutrition was fine, they were generally affordable, and as a crunchy cat treat, there were dental benefits to them - until I did some comparative testing. When the Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor cat treats are the only treats available to my cats, they will all three go for it; but given another option - any other option that I had - the cats chose the other cat treat.


Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor cat treats are crunchy little treats that come in a 2 oz. bag for $2.49 locally. The Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor cat treats are 1/2" long, 5/16" wide and 1/4" thick at their thickest points. The Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor cat treats are fish-shaped with a brown and red mottled coloring to them. The treats are homogeneous in size and shape and our bag had only a few broken pieces in it, so they seem fairly durable and well-protected in their foil bag.

Ease Of Preparation

The Pop'n Bites treats are a treat, so preparation is as easy as opening the bag and removing a few of treats. I, occasionally, mix a few of the treats in with Timber and Elim’s food, but otherwise, they get five to ten of these per day! Timber and Evie have been known to steal them away from each other, but only when they are placed too close to each other. Otherwise, Timber, Evie, and Elim just eat their own piles of the Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor cat treats without conflict. One they are dispensed, fold down the top of the bag in order to prevent them from going stale. The bag is not resealable.

Evie, Elim And Timber’s Reaction

Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor treats are eaten by Timber, Evie and Elim whenever they are placed in front of them. If the bag is left open, the cats will nuzzle the bag trying to get some of the treats, which makes sense given how strong the fishy scent from them is. All three cats consume the Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor cat treats, but they generally do not seek them out. As well, given other options - including some cat foods we have tried - the cats will ignore the Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor cat treats.


The package does not provide a recommended serving size for the Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor cat treats. The pouches I bought most recently do not expire until December of 2016, so this is a mediocre treat to stock up on.

The Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor treats seem pretty healthy. With a minimum of 31% crude protein and 12% crude fat, but no more than 5% crude fiber and 10% moisture, these treats have a lot of nutritional benefits for both cats and the kitten. These treats are made primarily of fish meal, ground corn, and ground rice! Because they are hard, the Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor cat treats have some dental benefits to them, but for our full-grown cats, the dental benefits were minimal; the treats are so small that they only require a single bite from Elim and Timber to break them up for swallowing. Elim, especially, is a pig in that way, so he gets very little dental cleaning from consuming the Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor cat treats.


The Pop'n Bites Salmon flavor cat treats are a fair treat, but not exceptional.

For other cat treats, please check out my reviews of:
Friskies Party Mix Morning Munch Egg, Bacon & Cheese flavor cat treats
Purina Whisker Lickin’s Crunchy & Yummy Tuna Flavored Tartar Control cat treats
Whiskas cat treats


For other pet product reviews, please visit my Cat Product Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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