Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Movie Review: Limitless

Ever have one of those days you just feel slow? One of those days were you are in a fog all day and can barely function? Well Bradley Cooper doesn't. Not anymore at least. In his latest movie, Limitless, Bradley Cooper actually thinks his way to becoming a very influental man, all while taking the audience on a very interesting ride.

The plot of the movie revolves around a guy who is stuggling in life. He can not be motivated to start his book (he's a writer), his girlfriend just broke up with him, and he is slowly becoming an alcoholic. Then he runs into his sketch x-brother-in-law, who used to be a drug dealer. Now he flaunts a suit and claims to deal drugs of the prescription kind. He gives Cooper's character a drug that allows him to access everything his brain has to offer. I am talking about things like miniscule memories from the 3rd grade. It also allows him to think very quick and absorb information with great detail. With this drug in hand, trouble naturally begins.

I will start out with what I liked. The film is an action/thriller, which suprised me. From the trailers I thought it was going to be boring but it is far from it. There are lots of great action sequences that get the audience sitting up in their seat like Taken does. The special effects are also spectacular. The visuals that go along with the sequences when Cooper feels the drug. They really help the audience visualise what being on it might be like. There is some crafty camera work that keeps up with the action without making the audience disoriented. The script is hit and miss. Sometimes things just come off as a load of BS but other times things legitimately cause you to pause and think. Cooper himself is fantastic, being the biggest saving grace of the movie. He is full of swag and busts out one-liners and witty comments with believability. Whether Coopers character is at his highest or lowest, he has an appeal that makes you want to get to know him. Not to mention those big blue eyes!

I do have some problems with the film however. Like I said before, the script has some problems in it. While it is a popcorn action movie, it is trying to be a smart sophisticated action movie, so it gets docked for the plot problems. I also did not really like any of the villains. There is a loan shark who never really feels like a huge threat, along with some random bad guys who suffer from no character development. Robert De Niro's character also never really brings anything to the table. While he is rich and seems menacing, all he really seems to control is money. The biggest threat to Coopers character is really himself, which is okay with me but there is no reason to have so many villains who do not add anything. There is also a love interest who has one interesting scene, but then fades away. The ending of the movie just left me confused at what the movie was trying to accomplish as well. It ends in kind of a moral grey area.

Rating 3/5 -"It's Meh"

It is entertaining and not a bad movie by any stretch, but it doesn't really do anything for me either. It was nice to see Bradley Cooper in a staring role, the guy definitely has the talent for it. If you are looking for a movie to go with friends and or a date movie thats not a chick flick, I would recommend checking it out for a matinee or at a discounted price. Otherwise just wait tell it comes out on Netflix.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Quickview: Chick-Fil-A Banana Pudding Milkshake and Rango

Two new quickviews for everybody. They are going to be extra short today, I am feeling lazy.

What I got: Chick-Fil-A Banana Pudding Shake

Chick-fil-a has my absolute favorite fast food shakes. They are rich and creamy but not so thick you can not drink it (Whataburger I am looking at you). The first day they launched the shakes I was at my local Chick-fi-a's door at 6:30 am ready for one. They even gave me a free shirt for being the first one to get one! That being said they are also really good about their seasonal shakes. They release shakes that only come out every so often, and every one of them is fantastic. This has to be their best one yet. I think of Banana Pudding as a huge comfort food desert. It just reminds me of cookouts and family and friends. That makes sense being as that is the only time I see or eat it. Chick-fil-a has mastered the flavor, making the flavor strong but not artificial. It is smooth and tastes exactly like banana pudding does. They also add wafer cookie chunks to it which give it a nice mix in consistency. My only complaint is the need for a bigger straw as these chunks can cause clogs every now and again. Chick-fil-a has does it again and made a fantastic shake. With this and Blue Bell just releasing a banana pudding ice cream, I will be in heaven when the Texas heat hits in the coming months.

Rating- 5/5 "It's the Bee's Knees!"

What I watched- Rango

I am personally getting tired of Johnny Depp. He is a great actor, I know that for a fact. He used to be one of my favorites actually. Recently though, he only seems to be doing quirky, goofy roles a la Jack Sparrow. It was fun to watch at first but it is starting to wear on me. This movie puts him in this role once again. Fortunately it is refreshing and matches the feel of Rango perfectly. I do not know if it is because it is animated or because Gore Verbinski knows how to direct, but I enjoyed Depp tremendously. I found there are moments in this movie were I was almost crying with genuine laughter, which is rare nowadays. It is a western and has your typical plot points as any western does. It also has some predictable plot twists. These faults do not take away from the joy that is this movie however. The animation and soundtrack are both top of the line as well. Pixar should be jealous of this film, it is a very smart, funny children movie. Props to Nickelodeon for putting this movie out, they picked a winner!

Rating- 4/5 "It's Just Swell"

That's All Folks!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review: Dutch's Bacon Bleu Cheese

Another Dutch's review today. This time I did not go out side of my typical orders and went ahead and got my favorite burger of the menu!

I have a love affair with bleu cheese. I could eat bleu cheese whole and not get tired of it. It has always struck me as a love-it-or-hate-it type food. I mean I understand why people are turned off of it. It has mold in it and has a taste that if not familiar with it will make you cringe and make a face of someone who just licked a jockstrap. Anyways so when I came to Dutch's the first time 4 years ago, this was the burger I got. After first bite, I was in love.

The burger is bacon, bleu cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, and chipotle mayo. Everything here has its place and balances itself perfectly. The burger patty, as I have discussed before, is perfect. The center is moist and juicy and there is a nice crisp crust. Bacon this thick is the stuff you see at a great breakfast place, so adding it on a burger it is like sprinkling it with gold. The vegetables all add a nice amount of blandness and freshness that helps balance with the strength and richness of the hearty chunks of bleu cheese. Some nice flavor is added by the chipotle mayo when it is not overpowered by the taste of the cheese. I got cheese fries with it as well. Dutch's adds their thick queso and shredded cheddar to the fries. They are delicious but heavy and you will need a fork to eat them.

Rating 5/5- "It's the Bee's Knees"

I cannot get enough of this burger. I have probably eaten it at least once a month for the past three years and have no problem keeping that trend alive. It has been ranked one of Texas' top 10 burgers and it is clear to see why once tried. If you don't like bleu cheese..... sucks to be you. If you do, try this burger. NOW!!!!!

Can we get much higher.....

Friday, March 18, 2011

Review: Taco Bell Pacific Shrimp Burrito

I almost just skipped this review entirely. Taco Bell is known for crappy fast food. That is why people like it. No one goes to Taco Bell thinking "I am ready for a high quality meal". If you do, you have some very low standards my friend. Anyways I am getting frustrated with the bell lately because ever sense their beef scandal they are pushing "higher quality". Now everyone knows that is some ol BS because it is Taco bell. Regardless, now they are selling shrimp again. Shrimp, as in seafood. As in something Taco Bell should not be selling. I tried the Shrimp Taco last year, and it was horrible. So in my infinite wisdom, I decided to try the burrito hoping it might be better.

So the first thing I need to say is the shrimp is not good. It is exactly what you would expect from fast food shrimp. It is small, way to salty, and has no plumpness that I like in shrimp. Like I said, it is Taco Bell so who is surprised by that. Another thing that pissed me off is you only get six shrimp in the burrito. It is not a small burrito and is almost $4, so the fact they only put six in it was not cool. The rest of the burrito is where it sets itself apart from the taco. The rest of the burrito was nothing exciting, it was just fresh. It is lettuce, pico de gaio, cheese, and avocado ranch sauce. It is pretty big considering that is all the burrito is. The lettuce was plentuful, the pico was fresh tasting. Taco Bells Avacado Ranch sauce is one of the most underappreciated things taco bell has and I wish they would use it more.

Rating- 3/5 "It's Just Meh"

The burrito is better than I expected. It feels light and yet filling. Unfortunately the bad shrimp and the insane price point kills it. If it had steak or chicken it be an easy 4/5 but in the meantime, if you are on lent and can't eat meat it is a good substitute for Taco Bell.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Review: Dutch's Portobello Mushroom Burger

Portobello Mushroom menu items always seem to be hit or miss to me. Some places do them very well and when done so they can be compared to any piece of meat I can get. When done poorly however, they can be dry, chalky, and disgusting. Thankfully Dutch's did it right.

What I got: The Portobello Mushroom Burger

Once again, I found myself not only not getting a burger, but getting something I have never tried at Dutch's at all! Why did I venture out to the land of mushroom? Before spring break I was on an all fruit and veggie diet so this was the only thing that met my requirements on the menu, and I was not about to skip my weekly Dutch's trip. The sandwich is just a portobello mushroom, lettuce, tomato, onions, and mayo. It is a very simple sandwich but do not let that fool you. The taste is far from simple. This thing is delicious. I was blow away by how much flavor it had. The mushroom itself was marinated in some sort of sauce which gave it a tangy but salty taste. It was strong at first but the mayonnaise did a great job toning down the intensity and providing a nice contrast and smoothness. The mushroom itself was as think and juicy as a piece of steak. The mushroom was charred nicely on the outside without being burnt. The few toppings made sure the sandwich stayed light, which it was. My only complaint is it was a hard sandwich to keep together because the mushroom kept sliding around.

Rating- 4/5 "It's Just Swell"

I cannot say I will be getting this that often only because I love meat. That being said, if I ever am looking for a lighter  option or have a vegetarian with me, I would definitely call on this sandwich. It was flavorful and hearty. An easy recommendation.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Review: Abandon Kansas- Ad Astra Per Aspera

I am currently sitting on the balcony of my hotel room. Oh and the hotel is The Cancun Palace in Cancun, Mexico. Here is a picture, just so I can rub it in.

Yes it is that perfect. In all this down time I have had plenty of opportunity to listen to the new Abandon Kansas record "Ad Astra Per Aspera". I am glad this is the record that I am stuck with because it is a really solid album.

I want to first say I had no idea what Ad Astra Per Aspera meant or where it came from so I looked it up. It means to the stars through difficulties and is apparently the state of Kansas' state slogan. Who knew?! Makes sense being the band is called Abandon Kansas, but anyways I will stop rambling. On to the music! The first thing I feel like I need to emphasize is this is this bands FIRST full length album. FIRST! Listen to any one of the songs on this album and tell me this does not sound like a veteran band. The production value behind it is amazing. Everything is crisp and clear. The instruments are mixed and balanced perfectly, each coming through just as it needs to. These guys know what they are doing, that is clear. The music has a very deep sound that separates itself from most acts. Then there are the lyrics. I love lyrics like this. Deep with meaning that is not made apparent even after multiple listens. It is like a puzzle, every time you listen to it you find a new piece. Lyrics lack this kind of creativity anymore (Thanks JB). They also lack the emotion these do. When the lead singer Jeremy Springer belts "am I more then the sum of the things that I have and haven't done?" it sounds like he means it. 

Once again, FIRST ALBUM!

As far as the music is concerned, the first thing that stood out to me is the bass. The band knows how important a good base groove is and uses it in every song. The guitars have a rock tempo with an occasional indie flare to them. Think of Jonzetta's first album popularity when it comes to bass and guitars. The vocals may sound a bit lazy and unenthusiastic at first, but once you get past the fact that is how Jeremy Springer sings, it really matches the music perfectly. There is a guest vocal spot by Tim Skipper in the second track, "Liar", which is great but I feel he is a bit underused. Toward the end of the album there is more group vocals and guitarist Brad Foster lends his hand at some vocal duties as well. This leads me to my one and only complaint. The album does not have enough variety. It is there, do not get me wrong, but after hearing how well Brad Foster can sing I feel like they could do more with him. The music itself also sounds great but some songs just sound too similar. It is a small and minor complaint however that does not hurt the album much, especially after repeated listens. 

Rating- 4/5 "It's Just Swell!"

This is mature sounding rock that sounds like it is coming from hardened veterans. There are bands that have released multiple CD's that still cant get a sound that is this deep. That gives me a lot to look forward to with these boys. If you like The Killers, The Arcade Fire, Mae, or even Weezer, check this album out. If you don't like those bands, check it out anyway just to see Springer's mustache.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review: Sonic's four new 100% beef hotdogs

I need to be honest, i really do not like hot dogs very much. They tend to give me a headache. Anyways when I went to sonic the other day I saw they had a new line of premium beef hotdogs so I had to give them all a shot. I am going to go over all four of them and tell you how they are.

The Safe one
First up: Chili Cheese Dog

This one is fairly simple. Just Chili and Cheese on a hot dog. Sonic has been doing these for years and they are pretty good at it. The bun is nice and soft, the chili is meaty and has a nice consistency, and the cheese is rich and melty. The hot dogs are what I am not a fan of. They are way to salty and lack the flavor of a real pork hotdog. thankfully you barley taste them so it doesn't really effect this one.

Rating- 3/5 "It's Meh"

The Boring One
Next: The All American Dog

This dog is even more simple. It is just ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, and onions. Again, the bun was soft, but the hot dog way too salty. Unfortunately on this one you noticed how salty it was because the lack of condiments. The relish was also a bit too sweet for my taste but to each his own. Anyways I honestly could make a better dog at home, so I cannot really recommend this one.

2/5- "It's Not Worth It"

The Surprising one
Now: The Chicago Dog

The Chicago Dog is the most complex of the four. It is a hot dog with a pickle spear, relish, tomato, sport peppers, celery salt, and mustard. It was also the most surprising. I really enjoyed this hot dog. The vegetables were all really fresh and had lots of flavor to them. They also gave the hot dog a nice crunch to it. The flavor of the pickle spear and the pepper came through as well. The poppyseed bun was more dense then the other buns and made this the most hearty of all the dogs.
The Let Down

Rating 4/5- "It's Just Swell"

Finally: The New York Dog

Topped with Brown Mustard, Sauerkraut and Grilled Onions, this dog had the most potential. Unfortunately it was also the biggest let down. The mustard was flavorless, the onions soggy, and the sauerkraut tasted like artificial coconut covered in salt. This one definitely has the best toppings but they toppings all suck so it is no good either.

Rating 2/5- "It's Not Worth it"

Unless you really like hot dogs I cannot really recommend getting these. The Chicago Dog was definitely the best just for it's toppings but there are so many better things at Sonic. Give em a try if you like Hot Dogs though.

Tell next time!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review: Dutch's Chili Cheese Burger

Dutch's Burgers review number two! Except this time I actually got a burger. I have never actually gotten this burger but I decided to stray out of my normal routine and give a new burger a try. What do I think?

What I got: Dutch's Chili Cheese Burger

I have never really understood chili cheese burgers. I mean why would I top a beef burger with more ground beef? That is not to say I do not like them but I just would rather have a chili cheese hotdog i think. Anyways what did I think of THIS burger? Well I will start with explaining what it is. The burger is a 1/2 pound burger with chili, onions, cheddar cheese, and a jalapeno relish. The burger patty was great and thick. They typically prepare them medium-well, but thanks to the quality of the beef used they are not dried out at all. The meat is spiced just enough to enhance the meat but not overpower it. The cheddar cheese is melted and seems to be everywhere, which is AWESOME!

Now the chili I was kind of disappointed with. It just does not have any special flavor to it. Very bland but plenty hearty. If I want to put more meat on my burger I want it to be more flavorful than the burger, not less. The Jalapeno Relish was also pretty weak. It was just pickle relish with some jalapeno mixed in. I got a mix of fries and onion rings on the side, both of which are awesome. I have already described the fries here, so I will take a moment for the onion rings. These are NOT onion strings. These are a Man's onion ring. The breading is think, almost too think if you are not expecting it. The batter as huge chunks of black pepper that you can see. With onion rings this big, they fill you up fast too so I do not recommend eating them before your burger. They are great if you like onion rings, not strings.

Rating- 2/5 "It's Not Worth It"

I cannot say I will adventure out to this burger again. The burger is special for it's chili and jalapeno relish, both of which are disappointing. I cannot really recommend this burger when there are so many better options there.

fly away on my zephyr