May 20, 2010

Reviewing my world

This week's reviews are going to be a bit of all over the place...eating, reading,'s media and food...intake both culinary and intellectual...

The worst of the week is Relish Modern Tapas, a restaurant over in Mason behind Deerfield Towne Center.  We visited Relish because they had an offer up at Groupon, $30 worth of food for $15.  The Girl had been to Relish before with girlfriends of hers for an evening of drinks, and she'd seemed interested in heading back to try the food.  So when Groupon offered up the deal, I grabbed it.

Typically, if we visit a restaurant where the food is disappointing, the choice has been mine.  This time, however, the poor choice belongs to The Girl, because the food was disappointing and bland.  The service was mediocre.  The menu was unhelpful.  The atmosphere was lacking in thematic unity, neither fish nor fowl, elegant nor casual.  People sat down near us in camouflage shorts and t-shirts as well as linen shirts and fancy slacks.

The biggest issue we had with Relish, however, was with their food. We're far from tapas experts, having been to a total of one tapas restaurant between us, but this didn't seem like tapas to us.  Instead of the small plates, each costing in the range of $5-8, encouraging us to purchase a selection to share and try, Relish had plates in the $10-15 range, some of which came with sides, some of which came without sides - neither was made clear from the menu.  So some dishes came out appearing to be full entrees - my steak with a side of potato wedges and a small salad, for example - while others came out as small meats to share - The Girl's fried shrimp with a tiny, lettuce accompaniment.  The waiter offered no assistance in clarifying which were meals and which were to be combined with the sides - and the price ranges didn't seem to differentiate.

Had the food been excellent, we might've overlooked even all these flaws.  As the food was drastically underspiced, bland, and poorly prepared, however, the combination resulted in an absolutely disastrous meal.  My steak was presented sliced for sharing, but the $15 steak was no more than a half an inch thick meaning that my request for medium rare was all but impossible.  The potatoes were cold, rubbery, and lacking in any flavor.  The mashed potato balls - breaded and fried - were tasteless.  The Girl's shrimp were well prepared but could have used a stronger seasoning.

The only redeeming feature of the entire meal was the two complimentary cookies presented with the check.  The almond wafers were quite tasty.

We won't be returning to Relish modern tapas.

Next up, the cinematical Kick-Ass for which I have been waiting with bated breath.  The previews were awesome and the marketing solid.

Clearly, this was a masterpiece waiting to be seen.

Only it wasn't.  On this one, Katydid and I part ways, it was a boring film.

The pacing was poor - action scenes alternating with comedic, slower scenes, never allowing the film to establish a definitive flow.

The killing was boring.

The part that bothered me more than anything else, however, was inability of the film to establish a consistent world.  I don't care whether there are superheroes in your film or not.  You can tell a great story either way.  Whatever.  I don't care whether you need me to accept that time travel is possible or that Hitler died in a theater rather than a bunker.  Whatever.

Just set up the rules of your world and play from there.  I'll follow along happily because I'm all about the willing suspension of disbelief.  I'm in a movie theater, like my favorite place in the world.  I want nothing more than to get lost in whatever world you want to create.

But don't set up one set of rules in the beginning - there are no superheroes, people can't do impossible crap like that - and the ignore the rules halfway through the movie when it suits your need for a balletic fight scene.  No, if there are super martial artists in your world, don't let the twelve-year-old magically turn into one just so you can film a cool scene.  If everyone has to rely on pretty reasonable, real-world-ish physics, then don't put the lead dufus in a jet pack with Gatling guns mounted up top because he's going to flip the hell over the moment he fires.  And don't let the same jet pack fly thirty miles before it runs our of fuel.

Keep you world consistent, and I'll roll along.  Refute the rules that you've written, and I'm out.

Here, I'm out.

I'm not quite as out as Roger Ebert - or for the same reasons - but I'm out.

In the comic vein of late...quick shots 'cause there have been a bunch...
  • Old Man Logan - Wolverine's the last hero standing in a post-apocalyptic future.  Shocking, I know.  But in this one he's become a pacifist because of some horrific, traumatic event in the final battle with the super badguys who finally won and took over the world.  As much as that all sounds so very formulaic and repetitive of things that have come before, I thoroughly enjoyed the full eight-issue collected series.  Tip to tale, this is enjoyable story telling.  The art is appropriately dusty and faded.  The road trip aspect works as a way for Millar to show us the new realities of the world that he's created for the Canucklehead, himself.  The reveals are slow enough to be teasing but big enough to be dramatic and rewarding.  I'm giving it a full two thumbs up.  Check this one out even if it's another Hulk/Wolverine outlast everybody else battle at the end.
  • Fantastic Four: Masters of Doom - I don't get the big reveal here because I'm not a regular 'round these Marvel parts, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this run as another of von Doom's tutors/masters/trainers returns to Earth to see why Victor hasn't dominated the Earth as their training should have allowed him.  Yeah, they 'kill' Doom in the first couple of episodes and reveal themselves (there are two of them) to heavy badarses based pretty much on that one action.  Yeah, we all know that Doc Doom isn't really gone no matter how 'dead' he's made.  But it's a fun read as Millar gives a final send off to the First Family of Marvel.
  • Batman: King Tut - sucked...awful...and the trade paperback is pretty much a two-issue story fleshed out by unrelated Bat-tales.  Dumb. 
  • Huntress: Year One - horrible...boring...hard to follow...dumb.  Turns The Huntress into an even more annoying, one-dimensional character.  Has Catwoman stop on the rooftop a pro-feminist chat and a smoke on the rooftops with the Huntress.  This series is horrible and should be avoided at all costs.
  • The Beatles Experience - the opening page tells the tale of a being of pure thought/energy/whatever floating through the universe searching for some adventure, requesting a turn living a lifetime in a soul that makes a difference.  It only gets dumber from there.  Also a huge two thumbs down.
  • Hellboy Library Edition, Vol 1 - I've picked a few Mignola's up here and there from the library - BPRD, Abe Sapian, stuff like that - but never anything in the core of Hellboy, so this is my introduction to the comic world of the big ugly.  I've seen both of the movies, but nothing of the comics.  Thankfully, this was a great introduction, collecting the two first mini-series for Mignola's greatest character.  The Library Edition isn't quite the equal to DC's Absolute editions, but it's a high quality printing that does show Mignola's dark palate off nicely.  Definitely worth a read but probably not a purchase.

Remember Catch Me If You Can?  Entertaining, light-hearted trailer that turned out to be a rather serious, kind of dark film?

Yeah, same thing this time.  The trailer for The Informant suggested Matt Damon being silly, hamming things up, and Damon did do some of that.  The movie, however, didn't keep a light-hearted tone throughout.  Instead, it ended up being a lot more serious than The Girl and I expected.

Not a bad film, but certainly one that we felt was misrepresented.  Nothing spectacular, just decent.  Thankfully, the character of Damon's lead is thoroughly entertaining.

That's it for me, folks.  I'll be back in a few days with some more reviews because I have a bunch of other things to review...

  • Iron Man 2
  • The Wire
  • Kings of Leon (two albums)
  • Steve Earle - Washington Square


Katydid said...

I stand behind my love for "Kick-Ass." I guess I understand the technical issues, but somehow the fusion of this is real life with comic book elements worked for me. Sure, some of it is over the top and ridiculous, but it worked for me. Granted, I'm a little biased by my love for Hit Girl, the independent nature of the production, and the fact that one of the writers was a woman, something void in the world of comic book films.

As an aside, Roger Ebert has no right to call anything morally reprehensible: he wrote "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," rated X and directed by smut king Russ Meyer, so his review is invalid to me.

PHSChemGuy said...

I've never seen Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, so I'll leave its trashiness out.

Kick Ass was stylish. At times it was pretty and fun to watch, but...

I couldn't get past the premise of real people doing things that are within their powers and getting stomped then suddenly breaking those same rules, being superheroes in a superhero world.

Gimme one or the other but be consistent.