Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Kotas Reviews Ghostbusters Key Lime Slime Twinkies

It's funny how things in pop culture are recycled over time. Popularity comes unexpectedly, is carried through to a multi-media blitz. The public finally tires of it. And then Ralston gets the rights to the cereal. Such is the cycle of pop cultural life..or at least, it would be in any sane world. Today we live in a world where movies are ascribed ridiculous amounts of meta-textual meaning that perhaps is unwarranted. But you know what? We're not here to discuss that. Some new fuckin' Twinkies came out. Let's dive into...Ghostbusters Key Lime Twinkies

I ain't afraid o' no promotion!
Well Hostess, your triumphant return to the realm of snack foods has heralded a greater variety of Twinkies than I've seen in years. Seriously, the banana ones are a staple of the snack cake isle at my local grocery, albeit with less media tie ins. So what do we have here? Well, for one thing, this is both very interesting AND super lazy tie in box art you can have. The background art is superb, with the box dripping in slime and the "slime" font for the flavor title is fantastic. That said? The tie in portion of our box is the Ghostbusters logo, with the word "Ghostbusters" beneath it. Hell, the phrase "LIMITED EDITION" gets more billing than the actual movie title! And where is a picture of the cast, or at least, you know, SLIMER? The OBVIOUS FUCKING CHOICE HERE? Did the rights cost just a little TOO much this time? Hostess has a lot to learn from Minute Maid in this regard. Eh, let's tell 'em 'bout the Twinkie.

Representing the sum total of paranormal activity occurring in my kitchen.
Again, this just strikes me as odd. The picture on the box led me to believe we would be getting a Twinkie with BRIGHT NEON GREEN filling that would zap your mouth with key lime insanity. Instead we get this...oddly unappetizing moldy looking green mash that actually has what appear to be flecks of dark green...Egon only knows what in it. Even the underside holes look filled with horror rather than delightful flavor (side note: Heh heh, filled holes ya'll). These sort of look like they went through the wrong machine. Still, they smell appropriately key limey, and, well, gross out foods are a staple of childhood, right? No? Just me then? DAMN IT. Let's eat.

Ghostbusters is, at its heart, a media property about using your science brain to solve problems and shoot spooky, yet visually interesting monsters with brightly colored zap guns before you shove them into a box. Zany food tie ins are practically printing money for this franchise. So, how in the world did you make them this BORING? The key lime flavor is incredibly muted with these, to the point where it almost detracts from the sweetness of the filling. You should be crossing flavor streams in my mouth, causing full protonic reversal of my taste buds, but instead, it is full of meh. Did you just take a leftover box of Key Lime flavor dust and add it to the creme, not really making sure to get the proportions right? What a snooze fest. From a Twinkie no less!

On the FACE Rating System, this gets 2 frowny faces. It's a lazy, Class 5 Cash Grab, a real nasty one at that. The idea is great on paper, but the execution falls about as flat as you can get, mostly due to what I can only imagine is a lack of giving a shit. If you are a flavor completionist, maybe try and score one on the cheap or for free, but don't actually bother. Boring is actually worse than simply being bad, or just not working out. Never be boring with your tie-ins! You have the tools, you have the talent, but you apparently just left all that at home for this one.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Kotas Reviews Warcraft

Hello folks, it's been a while since we did a movie review hasn't it? About four months ago I reviewed a movie released two months before. This time, we'll be reviewing a movie that only came out less than a month ago. Progress! Now, some might say I would be honored to review a grand story about two mighty forces who, through a lack of understanding and differing cultural values, come to blows with each other. But we're not here to talk about Captain America: Civil War, we're here to talk about a movie that has orcs in it. Let's take a look at Warcraft!

I think this is the right image for this movie.
Picture From: Venturebeat (http://venturebeat.com/2015/08/12/blizzard-will-consider-new-warcraft-rts-after-starcraft-ii/)
Warcraft is a film that is over twenty years in the making, though most people would have expected closer to ten. Suprisingly, this movie will tell the story of the old school Blizzard title Warcraft: Orcs and Humans game, rather than the considerably more well known (and more popular) Warcraft III/World of Warcraft story. I'm sure they are setting up for the sequel. Released in 1994, Warcraft went on to be Blizzard's first real smash hit, and it went on to spawn two sequels, several expansions, and the juggernaut that is World of Warcraft, which basically took over the company for many years. 

I've been a fan of Blizzard games in general since I played the original Diablo, but I didn't really get into Warcraft until the third game, and of course I eventually played World of Warcraft along with every other MMORPG player ever. Solid games with a ton of super confusing lore that mostly I didn't read as I clicked and moused my way through the rich vibrant worlds presented to me in glorious polygonal detail. I get that Thrall is important (since he's a Hero unit), but I don't really care about his backstory outside of the games in which he appears, and it's not even well explained there. And don't tell me it's in some damn book or comic or what have you. That doesn't count. If you want me to care about a character, you sort of have to get me to care inside the medium that you are telling that character's story in. This has always been a problem for Blizzard in a number of its titles, but it seems this trend has bled out into the movie as well. Let's dive in. Oh, and spoilers below the next picture.

None of the people on this poster ever wear face paint. I said there'd be spoilers, didn't I?
Picture From: Nerdist (http://nerdist.com/warcraft-trailer-legendary-universal-blizzard/)
The film opens with a scene from the teaser trailer that has little to do with anything, but by gum they paid for that footage and they are gonna use it. Then the film actually starts. Durotan ProbablyNotMakingItToTheSequel and his wife Draka DefinitelyNotMakingItToTheSequel, discussing their upcoming journey and how she has to conceal her pregnancy for "the crossing". I'll give the movie this, the CGI orcs are pretty darn good, even if they move a little too fluidly for their size. Next, we see the dry, dead plains of Draenor and the cages full of prisoners begging to be set free. Then Gul'Dan shows up, stomping around evilly, and explains that he will use Fel magic to open a gateway to another, richer world to plunder. The initial warband will go as a vanguard, build a portal on that side, and using captives from there open a more permanent portal to allow the full might of the Horde to erupt onto their "new home". Gul'dan then sucks out the souls of like, every prisoner to open the portal, and the vanguard passes through. The stress of this passage causes Draka to go into labor, which Gul'dan disapproves of, but the child is still born. Gul'dan then drains the soul of a deer and infuses the baby with fel magic, turning it green, but bringing it to life. This will be important in the sequel. Oh, and Gul'dan is evil, but you knew that already.

Some time later, the humans get word of "weird shit" going down and are investigating some bodies that were brought back for...well, investigation. Eventually Anduin Lothar looks over it and discovers Khadgar, the sort of bumbling mage who is trespassing to get a good look at the corpses. Turns out, Fel Magic was involved and this is kind of a big deal, so they bring it up to King TotallyFuckinDead who sends them to summon Medivh the Guardian. While there, they convince him to help out and Khadgar steals borrows a weird book that a ghostly apparition leads him to. I'm sure it's fine.

They roam around scouting for a bit, and then are ambushed by a bunch of orcs, including Durotan, his buddy what carries a hammer (probably not important), and some cannon fodder. A bunch of human cannon fodder dies, but Khadgar puts up a really awesome special effect, and Medivh uses another really awesome special effect to burn all the fel in the fel-infested (read: green) orcs so they die horrible. The non-fel (read, brown) orc are like "oh right, maybe fel is bad" and retreat, but poor Garona the Half Orc gets captured by Khadgar. Did we mention she can somehow speak English Common and acts as a translator for the orcs? No? Well, she does. Anyway, there are like, 7 main characters in this film, so I'm really summarizing here. 

Through things and stuff, the Frostwolves and the Alliance meet to discuss totally fucking up Gul'dan's shit because Fel = Bad, m'kay? They meet, but the Gul'Dan Loyalists ambush them and some fighting breaks out. Medivh throws up a big old lightning thing, but some people, including Lothar's kid are stuck on the other side and totally murdered for reasons. Medivh is exhausted so they take him back to his Magic Fountain of Recovery (though not by using a hearthstone, sadly) and Khadgar sees his eyes glow green for a bit. Green being bad and all, he eventually goes to The Floating City of Wizards Called Dalaran to talk to a weird old lady in a box who is apparently important and gives Khadgar Chekov's Catch Phrase. 

God this film is 8 years long. Okay, so after ALL OF THAT, it turns out Medivh is totally possessed by a demon, and is actually helping Gul'dan with his portal business, but before we find that out, he teleports Garona to see Lothar, because love or some shit. The orcs having been capturing humans to use as Portal Fuel ("It's what Gul'dan craves!"), so the King decides it's high time they rescued them, sort of counting on the fact that the Frostwolves are like, totally gonna help out. Sadly for the King, the Orc Chieftain has all most of the Frostwolves murdered, though Ogrimm Doomhammer (name is dropped so awkwardly it might as well have been an anvil) helps Draka and l'il Thrall Go'el escape the slaughter, and frees Durotan.

Instead of "running like the wind" they instead decide to confront Gul'Dan in the ritualized challenge known as Qab jIH nagil Mak'gora, in which two rivals for leadership slug it out without weapons or magic. This goes about as well as you would expect, with Gul'dan, kind of in a hurry as Medivh begins his part of the incantation to open the portal, flat out bear hugs Durotan and sucks out his soul. Big old Cheaty McCheaterson he is. Doomhammer sort of calls him out on being a fuckin' cheater, but Gul'dan just powers up the Warchief with Even More Fel Magic and everyone else just sort of goes with it. Oh yeah, and Orc Moses Go'el is left in a river while his mother sacrifices herself to let him escape. Because sequels.

The King and his forces find Durotan's corpse, and instead of retreating to regroup just sort of go with it. Khadgar frees Lothar from his Crazy Person prison, and they fly off to confront Medivh. Lots of fighting ensues, with the Alliance army using guns and surprise to cut their way to the prisoners, and Khadgar and Lothar using trickery and catch phrases to drive out the demon possessing Medivh (and bust up Chekov's Golem). With his dying breath, Medivh causes the portal to open up to Stormwind, and most of the Alliance escape...but not the King and not Garona. While the other Alliance extras get chewed into hamburger, King Stupid orders Garona to kill him, so she will be welcomed with honor back to the Horde for being a team killing asshole. Reluctantly she does this. Lothar then swoops in to save the day...a lot too late. There's a second ending of the film where he cuts off the Fel Empowered Warchief's taint during another version of Mak'gora, The orcs let him go because honor, even though Gul'dan is super grumpy about it. Garona is welcomed back to the Horde. Lothar and Khadgar are put into positions of power, and somewhere in all of this Doomhammer wanders off to be in the sequel. 

On the FACE Rating System, this film gets one smiley face. It isn't good by any stretch of the imagination, but I did like several things about it. The special effects for magic were superb. The costuming is very pretty, even if it has to hew to the slightly goofy over the top Warcraft art style. There are a number of in jokes that are genuinely funny for a Warcraft fan, and sort of funny for everyone else. The orcs look fantastic, especially in the scenes without other people. Of course, there is a lot to not like too. The plot is both simple and confusing, because the movie has no focus character for us to, well, focus on. There are so many "this will be important in the sequel" moments crammed in that they are tiresome and obnoxious. I often felt like I was missing about 30 pages of backstory that would have made more of this make sense. The (admittedly light) romance subplot felt super tacked on. Half the people in this film do not think things through. 

It's a "fair to middlin'" fantasy film that is certainly not worth full price, but catch it on Netflix or at the $2 theater and you'll be entertained. It is not, however, a flaming trash pile of a film, as many have claimed. It's just mostly average, and that's good enough for an afternoon's light entertainment. Also, FOR THE ALLIANCE!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Kotas Reviews the Green Tea Kit Kat Bar

Now that our patriotic duties are over, it's time to get back down to business. The business of reviewing things from both far and near. Today's subject is from "far", and was made possible by the extremely generous donation of my awesome friend [REDACTED]! This one's for you! By the way, it's from Japan! Let's dig into the Green Tea Kit Kat Bar.

Green Tea is one of those flavors that the Japanese love in damn near any product, and that hasn't really caught on here in the States. Mostly because green tea isn't our drink of choice. No, we get coffee flavored everything out the wazoo in Eagleland, don't we? God Bless America.

Anyway, I do enjoy Kit Kats quite a bit. My preferred Halloween candy bar as a child, I have always been partial to chocolate covered wafer cookies, and the Kit Kat is the literal Alpha and Omega of this treat on our candy shelves. There are a few variants available in the States (Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate, and uh...Big), but there is a truly bewildering number of variants sold in other countries. Mostly this is because everywhere else it is manufactured by Nestle, but in the good ol' United States, our boy Hershey has all the rights, and Hershey's isn't exactly known for changing things for change's sake. The Kit Kat bar originated with Rowentree in Britain before it was snapped up by Nestle, because of course it did. But hey, we're not here to discuss history, but the here and now! Here.

Truly the embodiment of sophistication and delight. 
It is very green, that is for sure. With flecks of...something in the coating. Maybe it is meant to be fragments of tea leaves? No idea. Otherwise, it's a typical Kit Kat, with a candy coating probably based in white chocolate rather than the traditional dark, and holding all or almost all of the flavorings. It looks exactly as you'd expect, really. Let's take a nibble, shall we?

That is definitely Great Teaness right in your face, that is. I doubly appreciate the fact that the sugar wafer inside is ALSO tinted green. Nice job Nestle, staying on theme. The coating is, as expected, a flavored white chocolate and while I'm not a huge fan of white chocolate in general, I recognize that it is an excellent vehicle for non-traditional flavorings, a role it performs admirably here. Still, it's not like "Green Tea" is a particularly bold flavor. Just a weird (to me) one.

On the FACE Rating System, this gets a smiley face. It is certainly not my favorite flavor of candy (or, well, anything really), but it absolutely lives up to the promise of as much Green Teaness as you can cram into a single candy while still holding true to the nature of that candy. If you love green tea, shove one in your face hole as soon as you can, but for the rest of us it is but a pleasant novelty best enjoyed in small portions over a long period of time. Also, Green Teaness. SOPHISTICATED YA'LL.