Battle of Ingredients #13 The First BBQ of 2019

Its been a while since out last Battle of Ingredients. As usual, we have our Winter through summer months of busy and crazy schedules so our off season if you can call it that. We are back to doing Battle of Ingredients in the home setting, which is always fun.

The First Barbecue of 2019 had a change of scenery from our previous barbecue settings and that had to do with the purchase of a new one on our behalf. Its still early in the season however with the long weekend, we were able to do a nice little meal to feed our 6 adults and a 1 kid crew.

Before we start, I’ll apologize that pictures are a bit incomplete so please bear with me as I try to add more in the description.

Wine

Petale de Rose

The wine for this Battle was provided by our friend as usual. This was the bottle left over from the previous battle. It was a nice match as a rosé wine called Pétale de Rose. Its a bit on the drier side but its pretty smooth in its end notes.

BBQ Food 

First up, this was my BBQ food ready to go on the grill. There’s some skewers of marinated chicken, some sliced zucchini and some baby Shanghai bok choy. Right before the grill, the zucchini got its seasoning of the simple stuff: salt, pepper and olive oil. Shanghai bok choy had no season other than oil to prevent sticking (unless the husband put some then I can’t remember).

Zucchini

Chicken Skewers

The Chicken Skewers were done fairly quickly. For the these skewers, I used:

  • chicken thighs
  • garlic
  • smoked salt (from Les As du Fumoir)
  • Plumée poultry spice (from La Pincée)

We marinated the chicken in the fridge for about 3 hours (at least) before we skewered them and got them cooking. The chicken skewers turned out really well. We hadn’t had a lot of luck with bringing out the flavor when we used the smoked salt but it works really well on the grill. I really liked this spontaneous marinade for the chicken.

Sorry for the lack of a more focused picture. Phoebe brought us the more intricate stuff with seasoned steaks which are under the Portobello mushrooms.

Mushrooms and Steak

Her steaks were marinated with:

  • salt,
  • oregano,
  • rosemary
  • homegrown fresh basil.

I don’t have the end result. We all forgot to take a picture and I thought I had taken one when I didn’t. However, the mushrooms were great and the steaks were also marinated really good also.

Non-BBQ Additions

Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

In addition to the BBQ food, I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough food so I added a little carbs to our meal but making a pasta salad.

The ingredients are:

  • Rotini
  • Pedon’s More Than Pasta – Green Pea Rotini
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Orange and Yellow Peppers
  • olive oil

We kept an Italian salad dressing (normal Kraft one) on the side for anyone that wanted to use it.

The pasta salad is pretty straight-forward. It turned as expected. The only new trial here was the Green Pea Rotini which has a very odd texture. We noticed that when cooking it more, it actually got more rubbery instead of mushier (which is what happens with some gluten-free pasta when overcooked). The texture was really odd in the sense. Pushing that aside, everything else works well. I left all the seasoning and sauces to however everyone liked it so just kept it as a base salad to be modified as desired.

Dessert

Apple Muffins

No recipe for this one as this was brought by our friends who also brought the wine. They are attempting the world of baking and brought us some dairy-free soy-based apple muffins. It was pretty decent.

That’s it for this Battle of Ingredients!
We are working on the date for the next one so things are picking up again in the Battle front.

I apologize again on the rusty organization skills and forgetting to take pictures.

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What’s Up – Week 20: New Things, Old Things and Catching Up

20 weeks into 2019 already! Spring is finally showing its face and as I go out to do more things, some of these bits might get slowed down a little bit. Its still a little too early to know but I’ve been transitioning between different elements of life and somewhat swapping my routine a little. As some TV series also winds down, I’m thinning it out a little to try to get some extensive backlog out of the way. It won’t reflect here but gradually, as Montreal events start coming into play as well.

READING

crossline

Currently reading: Crossline by Russ Colchamiro

I’ve been getting hit with some spring fatigue so I’m still reading Crossline at a very turtle pace, which needs to be remedied because I have another book lined up that needs to get started by the end of next week. Crossline is pretty good but I’ve been also watching movies with similar themes that I’m not sure if I’m getting an overdose of sci-fi. Keeping an open mind and I’m only slightly past the quarter mark in the book so its just the set-up phase done and things are started to unravel.

PLAYING

The Witness

Currently playing: The Witness

For a moment, I honestly thought this week would be no gaming at all except maybe some mobile game titles to fill up some space here. Those are going well but I like to keep it a little mysterious for the mobile games roundup segment. However, the husband started up The Witness last night and we played a few puzzles together, which was pretty cool. I’m probably going to start it up on my own also and play some of the puzzles also.

WATCHING

  • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)
  • Europa Report (2013) – rewatch – Review

I’m not going to lie that this list kind of probably should add in rewatching Jaws 2, 3 and The Revenge to refresh my memory for the Triple feature HERE. However, I won’t because I honestly just played it in the background to remind of the story and dialogue and wasn’t actually looking at the screen. So we are left with two films. One is a rewatch for an upcoming podcast which is Europa Report, a little found footage-esque sci-fi film. Trying to get things done in advance is always a good thing. And as I’m still a tad behind on the double features, I’m also trying to save up some more movies gradually and moved onto the M selection. I’m using a general of movies in my list that are rated badly but still I would like to watch so I ended up checking out The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. I love Shadowhunters, the TV series thats in its last season (if it hasn’t already ended) so seeing how the movie interpretation would be. I’ll share my thoughts on it in the double feature but lets just say, when the background world or lore is too heavy, its hard to just rally it all up in 2 hours and hope that its not convoluted.

BINGING

Put Your Head On My Shoulder

  • Dream Space (Season 1, 2019)
  • Put Your Head On My Shoulder (2019)

Currently binging: Le Coup de Foudre, Go Fridge (Season 5), Great Escape, Produce Camp 2019, Nailed It (Season 3)

Two TV series done this week. I’m feeling quite accomplished. One of them is a Chinese social variety show called Dream Space which is something like a matchmaking show which takes a look at romance and opening up a space for single women and men to focus solely on their romantic sides for a few days. I’ll write about this variety show even if I don’t for others because its worth it. I have a few thoughts on this one and they are having a season 2 already getting new candidates so I’m pretty excited to see how it changes. As for dramas, Put Your Head On My Shoulder wrapped up as well and its a nice little dose of cuteness along the line of the A Love So Beautiful universe and they make a point at the final episodes to address that to clear up some of the suspicion that people have been having. More on that in the TV binge at some point….

Most of the things currently binging is still very much the same. The only new addition is Nailed It which released its Season 3 on Friday. Because there were too many other stuff to take care of, its probably one of the first seasons that I didn’t finish it in the first weekend but we’re about 6 episodes in so its not a whole lot left to watch but its still very fun. The only other one I want to talk about is Great Escape which is heading into some more intense escape room experiences and its getting very intriguing to say the least.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
What have you been reading/playing/watching/binging?

Double Feature: Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016) & Life (2017)

Next double feature comes at us with nothing too in common. For the K selection, I chose Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV which came out as the story leading to Final Fantasy XV’s video game release. For the L selection, which you will notice is going to be the first of 2 selections (the second title paired up in the next double feature with the M selection) is the 2017 sci-fi film, Life, which got relatively low ratings but remains intriguing to me.

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016)

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

Director: Takeshi Nozue

Voice cast: Aaron Paul, Lena Headey, Sean Bean, Adrian Bouchet, Liam Mulvey, Alexa Kahn

King Regis, who oversees the land of Lucis, commands his army of soldiers to protect the kingdom from the Niflheim empire’s plans to steal the sacred crystal which gives Lucis its magic and power. – IMDB

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is the story that takes place before the events of Final Fantasy XV. The ending of this film introduces the four main characters in the game however doesn’t show them anywhere else in the film. With that said, this story takes a look at the kingdom and the threats as well as the soldiers abilities. Video game adaptations or even films derived from a game always has the difficulty of just appealing to those familiar with the franchise or the story. In this case, while Final Fantasy has had a lot of games so far and is a successful franchise, FF15 is a different story with different characters so the idea of making this film is a good one however the execution might not have been done quite as well as the story feels convoluted.

Voiced by Aaron Paul as Nyx, Lena Headey as Lunafreya and Sean Bean as King Regis, the character voiced here are done pretty well. At the same time, the visuals of the kingdom and even the action itself as well as the character design all are appealing. However, where this movie does fall apart is that the script isn’t written well, some dialogue feels very rigid and the story flow feels a bit slow where some parts actually start feeling a bit boring and slow.

Final Fantasy may be an overall pretty great gaming franchise however, its movies have mostly been lacking except for maybe one. Therefore, Kingsglaive might not be a good movie but I also didn’t expect to feel all that much different when I finished with it. Its visually appealing but everything else falls short in the spectrum of things.

Life (2017)

Life

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, Olga Dykhovichnaya

A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars and now threatens all life on Earth. – IMDB

Life’s one of those films that I’d chalk up their general lack of box office or negative reviews on expectations and the fact that their trailer reminded the audience of an Alien rip-off. I’m not going to argue that I wasn’t affected by the trailer hence why I’ve put off watching it for so long. However, putting aside the similarities of sci-fi films and comparing it to the very fantastically done ones like Alien, Life is a pretty solid sci-fi film. Its quite entertaining that most sci-fi films in the Alien veins reminds us of the fascination of finding that we are not alone in the universe but then quickly wishes that we were because foreign extraterrestrial organisms are probably going to be much more lethal and a good part of it has to do with it being unknown. In that sense, Life’s best attributes is giving us an organism that develops and grows exponentially in a short frame of time and we learn about it just as the characters stuck in the spacecraft is at the same time.

Life is also quite good in the sense that its paced fairly well. The background music is done well especially to boost the atmosphere. With that said, the atmosphere and environment is controlled and the use of gravity and space is also done quite effectively. There is a good deal of tension throughout the film and it has a lot to do with the setup of the film being in a closed space within another closed space for a good part of the film.

Overall, Life is actually pretty good. If you can set aside some of the similarities it does have and see some of the things that are done differently. The quality of the film is definitely still there. There are tense moments and intriguing moments and the pacing is very fast paced so it helps propel the film forward without giving much time to think too much about the things in depth. Maybe its because I went into this one with lower expectations but its one that I’d gladly sit down to watch again. There are issues with it and it has to do with some of the very familiar characters which also don’t truly get a whole lot of depth because we don’t spend too much time with them before things get bad.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen either of these films? Thoughts?

TV Binge: Rush to the Dead Summer (夏至未至, 2017)

After the massive love for A Love So Beautiful (review), I went backwards to check out Hu Yitian’s previous role, which is a fairly smaller supporting role which was probably only about half of the series in very small doses in Rush to the Dead Summer, adapted from a 2006 romance novel originally called 1995-2005 Rush to the Dead Summer written by Guo Jingming . The ending was changed in the version. I haven’t read the story but after the ending felt the need to hunt down the actual ending to draw some comparisons and I will touch on that as well.

RUSH TO THE DEAD SUMMER (夏至未至, 2017)

rush to the dead summer

Cast: Cheney Chen, Shuang Zheng, Jingting Bai, Biyun Chai, Zitong Xia, Hehuizi Zheng, Hanchen Pang, Uvin Wang, Jingyang Ni

The love and growth of a group of young people from the same high school. – IMDB

QUOTE

People say we meet seven versions of ourselves during our youth. One bright and beautiful, one laden with grief, one is gorgeous, one that takes risks, one that is stubborn, one that is soft, and the last one is in the middle of maturing. On the road to maturity, we would experience rain and wind, encounter thistles and thorns. We will swallow our anger and we would also strongly retaliate. Of course, we hadn’t anticipated that there is a price to pay for this so-called maturity. Sometimes, even if we know that we’ll be punished, we’ll still bravely step forward because these are our true selves. Before we are polished to shine, we carry sharp edges and thorns all over, and fearless confidence and determination so we can be dashing heroes for a brief moment. – Li Xia, Rush to the Dead Summer, Episode 5.

You can watch the series with English subtitles on Youtube below:

STORY

Rush to the Dead Summer focuses on 5 different characters over the course of 10 years of their life from their senior high years to their adult life. There are a few supporting characters that also get a voice however, those primary five are the main focal points where these other characters pop up for whichever duration. While not as defined as the source material structure, there is a very accurate focus on various characters. It focuses on friendships and romantic relationships as well as each characters hurdles from family, school and their career choices.

The series can be split into various acts. The first building the foundation of the characters and relationships set during the senior high years that has a much longer focus of over 20 episodes. The second act is the post secondary education phase which looks at seeking career dreams, university and finding their path into setting into the real world which could be considered the shorter act because it sets up for the third act which is the real world. Because of this shift in different stages of their life, the story ends up having a decent pacing and also brings up a very real draw in these characters where different primary characters will fall to the background accordingly when some other characters will have their own moments and their stories, just as in real life when friends will each have their own moments to celebrate or experience and the others become their support and audience.

The story tone also has those shifts because of these different stages accordingly. The first act is more innocent high school moments with a focus on Li Xia (Shuang Zheng) and Xiaosi Fu (Cheney Chen) and their romance while also focusing on the bromance between Xiaosi Fu and Zhi-ang Lu (Jingting Bai) and the friendships between Li Xia and Qiqi Cheng (Biyun Chai) as well as Li Xia and Yu Jian (Zitong Xia). Its a building of new friends, maintaining of old friendships and learning about romances and the coming of age of embracing the things that we truly desire and knowing when to fight for them. In the second act, it becomes fairly shorter as everyone splits up into their own segments. The romance between Li Xia and Xiaosi become more developed while the pursuing of their own dreams become a big focal point for both Qiqi and Yu Jian in their own ways defined by their own values while Zhi-ang chooses a new path completely that takes him into a new environment. In the last act, its the final bits as a lot of secrets get revealed, different personalities and motives get revealed and the adult world proves to be one with much more serious consequences for their actions bring dilemmas and challenges and all kinds of conflicts at every turn.

Rush of the Dead Summer’s story sounds like a very familiar teen coming of age kind of drama. In many ways, its hard to argue that it isn’t. The uniqueness of it is how it executes its through changing the different voices and giving the story a moment to move around flexibly while making sure that each of these five characters are ones that we care about to a certain degree.

LENGTH/PACING

Rush to the Dead Summer clocks in at 46 episodes. Odd number? I know it is. With these series, they fall into the borderline of having pacing issues because it can very well go into the pacing a little too different. However, this series uses different characters and point of views, experiences and perpetual stories  that it makes it never feel like it drags on for too long. The only issue here is that some characters fall into the background and the main issues do lie with accepting when the characters we love more may flip around in the end and fall behind the scenes more or the story loses that focus and it gets more dramatic as these characters get older. In terms of length and pacing, Rush of the Dead Summer does a relatively good job. If anything drags along, it can very well be because the character story that its focusing on is getting too much screen time and the other character in preference doesn’t, but there is a good amount of care in executing it so that the different characters or different pairs all get their due time whether the audience agrees with it or not.

CHARACTER/CHEMISTRY

Rush of the Dead Summer focuses on these 5 characters: Li Xia, Xiaosi Fu, Zhi-ang Lu, Yu Jian  and Cici Cheng. In the previous sections, I’ve already mentioned some of the romance relationships here and some of the friendships in focus. Before we look at the effectiveness of these relationships, lets take a quick look at the characters.

Li Xia plays a focal character. She is a mild-tempered, hard working and shy girl who has a specific set of values and makes sure that everyone she cares about will be taken care of and respected. Because of this, she is good friends with every one of the other characters. Her junior high friend is Qiqi, her love interesting in senior high is Xiaosi, Zhi-ang has a crush on her but also enjoys being her good friend, and Yu Jian became her friend because she did little things in senior high that made her feel warm. Li Xia is a likable character even if at times, her indecisiveness and her meek personality will make it hard to not feel bad or feel frustrated with her not learning more to protect herself.

With that said, her main relationship chemistry is with Xiaosi Fu. Xiaosi is a more introvert and perfectionist character. He is the first in their grade, he has incredible artistic skills and doesn’t know how to express himself a lot and is very straight-forward with his words. However, his care is in his actions and its because of these things that Li Xia and him has quite a good bit of chemistry. Every series has a guy that is like this and they always end up having this awkward moments that make for some cute and sweet moments.

While it seems like Zhi-ang Lu is the best friend of Xiaosi and has this love triangle, it never quite goes into fruition because he never really pursues her but chooses to be the happy character in the series that goes from the positive and social outgoing personality who flirts with other girls and has one of the biggest changes where he becomes more focused on his dreams and finding a different path while also in the final act, the story suddenly shifts its voice into having a heavier focus on him and a new girl character that enters the picture called Yan Mo (He Hui Zhi Zheng). I’m not going to talk about Yan Mo’s character but its one that brings on a lot of changes and also delivers a lot of sweeter moments in the final act especially when the relationship and career of the first primary couple enters a much of dramatic turn of events affected by a lot of outside factors that this new relationship and pursuit gives off a new comedic angle.

At the same time, its at this time that we can talk about Yu Jian, Qiqi and the different friendships because as great as the chemistry of the relationships here. Perhaps some of the better moments are how the different friendships develop. Yu Jian has a more set goals and has the opposite personality of Li Xia and stands up for her constantly which makes their friendship solid in their own way in a more reliable way where we soon learn, some friendships will change because of the change in perspective and that happens with Qiqi and Li Xia where they may know each other longer but their friendship slowly also has its cracks. Qiqi also is designed to be a more “bad” sort of character and while I never found her good. Her parts and self-destruction and other bits usually prove be more frustrating to watch and probably one of the not so well written characters. While Yu Jian remains one of the better written ones.

OVERALL

Rush of the Dead Summer is unique because it takes on the different voices of five characters and creates a tree of stories for each of them throughout 10 years of their life. There are a lot of quotable moments and share a lot of different sides of life between all of them as they encounter different happy, sad, frustrating and angry moments. Its one very much worth watching. Some people complain about the fact that the main male lead is very rigid in his role but to be fair, his role is meant to be that way and his character because of the initial way changes over the time as a development angle and probably was done deliberately. There are little details in the series that I caught on the second viewing which actually makes these characters and gives them signs on how their character and nature will develop over the course of the series. My only issue is how it chooses to end the series which is hard to decide whether its a better ending or a worse one that the original one in the source material. Its a whole end game issue of which version and type of viewer you are. For myself, it felt a bit rushed and a bit lazy to not have expanded at least a little further on it. The ending few episodes could have definitely used a little more symmetry to the beginning act to give it a more well-rounded feeling.

Main Theme

Restaurant: Nom Nom Cantine (Montreal, Canada)

You can see the last visit to Nom Nom Cantine recap HERE.

Nom Nom Cantine

I recommended Nom Nom Cantine as our co-worker lunch spot last week and we ended up going there. I’ve never had the lunch menu before and only been there once before. The restaurant decor was still the same and the atmosphere is still very relaxing.

Appetizers

Nom Nom Cantine

Chicken Dumplings

The most impressed dish I had in my last visit was the dumplings so this time, I came back to try them again. These ones are steamed and the sauce is a little sweet and a think maybe a tad bit spicy. While I don’t have pictures, my coworkers also took dumplings. One of them took the pork and the other took the vegetarian. The latter is fried. I actually liked the chicken dumplings the best while the other two are pretty good also.

Main Meals

Nom Nom Cantine

Chicken Poke Bowl ($19)

Nom Nom Cantine

General Tao Chicken (They have another name but I can’t remember it)

Two of my coworkers ordered these two meals and shared it between them as they both wanted to try both of them. While I didn’t try the poke bowl (which wouldn’t matter since I’m not sure what its supposed to taste like as I’ve  never had it before), I did help them finish up the General Tao Chicken. The chicken here is done really nicely. There’s a nice flavor to it and a good texture in the bite of the chicken.

Nom Nom Cantine

Shrimps Soba Noodle

My other coworker and I ended up getting the Shrimp Soba Noodles which had some interesting ingredients like lemongrass and such that gave me the impression that in a soup, it would have this refreshing taste to it. Plus, its supposed to be pretty popular dish at Nom Nom. This noodle bowl did taste good and was quite the comfort food. The shrimps are done perfectly and the soba noodles done in a soup bowl is the first time that I’ve had it this way. Usually its served cold in my recollection. However, it was a little disappointing because the soup lacked a bit of flavor. It leaned a bit more towards the blander side. For myself, I’m used to it so it didn’t bother me too much but my coworker also didn’t quite like it as much because of that. On top of that, the disappointment came with the fact that it lacked all those flavors it seemed to have promised and turned into a very normal bowl of soup noodles.

After Lunch Tea

Nom Nom Cantine

Green Tea

I forgot to take the desserts that my coworkers ordered but I got myself a tea. Its always nice to see the care taken to present the tea and in this case, they had this whole thing. I believe the tea was sencha tea and had a fantastic flavor to it.

Overall, Nom Nom Cantine is still decent. It hasn’t really changed how I felt about it the first time around. The service is pretty good. The waiter was helpful and very friendly. The food presentation is very attractive. The flavors were mostly good except for the slightly blander soup base. The selection of food isn’t a huge amount but its a good idea to limit the options but offer a good quality of food in my opinion.

***As an ending note, the waiter did explain that Nom Nom would be changing form into an Italian restaurant later this year  because the restaurant was always meant to be more of a pop-up concept. You can see their first form was as a French restaurant called E.A.T. where we did go to in this post HERE.***

Triple Feature: Jaws 2, Jaws 3 & Jaws: The Revenge

Welcome to the rarely seen Triple Feature! A little change in pace in things as the Jaws franchise being available on Netflix lead us to watching the sequels back to back to back. With that said, there are only so many words I can say about these sequels so I’m going to jump right in!

Jaws 2 (1978)

Jaws 2

Director: Jeannot Szwarc

Cast: Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Joseph Mascolo, Mark Gruner, Ann Dusenberry, Barry Coe, Gary Springer, Donna Wilkes

Police chief Brody must protect the citizens of Amity after a second monstrous shark begins terrorizing the waters. – IMDB

In this sequel of Jaws, Jaws 2 takes us into a good time after the Jaws events (it can only be expected as the councilman doesn’t seem to care about it anymore). As the town has recuperated slightly and moves forward, Chief Brody yet again starts suspecting that there is another shark attacking and yet no one seem to believe him. Jaws 2 is a pretty good premise to start off and in general, executes the movie pretty well. While its not quite the character depth or sophistication of the first film, this sequel directed by Jeannot Szwarc is pretty much a decent success and a real thrill to watch for the majority of the time, with some exceptions character-wise.

Its great for one to see the sequel bringing back familiar faces and at the same time, still giving it the same location and Chief Brody’s family. This time it gets slightly more personal. With the first movie, Chief Brody becomes a more-fleshed out character and can now be diving into other aspects and this one, we see how he interacts as a parent and the heaviness he has for his duty to protect especially seemingly being the only person that has learned from the previous shark situation that happened and making precautions than everyone else. In that element, we don’t only get to see Chief Brody as different situations that the audience gets to see gets brought to his situation reinforcing his belief that there is a second shark haunting the waters while at the same time, there is a focus on his older son Mike who has gotten a liking for sailing with his other teenage friends as well as trying to show off to get a girl’s attention. As expected, these sailing trips will uncover and also be the focus of where trouble hits at a certain point and Brody ends up heading to the rescue despite his lack of knowledge of driving a boat.

To be fair, there’s a whole lot more of good here. There are some great shark attack moments and a decent build of tension. The story itself, while a bit predictable, still manages to be a fun shark movie to watch as it has a few tricks up its sleeve. The teenagers are mostly fun to watch. The one exception, which is my main complaint about the film, would be one of the girls is incredibly annoying to watch. Overall, its a decent sequel effect and one definitely worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet.

Jaws 3 (1983)

Jaws 3

Director: Joe Alves

Cast: Dennis Quaid, Bess Armstrong, Simon MacCorkindale, Louis Gossett Jr., John Putch, Lea Thompson, P.H. Moriarty

The sons of police chief Brody must protect customers at a SeaWorld theme park after a thirty-five-foot shark becomes trapped in the park with them. – IMDB

Not sure how many years after the 2nd movie this takes place but Brody’s sons are already adults now. In this third movie, Jaws takes its set to SeaWorld. Jaws 3 is meant to be in 3D and for that, there are a lot of crappy, out-dated and forced 3D shots done that really makes it feel like its trying too hard. To be fair, Jaws 3 has a decent premise. Nothing is more at stakes than the idea of being trapped in an area with a shark and for that, the story does work. Its the execution here that has a lot of issues whether logically or just how the story spirals. There is a theme park element here as well as a mother shark seeking its baby element as well, put together while its a fairly commonly used outline, does have potential to be done well.

Jaws 3 does give us Dennis Quaid in one of his earlier roles where he also does take the lead as Mike Brody while Sean is played by John Putch, who at the time took up his first movie role in his career with this movie. Mike and his girlfriend Kay (played by Bess Armstrong) have a good deal of screen time as they play key roles in the park as the engineer and the biologist respectively. Their roles are portrayed well. While with any theme park movie, you always have the rich boss, Calvin Bouchard (played by Louis Gossett Jr.) who makes bad decisions that makes a lot of situations worse.

Its hard to say outside of the forced 3D elements here where things ultimately fail. Perhaps its because the story lacks enough depth to make it feel like a good shark movie. Maybe its the fact that we never learn enough about Mike or Sean Brody to make them characters that we care about before they are headed straight for danger. Or it could attribute to the fact that there are some close-ups of the shark attacks that make the shark extremely animatronic or robotic, just the opening and closing of the jaws itself. However, it has some nice points and that is the emphasis on the cleverness of dolphins and their instincts to save humans in times of danger during shark pursuits. Overall, Jaws 3 is many steps down from its former two films. There are good elements and a lot of flawed ones but I think one of the main issues is that the ending feeling is that its pretty much forgettable.

Jaws: The Revenge (1987)

Jaws The Revenge

Director: Joseph Sargent

Cast: Lorraine Gary, Lance Guest, Mario Van Peebles, Karen Young, Michael Caine, Judith Barsi, Mitchell Anderson, Lynn Whitfield, Cedric Scott

Chief Brody’s widow believes that her family is deliberately being targeted by another shark in search of revenge. – IMDB

Jaws: The Revenge is the 4th instalment of the Jaws franchise. After Jaws 3, its hard to have too much hope about this one being better. Out of the original cast, Lorraine Gary returns as Chief Brody’s wife but as we can see, Chief Brody has passed on leaving her a widow. Adding salt to the wounds, Sean starts off the movie on Amity Island who has followed her father’s footsteps as a police officer and gets killed by a shark. Because of this loss, she ends up moving to Bahamas to live with Mike however the haunting fear of water and how sharks are out to get her family bothers her. Let’s first start this off by the fact that this script doesn’t seem to match with the previous one where Mike had mentioned how Sean doesn’t like to be on Amity Island which is why he didn’t study on the island so why did he go back? Then you think about what shark is revenging on her family because in our memory, every shark has died in the previous movie. Either way, just a few points to think about how the story in the beginning already has its plot holes.

Lets say that we look past that and accept for the way it is. There are still some annoyinh characters here from Lorraine Gray who overacts a bit. At the same time, Mike’s buddy, Jake is supposed to be a fun character but also stands close to the line into annoying as his dialogue feels very rinse and repeat. Theres a whole emphasis on the relationship between Mike and his wife which doesn’t seem to matter much other than give the movie some character building but then, Mike Brody has been a character in each of these films just at a different age. One thing that did bring my heart up a little is seeing Michael Caine here who brings some character to the film as a whole.

Jaws:The Revenge seems unnecessary and forced. The story doesn’t seem to flow with the previous film and then has this element of never giving intriguing characters. If this film didn’t take itself seriously, maybe I wouldn’t either and then at least there would be some fun.

That’s for this rare triple feature!
Have you seen any of the Jaws sequels before?

Book Review: Justice For Belle by Didi Oviatt

Justice For Belle
By: Didi Oviatt

Justice For Belle

Ahnia has a very dicey past – one that is scratching under the surface, just dying to get out.

She’s hit rock bottom, broke and desperate to be on top again. When she finds herself partnering up with man she hardly knows, and who’s utterly untouchable, she’s forced out of her comfort zone and left to question her own sanity.

Will Ahnia and Mac’s dangerous decision be a success, or will she find herself in the clutches of an unforgiving force, brought about by her childhood sin?

In this nail biting thrill ride, no one is as they seem… and no one is truly safe with those they trust. – Goodreads

Justice For Belle is a psychological thriller novella. Novellas are a great way to build take a relatively simple story and give it a great pacing and execution as is the case with Didi Oviatt’s latest release. Justice For Belle doesn’t thrive on a lot of characters. In fact, it is more of a character study of our main character Ahnia who has a fascination with death. Not particularly her death but envisioning how others can be murderers and how they would commit their murders unique to them. This gives Ahnia a special angle right from the start and makes it intriguing to see how she has become this way and what secrets she hides in her past that has caused her to have this fascination, especially after seeing that she is a one hit wonder writer who thrived on a past personal experience. It gives Ahnia depth as the story lets us learn more and more about her. Opposite of her is Mac, who she meets randomly and has this attractive quality that makes Ahnia drawn to him. He is fairly spontaneous and being as the novel angles behind Ahnia, Mac becomes even more mysterious especially when there is a few mysteries that come out like the similarity of his fiancee’s appearance to Ahnia or his similar psychological fascination and of course, he goes one step further to create another adrenaline rush scenario that will hopefully trigger both him and Ahnia’s creative juices to write another book. Its an absurd and dangerous idea to say the least and it makes Mac feel even more mysterious than Ahnia is and the extent of how their plans will play out. Both of these characters are very strong and have a great deal of depth of them which makes them the more intriguing to see how their story unravels.

There’s always a risk in novels who want to dive into the more romantic thriller side and that is generally how Ahnia and Mac’s relationship seems to have that forbidden love element to it and a certain level of danger that attracts them both to each other. It is really in these moments that don’t quite work for me and feel somewhat unnecessary. Its starting to feel like attraction is a hard element to put into stories and they are very subjective because different writing will work better (or worse) than others. In this case, the general writing style works however, when it goes into the more intense moments once or twice, it feels a bit overwritten.

Overall, Justice For Belle is pretty good. It has a decent execution and stay well-paced. There are a lot of questions and mysteries bundled together in this psychological thriller that all gets cleared up by the end. The two characters are created with a good deal of depth and layers as they unravel throughout the story as well. It stays pretty much intriguing. While there are little bits of writing in terms of the story development for the relationship between Ahnia and Mac, everything else does work too create enough suspense.

Goodreads: 3/5 (I’d give it 3.5/5 to be more accurate)

***Book received for free in exchange for honest review from R&R Book Tours***

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