TV Binge: Sugar Rush (Season 2, 2019)

Check out the 1st Season of Sugar Rush review HERE.

Sugar Rush (Season 2, 2019)

sugar rush

Host: Hunter March
Judges: Candace Nelson & Adriano Zumbo

A baking competition with 4 teams, 3 rounds, 2 cakes and 1 winner of $10,000. – IMDB

Season 2 of Sugar Rush is here. With a quick 50 mins episode length and 6 episodes for the whole season, Sugar Rush is the perfect type of TV binge. It can be done in a day if you don’t have any other things planned or to do . Just like the previous season and the very on point synopsis on IMDB for the show, this is a professional baking competition which starts with 4 teams who compete in elimination format in 3 rounds to become the final winner of $10,000. Who makes the decision is between the two judges and the guest judge who may or may not be baking saavy but they are eating saavy (meaning they know how to eat and that’s really what is important here since baked goods isn’t only for expert tasting but for normal people too). Some examples of guests this season are Nick and Vanessa Lachey as well as Jacques Torres.

For those who haven’t seen Season 1, here’s a quick little rundown of how the competition is structured. There are 3 rounds to the competition. The first 2 rounds is cupcakes and confections respectively to be completed within 3 hours. Whatever time you save from those three hours adds on to the final cake round which also has 3 hours. The topics for each round is announced as you complete the previous round after the judges taste. The only trick here is that elimination of one team happens after each round as well. What changes in season 2 is two elements. The first is more relevant to the competition structure and that is all round 3 keep going. When Round 2 finishes, the final round topic is given as well as 3 additional hours. In that sense, the clock never stops making it embrace that time element much better and gives less down time where the other team doesn’t stand around waiting for their time to start like in Season 1. The second element is that the judges now all stay in the room while the competition is going on and does commentating which is great compared to the first season where they would leave and come back at the tail end. These little things keeps the process of the competition more engaging.

Other than one or two odd guest choices, Sugar Rush really does a good job in keeping up with the hype of the first season and polishing the structure and concept behind it which works better this time around. It had 2 less episodes from the previous season so its a quick one to binge through. The themes here also are pretty fun from starting with current popular baking trends to more thematic ones like science and love, they choose guests that match their theme while also having focus on both technique and visual appeal. Hopefully, Sugar Rush gets a Season 3 because I’d be down for it.

 

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Book Review: Lifel1k3 (Lifelike #1) by Jay Kristoff

Lifel1k3 (Lifelike #1)
by: Jay Kristoff

Lifelike

On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap. Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it. But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past. Even if those secrets were better off staying buried. – Goodreads

Post-apocalypse, YA, Androids: it seems like a rising theme in the next phase of science-fiction fantasy novels. Its not a bad thing to say the least. After the success of The Illuminae Trilogy, its hard to not give some regard to what comes up next for the two authors. While I have yet to look into Amie Kaufman’s solo novels, I’ve been stocking up on Jay Kristoff’s (coming soon is reading Nevernight). Since I’ve been on this sci-fi roll, I decided to give Lifelike a go, the first novel in a currently ongoing series where the second book has been released recently.

While the end game of the story, the twist and such wasn’t exactly hard to figure out, what works a lot here is the execution of the story. Lifelike introduces its characters very well. It also keeps a decent limit to how many characters are in focus while being able to make sure that all the characters serve their purpose in their existence in the story itself. The world itself gives it a lot more to think about because the main girls are Eve and her best friend Lemon Fresh who end up with their robot dog of sorts Cricket while finding a lifelike android which is referred as the almost-boy Ezekiel who starts waking up the memory of Eve throughout their journey to save Eve’s grandfather from the evil androids. There are relationships and conflicts and dilemmas as more secrets get dug up and remembered. Lemon and Eve’s friendship/sisterhood doesn’t get enough depth, but builds a general foundation, while Eve and Ezekiel end up having a lot of the drama involved.

While there isn’t anything particularly issues with the story, its a pity that the world doesn’t have more focus (although I’m sure as the story moves along in the sequels that it will). The future and the technology and the android lifelikes and such in this mass world feels very intriguing to discover and yet, its more focused on the people in the story than using it to build up. While I can’t say that I liked Lifelike quite as much as say the entirety of the Illuminae Files, even at its lowest point (which was very rare because that trilogy ranks very high on my favorites), Lifel1k3 as the first book does a good build for the foundation and has a decent reveal in establishing its characters. While there is some drag at a little part, it does do itself justice in the big finale and reveal.

Goodreads Score: 4/5

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)

Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (2019)

Hobbs and Shaw

Director: David Leitch

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Helen Mirren, Eiza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan, Eliana Sua, Cliff Curtis, Lori Pelenise Tuisano

Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity. – IMDB

The ninth film in the Fast and Furious franchises heads into a change in gear as it turns around to focus on what used to be two side characters that rose over the last few films: Luke Hobbs, appearing first in Fast Five and played by Dwayne Johnson and Deckard Shaw, who made his appearance as a cameo in the 6th part and was the baddie in the 7th. Hobbs and Shaw are definitely fan favorites despite not being in the leading roles in the previous films. Breaking free (mostly) from racing and heists, this one puts them on the other side of the table as they are recruited to retrieve a stolen virus suspected to be taken from Shaw’s MI-6 agent Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) when she only did it to prevent it from getting into the hands of Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) but causing her to have a limited amount of time to take it out of her body before it kills her and the world. A true everyday hero story, right?

Its important to go into Fast and Furious films with rather simple expectations of being fulfilled by mindless entertainment. With Hobbs and Shaw, its expected also that it rides heavily on the love of these two characters specifically. The story takes the time to make this a little bit more of a personal adventure for the two as each of their families and backgrounds get revealed a little deeper from their family relationships, sibling rivalries and such. There are some absurd scenes and illogical moments but it all comes with the Fast and Furious title and is also expected. Hobbs and Shaw did everything that was expected of it, which is pretty good.

Except…Hobbs and Shaw also has a ton of flaws. Nothing about those expectations that were met but rather, in its polish of it all. For one, it runs quite long and in some parts does overstay its welcome. One of the main deals is that the Hobbs and Shaw insult sequences start off to be quite funny but as it happens over and over and over again, it does tend to be less so. At the same time, it also underuses a great villain role like Idris Elba which is like Terminator with a Transformer bike as Brixton Lore and yet, he never reaches the level of dangerous villain that would have been expected probably because of not so much screen time and most of it being caught in enhancements, chase scenes or fight scenes making his character fairly shallow (not sure if thats the right word to use here).

Talking about those fight scenes. On one hand, its great that everyone here has the ability to do the scenes and there is an attempt of keeping it a lot of close combat melee and such with props and whatnot. It has a nice angle with the finale which was a big one to say the least that had its great bits. When not in the chase scene or anything else, the big fight which was especially apparent compared to the previous scenes was the amount of cutting shots as the camera moves around too much, making the scenes less immersive to watch because there was no flow. It was honestly a bit too much with the size of the scene and amount of action going on.

Overall, Hobbs and Shaw is fairly on par with my expectations and also has elements that was slightly disappointing. Disappointment is a hard thing to get over with, possibly worse than a bad movie in general. Fact is, Hobbs and Shaw is still fun entertainment and it still has a lot of decent moments and funny one liners and comedic comebacks. The acting is alright and falls in character with these two characters especially and its hard to not love Hobbs and Shaw’s family like Shaw’s mother is played by Helen Mirren or especially Hobbs mother who commands her family by waving a flip flop around. Thing is, Hobbs and Shaw, if you look at it, is like a reboot of The Fast and the Furious but without the focus on cars and heists and yet for these two characters, its about family and two rivals finding friendship together right down to the romantic angle. It stays true to the values of the franchise, which is okay. At the same time, it does need some credit for bringing in some fun cameo roles like Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Hart for example.

Be sure to check out The Lambcast episode where I was guest on for a discussion/review of Hobbs and Shaw HERE.

Wine Recap – July 2019

wine recap (1)

It’s time for the next wine recap for the past month. Due to the whole coverage thing with Comiccon and Fantasia Film Festival, the drinking was mostly lowered. Looking back, it was still the lighter stuff for the most part with ciders and such. Everything this time is from Quebec which is always nice. Either way, to say with a clear mind to write and such, I drank everything in little doses.

Let’s check it out.

La Halte des Pelerins Le Voyageur 2017

la halte des pelerins le voyageur

Producer: La Halte des Pelerins
Alcohol Content: 12%
Location: Quebec, Canada
Taste tag: Fruity and Sweet

La Halte des Pelerins is a nice and sweet white wine. This is a good wine and very light which is how I like my white wine for the most part. This one is specifically the La Voyageur which is their name for this wine. However, there should be other varieties to check out which will probably be nice to look into for later.

Lonetree Cider

Lonetree Cider

Producer: Lonetree Cider Co.
Alcohol Content: 5.5%
Location: Canada
Taste Tag: N/

Lonetree Cider comes also in a peach flavor. For this one, I picked it up at the supermarket. Its not a bad cider but its definitely not my favorite. There’s something about the type of apples they use probably that changes how I feel about it because there was a peculiar taste to this one compared to other apple ciders that I’ve had before. It leans more on the drier ciders and not too sweet either.

Domaine Le Grand Saint-Charles Frontenac Gris 2017

20190810_004919.jpg

Producer: Domaine Le Grand Saint-Charles
Alcohol Content: 12.5%
Location: Quebec, Canada
Taste Tag: N/A

The experimental wine here is this one from Domaine Le Grand Saint-Charles. I’ve tried a few of their varieties from the ice cider to the Vidal White Wine. The first was one that I liked a lot and the second was really dry and not exactly my go to wine. The description for this Frontenac Gris is pretty interesting because it has more tropical taste profiles to it which actually does come through really well. Frontenac Gris is a pretty smooth white wine. Its a little dry but still has a decent sweetness to it. I’d definitely recommend this one.

Cidrerie Beaupre Rose

Cidrerie Beaupre Rose

Producer: Cidrerie Beaupre
Alcohol Content: 5.5%
Location: Quebec, Canada
Taste Tag: N/A

I tried the normal Cidrerie Beaupre before and it was fairly decent. For the price and convenience of being able to pick it up at the supermarket, its a good choice. Plus, its a strawberry flavored apple cider which somehow works really well. Its fruity and fun to drink and keeps it light so a nice little relaxing drink for a decent price.

That’s it for this Wine Recap!
Quebec made Ciders and White Wines was the main focus!
Everything was pretty good which is rare but very hopeful. 

Fantasia Festival 2019: Shorts

Fantasia Festival 2019 is over but as per usual, there were a lot of shorts showcased whether before feature film screenings (which is where all of these two segments of shorts were seen) or as a compilation (which I missed all of due to schedule conflicts). Regardless, there’s a lot of interesting selections to say the least.

Below are six shorts that I saw as opening during screenings.

Bar Fight (World Premiere, 2019)

Bar Fight

Director (and writer): Benjamin R. Moody

Cast: Aaron D. Alexander, Donald Brooks, Hector Gonzales, Nelson Nathaniel

When a machete-wielding cult walks into a bar, one bartender is in for the longest night of his life. – IMDB

Paired with The Prey (review) as a the opening short film, Bar Fight is 5 minutes of non-stop action. The premise of the story makes it feel like the world has fallen apart due to this cult as the constant pounding on the door above ends up with three thugs come into the bar. While the bar owner seems meek at first, he quickly fights his way brutally out of the situation. From the series of moves to how the short is done, its an impressive 5 minutes that is very entertaining to watch especially because its in a closed off space resulting in close hand to hand battles with some limited choices in weapons as defense and combat.

Bedtime Story (El Cuento, 2019)

El Cuento

Director (and writer): Lucas Paulino & Angel Torres

Cast: Nerea Barros, Miguel Galbin, Ismael Palacios, Alberto Sanchez

Opening for The Wretched (review) is this Spanish horror short about a family of three being observed by a witch living in an apartment across the street. As the kids settle into to bed, their mother comes in to tell them a bedtime story except it seems very similar to their current situation and bigger brother Lucas who is sleeping on the top bunk doesn’t know whether to look or not at who is telling the story.

No doubt that Spanish horror does really well. In the case of Bedtime Story, its satisfying horror experience. How its filmed and gloomy and darkness of the nighttime setup along with the mom’s unsettling behavior gives it a nice tinge of horror that blends well together. The whole element of being watched also is done very well with a decent twist at the end. Its a fairly complete horror experience for a short film.

Le Blizzard (2019)

le blizzard

Director (and writer): Alvaro Rodriguez Areny

Cast: Aida Folch

Le Blizzard is a 2018 horror short that paired with The Father’s Shadow (review) which tells the story of a woman waking up in the middle of World War II in a blizzard and goes looking for her daughter that has separated from her in the forest. Le Blizzard is not a bad concept to start with. It just feels a bit dragged out because it turns around in a circle. Somehow, it does have a fairly bizarre turn in events and has something of a loop element to it. There is an attempt of adding in a twist in there which does give it some intrigue but its an odd one.

Right Place, Wrong Tim (2018)

Right Place Wrong Tim

Director: Eros Vlahos

Cast: Asa Butterfield, Adam Buxton, Ella Purnell

A 90’s British sitcom is taken over by clones of the lead actor and descends into chaos. – IMDB

Perfectly paired with Daniel Isn’t Real (review), Right Place Wrong Tim is a horror comedy where a on-screen . Its bloody and funny and so over the top that it just fits together in the oddest way and still works. It also lingers on the part of how much of it is reality and how much of it is part of the effects of the show so the audience is still laughing as the scene gets more and more bloody and absurd and yet that just adds to the humor. Of course, this type of humor might be very unique to its audience and might not land for everyone but perhaps its the charm and talent of Asa Butterfield that I’d always enjoyed his acting and roles that this one worked for myself.

Lone Wolf (2019)

Lone Wolf

Director (and writer): January Jones

Cast: Joanne Booth, Charlotte Cook, Karla Hillam, Mackenzie Mazur, Izabella Measham-Park, Freya Van Dyke-Goodman

Opening for Riot Girls screening (review), Lone Wolf is a 2019 Australian horror short about a 15 year old social misfit called Sam who gets invited to a classmate Willow’s party and tries to blend in with her new classmates who happen to be a bunch of mean girls who are Willow’s best friends. However, she starts to go through some kind of inexplicable change and it just starts going out of control. Without ruining anything, that’s the best that I have for this short. Its tries to make fun a little of the situation because its really odd what happens. Sam’s transformation from a little decision of being accepted changes her as well. There’s not a ton to say about this. Its fairly on rails as to how the story progresses with what she gets made fun of as well as who comes to her defense and then we get a twist which explains her transformation. Lone Wolf tackles one of the horror subgenres that I feel is still fairly underused with a lot of potential to explore further so that was a great angle.

Cliché (2018)

Cliche

Director (and writer): Miguel De Plante

Cast: Anne-Justine Guestier, Lilie-Rachel Morin, Josian Neveu

Three young friends, a dark cabin, a wandering killer… You think you’ve already seen this movie ? You’re probably right… – Fantasia Festival

Cliché was the opening short for Aquaslash (review). I’m a huge fan of any concept that can make fun of itself. There’s a lot of really absurd moments here and it feels like the goal is to be over the top in presenting all the cliché moments in horror films and diving into those horror tropes that usually serious horror films would be criticized. Its not meant to be taken seriously and because of that, it dives into a lot of fun territory. It has some ridiculous ideas but then also embraces the idea of the final girl and challenging breaking away from the cliché moment. Its pretty silly and the comedy might not work for everyone but its not a bad guilty pleasure idea and really suitable for a short film.

That’s it for these 6 Fantasia Shorts!
A bit heavy and probably should have broken into two posts, but its what it is.

Thoughts? Which appeals to you more?

Fantasia Festival 2019: Riot Girls (2019)

Riot Girls (2019)

Riot Girls

Director: Jovanka Vuckovic

Cast: Madison Iseman, Paloma Kwiatkowski, Alexandre Bourgeois, Munro Chambers, Ajay Friese, Evan Marsh, Jenny Raven

Riot Girls is a 2019 Canadian action coming of age story where adults have been wiped out by a mysterious disease leaving two groups of kids in one area to fight against each other over territory, resources and survival.

Set in an alternate 1995, it zeros in on a town now divided by West and East side, named exactly as that, Westsiders and Eastsiders respectively, these two groups are run very different. The Eastsiders are run by big brother Jack (Alexandre Bourgeois) along with his girlfriend and younger sister Nat (Madison Iseman) and her girlfriend Scratch (Paloma Kwiatkowski). When Jack goes for a resource run and ends up saving Westsiders escapee Sony (Ajay Friese) and consequently, taken by the Westsiders, Nat, Scratch and Sony set out to rescue him from the Westsiders turf in the center of operations at a high school from the hands of jock leader Jeremy (Munro Chambers).

Right off the bat, there is a lot of style in the execution. Riot Girls uses a comic strip set up to present its story. Using this, it also helps with scene transitions and location swaps as well as switching the narratives from one side to the other in a fluid way. There’s a lot of charm in using this form of execution but also helps keep the tone in check of having something a little wild and fun but also comedic and cool. The cool punk elements are elevated because of the hard rock soundtrack that plays in its scenes especially the chase scenes or fighting scenes. As a fun little trivia, the school used as the base for Westsiders is also where Degrassi: The Next Generation was filmed, so a little throwback of familiarity as well for Munro Chambers who is the baddie in here.

Talking about the story itself, there is a gnawing feeling that a film called Riot Girls lacks a little of the girls element at first. It spends a lot of time in the first act following Jack and his kidnapping to the Westsiders area then it dives a lot on the Jeremy and how he runs his side of town with only snippets of Nat and Scratch as they make it there and little establishment bits for them. However, the story does converge itself as the girls reach their main objective, they show up much more frequently and the dynamic slowly switches over to their heroism and cooperation as they work together to successfully rescue Jack while surviving the more brutal Westsiders. Its a change in a pace because usually we have boys saving girls but in this situation, the girls are saving the boy especially as they go into a very male-dominant area with Jeremy and his jock buddies in the lead.

Despite the fact that there is a big storyline focused on the Westsiders, its not a huge problem because the entire cast delivers on their performances well. No doubt that Westsiders is strong because of Munro Chambers as Jeremy who also delivers on his bad guy roles. In this case, he shines quite a bit especially with the fact that Jeremy also delivers on showing that there is never a forever leadership in this world because kids will grow up to be adults and the inevitable will happen. Nat and Scratch is rightfully the stars of the show with  Madison Iseman and Paloma Kwiatkowski as the actresses behind it respectively. The friendship and relationship behind Nat and Scratch is a fairly positive one that doesn’t need to be explained. Its just there and its accepted for exactly what it is. They have each other’s backs and they love each other through these hard times and they are both empowering roles as they fight with their girl power against a band of boys. What is viewed as the less competent are actually the most competent and that goes not only for the Riot Girls Nat and Scratch but also their help Sony who is somewhat of the awkward yet comic relief. Not to mention Scratch and Nat have incredible style especially Scratch sporting a fantastic mohawk.

Its not like the movie is very heavy to begin with. Its both fast paced and a lot of action with some nice sarcastic humor to pair with it all. Riot Girls is a fun movie. Perhaps it betrays its title a little with having more boy times and a lot more male roles than females but Nat and Scratch are the most memorable characters in this no matter how little they may be, its all big moments which give their characters their own natural spotlight. Sure, its a flaw perhaps in the script but in terms of everything else from execution to soundtrack to pacing to the Riot Girls and the baddie, everything falls into place and works really well together.

Riot Girls hits theatres on September 13, 2019.

What’s Up 2019 – Week 31: Going Back to Normal Routine

Another week has gone by! The last remaining bits of Fantasia finally ended and well, I’m still recuperating from it hence why some of the reviews are being worked on backwards now. There’s really only one more reviews and two Fantasia shorts compilation pieces to work on. Either way, we’re not here to only talk about movies but that part of my life is done for now so things are slowly getting back to normal, which means we’re back to a lot of TV? Yay! And reading is also back. A few reviews to get out on all fronts in the coming days and weeks, whichever and whenever my brain decides it wants to write daily again. For now, its going to be a tad sporadic.

With that said, lets check it out (before I ramble about everything before we get there)…

READING

Within

Currently reading: Within

Within should be done by next week as I’m back to the reading on the bus. Currently about almost half way through. Its a pretty good one and has a decent shift in scenarios between chapters and such. It’ll be interesting to see how it all wraps up.

PLAYING

Bonza

  • Bonza

Gaming on the go lately and its been very much the same games over and over again between Bonza mostly and Rullo. Word and math puzzle games seem to be the way to go for me when I’m bored or need a change in pace from writing and everything else.

Gaming is going to get back on track as soon as I get back into the gaming bits which I probably will go back to some Linelight that I started in July and return soon with another Mobile Games Roundup.

WATCHING

Aquaslash

  • Aquaslash (review)
  •  The Fable (review)
  • One Smile is Very Alluring
  • Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (LAMBCAST #491)

Technically speaking, I’d have use Hobbs and Shaw as the highlight and it is because I went to go see it so that I could be on the show for Lambcast as a guest. Its my first time and just coming out of festival season, I was a bit rusty on the whole podcasting thing. Either way, I linked it above because the whole crew is super fun and was incredibly great to record with.

However, as for my highlight, I’d like to once again give it to Aquaslash, for which I think might take a while to get to a big screen seeing as its still in post-production editing however, the experience of watching something in the process of being complete and then seeing the whole majority of cast and crew at this unique world premiere for Fantasia was a pretty awesome experience plus, the concept is there.

Movies might slow down a little since I still have a few reviews to write from Fantasia and then some double features from before the festival started.

BINGING

Go Go Squid

  • Sugar Rush (Season 2)
  • Queer Eye (Season 4)
  • Go Go Squid (2019)
  • Orange is the New Black (Season 7)

Currently binging: We Grew Up (2019), Love Signal 2, The Coming One 3, Dream Space 2, River Flows To You

Film Festival ending means TV watching especially since a ton of the Netflix Originals decided to release in July so I ended up burning through Sugar Rush, Queer Eye and Orange is the New Black’s final season. Its not too crazy to think about considering the first two is only 8 episodes per season which is easy to get through. Aside from that, Go Go Squid also wrapped up and it was such a complete experience that I can’t wait to rewatch and write up the TV binge for that. Lots of TV binges in the works to be honest for a ton of series.

Currently binging is mostly things in progress except for River Flows To You which I got back to since everything else has pretty much ended. Its really good but a bit more on the emotional type of series. I started a new reality show called We Grew Up which is on one hand super cute but perhaps also one that might feel a bit odd to watch about kid siblings.

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