Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: Avengers and 5 Guys Burgers


To say I’ve been looking forward to this movie would be an understatement. I grew up on comic books and spandex heroes fighting villains! I’m a fan boy at heart, a geek, a bit of a goof, and this film basically carries the promise to put all fan boy hearts into a stuttering patter of goodness and joy. High expectations are usually smashed with the reality of a film, but Marvel Studios did so right by their properties with the Iron Man, Captain America, and Hulk films that it was practically in the bag that this film would blow my freakin’ mind! Even “Thor”, the poorest of the films released, was still a decent action yarn and gave us a great performance from the films lead and showed promise for the Avengers. So was it as good as “all that”?

Writer/Director Joss Whedon tackled the Avengers with the eyes of a fan boy given his dream project. Not only would he have the studio behind him, he also had a capable cast of actors that each headlined their own franchise film recently. Those who hadn’t headlined did make a few appearances in some of those other franchise films, so audiences weren’t completely lost. Some replacement casting was necessary for Bruce Banner (the Hulk) when Edward Norton was replaced with Mark Ruffalo. So with the tools at his disposal, the faith of the studio, and high expectations from the fans, Joss Whedon presents what many are expecting to be the defining blockbuster film of 2012. Did he hit it out of the park?

Marvel Studios has been banking on this film being a hit. They’ve pretty much been working on this project for the better part of the decade. It was high profile and had huge expectations. Were they met?

Enough questions!!!!

YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!

I’m not going to be able to give you a critic’s eye view of things because this movie blew my mind! This movie was everything I was hoping for and more. Whedon was able to weave a meaningful story through complex characters with humor, action, and great attention to detail. He knew what the fans wanted to see and he gave it to them, from the spectacular to the little moments. Because as big and amazing as this film is, it’s the little things that gives the film more depth; The small jokes, the sniping remarks, the meaningful glances, and those iconic images from our childhood.

The ball is set to rolling when Earth’s mightiest Heroes are gathered to thwart the schemes of Loki (brother and enemy of Thor). The former Asgardian returns to Earth with a little help from the Tesserac (MacGuffin cube from Captain America). SHIELD has wanted to use the cube in order to create a source for self-sustainable energy, similar to Tony Stark’s (Iron Man) reactor. Loki wants to use the cube to bring an alien invasion force to earth. Because the cube exhibits some faint traces of gamma radiation, SHIELD brings in Bruce Banner for his expertise and the other heroes are gathered for various reasons. When everything is set to boil, the film could have exploded into action and many fans would have been sent home happy… but Whedon delivers some powerful dialogue and shows that these are not the “super friends”! Each character is driven by their own struggles, separated by egos and purpose, and the mixture of elements threatens to explode at nearly every turn as each “hero” questions the worth of the other. And none of them are wrong, none of them are right, and we see an eclectic group of people who all have their own stories to tell. And every story is told brilliantly.

5 out of 5.

Five Guys Burgers

“Better than In –N- Out Burger!”

Yeah, that’s the boast I read in a letter to the editor of our local weekly newspaper. And the boasting didn’t end there, with accolades posted along the joints walls when I stepped in. The long line moved at a steady pace, but the building was packed with people who all decided to take a chance on Salinas’ newest burger joint and sample their menu. It offered burgers and hot dogs and French fries cooked in Peanut Oil. There were shelled peanuts scattered about the place and the comparison to In N Out seemed obvious with their white and red motif.

I’m curious and it’s been a good weekend, so why not give this place a swing with a little taste of what they have to offer before I levy harsh and unearned criticism. I order the bacon cheeseburger, I grab up some fries, and the family orders what they want and we get a pretty hefty price tag attached to our weekend family lunch. The toppings are free, so I guess that’s kind of a bonus. Grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, several sauces, pickles, lettuce, the whole nine yards… I settle for my favorite toppings and skip on some of the stuff that aren’t my bag, baby. I munch of a few peanuts down, against doctors orders and I know I’ll pay the price later when it comes time for digestion. The burgers show up, we take our seats, and the eating begins.

The fries are good… fresh potatoes seasoned with salt and a few other flavors, fried in peanut oil. The cuts are fairly thick and there’s plenty of fluff inside. They take a decent dipping in the ketchup, I eat a few mouthfuls and I can’t complain. They’re good. They’re better than the King, the Clown, and the Red-head. But we’re comparing these fries to the string cut glory of In-N-Out, so we have to measure on those standards alone. And while the reach to touch that golden glory, the fingertips only barely graze and we realize that they aren’t QUITE that good. There are no animal fries here, folks. It’s just really good fries in a cup and that might be good enough, but not for the comparison.

The burger taste begins… the lettuce is fresh, the pickles are a sparkle on the tongue, and the bread has a little toasting to provide firmness. Bacon bonus points, since In-N-Out doesn’t offer it… but then we hit the meat of the matter. It’s got a fresh taste, but no real seasoning. The burger has a wet crumble to it, well cooked and decently prepared and it’s better than the Clown. I find it comparable to the red-head… but we’re supposed to be comparing it to another creature entirely and this burger lacks the salty tang of the Red and White. There’s no “special sauce” here, either…. There wasn’t an option for one, admittedly, though it gave us plenty of others. So it may not be fair to cut it short here… it’s a different burger. It’s not better or worse, but then I turn to my son: Big eyes, big smile, and he is voting this burger better?!?!!! WHAT?!?!?! This is a harsh betrayal from my own blood?!?!!!

The wife and I are aghast at this turn of events.

We save the secret battle for later and bag the rest of our fries and our hot dog. Making our exit from the establishment, my wife shells a pocketful of peanuts and we are gone. Several hours later, I warm up the bag and unwrap the foil around the secret battle. Hot dog… split and fried, no muss or fuss. It’s good. It’s really really god. This is what a hot dog should be in life and it’s delicious! Oh, hot dog….

4 out of 5.


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