Tag Archives: Review

Review | Nintendo Switch Impressions

Hey everyone, Rich Belsan here! It’s been a while since I’ve posted on Central Florida Top 5 but I’m hoping to be back more regularly. I’ve been hard at work on a YouTube project, Over a Beer, where we discuss movies, video games, and everything else pop culture. Jen and I have been trying for a long time to get something going between Central Florida Top 5 and Over A Beer and I’m hoping this will be the start.

Below I’ve posted our latest video where we share our initial impressions of the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo’s newest console. My co-host and I have also put some time into The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, one of the best reviewed games ever, and discuss our earliest thoughts on it.

Woken from a 100-year slumber, Link must explore the wilds to regain his lost memories and save Hyrule.

 

Breath of the Wild Special Edition includes the game, a Nintendo Switch Sheikah Slate Carrying Case, Sheikah Eye Collectible Coin, Relic of Hyrule: Calamity Ganon Tapestry and Weather-Worn Map, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Sound Selection CD for $99.99. The Master Edition includes all of those items plus a Master Sword of Resurrection figure for $129.99

 

Let us know what you think in the comments below! If you like seeing Over a Beer content here, we’re going to start posting weekly recaps of our video show and our podcasts.

REVIEW | #Logan: “And what I do isn’t very nice”

Seventeen years ago a relative unknown actor by the name of Hugh Jackman took on the pivotal role of Wolverine in first X-Men film. In the years since he has played the character in nine subsequent films.

Hugh Jackman stars as Logan/Wolverine in LOGAN. Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein.

We’ve seen the character of Logan/Wolverine in all stages of his life from his youth in nineteenth century Canada to World War 2 to him saving the future in both the 1970s and 2020s. With a somewhat complete story of Wolverine’s life out there, the next logical step had to include putting a bow on, both, his story and the original X-Men franchise.

I’ll start by emphasizing that this movie is cool. It’s a completely different kind of X-Men movie than we’re used to. Its measured, emotional, and has a level of gravitas brought by the performances of young newcomer Dafne Keen, and of course Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. Both reprise their roles one last time to take the audience home.

– New York, NY – 12/8/16 – 20th Century Fox New Year Presentation – Logan
-Pictured: Dave Karger, James Mangold
-Photo by: Patrick Lewis/Starpix
-Loctaion: Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center

The director, James Mangold, delivers a film with strong ties to both the western genre and samurai films. In many ways the character of Wolverine has always had the feel of a masterless samurai (Ronin). In keeping with that, the direction invokes the work of acclaimed samurai film auteur Kenji Misumi.

The film portrays tranquility in the face of the inevitable. Many of the characters are at peace resigning to their fates. The zen-like storytelling of James Mangold accentuates this and the performances put a sharp punctuation it. This movie, though comic based as it may be, is handled artfully and with reverence to the characters.

Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and Logan (Hugh Jackman) face off. Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein.

The writing is everything I wanted a Wolverine movie to be. Harking back to the Chanbara (Samurai film) aspects of the film, there’re parts that echo the ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’ series of films.

Logan is entrusted to care for a child, which is reminiscent of the film Zatoichi Challenged where the titular character promises to escort a small boy to his father after his mother is stricken with illness and passes. He shares some of these classic tropes while bringing something new to the table. Mortality. Our main characters are aging and vulnerable, yet they are far from feeble. It’s a great balance of character dynamics.

Shishogan Productions

“Man, we don’t have time for this sh*t.” – Wolverine Custom ACBA Image by: Jay De Los Santos

With all these ties to Days of Cinema’s past, it’s no wonder that Logan delivered a poignant end to an entire franchise. Knowing we’re taking one last ride with Logan and Charles Xavier is comforting. Their chemistry has always been a highlight to the X-Men films, but seeing them both as old men trying to carve out a life for themselves in a seemingly indifferent world is absolutely heart warming.

Go see this film. It’ll show you a whole new side of the X-Men franchise. Get tickets online at LoganTickets.com.

Review: ‘Snowden’ gives real Snowden story humility

 

Image: Open Road Films

Image: Open Road Films

Oliver Stone’s latest movie, “Snowden,” opens today and you should go see it.

Fathom Events invited Central Florida Top 5 to an advance screening of Snowden, followed by a live Q&A with Academy Award®-winning director,  Oliver Stone, actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley, and via satellite, the subject himself, Edward Snowden.

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[No story spoilers in this post.  Read freely.]

Snowden is a modern day thriller about Edward Snowden and how he became one of the most well known whistleblowers and privacy advocates. This telling of this story is based on the books The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena.

Stone presents the story without delving into the legality of Snowden’s actions. We, the audience, are allowed to learn more about who Snowden is before, during, and after he leaked information regarding various United States government surveillance programs. This film also shows how Snowden first got the media, in this case UK’s The Guardian, involved.



Stone’s casting selection feels authentic. Like many computer professionals I know, Joseph Gordon-Levitt appears intelligent and reserved as the character playing Edward Snowden. As a filmmaker and technology professional, I really appreciate that Snowden’s character wasn’t over popularized.

Many technology films lose the details which make computer programmer or hacker characters human.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt solidly performed the role of a cyber security professional without the usual Hollywood hipster hacker bells and whistles.

Image: Open Road Films

Image: Open Road Films

 

Snowden’s love interest is played by Shailene Woodley. Woodley, seems to just click with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Snowden. I have always appreciated each of Woodley’s film performances. Admittedly, when I first saw the pairing I thought Woodley was a bit Hollywood glitz. However, after researching Lindsay Mills, Edward Snowden’s actual girlfriend, I now see the pairing is quite good.

Image: Open Road Films

Image: Open Road Films

Snowden’s supporting characters, portrayed by the strong ensemble of Rhys Ifans, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Nicolas Cage, and LaKeith Lee Stanfield, were also believable in their roles. To me, they all felt like the technology and news professionals, or computer instructors I have known in the past. The details in this movie really give some humanity to the characters in the story, whether in the newsroom or hotel room, and allows the audience to sense some emotion of what may have been felt in the real life events.



Technically, the film stayed true to how computers work without the usual over the top hacker computer graphics displayed in previous computer films.  The fact that this was Stone’s first film shot digitally was both perfect and ironic. I really appreciate this approach. When I see Virtual Reality gloves or things flying in cyber space I usually am uprooted from the story immediately.  (Thank you Mr. Stone and art direction team.)



I have followed the actual news stories regarding Edward Snowden at arms length due to their content and a distinct understanding of what data may be present in its content. Much of the data is still considered sensitive or classified, including information presented in this film.

Snowden is a film to watch for anyone using the Internet or other connected computing device.  Watch with your opinions, and technology, put aside and emerge with new insight and a good story in the end.

Bonus: Check out Joseph Gordon Levitt’s short film, “Are you there, Democracy? It’s me, the Internet,” with Edward Snowden.

GamerGuy Review | Ori and the Blind Forest Review

In his debut review, please welcome our newest Top 5 writer, Gerald, our resident Gamer Guy!

Ori and the Blind Forest

A brutal and beautiful adventure.

The opening of Ori and the Blind Forrest and subsequent 15 minutes can be summed up into that single sentence. A brutal and beautiful adventure. For fans of Super Metroid from the Super Nintendo days or the PlayStation Castlevania Symphony of the Night will love this wordless yet awe inspiring platforming tale. Playing as the wispy and nimble Ori your adventure takes you through a huge vibrant, lush and colorful forest with an amazing orchestral soundtrack that brings everything to life. The controls are simple yet elegant and watching little Ori maneuver through the many levels is satisfying.

Ori Blind Forrest 1

 

Story has a great storybook feel as subtitles come up with a narrator who chants along in an unknown language. Story is about the renewal of a ravaged forest that Ori may or may not be directly tied to. It’s the details of the story that really sell you, like a certain creature that runs off with an important object. It’s not the lack of voice driven story that sells it but the behavior of the creature as you chase it through the forest levels above and the undergrowth below.

Ori Blind Forrest 3

Playing Ori is always fun running through the forest bounding off the platforms or diving into the many pools of water looking for power ups and health orbs. You obtain a fire orb that hovers with you and lets you shoot blasts to destroy obstructions or creatures tainted by the dark that has taken hold. I found myself many times bounding and jumping through the many levels just to see the Ori animations.

Ori Blind Forrest 2

With the need for upgrades to access more levels of the forest you find yourself doing a bit backtracking to clear previously inaccessible areas of the game. I find it worth it however because every new area uncovered only adds to the increasingly beautiful back drop.

 

Platform: Xbox One, PC (& Xbox 360 soon)

Player(s): 1

Developer: Moon Studios

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Genre: Platform

ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

Release Date: March 11, 2015

Top 5 | Magical Dining Dishes of 2014

By Lisa Wilk

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month is wrapping up and I enjoyed dining at restaurants far and wide to seek out delicious meals. Here are five dishes that left a wonderful impression and have me planning to return to each restaurant to enjoy again.

Kasa Corn Magical Dining 2014

Kasa Corn: Roasted corn with miso lime aioli, Togarashi spices, Manchego cheese and queso fresco elevating the flavors of Mexican street corn with Manchego cheese and a fusion of Japanese flavors. Kasa Restaurant & Bar is located in downtown Orlando and Kasa Corn is available on their regular menu.

Eleven-Salmon-Magical-Dining-2014

Bourbon Glazed Salmon with Sweet Corn and Bourbon Saute had so much flavor in every component, a delightful and unique preparation of a premium Norwegian Salmon. (And Bacon!) This delicious dish featured on Eleven at the Reunion Resort’s current menu, enjoy.

MD14-Siro-Steak-2-618x1024

Grilled New York Strip Steak topped with bone marrow gremolata butter, served with pan seared baby summer squash ragout on the side. From Siro Urban Italian Kitchen in the Marriott World Center was cooked to ordered temperature and the flavorful dish received plenty of happy nods. Enjoy on the current Siro menu.

Hemingways Crab Cakes Magical Dining

“Cayo Hueso” crab cakes from Hemingway’s in the The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, a generous portion of blue crab with little filler, made this entree a winner for me. Happily, this signature dish is available year round at Hemingway’s.

Bananas Foster flambéed tableside over brown butter cake, served with butter pecan ice cream. Eddie V’s Prime Seafood offered Magical Dining guests a wonderful meal, interactive flaming dessert and a spectacular lakeside view.

Magical Dining Month dining ends with dinner service on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 and will return again next September. Over 70 restaurants participated in Visit Orlando’s the 2014 Magical Dining Month and preview week, with $1 from each meal served being donated to charity. I’m already looking forward to the creative offerings for next year’s Magical Dining Menu. For updates and future details on this annual event, check back here at CentralFloridaTop5.com.

Review | Down-Home Dining Tastes Great at Cheddar’s

Everything about dining at Cheddar’s speaks to quality.

From the all-brick construction and pleasantly dim ambiance to the wooden tables (which are appropriately reminiscent of a cheese board), Cheddar’s makes you feel like you are in a place where the details matter.

And boy, does that become clear when you start to look at the food. On my first visit, I was told by our awesome waiter, Dan, about Cheddar’s commitment to making all their food from scratch—no hint of a frozen dinner or preservative here.

I decided to check out Cheddar’s in large part because of their boast about being a from-scratch kitchen. How much better is it, really, especially if they are currently in the price range of a TGI Fridays or an Applebees?

As it turns out, a lot better. A LOT. Even the next day for leftovers.

places to eat near the orlando airport

Let’s start with the drinks. For the nonalcoholic variety, Cheddar’s offers an array of fantastic fruit-infused teas and lemonades, which include free refills and are refreshingly sweet. However, their cocktails menu is also tempting, featuring wonderful drinks like this one, the Texas Sweet Tea—a delicious citrusy concoction that features enough alcohol in a large enough glass for the restaurant to restrict you to two.

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Make sure you let the appetizers tempt you—and if you can’t decide, check out the Triple Treat Sampler platter. The chicken tenders were more than worthy of the name tender—the flaky pieces melted in my mouth. Both the Wisconsin cheese bites and the loaded baked potato skins were perfectly crisp and delicious.

The menu is extensive and focused on hearty classics—from classic sandwiches like the Monte Cristo and the Barbeque Burger, to house favorites like Chicken Fried Steak and Baked Spasagna (spaghetti lasagna, just like it sounds).

On our first visit, my friends and I enjoyed the top sirloin steak, the baby back ribs, and the beer-battered fried shrimp. The food didn’t take nearly as long to arrive as one might fear at a from-scratch restaurant (which was packed that night). In fact, we were just getting ready to sit back and digest our appetizers when our dinner plates arrived.

good steak in central florida

Sometimes when you order a steak done medium well at a restaurant, you come back with something dry and barely recognizable as meat. Not so at Cheddar’s. My steak was perfectly done, barely a hint of pink, and still as tender as can be.

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baby back ribs restaurants in orlando

My dinner companions equally enjoyed their meals. The ribs, like the steak, were incredibly tender. The sauce balanced the meat beautifully, highlighting rather than hiding its flavor. Cheddar’s also took the time to thoroughly clean their shrimp before battering, and the result was crispy and delicious.

All of the sides were likewise excellent. A generous portion of french fries, beans that tasted like they were cooked in bacon fat, rich creamy mac and cheese, smooth mashed potatoes, al dente broccoli…

With all the food, needless to say, we didn’t manage to make it all the way to dessert—that will have to wait for a future visit. I’ve been eyeing the chocolate croissant bread pudding, but as with everything on the Cheddar’s menu, it will be tough to choose between that and alternatives like the hot fudge cake sundae.

Long story short, you’ll definitely want to plan a visit to Cheddar’s Casual Cafe at their new Orlando location on S. Semoran Blvd, near the Orlando International Airport. Be sure to check out their menu online too!