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05 July 2008 @ 08:08 pm
Review three-fer  
After a very good day at North Park Mall and the AMC Cinema located therein, I've got three reviews for you, only two of which can possibly contain spoilers. Well, the third could, I suppose, if you hate having an idea of what a beer will taste like before you drink it for the first time. Included below are Hancock, Wanted, and Shiner Black.

The first thing to know about Hancock is that it is, at heart, a feel-good movie delivered via a superhero setting. As you can tell from any commercial or trailer for the film, Hancock is a guy who can fly, who can throw cars with one hand, and who has the amazing ability to be a complete and total alcoholic DICK to anyone and everyone around him. He saves a do-gooder PR flack from an unnecessary death and the flack sees his chance to help improve the world by helping Hancock be a better person. Now, I warned you that there were going to be spoilers, and this is a minor one: it works. He does help Hancock become a better person and hero. That gets you about halfway through the film, at which point you get thrown one awesome curve ball. It's not a "twist" in the M. Night Shamalamadingdong sense in that it's something you couldn't possibly have guessed was coming. You'll see the pitch, but it's going to hit you from what seems like a totally random direction. By the way, if you were wondering if Will Smith can carry what is essentially a drunk, homeless Superman? Yes. Yes, he can. I honestly hope there is no sequel; as cool as it was, there's just no room for it.

Inside joke moment which only a couple of people will get: there is nothing so funny that the theme song to Sandford and Son can't make funnier. Right, Bill?

Moving on, if you read the comic book series Wanted by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, feel free to go see the film. If you haven't read the books, feel free to see the movie. The film bears only a cursory resemblance to the comic source material, mostly just in character names. It's an action comedy, people. A schmendrick who hates his life is given the chance to be the Harry Potter of assassins, including the mysterious but powerful father whom he's never known and a magic wand with which he can cast spells... okay, well, the wand is a gun and he can use it to cast Magic Missile, and that's about all. There are a few dramatic moments but mostly, you will laugh at the jokes and then you will laugh at the action scenes simply because both are equally ridiculous. If you have a physics degree, you will hate this film for how cruelly they treat Newtonian motion. They beat it like Mother Necessity's red-headed bastard stepchild. Otherwise, it's just a damned funny movie. Oh, and lest we ignore it, folks, Angelina Jolie's wet, naked ass is worth the price of admission by itself. I have never wanted access to a pause button so much in my life.

From this point on, I'm going into tl;dr territory about a beer. If you'd like to walk away from this with the image of hot, steamy Angie on your mind, I don't blame you in the slightest.

After about five hours of sitting in the dark in front of a flickering screen, food was needed. Beer was needed. Food was ordered. Beer was ordered. Food was received. Beer was... hmm. I ordered a Shiner. The guy who brought it to the table said Shiner "something". The "something" sounded like "Bock," which is what I heard because it was what I expected. For those unfamiliar with Shiner beers, Shiner is a Texas-based company and a standard, perhaps THE standard regional beer, and the basic Shiner brew for which they are best known is a bock, which is basically an amber lager. Shiner makes about ten varieties of beer, though most places only carry the bock on tap. Well, TGIFriday's has two Shiner varieties on tap now, unbeknownst to me at the time of ordering. Now, I ordered by saying, "I'll have a Shiner, please," and the server wrote down, "Shiner." She later confirmed she'd written "Shiner" to mean "Shiner Bock," seeing as I didn't specify which one of the two possibilities and as the Bock is, as mentioned, the standard.

What I got, entirely by mistake on the part of the bartender, was Shiner Black. Now, I'm pretty good at telling one drink from another by taste. I can tell the difference between Coke, Pepsi, Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi and Coke Zero without any trouble at all and totally by taste, if not before even taking a sip just by the smell. I've had enough beer to recognize a lot of the typical ones. I know what a glass of Shiner Bock looks like compared to a glass of Guinness, for instance. They're different enough that anyone can probably tell the difference by look, between those two examples. Shiner Bock is an amber and is a translucent red-gold. Guinness is an opaque black and has a rolling, bubbling head that lasts for a bit after pouring. Now, what came to my table looked like Guinness without the creamy head and with a red tint around the edges. I was too focused on my conversation with Ali to really pay attention to the drink, so I'd had several pulls from the glass before I stopped to think, "Okay, I don't know what this is, but if it's Shiner, it's from a keg that's had time to concentrate." Explaining a taste sensation isn't easy when you don't have a common referent, but for those who've had Shiner Bock, see if this makes any sense: the "Shiner" top taste was there, barely overlaying a dark caramel mid-tone similar to Guinness but without the Guinness' weight texture, and the drink lacks the typical Shiner aftertaste. Shiner beers all seem to share a common top note, while the Bock has this aftertaste that nothing else seems to have. This beer I was drinking confused the hell out of me; it was clearly Shiner, but way too dark and lacking the aftertaste. I asked the server and she was confused until she remembered that they'd gotten Shiner Black on tap. I had forgotten Black even existed and had zero idea that any restaurants were keeping it on tap, and I had to hastily assure our server that I didn't want her to correct the bar's mistake. Folks, I like dark beer. Shiner Bock is about as pale a beer as I like, and it's an amber. Shiner Black... is so... Goddess-blessed good. I think my favorite is still Newcastle, but we have a new second-place winner.
Current Mood: relaxedrelaxed
Benjamin Leelbuckley on July 6th, 2008 12:23 pm (UTC)
I'm glad Hancock was good. Washington Post's review wasn't really favorable; I've been trying to decide if I'm going to see it. (I love superhero films, and I love Will Smith in action-adventures.)

I wonder if I can get Shiner beers this side of the LaTex border? This sounds like one I'd like.
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on July 6th, 2008 02:25 pm (UTC)
According to Shiner's distribution map, Shiner is available for purchase in Louisiana. Now, their map doesn't show Black on the available list, but then it doesn't show Black on the Texas map either. Seeing as I can assure you from experience that Black is available in package stores here, their map may well be unreliable.

I just surprised the hell out of myself, looking up that information. As I was on the site, I found that Shiner Black is not an ale but a lager. Now, I have tended to prefer ales over lagers as lager tends to have a more dry aftertone than I like. What really surprised me is that the Bock is ALSO a lager, which might explain part of its aftertaste. I've edited the entry accordingly and also my brainmap of "lager" as well.
Alathaniel A'Tharenalathaniel on July 7th, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC)
I'm reasonably certain you can get Shiner as far east as Gulfport/Biloxi in MS, if that helps.