The Oscars: Who Will Win, Who Should Win

The Oscars are here, but not everyone gets to go home victorious.

The Oscars are one of those meaningless topics that is always hotly debated. It starts with the nominations: who got nominated, who should’ve gotten nominated, and who shouldn’t have gotten nominated. Now, with the Oscars only hours away, I’ll tell you who will and who should go home with the golden statue in the major categories come Sunday Night.

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis, Fences

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Who Will Win: Viola Davis

Who Should Win: Naomie Harris

Viola Davis has been nominated in the past for her work in Doubt and The Help. She’s a tremendous actress, and she will win her first Oscar Sunday night. However, it should be Ms. Harris who goes home with the award. Harris expertly plays an abusive, drug addicted mother in Moonlight. She’s not in the movie much, but it’s the kind of performance that aptly describes the best supporting actress category. Some of you may cry foul, but I’ll make up for it later.

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Who Will/ Should Win: Mahershala Ali

Mahershala Ali is a lock. He is the darling of the awards season, and deservedly so. Even though he is only present for the 1st 3rd of the film, Ali delivers a captivating performance as a drug dealer with a heart of gold in Moonlight. I really enjoyed Jeff Bridges’ and Lucas Hedges’ performances, but they have no shot against Mr. Ali this year.

Best Director

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Denis Villenueve, Arrival

Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge

Who Will Win: Damien Chazelle

Who Should Win: Barry Jenkins

Damien Chazelle masterfully crafted the best movie musical since Dreamgirls. He will be rewarded for his work and commitment to bringing the musical back into the mainstream. However, I believe the award should go to Barry Jenkins. It’s clear Jenkins works well with actors, as he gets the most out of his talented cast in Moonlight. Jenkins also delivers some beautiful shots in Moonlight, the kind that bring straight-up tears to your eyes. Jenkins should be the man of the hour come Sunday night, but Mr. Chazelle is going home as the winner.

Best Actress

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Ruth Negga, Loving

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Who Will Win: Emma Stone

Who Should Win: Viola Davis

Emma Stone, the girl you’ve had a crush on since her star turn in Superbad, will walk away the big winner Sunday night. She does a fine job of acting, singing, and dancing her way through La La Land. But not only should Viola Davis be nominated in this category, she should win it. She is the only significant female actor in Fences, and she delivers a powerhouse performance that will stand the tests of time.

Best Actor

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

Who Will Win: Denzel Washington

Who Should Win: Casey Affleck

The last 13 years, the winner of the Screen Actors Guild award for best actor has gone on to win the Oscar in the same category. Denzel won the SAG, and he will add another Oscar to his legendary career for his gripping performance in Fences. While I will be happy for Denzel, I think the Academy will unjustly snub Casey Affleck. Affleck handles the material he is given very well, making you empathize with a character you’re not entirely supposed to like. Denzel may be my idol, but its Affleck who is most deserving of the award.

Best Picture

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Who Will Win: Hidden Figures

Who Should Win: Moonlight or Hell or High Water

Somebody put La La Land on upset alert. Hidden Figures is going to win Best Picture. Typically, the Academy loves to reward films that celebrate the industry, and La La Land seems primed to win. But with all of the controversy surrounding the Oscars the last 2 years for their lack of diversity, I think the feel good movie of 2016 Hidden Figures will shock the world due to its racial themes. Personally, my vote would go to either Moonlight or Hell or High WaterHell or High Water is an engrossing modern western, meaning that it has no chance in hell of winning. But it has great performances and high re-watching value because it’s so entertaining. Moonlighis a tour de force in film, featuring tremendous performances from the ensemble cast, and a story that pulls you in from the start. Hidden Figures is a good movie, and it would be a worthy winner any other year. While Hidden Figures will pull the upset of the evening (*maybe even of the century as it pertains to this awards show*), Moonlight or Hell or High Water should be regarded as the finest films 2016 had to offer .

 

 

 

 

The Bro-cademy Awards: The Bro Alternative to the Oscars

Forget the Oscars and the Razzies. Welcome to the Bro-cademy Awards, the annual (?) awards post celebrating the finest and worst in film.

We’re only days away from the Oscars and the Razzies, the annual award shows that honor the best and worst film had to offer every year. This is the Bro-cademy Awards, however. And here at the Bro-cademy Awards, we’ll commemorate the good and bad 2016 had to offer in film all in one post.

Now here’s the criterion: NO ONE IS SAFE.

Enough talk, let’s get down to business.

The Bro, It’s a Good Movie, But I’m Totally Straight Award: Moonlight

Seriously guys, are we not comfortable enough in our sexuality to the point that we need to defend ourselves when we like movies that feature characters that are attracted to the same-sex? Well, sorry if I spoiled the movie for everybody, but Moonlight is a great coming of age story about a young man’s journey through life. I highly recommend it.

The Bro, If He Can Make a Movie, So Can I Award: Marlon Wayans, Fifty Shades of Black

Marlon Wayans has gone so far down this path that he can’t even get his brother Shawn Wayans to make spoof movies with him anymore. Fifty Shades of Black is one of those movies that makes you wonder why you aren’t famous and making movies. Because if Marlon Wayans can make a feature-length film based on a piece of feces he once took, so can you.

The Bro, Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? Award: Gods of Egypt and Pride And Prejudice Zombies (Tie)

Gods of Egypt is a movie that features a predominantly white cast battling each other for power in Egypt. It of course stars Gerard Butler, because why wouldn’t it? If those two sentences alone don’t tell you that Gods of Egypt was a bad idea, maybe the fact that it had a production budget of $140 million will.  And while Pride and Predjudice Zombies is based on a popular book, I’m struggling to find who exactly was begging for it to be adapted into a movie.

The Bro, I Know You’ve Never Heard of It Award: Midnight Special

I saw this movie without knowing anything about it. I didn’t watch the trailer, any interviews, nothing. Just went in not knowing what to expect. Do yourself a favor and do the same with this film, and you’ll witness one of the best movies of 2016 that got no love.

The Bro, This is Donald Trump’s America Award: London Has Fallen

If you wanted to see a premonition of what was to come in November of 2016, look no further than last March’s London Has Fallen. It’s a sequel to 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen, and of course, stars Gerard Butler, because why wouldn’t it? The film is so insensitive to the Middle East it’s not even funny. All this film is missing is “America, **ck Yea!” playing in the background and you would’ve had a full-fledged documentary about what the future of America would look like under the leadership of Donald Trump. On a separate note, I liked the movie.

The Bro, Nobody Does It Better Award: Marvel Comics/ Studios

Marvel has an impeccable track record as it pertains to making entertaining films. Marvel did it again this year, as Deadpool enchanted audiences everywhere, Captain America: Civil War was what we wanted the 2nd Avengers movie to be, and we learned what the hell was a Doctor Strange. Bravo Marvel, just don’t make another Fantastic Four movie. And after Logan, stop making X-Men movies.

The Bro, Get Your Act Together Award: DC Comics

Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Suicide Squad. You better get it together in time for Wonder Woman and Justice League DC.

The Bro, Why Didn’t You See This Movie? Award: The Nice Guys

The Nice Guys is set in 1970s Los Angeles. It stars fat Russell Crowe and the guy you want to be Ryan Gosling as private detectives. The plot centers around the assassination of an adult film star. WHY DIDN’T YOU SEE THIS MOVIE, BRO!?  Based on the synopsis above, you should’ve.

The Bro, She Made Me Go See It Award: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train is the movie your girlfriend makes you go see because she sat through your stupid movie about a guy running around in an American flag outfit. I feel sorry for all the poor souls who were dragged to go see this movie. Watching this film makes you re-evaluate your relationship.

The Bro, I don’t Know Who You Are Anymore Award: Robert De Niro, Dirty Grandpa

Yes, I’m talkin’ to you De Niro. Robert De Niro has been the star of not only some of the best bro movies of all time, but legendary ones as well. Taxi Driver. Goodefellas. Heat. Then, he decided to say screw it and do movies for the money. The Fockers trilogy (*did I seriously just call that a trilogy?). Showtime. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. But De Niro stooped to a new low with Dirty Grandpa. So low that I don’t even recognize him as one of the finest actors in Hollywood anymore. At this point, he’s done more critically panned films than critically praised ones, and Dirty Grandpa stands out above the rest as his worst work.

The Bro, I’m a Social Justice Warrior Now Award: The Birth of a Nation

You said you were going to go see The Birth of A Nation after hearing the rave reviews it received at the Sundance Film Festival. You then proceeded to protest watching it upon learning its star/ director/ writer Nate Parker was acquitted of sexually assaulting a female student while he was attending Penn State. It’s a shame, because The Birth of a Nation is one of the best movies of the year. But when you don’t follow Oprah’s advice, no one will go see your movie. And everyone will give themselves a pat on the back because they didn’t, feeling like they are now a social justice warrior. They’ll also pat themselves on the back for seeing it thinking that by doing so, racism is over, thus making them a social justice warrior. This is why we can’t have nice things.

The Bro, NO I’M SERIOUS, WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA!? Award: Max Steel and Ben-Hur (Tie)

WHO WANTED A MOVIE TO BE MADE BASED OFF OF A LAME 90s CARTOON? Well, at least the excuse can be made that since it was re-booted in 2013, maybe there was something to gain by attempting to turn Max Steel  into a franchise. That being said, it was still an awful idea. Ben-Hur, on the other hand, is just plain inexcusable. I would’ve loved to been at Paramount for the production meeting of this film. HEY GUYS LETS REMAKE A CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTER WITH NO MAJOR STARS. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?!

The Bro, It’s The Worst Movie of the Year Award: Ghostbusters

The filmmakers thought if they put a bunch of “funny” women in a movie and slapped the name “Ghostbusters” on it, everyone would go see it and laugh. The movie has the nerve to boast a “WE DID IT!” attitude because they made a Ghostbusters movie with an all female cast. The movie sucks. The special effects suck. The cast sucks and has no chemistry. They drag the old cast of the 1984 classic into it. And before you call me a sexist, they could’ve made this with Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill and called it 23 Ghostbusters Street and it still would’ve been unwatchable. Ghostbusters had its time. Let it die.

The Bro, I Love This Movie Award: Hell or High Water

Since you won’t proclaim Moonlight the best movie of the year for fear that your masculinity will be questioned, I have the perfect alternative. Hell or High Water. It’s about 2 brothers robbing banks in Texas while being chased by THE DUDE himself, Jeff Bridges. It’s a modern western that is quite honestly not only one of my favorite films of the year, but also one of the best films of the year.

The Bro, What Did I Just Watch? Award: Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice

When I was asked how this movie was upon seeing it, I only had one response: IT WAS INCOHERENT. Why Doomsday? Why did Batman have a “knightmare” about Superman and giant mosquitos turning the world into Mad Max: Fury Road? Why did Lex Luthor pee in a jar? For crying out loud, my mom was even asking why  Batman and Superman are even fighting? None of these questions get answered. All you get is a loud, overlong, incoherent film that my brother liked.

And there you have it! THE 2017 BRO-CADEMY AWARD “WINNERS”! Let’s give everyone a round of applause! We hope you’ve enjoyed this look back at the year in film that was 2016. We’ll (*maybe*) see you here next year at the Bro-cademy awards!

 

 

 

 

Bro Reviews: Fist Fight

Public School is hell, as is this movie.

February is a month that only recently has become a destination for blockbusters. In years past, the month of February, much like the month of January, has been a dumping ground for film studios. Studios typically release films during this time with the hope that you’ll be so bored that you have no choice but to see one of their films they have absolutely no faith in. Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema may have outdone themselves this time with their latest film, Fist Fight.

A loose remake of the 1987 cult classic Three O’Clock High, Fist Fight stars It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star Charlie Day as Andy Campbell. Mr Campbell is a spineless English teacher who is just trying to make it through the last day of the school year at Roosevelt High. The school is overrun with spoiled public school children who terrorize the teachers, and with this being the last day of school, they decide to take their high-jinks a little too far. This angers noted hot-head teacher Ron Strickland (Ice Cube) so much that he decides to be just as careless as the children in this film and destroys a desk with an axe. With layoffs looming and fearing for his job, Mr. Campbell rats on Mr. Strickland in a meeting with Principal Richard Tyler (Dean Norris), costing Mr. Strickland his job. Mr. Strickland, irate over losing his job, challenges Mr. Campbell to a fist fight after school, while Mr. Campbell spends the rest of the film trying to find a way out before ultimately engaging in the fight.

Fist Fight is a prime example of a wasted opportunity. The film is so lazily put together it doesn’t even feel like a movie. It’s more like a collection of improv sketches that took place at a high school stitched together into what is barely a feature-length film.

I love Charlie Day. He’s great on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and in Horrible Bosses. But all he does in this film is screech and ab-lib. You never find yourself really rooting for his character since he’s such a pushover, so his transformation into a guy who will stand up for himself seems forced and doesn’t add up. His adversary, Ice Cube, is only in the film to be angry. Ice Cube does this exceptionally well in the Jump Street movies, but he’s given no clever material here to make it work. That is, unless you count recycling his classic lines from his N.W.A. days or in the Friday film series as clever, which I don’t.

The supporting cast doesn’t really help the film either. Tracy Morgan does what Tracy Morgan does, and it’s not very good. Jillian Bell also ad-libs her way through this film, and constantly speaks about how she is attracted to the male students at the school. The first time around it gave me a laugh, but they beat the joke into the ground to the point that you  can’t help but think of inappropriate student-teacher  relationships such as Mary Kay Letourneau and the recent Kelsey Leigh Gutierrez. It’s disturbing.  Dean Norris as the principal of the school just screams his way through the film, adding relatively nothing funny to the mix. And I want to make a plea here: STOP PUTTING CHRISTINA HENDRICKS IN MOVIES. All she does in every film is say and do crazy things while attempting to look sexy. It’s the exact same thing she did in last year’s box office turkey Bad Santa 2 and once again does the same thing in this film. Silicon Valley‘s Kumail Nanjiani is wasted as the school’s security guard, and poor Dennis Haysbert must have really needed a paycheck, as he shows up for 2 scenes as the superintendent of the school district.

The only 2 things I can think of when complementing this film are the last 20 minutes or so. In those 20 minutes, we see a grade school-aged girl sing a wildly inappropriate Big Sean song (*there are only 2 that should come to mind*) at a talent show, which is of-course ripping off a classic scene from Little Miss Sunshine, but its pretty funny. And the fist fight itself must have been where all the film’s budget went, as its well choreographed and delivers.However, you have to sit through an hour and ten minutes of unfunny ab-libbing beforehand, and those 20 minutes are not enough to make up for that hour and ten minutes.

Not to mention, the film feels a bit irresponsible. Fist Fight has the combination of over-privileged spoiled brats terrorizing the school and the sub-plot of teachers’ jobs being on the line due to budget cuts, and these are real problems that are facing our public school systems today. But the film doesn’t bother to elaborate or provide useful commentary on how public schools have gotten to this point that they will literally sanction two teachers fighting each other since the system has failed them. Now I’m not asking Fist Fight to elevate its lowbrow premise necessarily, but it seems like there could have been a funny, insightful film here had everyone involved just tried a little bit. But no, Fist Fight would rather have a running gag of how many ways students can draw dude genitalia throughout the school.

Fist Fight is a classic example of film that had no script to begin with and relied too heavily on the talent of its cast to make something happen. Well, other than the fist fight itself, nothing comes together. And as if to add insult to injury, they run every joke into the ground. It’s a shame too, because somewhere within the development of this film, there was a good movie to be made. The finished product, however, is an utter waste of time and money.

Rating: 1/4 Stars. Stay away.

Bro Commentary: The NBA Season is Over

NBA All Star Weekend, in other words, the end of the season, is finally here.

President’s Day weekend has typically been reserved for the NBA’s star-studded event where the top players of the league come together to showcase their lack of competitiveness against each other on a much broader scale. That star studded event? The NBA All Star Game/ All Star Weekend. It is also the time to make an official declaration on the NBA season: THE SEASON IS FINISHED.

Yes, there are more regular season games left to play. Playoff seeding is not set. And while you might hear the complaints of Celtics fans crying foul over PG Marcus Smart’s phantom foul on Chicago Bulls F Jimmy Butler as a deciding factor on who may get home court advantage in the playoffs, it literally doesn’t matter. The Celtics should be happy they’re even getting mentioned here. That’s not an indication of how bad I think the Celtics are, it’s an indication of just how predictable the NBA has become in recent years. There are really only 4 teams that I believe have a chance of winning the title, 75% of which hail from the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Oh, and that other team that could win that’s from the Eastern Conference? It sure as hell ain’t the Boston Celtics.

The four teams that can win the NBA title this year are as follows:

Cleveland Cavaliers: 39-16, 1st Place in the East

Why They’ll Win It All: LeBron James. ‘Nuff said. Alright, I’ll talk about the defending champions a little more here.  They’re in first place despite not having SG J.R. Smith over an extended period of time, PF Kevin Love set to miss 6 weeks due to a knee injury, and not having another play-maker as their coach, GM and franchise savior LeBron James said. All LeBron meant there was that he needs a backup point guard. Even if his wish isn’t granted, the Cavs are in prime position to not only represent the Eastern Conference again, but win the title as well. They’re the 3rd best offense in the league scoring 111 points per game, they shoot 39% from the 3 point line behind only the San Antonio Spurs (and ahead of the Golden State Warriors by the way), and they’re 10th in the league with an average of 44 rebounds per game (as legendary coach Pat Riley once eloquently stated, “No rebounds, no rings.”). Did I mention they have the greatest basketball player of our generation in LeBron James? Did I mention that?

Why They Won’t Win It All: The obvious factor to point out here is that the Cavaliers have faced numerous injury issues. Starting SG J.R. Smith hasn’t played since December 20th after breaking his wrist, and according to his twitter account, he still has “a ways to go” before he makes his return to the court. Starting PF Kevin Love is also set to miss 6 weeks due to knee surgery, a big loss since he is having his best season since joining the Cavaliers, averaging 20 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.

Now while everything I just mentioned is true, this would be glossing over the fact that the Cavs haven’t played defense since their Christmas day victory over the Warriors. They rank 15th in the league in opponents points per game, allowing them to score 106 points night in and night out. Teams are also shooting an average of 45.5% per game against them, ranking 16th in the NBA. Even more troubling is the fact that teams are also shooting from behind the arc well against them, with an average of 36.2% per game, ranking 19th in the NBA. I know we’ve just made it through what are the dog days of the NBA season, but c’mon man. You gotta stop somebody if you want to win.

Bottom Line: The Cavs will represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Once they get all of their players back healthy and actually start to play defense, there’s no one that can stop them. Oh yeah, they have LeBron. He’s the difference between you being in the NBA finals or picking in the NBA Draft lottery. Can you name another player that has ever had that kind of impact on a team? Didn’t think so.

Golden State Warriors: 47-9, 1st Place in the West

Why They’ll Win It All: The Warriors are out for vengeance after blowing a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals last year to the aforementioned Cavs, forever going down in meme history (it never gets old) and bringing no ring to the greatest regular season ever. They went out and got Benedict Arnold… I mean F Kevin Durant from the Oklahoma City Thunder, who has fit nicely with the squad averaging 25.8 points per game. They also have a healthy Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who continue to electrify the league with their three-point shooting. And of course, they have the best offense in the league once again, averaging 118.2 points per game, shooting 50.1% from the field every game, and 38.8% from behind the arc. (*Ok, that last one I mentioned is only 3rd best in the league, but you get the point.*)

Why They Won’t Win it All: Noted punk and loud mouth F Draymond Green has continued to show he hasn’t learned a damn thing since getting suspended for game 5 of the NBA Finals last year, as he has accumulated 10 technical fouls this season. If he continues his antics, he could cost the Warriors another championship.

Some will also be quick to note that the Warriors are a top defensive team in the NBA. If you look at the numbers, this is true. Opponents shoot only 43.6% per game from the field, and that number goes down to just 32.5% per game from behind the 3-point line, the best in the league. However, I believe these numbers are misleading. Teams get in trouble with the Warriors when the try to play the Warriors’ style of Basketball, leading to them hoisting shots in order to keep up with them. When you try to play Warriors basketball, you lose. If you slow the game down, play halfcourt offense and tough hard-nosed defense (*like the Cavs did last year in the Finals*), you win. It also important to note that as of now, the Warriors are only 3-5 against the Cavs, Grizzlies, Rockets, and Spurs (*1-5 against the Cavs in their last 6 if we’re getting technical*). These are all teams they could potentially face in the postseason, and they’re proven they can hang with the Warriors.

Bottom Line: The Warriors should be the favorite to make it out of the Western Conference. However, it won’t be nearly as easy for them as it has been the past 2 seasons. And if they get to the Finals, while they should be favored, LeBron James is lurking.

San Antonio Spurs: 43-13 2nd Place in the West

Why They’ll Win It All: As they do every year, the Spurs are having a great season. They are led by MVP candidate and reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year winner Kawhi Leonard, who is averaging a career best 25.9 points per game. And let’s not forget the best coach in the game, Greg Popovich, who is perhaps doing his best coaching job ever without his partner in crime, former Spurs PF Tim Duncan. He’s has successfully taken the younger players such as PF LaMarcus Aldrich (17.5 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game) and PG Patty Mills (9.7 points per game) and blended them seamlessly with old veterans PG Tony Parker (10.6 ppg), SG Manu Ginobili (7.7 ppg), and PF Pau Gasol (11.7 ppg and 7.9 rpg). They also are 1st in the NBA in 3 point field goal percentage at 40%, and 2nd in the NBA in opponents points per game at 98.4. While the offensive fire power is a new wrinkle in Popovich’s game plan, he still has the suffocating defense that can stop anyone.

Why They Won’t Win It All: They’re old. Tony Parker is 34 years old, and doesn’t have the quickness he once had. Manu Ginobili is 39 Years old. Pau Gasol is 36 years old. While Greg Popovich has done a great job in blending the old with the young on his team, the old players may not have anything left come post-season time. This may not be a measurable stat, but if you want an example of an old team that ran out of gas, look no further than last years’ Spurs. They got to the Conference Semi-Finals against a younger Oklahoma City Thunder team and had no answer for their youthfulness. While experience should be valued, it should also be seen as a hindrance as well.

Bottom Line: The Spurs are the New England Patriots of the NBA. They’re always great. They’re always around. They probably have the best shot at knocking off the Warriors atop the Western Conference, but it’s no guarantee they’ll make it that far.

Houston Rockets: 40-18, 3rd Place in the West

Why They’ll Win It All: Houston has the leading MVP candidate this season, SG James Harden. With him running the offense, he’s averaging a career best 29.2 points per game and a career best 8.3 rebounds per game. He also has the 2nd most triple-doubles in the league with 15. Head coach Mike D’Antoni, a questionable hire for the Rockets at the start of the season, has this offense firing on all cylinders, as they rank 2nd in the league in points per game at 114.4. Add in a reborn SG Eric Gordon, who is 4th in the NBA with 184 3-point field-goals made, and you’ve got an offense that can run with the Warriors.

Why They Won’t Win It All: You know when you hire Mike D’Antoni as your head coach, you’re going to get a potent offense. You should also be prepared to have an impotent defense. Houston ranks 24th in opponents points per game, allowing opponents to score 108 points every night. Teams also shoot an astounding 46.1% per game against Houston as well. There’s an old adage that says defense wins championships. Houston needs to step it up in this department, or they fall in danger of not being included in this article.

Yes, there are 26 other teams in the NBA, but none of them have a chance of winning the title this year. These are the 4 that could win. The NBA has become so calculable it has rendered its regular season meaningless. It may only be the middle of February, and the NBA season officially ends in June, but make no mistake about it. With the arrival of All Star Weekend, the NBA season is over.

Bro Commentary: The new Sports Center at Six with Michael Smith and Jemele Hill

If you haven’t cut the cord, you should do so. Now.

Let’s be real here folks, ESPN is in a desperate state of affairs right now. Cable subscribers to the primary sports destination have gone down consistently over the last year or so. Even though the network is still leaps and bounds ahead of competitors such as Fox’s FS1, the steady downfall in subscribers has ESPN scrambling for ways to get those subscribers back.

Their latest attempt is a re-imaging of the 6pm edition of their flagship program, Sports Center, with younger on air talents Michael Smith and Jemele Hill. The two have had the show/ podcast His and Hers since 2014 (the show was originally called Numbers Never Lie, but was re-branded in 2014 once it was only Smith and Hill as co-hosts), which was successful. Then, news came in October of 2016 that the two were promoted to be the new faces of the 6pm edition of Sports Center starting in February in 2017. The new edition of Sports Center not only promises to deliver us the latest news in sports, but also controversial hot-takes and pop-culture references in an attempt to gain young viewership.

Before I go any further, I should note that I was never a fan of His and Hers. The show tried to hard to be cool and hip, and I just never thought Smith and Hill had much chemistry together. However, ESPN is pushing them hard as the new faces of the network. So whether I like it or not, ESPN is going to try to make this new edition of 6pm Sports Center work for as long as they can. Knowing this, and as I always do, I turned on the SC6 (as they’re branding it) keeping an open mind.  Maybe this is what ESPN really needed, two young faces delivering sports news and opinions in a more creative way.

Now I just said that I did not like His and Hers/ Michael Smith and Jemele Hill. I now hate them. I led myself down a dark path.

Through the first couple of episodes, the format goes like this: For the first 20 minutes, Smith, with his blase’ TV presence, will give his opinion on the biggest sports stories of the day and so does Hill, with the difference being Hill stutters while giving her opinion. Then they’ll interview an in-studio guest, trying to ask questions in an informal fashion that just screams HEY WE’RE NOT LIKE THE OLD FOGEYS WHO USED TO HOST THIS HOUR OF SPORTS CENTER. They then proceed to mess around even more before getting to the last segment of the show: “Doin’ Too Much.” Here, the two once again either bungle through or nearly put you to sleep with their commentary on some of the smaller sports or pop culture stories of the day.

What I just described to you is literally His and Hers during the 6pm edition of Sports Center. Oh yeah, did I mention Michael Smith is attempting to be hip with his wardrobe by wearing a blazer with jeans and sneakers? Did I mention that?

Now call me old-fashioned, but this is not how Sports Center is supposed to be done. Sports Center is supposed to be a show that delivers the latest news in sports and then have journalists, columnists, or analysts come on to give their analysis on these topics. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the highlights. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how Sports Center is supposed to be done.

What Michael Smith and Jemele Hill are doing to Sports Center is a desecration to ESPN’s flagship program. The whole “were young and were hip” attitude and laid-back style comes off as shameless pandering to younger audiences, AKA people such as myself. But I reject this new image of Sports Center. Look, I understand what ESPN is trying to do by trying to get younger people to watch their station, but this just isn’t the way to do it. If you want a great example of how to do Sports Center in a fashion that appeals to younger audiences, look no further than the 11pm edition of the same flagship program with Scott Van Pelt. He delivers the latest news in sports, gives you highlights and interviews from the night’s games, and will give his opinion on a specific topic without coming off as someone desperately trying to fit in with the cool kids.

I despise the new SC6. I hope it flounders so much that Smith and Hill get banished back to ESPN2 doing the same crummy show so that I never have to think about changing the TV to that channel ever again. But maybe I’m being too harsh. Listen, its only the first couple of episodes. Maybe Smith and Hill can pull themselves together and deliver the new gold standard of Sports Center that not only appeals to younger audiences, but to all audiences across the globe. I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.

Bro Reviews: John Wick Chapter 2

Wick gets wicked in the sequel to the sleeper hit 2014 film.

Sequels. Most aren’t as good as their original counterparts. Examples include Batman and Robin, The Godfather Part 3, The Hangover Sequels, The Matrix sequels… the list is seemingly never-ending. But once in a blue moon we do happen to get a sequel that improves upon the first film, such as The Empire Strikes Back and The Expendables 2 (Work with me here people. You can’t deny Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Willis all on the screen firing guns at the same time wasn’t awesome). So when it was announced that there would be a sequel to the 2014 surprise hit John Wick, I had my reservations. How could you make a sequel to that cult film better? It didn’t seem possible to me. But here we are, almost 3 years after the release of the first film, John Wick: Chapter 2 has finally hit theaters.

The film picks up sometime after the first film, with legendary assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) trying lead a normal life by retiring. However, he is paid a visit by Italian crime lord Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) , who enlists Mr. Wick to perform a hit on his sister, Gianna D’ Antonio (Claudia Gerini). Her death will result in Santino taking her place at the high table, a council of top-tier crime lords. Even though Wick is bound by a maker, a blood oath between he and Santino that he took to leave the crime life in order to marry his now deceased wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan), Wick refuses. Taking matters into his own hands, Santino forces Wick into honoring the marker, or else there will be hell to pay.

Now as I said earlier, it’s a rarity for a sequel to improve upon its predecessor. It just doesn’t happen very often. I am happy to tell you John Wick: Chapter 2 does indeed buck this trend. Not only is John Wick 2 better than the original, it might even be the best film of Keanu Reeves’ long career.

John Wick: Chapter 2 enhances itself by doubling down on what we loved about the first film: the stylized action. The action sequences in this film are incredible, featuring loads of gun play. This includes another incredible shootout sequence in a club, just like the original film had. John Wick: Chapter 2 also features well filmed fist fights, namely between Wick and Gianna’s bodyguard, Cassian (Common). And more importantly, these fist fights *gasps* don’t have shaky cam. Now we know its possible people! It is not a requirement for fight scenes to have shaky cam!

It’s also important to highlight the performances in this film. While I wouldn’t call myself a Keanu Reeves fan, and there is a part of me that would love to see what Sylvester Stallone and/ or Vin Diesel would do with this role, Keanu Reeve’s performance as the title character is stellar. We not only empathize with his desire to be left alone, but also root for his character to complete the task at hand in order to abandon the assassin life. The film also features great performances from returning characters such as Winston (Ian McShane), the owner of the Continental hotel in New York, and Charon (Lance Reddick), the concierge at the Continental hotel in New York. Action fans are also in for a real treat, as the film also features terrific performances from new characters, including Julius (Franco Nero, the original Django), the owner of the Continental hotel in Rome,  and the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne, who reunites with his Matrix co-star). The introduction of these characters also expands the John Wick universe, one that is so interesting you’re almost begging for spin-off films of the origins of not only these characters, but the creation of the universe itself.

I have a lot of love for this film. That does not mean, however, it is a flawless film. The original John Wick had a run-time of 101 minutes. It was a quick, non-stop thrill ride. John Wick: Chapter 2 has a run time of 122 minutes, and while it amplifies the thrills of the first film, I couldn’t help but feel the length of the film. I don’t mind the exposition and expansion of this universe, but I just don’t feel the film needed to be so long. And while I have praised the performances of pretty much all of the actors involved here, I did feel that Ruby Rose’s character, an assassin named Ares, was a bit under utilized. She only communicates in sign language, and while this does add to the mystery of her character, why cast an actress like Ruby Rose if you aren’t going to have her speak? Especially considering she just proved herself as a competent action starlet in xXx: Return of Xander Cage, it was disappointing to not see her talents on full display.

Those complaints, however, are at worst nit-picks. Not only is John Wick: Chapter 2 one of the best sequels I’ve seen in quite some time, it’s one of the best action films I’ve seen in a while. After sitting through countless disappointing action sequels such as Taken 2 and 3, we finally have an action franchise worth our time. Keanu Reeves and director Chad Stahelski deserve credit for finally delivering it to us. And considering just how wicked John Wick: Chapter 2 gets, one can’t help but beg for there to be a John Wick: Chapter 3 sooner rather than later.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 4 Stars. Pay Full Price.

 

 

Bro Reviews: xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Vin Diesel is back in XXX: Return of Xander Cage. Does Xander bring the Diesel back to the long dormant Franchise?

Let me start of by saying that I am a Vin Diesel fan. I went and saw the box office bomb The Last Witch Hunter on the Thursday night it came out… AND I ENJOYED IT ALRIGHT!? So when it comes to the Diesel, I will go see and defend his films.

Now a lot of you are probably asking yourself, “Who the hell wanted another xXx movie?” The first xXx released in 2002 was a smash hit, grossing $144 million. Three years later, a Diesel-less sequel was released: xXx: State of the Union, with gangster rapper turned actor Ice Cube starring as the new xXx, Darius Stone. The film bombed at the box office after its release in 2005, grossing $22 million and leaving the franchise stuck in neutral. But ever since Vin Diesel revived his career with the Fast and the Furious franchise, he has always wanted to do another xXx movie (or in other words, get paid even more money). And here we are, 15 years after the first films’ release, a sequel that only I asked for.

Now I stated earlier that I will defend Diesel and his films, but I have enough sense to tell you that this sequel is completely unnecessary. The whole concept in it of itself is pretty ridiculous, even back in its original incarnation in 2002. Back then, it was a 35-year-old skateboarder/ adrenaline junkie who turned into a secret agent to clear his criminal record and save the world. Now, it’s a 50-year-old skateboarder/ adrenaline junkie who is trying to save the world. HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO OLD TO BE DOING ANY OF THIS.

My 2nd to last statement there in the last paragraph is pretty much the plot of the film, but for those who want a little bit more of an explanation, here you go (try not to laugh, I dare you). A group of skilled international individuals (Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Tony Jaa, and Michael Bisping) steal a device that controls every military satellite from the CIA called Pandora’s Box. CIA Agent Jane Marke (Toni Collete) then enlists the help of the long believed to be dead Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) to get the device back. Joining Mr. Cage are an elite sniper Adele Wolff (Ruby Rose), a vehicle daredevil Tennyson “The Torch” (Rory McCan), an awkward techie Becky Clearidge (Nina Dobrev), and a DJ that goes by Harvard “Nicks” Zhou (Kris Wu). Oh yea, Samuel L. Jackson returns as Agent Gibbons for about 5 minutes and former NFL Tight End Tony Gonzalez plays the token big bad soldier.

If you made it through that plot synopsis without laughing, good luck trying to do the same while watching this film. The film is beyond preposterous. It features some of the worst dialogue that make the Expendables films look like Oscar worthy screenplays. For instance, Diesel’s character tells Dobrev’s character that he knows mouth to mouth if she passes out due to meeting the legendary Xander Cage for the first time. Its cringeworthy. Not to mention, one of the sidekicks in the film, DJ “Nicks”, while all of the other characters are either good with weapons, vehicles, or technology, his skill is… KNOWING HOW TO THROW A PARTY. AND HE USES THIS SKILL AT ONE POINT TO HELP XANDER CAGE AVOID BEING CAUGHT BY THE VILLAINS BECAUSE IT ALL OF THE SUDDEN GETS TOO CROWDED IN THE CLUB WHERE THEY ARE LOOKING FOR THE BAD GUYS BECAUSE NO ONE CAN RESIST DANCING TO HIS MUSIC. YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS UP. Oh yeah, and if you haven’t figured out the twist by now, you’re just as dumb as this movie is.

But, once the action kicks in, you may find yourself in “The Xander Zone”, a phrase Diesel’s character utters in the first movie. And I cannot lie, I found myself in “The Xander Zone” despite how absurd this film is. For about the last hour of the film, there’s non-stop action, featuring a number of impressive action set pieces. The last action sequence takes the cake, with Diesel and Yen fighting in an aircraft while the rest of the crew engages in a shootout/ explosion fest against the villains in a warehouse, where they receive help from an unknown source (once again, its obvious who this is). If Diesel has proven anything over his career, it’s that he’s a competent action star. He’s no Stallone or Schwarzenegger (heck one could argue he’s no Steven Seagal, and yes, I know I just revealed how big of action film aficionado I am. Judge me.), but he has a physical presence on the screen, and that is what ultimately saves this film.

Make no mistake about it, xXx: Return of Xander Cage is not a good movie. It’s also not one of those *wink* *wink* action films that knows its unrealistic, this film actually thinks it’s hip and cool. But like I said earlier, I’m unapologetically a Diesel fan, and I found myself in “The Xander Zone” long enough to say I was entertained. For the general viewing public, you’ll find “The Xander Zone” mind-numbing at best. If you’re like me and can swallow a lot of ridiculousness in action films, you liked any of the first 2 xXx films, or if you’re just a bro (I mean you probably are, why else would you be on this site?), you’ll have a blast with this movie.

Rating: 3/4 Stars, Pay Matinée Price.