NBA Playoffs: Conference Semifinals Preview

Now it gets interesting.

The first round of the NBA playoffs came and went. Some teams and players shined under the spotlight and are moving on, while others perished and will now watch the rest of the playoffs from the couch. The conference semifinals got underway today, and it’s time to predict which teams will advance to the conference finals.

Eastern Conference:

1. Celtics V. 4. Wizards, Celtics lead series 1-0.

The Celtics fumbled around with the Bulls in the first round but managed to finish them off in six games due to Bulls PG Rajon Rondo suffering a thumb injury that sidelined him games three through six. The Wizards also showed signs of being unfocused in their series against the Hawks, but still managed to win the series in six games. These two teams were evenly matched in the regular season, as each team won two out of the four games they played against each other. While the Wizards’ two guard tandem of PG John Wall and SG Bradley Beal will cause headaches for the Celtics, PG Isaiah Thomas and company should be favored to advance. The Wizards are flashy, fun to watch, and have a more experienced coach in Scott Brooks. However, they are also a collection of stooges led by PF Markieff Morris, and are prone to mental lapses. The Celtics are the better, more focused team, and they will squeak by the Wizards to advance to the eastern conference finals.

Prediction: Celtics in 7

2. Cavaliers V. 3. Raptors

The Raptors are the biggest conundrum of a team we’ve ever seen in the NBA. They have all the pieces in place: a strong backcourt led by PG Kyle Lowery and SG DeMar DeRozen, a physically imposing frontcourt led by trade deadline acquisition PF Serge Ibaka and C Jonas Valanciunas, and a solid head coach in Dwane Casey. Yet when they arrive to the NBA playoffs, they can’t seem to get out of their own way. PG Kyle Lowery laid a monster of an egg in a game 1 loss against the Bucks, and the team gave us a blast from the past by scoring only 77 points in a game 3 loss. They managed to rebound and win the series in six games, but it was against a relatively inexperienced Bucks team. Sure, the Cavaliers beat the lowly Pacers by an average margin of only four points per game, but the Cavs did what the best teams in the NBA are supposed to do and swept the Pacers. And once again, this series can be summarized like so: the Cavaliers have LeBron James. The Raptors do not.

Prediction: Cavs in 5

Western Conference:

1. Warriors V. 5. Jazz

The seemingly unstoppable Warriors are going through a period of adversity in the playoffs. Sure, they swept the Trailblazers (*again, as the best teams in the NBA are supposed to do*), but head coach Steve Kerr may not coach the rest of the NBA playoffs due to chronic back pain. Assistant head coach Mike Brown will now coach the team. Mike Brown may have coached the Cavaliers to an NBA Finals appearance in 2007 and spent time as coach of the Lakers, it would be foolish to think he’s as good of a coach as Kerr and that the Warriors won’t be affected by his absence eventually. F Kevin Durant missed games 2 and 3 of the first round due to a left calf injury, the same leg he hurt earlier this season that caused him to miss twenty games. None of that really matters in the semifinals, as they will advance to their third straight western conference finals despite these hardships. The Jazz are a youthful team that’ll challenge the Warriors every game, but there’s no reason to believe they can win four out of seven against them even with all of the adversity facing the Warriors.

Prediction: Warriors in 5

2. Spurs V. 3. Rockets

Rockets F James Harden may not walk away with MVP honors this year, but his team clowned soon to be MVP Russell Westbrook and the Thunder in five games. The Rockets showcased that they are a more complete team and are still loaded offensively. The Spurs, on the other hand, took six games to dispatch an offensively challenged Grizzlies team. While everyone will praise SF Kawhi Leonard as the best two-way player remaining in the playoffs (*What about that guy LeBron James? Isn’t he pretty good?*), the Spurs are missing a key component to their formula that has led to their successful twenty year run: a dominant big man. While it would have been naive to believe PF LaMarcus Aldrige could fill the big shoes left by legendary PF Tim Duncan or even resemble hall of fame C David Robinson, he hasn’t come close to matching the production he had during his time as a Trailblazer. While the Spurs have the edge in this series due to coach Gregg Popovich’s success against Mike D’Antoni in the playoffs (*he’s 4-0 in playoff series against Mike D’Antoni coached teams*), the Spurs will need more from their max-deal big man if they want to win an NBA championship.

Prediction: Spurs in 6.

 

 

 

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Bro-Commentary: Evaluating the Raiders 2017 Regular Season Schedule

Does the 2017 schedule suggest the Raiders will maintain their commitment to excellence?

The 2017 NFL schedule has been released, and pundits everywhere are already predicting teams’ records for the upcoming season. Not so fast everyone! We haven’t even made it to the NFL Draft, so predicting how a teams’ season will play out in April is a bit premature. However, that does not mean we cannot analyze teams’ schedules based on their difficulty and how many prime-time games they will be playing. Being the Raiders fan that I am, I thought it would be engaging to assess the Oakland soon to be Las Vegas Raiders’ 2017 schedule.

Week 1: Sep 10 @ Tennessee Titans

Week 2: Sep 17 New York Jets

Week 3: Sep 24 @ Washington Redskins (Sunday Night Football)

Week 4: Oct 1 @ Denver Broncos

Week 5: Oct 8 Baltimore Ravens

Week 6: Oct 15 Los Angeles Chargers

Week 7: Oct 19 Kansas City Chiefs (Thursday Night Football)

Week 8: Oct 29 @ Buffalo Bills

Week 9: Nov 5 @ Miami Dolphins (Sunday Night Football)

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: Nov 19 New England Patriots* (Home game in Mexico City)

Week 12: Nov 26 Denver Broncos

Week 13: Dec 3 New York Giants

Week 14: Dec 10 @ Kansas City Chiefs

Week 15: Dec 17 Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night Football)

Week 16: Dec 25 @ Philadelphia Eagles (Monday Night Football)

Week 17: Dec 31 @ Los Angeles Chargers

The Raiders 2017 schedule appears to be tougher than their schedule in 2016. For starters, three out of their first four games this season are on the road. They first travel to Nashville to face the Titans week 1, go home to have their home opener against the Jets week 2, fly back east to the nation’s capital to face the Redskins on Sunday Night Football week 3, and then travel to Denver to face their division rival Broncos week 4. The Titans are a team on the rise much like the Raiders, the Redskins are tough at home, and any divisional match-up is always a war. We’ll definitely learn a lot about the Raiders within the first four weeks of the season.

The Raiders also play the NFC East, arguably one of the toughest divisions in football. All of the teams in that division had seven or more wins last year, making their 2017 campaign against the NFC more difficult than last year when they faced the lowly NFC South. Interestingly enough, three of their last five opponents are from the NFC East, as they will face the Giants at home week 13, the Cowboys at home week 15 on Sunday Night Football, and the Eagles in Philadelphia week 16 on a Christmas Day edition of Monday Night Football. This is arguably their toughest stretch of games in 2017, as they also have two road games against division rivals Chiefs and Chargers sprinkled in to end the regular season.

The Raiders also have a relatively late bye week this year, as they will play in nine regular season games before having their bye week in week 10. Personally, I prefer later bye weeks, as it gives teams a chance to rest and replenish themselves before the home stretch of the season. Additionally, their bye week comes before their most important game of the season and is also a potential AFC Championship preview: a “home” game against the reigning Super Bowl Champion Patriots in Mexico City. As wrestling legend Ric Flair once said, “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.” This game would allow the Raiders to prove themselves as the heir apparent to the AFC throne, and maybe even as the team to beat in the AFC.

Unlike previous seasons where the Raiders struggled to be featured in prime-time match-ups, the Raiders will play in five prime-time games in 2017. They will play three games on NBC’s Sunday Night Football: @ Redskins, @ Dolphins, and home against the Cowboys. They will also be featured in a mandatory CBS/ NFL Network Thursday Night Football (*aka the plague of the earth*) match-up against their division rival Chiefs, and a previously mentioned ESPN Monday Night Football Christmas Day showdown against the Eagles. After going 12-4 last season, the Raiders caught the eyes of many, resulting in them being under the spotlight more frequently in 2017.

Lastly, it would be unfathomable to talk about the Raiders’ 2017 schedule without mentioning the news of their move to Las Vegas in the near future. Not since the 1995 Cleveland Browns has a team had such high aspirations going into the season while also experiencing such a mammoth distraction during it. Of course the players will say it’s not a distraction and that they want to focus on the on the field results, that’s what they are paid to do. But one must wonder if the constant pestering of their future move to Las Vegas will play a dooming role during their season. This is especially pressing considering their final game in the Oakland Alameda Coliseum could be their biggest game of the season in a possible Super Bowl match-up against the Cowboys.

While the Raiders will face an uphill battle considering owner Mark Davis’ decision to relocate the team to Las Vegas and a tougher schedule in 2017, the Raiders will be a popular pick to win the AFC West and make it to the Super Bowl. They have the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in DE Kahlil Mack, who will look to continue his dominance. They have an explosive offense led by franchise QB Derek Carr. Whether you are a fan of them or not, there’s little doubt the Raiders will be a compelling team to watch throughout 2017.

 

 

 

Bro-Reviews: The Fate of the Furious

Remember when these movies took place on planet earth?

Flashback to June of 2001. You just walked out of a theater watching The Fast and The Furious. Then, out of nowhere, a large time portal opens up. A man with iPad comes up to you and says, “This is the future of the Fast and the Furious.” On the iPad is footage from the eighth (*yes, eighth*) Fast and Furious movie, entitled The Fate of the Furious. In this footage, you see cars falling out of buildings in New York City, that WWF guy the Rock, and a submarine attacking cars. You surely would’ve looked at that man holding an iPad and said “Yeah right!” But here we are, 16 years later, and The Fate of the Furious has pulled into theaters promising more of the adrenaline fueled action we have come to identify the series by.

The film opens in Havana, Cuba, where Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Letty Ortiz/ Toretto (Michelle Rodriguez) are enjoying their honeymoon. After sticking up for his cousin by partaking in a race, Dom is approached the next morning by a mysterious woman called Cipher (Charlize Theron). She reveals she has something on Dom that is near and dear to him, and blackmails him to join forces with her and her cyber terrorist group. After partaking in a mission with his crew and government partner Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to obtain a nuclear device, Dom turns on his family, setting the stage for the latest installment of the Fast franchise.

Let me be upfront, I am unapologetically a fan of this series (except for Tokyo Drift). I am typically the first person in line to see these over-the-top, male oriented soap opera films. But within the first five minutes of this movie, I felt a feeling I never had before: I wasn’t going to like it. The opening credits reminded more of an episode of the 1980s TV show Miami Vice more than it did a Fast and Furious movie. The set up to the first and only race in the film is so awful, and I especially rolled my eyes at a Cuban gangster’s delivery of what the people of Havana called the race they were about to partake in, “The Cuban Mile.” But during the well filmed, exciting race, a blink and you’ll miss it tribute to the late Paul Walker occurs, and reminds us that you are in fact watching a Fast and Furious movie.

The movie really doesn’t start until Charlize Theron shows up ten/ fifteen minutes in and turns Toretto into one of her own. Sure, all she really does is speechify throughout the entire movie and her motives don’t necessarily add up, but because she’s an academy award winning actress she comes across as the most sinister villain the series has ever seen. And that’s saying a lot considering Jason Statham returns as Deckard Shaw, the villain in Furious 7 who (*SPOILER*) killed Han (Sung Kang). But even in that movie you liked him because they managed to put the Transporter in this franchise, and surprisingly he comes off as the second best big name action star in this film after delivering on two thrilling action sequences. Sure, the rest of the crew hasn’t forgiven him for his past, but that’s all pushed under the rug so we can get back to the action.

Curiously, however, it’s Dwayne Johnson who feels somewhat underused in this film. This is stupefying considering in Furious 7 he gets beat up by Statham in the beginning and then shows up for the climatic battle in LA and that’s it. Sure, he’s in this movie a lot, but Statham upstages him. Matter of fact, other than the two fight sequences where he beats up all the bad guys, his most memorable scene is one where he performs a Samoan dance ritual before a little girls soccer game. On top of that, he doesn’t really share the screen with Vin Diesel at all, a puzzling decision considering it was their palpable on-screen chemistry that made the last 3 movies arguably the best of the series. This is where I come in and say the rumors of Johnson and Diesel not getting along during filming must have been true, because Johnson isn’t given much to do and why take away one of your strengths from the previous three entrees? Like I said, he has more screen time this time around than the seventh movie, but he doesn’t feel as important as he has been. Even his buddy-buddy turn teaming with Statham feels out of place.

Of course the plot centers on the godfather of this franchise, Vin Diesel, even though it doesn’t feel like he’s in the movie that much, either. However, I must applaud his decision to unwillingly be coerced into a turncoat this time around. While I was at first skeptical and said out-loud “Really? That’s why you’re with Charlize Theron?” when that big reveal happened, it’s made up for with the second part of that reveal. Now obviously no one would confuse Diesel with Marlon Brando in terms of acting prowess, but his characterization of a conflicted Toretto actually  functions well within the story, even though he’s recycling the same “it’s all about family” monologues we’ve come to know the character by.

The rest of the crew is back too, but they all fall back on their characterizations from the other movies as well. Letty is still the tough girl who hasn’t given up on Dom, Tyrese Gibson reprises his role as Jar Jar Binks/ Roman Pierce, Tej (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) and Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) are the computer geniuses of the group, and Kurt Russell’s Mr. Nobody is one eye patch away from turning into Snake Plissken from Escape From New York and Escape From LA.

None of that matters, as it all takes a back seat to the action. Director F. Gary Grey (Straight Outta Compton, The Italian Job) does a marvelous job staging and shooting the action sequences, which of course are nosier and more epic in scale than the last film. You get a wrecking ball wrecking cars. You get a huge prison riot. You get cars creating carmaggedon in New York City. You get a submarine. It feels like with every passing Fast and Furious movie there’s an obligation to out-do the previous one without totally jumping the shark (*I mean, they did that in the last one by flying cars out of planes and between buildings*), and that’s exactly what Fate does. At this rate the Fast and Furious movies aren’t really action movies anymore, they’re theme-park rides. And as a fan of this series, the dumber and more preposterous it gets, the more fun I have with them, and Fate does not disappoint. In the next two films, I predict they finally crossover with the Transformers franchise by calling it TransFurious and then go to outer space.

However, I cannot neglect to mention the absence of Paul Walker’s Brian O’Conner. He and his wife Mia (Jordana Brewster) are mentioned in the film, and its pretty cool they get to live on in the Fast universe. But it’s The Fate of the Furious that made me finally understand what his role was in the other films: he was the glue of the team. The levelheaded, non-testosterone induced male character that kept everyone together. Sure, this film gets by just fine without him, but one can only wonder now what The Fate of the Furious would’ve been like had the actor not tragically died in a car wreck back in November of 2013.

And now for the all-important question: where does Fate rank in the series? Personally, I think it overtakes the first film and comes in third place. A more compelling Dominic Torreto, a fabulous turn from Statham, and even more epic action makes Fate another winning entry in the Fast franchise. Not to mention the fact that the series is now a full-fledged soap opera with the inclusion of an academy award winning actresses’ new character not named Charlize Theron and inclusion and even resurrection of characters you forgot were even in the series.

Most people would think sixteen years and eight movies later that the Fast and Furious franchise is running on reserve fuel. That there’s no way there could be two more films coming out within the next four years. Judging by the events that take place in The Fate of the Furious, this franchise has plenty of gas left in the tank.

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars. Pay Full Price.

NBA Playoffs: 1st Round Predictions

The first round of the NBA Playoffs is set. Who will win, and who will go home?

I famously declared the NBA season over by the All Star Break. Since then, however, the Golden State Warriors struggled against and then pummeled their competition after F Kevin Durant’s knee injury. At the same time, LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers experienced a funk of their own, resulting in them falling to the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Will this be enough to derail the highly anticipated third NBA Finals match up between the Cavs and the Warriors? We’ll get to that soon enough, but for now, here are my predictions for the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs.

Western Conference:

1.Warriors V. 8. Blazers.

Result: Warriors in 5

The Blazers got off to a slow start for the second consecutive year but once again got hot in the second half of the season to squeak their way into the playoffs. The reward for Damien Lillard (27 PPG, 5.9 APG), CJ McCollum (23 PPG) and company? A first round exit against the title favorite Warriors.

2. Spurs V. 7. Grizzlies.

Result: Spurs in 5

Remember back in the 2011 playoffs when the eight-seeded Grizzlies shocked the world and took down the one-seeded Spurs in six games? That was the pinnacle of the Zach Randolph led rough and tough Grizzlies. Grizzlies fans will always have that memory to cling on to. The only memory they’ll have of this series is how quickly Spurs MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard (25.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG) and legendary Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will mop up the floor with the Grizzlies’ jerseys.

3. Rockets V. 6.Thunder.

Result: Rockets in 7

The two leading players in the MVP race collide with Mr. Triple-Double Russell Westbrook (31.6 PPG, 10.4 APG, 10.7 RPG) representing the Thunder and James Harden (29.1 PPG, 11.2 APG, 8.1 RPG) representing the Rockets. It’s easily the most compelling series in the first round, and will decided who the real MVP of the NBA is once and for all. However, it will be Harden’s supporting cast, namely Sixth Man of the Year candidates SG Eric Gordon (16.2 PPG) and PG Lou Williams (17.5 PPG), who will help the Rockets eek out a trip to the western conference semi-finals.

4. Clippers V. 5. Jazz.

Result: Jazz in 7.

Most people can’t name a single starter from the Jazz. At the same time, we are perennially reminded of how desperate the Clippers are to be the kings of LA. Well Lob City will once again choke away a chance to advance in the playoffs, as Gordon Hayward (*there’s one starter, 21.9 PPG*), Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert (*hey, another one, 14 PPG, 12.8 RPG, 2.6 BLKPG*), and the rest of the up-start Utah Jazz will defeat the insufferable LA Clippers. Then we will once again hear from Clippers coach Doc Rivers how his team would’ve won the championship had they won in the first round, because the Clippers are that delusional.

Eastern Conference:

1.Celtics V. 8. Bulls

Result: Celtics in 6.

The Celtics are a surprise number one seed in the East. Led by PG/ little big man Isaiah Thomas (28.9 PPG, 5.9 APG), the Celtics are the overachievers of the NBA this year. But remember, this group of players representing the NBA’s historically marquee franchise have never won a playoff series together. While Thomas will be enough to get the C’s past an aging, dysfunctional Bulls team, Bulls SF Jimmy Butler (23.9 PPG, 5.5 APG, 6.2 RPG) is capable of making this a series, and old man SG Dwyane Wade (18.3 PPG) will want to give Chicago fans something to smile about before the Cubs win the World Series again this year.

2. Cavaliers V. 7. Pacers

Result: Cavs in 4.

Sure, the Cavs have experienced a funk the second half of this season. Yes, Pacers SF Paul George (23.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG) can turn up the heat come playoff time. But this series can be summed up like so: One team has LeBron James (26.4 PPG, 8.7 APG, 8.6 RPG). The other does not.

3. Raptors V. 6. Bucks

Result: Raptors in 6.

The Raptors have one of the best backcourts in the NBA in SG DeMar DeRozen (27.3 PPG) and PG Kyle Lowery (22.4 PPG, 7 APG). Their decision to acquire PF Serge Ibaka (14.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.6 BLKPG) was the best decision made by an NBA GM all year. But when it comes to the playoffs, the Raptors seem to stumble in the spotlight. They’ll waver against Jason Kidd’s gritty Bucks team, led by the “Greek Freak” PF Giannis Antetokounmpo (22.9 PPG, 8.8 RPG), but their home-court advantage in the Air-Canada Centre will carry them into the eastern conference semifinals.

4.  Wizards V. 5. Hawks

Result: Wizards in 6.

Largely an afterthought for most of this season, the Atlanta Hawks closed their season by defeating the top two seeds in the eastern conference three times, beating the Celtics once and clowning the Cavs twice. They’re peaking at the right time. However, the playoff futility for the city of Atlanta will continue, as PG John Wall (23.1 PPG, 10.7 APG) and SG Bradley Beal (23.1 PPG) of the Wizards will be too much for the Hawks to handle. But look on the bright side Atlanta, at least the Hawks won’t blow a 28-3 lead like the Falcons did in Super Bowl LII.

 

Bro-Commentary: Ranking the Fast and the Furious Films

The Fast and the Furious film series is the greatest soap opera to ever grace the silver screen. It all started sixteen years ago with the low budget Point Break-esque rip-off The Fast and The Furious. This Friday, the eighth (*you heard that right, there are eight of these movies*) and latest chapter in the macho-fueled franchise hits theaters. Being the fan that I am of these films, I thought it would be appropriate to look back and rank the films from worst to best before the next installment crashes into theaters. This is easier said than done, seeing as on any given day, my ranking of these films could change. But for the sake of this post, here’s how the films stack-up:

7. The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift

The third only film in the series that focuses solely on street racing, The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift is unequivocally the worst in the Fast franchise. For some incomprehensible reason, it has become popular to say Tokyo Drift is a genius film and one of the best the series has to offer. These people should be smacked in the mouth for saying something so blasphemous. The film is responsible for the franchises’ unnecessarily complex timeline in an attempt to make it disappear from the series. None of the original or 2nd movie casts appear save for a Vin Diesel cameo at the very end, prompting audiences everywhere to ignore the film. In fact, the film performed so poorly at the box office that Universal was going to turn the series into a direct-to-DVD franchise. Any film in a film series that nearly manages to wreck it to the point a major film studio would turn any follow-ups into direct to video releases is deserving of last place. But hey, the titular song “Tokyo Drift” is still a banger.

6. 2 Fast 2 Furious

Anytime you’ve been in a car with someone attempting to drive like the stunt drivers in the movies, you’ve screamed out 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS since it’s so catchy. The 2nd film features Paul Walker returning as Brian O’Conner, substitutes singer/actor Tyrese Gibson for Vin Diesel, and travels to a new location in Miami, Florida. Oh yeah, males everywhere developed fantasies for the scorching female lead Eva Mendes upon watching it as well. 2 Fast 2 Furious also has the distinction of being the greatest homoerotic action movie of all time, as the bromance between Diesel and Walker in the first film is traded for near romance whenever Walker and Gibson appear on screen, which is practically the whole movie. 2 Fast 2 Furious is a fun action movie with a killer soundtrack, but something about having the film Diesel-less makes it not feel like a true sequel to the first film.

5. Fast and Furious

The film that single-handedly saved the franchise from straight-to-video hell, Fast and Furious reunites the original cast to help jump-start and reboot the series. It was the first film that left audiences asking “Wait, weren’t these movies about street racing?”, as only one race occurs in the film. That didn’t matter, as the movie reminded us of why we loved the first film. The bromance between Diesel and Walker is on full display, and upping the ante with the exhilarating action sequences breathed new life into the franchise. It also took the franchise into the direction we have grown accustomed to: a global action thrill ride.

4. Fast and Furious 6

The title itself would suggest the franchises’ please refuel light has gone on, but the events that unfold in Fast and Furious 6 demonstrate the exact opposite. When it comes to the sixth installment, bigger is definitely better, as the action gets larger in scale and even more ridiculous. It also gave birth to the idea that the heroes and heroines in the film are the Avengers. One outstanding example of this theory is when Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretto surfs on a vehicle, crashes it, catches an air-borne Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty Ortiz mid-air, crashes into the windshield of a car, and brushes it off like it’s nothing. It also sets the stage for the seventh film, where it is revealed (*SPOILER*) that the transporter himself Jason Statham was the man responsible the death of crew member Han (Sung Kang) in Tokyo Drift. Fast and Furious 6 does drag a bit in the middle, but it’s an effective sequel that showcases the franchise ever-growing big budget thrills.

3.The Fast and the Furious

 The one that started it all. As mentioned earlier, The Fast and the Furious was just another knockoff of one of the most overrated action films of all time. Somehow, however, the chemistry between Vin Diesel and Paul Walker captivated audiences. We bought into Dominic Toretto’s bravado and sentiment of family above everything else. The street races made everyone want to turn into the low-level street racers we saw on screen. Back in 2001, no one could have ever imagined that this low-budgeted action-thriller would birth one of the most high-octane movie franchises of all time, but for its time, it was a thrilling ride that turned Vin Diesel into a bona fide star.

2. Fast Five

 The fifth installment of the series saw every hero from the first four films (minus Lucas Black, because of the asinine timeline) reunite to pull off an Ocean’s Eleven-esque heist in Rio de Janeiro. It also added Dwayne Johnson (also known as The Rock in his WWE days) as Luke Hobbs into the mix as a formidable opponent to Toretto and the gang. The action sequences, including a bank safe wrecking the city of Rio de Janeiro and an epic fight between Diesel and Johnson, took the series to new unforeseen heights. The result? A testosterone-fueled slugfest that resulted in critics finally embracing the action franchise. It’s the second best sequel of the bunch, and arguably the best the series has to offer.

1.Furious 7

Furious 7 is the pinnacle of the Fast and the Furious movies. The heroes fly cars out of planes. They fly cars through buildings. Vin Diesel literally becomes the Hulk and stomps his foot to make a parking structure crater to the ground. Its action is completely preposterous. But it’s the emotional resonance that makes Furious 7 the best above the rest. During the middle of filming, Paul Walker unexpectedly died in a car crash. The franchise was at a crossroads: would they stop filming and scrap the franchise? Or would they carry-on? Universal decided to finish filming, though massive re-writes had to occur. The final scenes with (*SPOILER*) Walker’s O’Conner retiring from the game with a Diesel narrated tribute to Walker and the tearjerker song of the century “See You Again” brought me to tears. Yes, I’m an overly invested fan in the series, but even the most cynical of people have to admit it was a heartfelt tribute. All of these elements make Furious 7 the best of the Fast Franchise. Whether The Fate of the Furious can match it remains to be seen, but it has quite the act to follow.

Bro-Commentary: The Kendall Jenner Pepsi Commercial

Everyone cue the social justice warrior soapbox speech alarm.

In a desperate attempt to prove that they are hip and understand millennials, Pepsi released a “cultural” commercial featuring Kendall Jenner demonstrating the wonders Pepsi can do during a protest. While Skip Marley’s mind-numbing song “Lions” plays in the background, the commercial sees an Asian musician and a woman wearing a hijab noticing a protest occurring outside and decide to join. A model (Kendall Jenner) in the middle of a photo-shoot also notices the protest and is encouraged by the Asian musician to join. Upon joining, the model goes to the front lines of the protest with a can of Pepsi. After receiving a pound-it from a black man, the model gives a can of Pepsi to a white police officer, who sips it and smiles.

Lets say this up front. This is a bad commercial. From the woman in the hijab screaming in frustration due to her seemingly inadequate photos all the way to the music in the background, it’s a vapid commercial. Pepsi tried so desperately to appeal to millennials in this commercial in an effort to say we understand you and your frustrations. Unsurprisingly, millennials and social justice warriors rejected and protested the commercial, leading Pepsi to pull the ad completely.

In a statement Wednesday, the soda company said, “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and apologize”. They went on to say, “We did not intend to make light of any serious issue. We are pulling the content and halting any further rollout.”

Not to use it as a qualifier to have an opinion on the matter, but as a bi-racial man who has experienced his fair share of discrimination, I too had a reaction to this video. However, this is where I dissent from my generation and the social justice warriors of the world, because I wasn’t offended by the commercial. I view it as a dumb advertisement for soda with a foolish message: a can of Pepsi can solve all of the worlds’ problems. Now while many see the video as having this message, most of the social justice warriors’ anger I believe is pointed towards one person: Kendall Jenner.

Now in no way am I defending a Kardashian/ Jenner, as Kendall Jenner is a spoiled brat who has never experienced a hardship, let alone discrimination, a day in her life. I believe most of the hate towards this video is because in the climatic moment she is the one who is seemingly trivializing “Black Lives Matter” protestor Ieshia Evens’ moment in which she was arrested during a peaceful protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Kendall Jenner didn’t write the commercial. Pepsi did. While many have turned their attention to Pepsi and have criticized them, I still believe most of the displeasure is going towards Jenner. She is a model/ actor collecting a paycheck. Maybe she does have such an inflated ego to the point she believes she could be the face of solving all of the worlds’ problems, but I highly doubt it.

However, why are we so upset at a commercial for soda? As I stated earlier, it’s not a good commercial at all. But Pepsi if had done this commercial in the 80s with Cindy Crawford, most people would have the same reaction as mine and moved on. But in today’s overly political climate, it seems as if everyday social justice warriors go out of their way to find something to whine about, and Pepsi’s foolish commercial is their next victim. This commercial is a nothing, and getting worked up about it showcases my generations’ ability to over-politicize even the most insignificant of topics and its inability to let them go.

On a side note, I do wonder what the reaction towards the video would’ve been had the climatic moment featured someone else other than a Kardashian/ Jenner. Most of us agree they as out of touch with society as they come, and we dislike them because of it. (*Yet we still tune in to their shows, buy their products, and use their emojis everyday.*) What if the commercial had featured someone like Beyoncé Knowles, someone who we not only adore, but link to the Black Lives Matter movement/ view as a proponent of change? In my estimation, this controversy wouldn’t have happened. We would have applauded Pepsi for creating such an edgy, socially conscious advertisement commenting on the world today. We would sing nothing but praise for Beyoncé, yet again rewarding her with adoration for collecting a paycheck. But because the commercials’ climatic moment features a person we dislike, the millennials/ social justice warriors reacted with rage.

At the end of the day, Pepsi’s now pulled-ad is nothing but a trivial piece of advertising. It should have been met with a chorus of laughter due to its ludicrous message. But once again, millennials and social justice warriors didn’t disappoint with their overreaction to such an inane commercial, and our reputation of being overly sensitive will continue to plague us if we continue to focus our anger on inconsequential items such as a commercial for soda.

 

Bro- Commentary: The Legacy of Tony Romo

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo appears to have called it a career, leaving behind a successful career and a complex legacy.

Somewhere Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Dak Prescott are breathing a sigh of relief. Dallas Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones, on the other hand, is more than likely weeping whilst uttering “I wish I knew how to quit you.”

When news today broke from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has chosen to retire and more than likely replace Phil Simms as the top analyst for CBS (*somewhere, NFL fans are praising the lord with hallelujas*), many people began to ask this question: what is Tony Romo’s legacy?

Tony Romo fans and apologists will say he had quite the career considering his humble beginnings as an undrafted quarterback from Eastern Illinois. He signed a contract with the Dallas Cowboys and three years later was thrust into the fray of the NFL in a Monday Night Football showdown with the New York Giants after then Cowboys starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe struggled. Once Romo entered the game, he never looked back, as he remained the starting quarterback from 2006 through 2015. He went on to throw for 34,183 yards, 248 Touchdowns, 117 Interceptions, and a passer rating of 97.1. He is the Cowboys all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns over Cowboys hall of fame quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. His career passer rating is fourth highest in NFL history, and has one of the highest fourth quarter passer ratings in NFL history. Considering the evidence, Tony Romo not only over-achieved during his career, one could say he dominated. His legacy should be he was best in the world at what he does. But what these stats don’t show you, however, is the truth. Tony Romo is a choker.

Flashback to 2006, where the Cowboys faced the Seattle Seahawks in the wildcard round. Down 21-20, the Cowboys were in position to kick the go-ahead field goal with just over a minute left in the game. Tony Romo was the place holder for the kick. When the ball was snapped, Romo couldn’t handle the snap, attempted to run into the end-zone, but was tackled before scoring. The Romo apologists would say as a starting quarterback, Romo shouldn’t had been in that position. It was his job at the start of the season, it was his job to that point. Romo literally dropped the ball.

Fast forward to the 2007 Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs, where the Cowboys played at home against the New York Giants. The Cowboys went 13-3 that year and won the NFC East. They had dominated the Giants that season, defeating them in both meetings. The Cowboys had should-be hall of fame wide receiver Terrell Owens, future hall of fame tight end Jason Witten, running back Marion Barber, a team most quarterbacks would win a Super Bowl with. The Cowboys lost 21-17. Romo, however, threw a soul crushing interception in the back of the end-zone on 4th down and 11 with 17 seconds left in the game, finishing the day throwing 18-36 for 201 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Well in that case Romo had to go for it all, right? The game was on the line, and unfortunately Romo just didn’t get it done.

Many, including myself, said 2008 would be the Cowboys year to right the wrongs 2006 and 2007. The team remained in tact, and added new players such as wide receiver Roy Williams and troubled defensive stars Adam “Pacman” Jones and Tank Johnson. However, in the regular season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles, a game in which the winner punched their ticket into the postseason and the loser would be watching the playoffs from their couch, Romo once again didn’t bother to show up. Romo went 21-39 for a paltry 183 yards and 1 INT, fumbled twice and both were returned for touchdowns, as the Cowboys were ran out of town with a final score of 44-6. There’s no defending Romo here. His epic collapse didn’t end there, however, as he supposedly collapsed in the shower after the game.

In 2009, Romo appeared to get over the hump, as the Cowboys finished 11-5 and won the NFC East. Romo won his first career playoff game in a 34-14 romp over the same Philadelphia Eagles that rocked them the previous year. Romo threw for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns. Romo finally won his first playoff game, and the Cowboys seemed primed for a deep playoff run. Those sentiments were met with a thunderous thud the next week, as Romo and the Cowboys were dominated by the Brett Favre led Minnesota Vikings 34-3. Romo threw for a meager 198 yards, 1 INT and fumbled. Once again, Romo couldn’t lead his team to win “the big one”.

Skip to 2011, where the Cowboys were once again in a win and in, lose and go home situation against the New York Giants on the road. The Cowboys fell behind 21-0 and didn’t score until the third quarter. While Romo manged to make up for an earlier interception by throwing 2 touchdowns to make the game 21-14, the Giants ultimately prevailed 31-14. Sure, the statisticians will argue Romo went 29-37 for 289 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT, but the Cowboys were never quite in the game, and Romo once again went home failing to deliver.

2012 presented the same stipulation for the Cowboys, this time on the road against the Robert Giffin III led Washington Redskins. Winner wins the NFC East and goes to the playoffs. The loser goes home. Romo once again choked the opportunity away, going 20-37 for an inadequate 218 yards, 2 TDs and 3 INTs in a 28-18 loss.

Six times did Romo have the chance to become a legend in Cowboys lore by leading his team to the Super Bowl. Six times he gagged. The seventh and closest time Romo ever got to winning a Super Bowl was in 2014, when the Dallas Cowboys went 12-4 and lost to the Green Bay Packers in the still hotly debated Dez Bryant catch or no catch game. Romo then went on to become more injury prone, as he played-in just 5 games over the next two seasons due to collar-bone and back injuries.

Romo’s career trajectory defied expectations. Most drafted quarterbacks haven’t accomplished even a fraction of what Romo managed to during his career. In the regular season, Romo was at his best. When it came to clutch situations, however, Romo failed to live up to his so-called elite billing.

Tony Romo leaves behind a complex legacy. In a sport where quarterbacks are measured by the amount of championships they’ve won and how clutch they were, we seem to give Romo a pass. We looks at his statistics and proclaim him great, one of the best and most talented the NFL has ever seen. Upon further review, however, Romo may have been wondrous in the regular season, but when it came to clutch situations, he was anything but. Not only has he never won a Super Bowl, his 2 career playoffs wins are in wild-card playoff games. If that qualifies for elite, then the standard to become an elite quarterback has been significantly lowered. He has more regular season finale win-or- go home losses than playoff wins. He is 2-4 in his playoff career. Romo should be remembered as an imposter. A quarterback that when presented with a situation that could have defined him as a legend, he crumbled under the pressure.