Bro-Picks: NFL Week 7 Predictions

Time for the 2-minute drill at the end of the first half of the NFL season.

We’ve reached the 2-minute warning of the first half of the NFL season. So far, one would be hard-pressed to say their is a clear favorite to win the Super Bowl.

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles may sit atop of the NFL, but have yet to establish themselves as powerhouses. Teams like the Los Angeles Rams and the Buffalo Bills have been pleasant surprises, but their early season success might not last heading into the second half of the season.

Meanwhile, teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders were believed to be primed to take the next step towards title contention, but have stumbled through the first half of the season. Then there are the Cleveland Browns and the San Francisco 49ers, who are in a race for the number 1 pick in the NFL Draft and might not win a game this year.

There’s enough time left in the first half of the NFL season for these teams to score and get themselves on the track towards Minneapolis for Super Bowl 52, but they’ll need to execute the two minute drill to perfection in order to do so.

Last Week: 5-9

Overall: 47-44

Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders (Thursday Night Football)

The Raiders have fallen well short of their Super Bowl expectations, and the once dynamic offense has struggled under the guidance of first year offensive coordinator Todd Downing. This is a must win game for the silver and black, but with the Chiefs coming to town off an embarrassing home loss, it may be time for the Raiders to make off-season plans starting in early January.

Winner: Chiefs

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills

Tampa Bay QB James Winston is ailing, and the Buccaneers haven’t taken the next step as many thought they would. It might be time to start taking the Bills seriously.

Winner: Bills

 

Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears

Bears RB Jordan Howard gave us a blast from the past with his 36 carries for 167 yards performance against the Ravens. But the Bears seem to only be beating AFC North teams this year, with their only other win coming against the Steelers. Last time I checked, the Panther play in the NFC South.

Winner: Panthers

 

Lock of the Week: Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns

Well Cleveland, you still have LeBron.

Lock of the Week Winner: Titans

 

New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers

The Packers season is all but finished with QB Aaron Rodgers out for most of if not the rest of the season due to a broken collarbone. The once putrid Saints defense seems to be finding their grove, and that’s without QB Drew Bree’s playing exceptionally well.

Winner: Saints

 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts

The AFC South is a battle of ineptitude at this point, and it doesn’t look like Colts AB Andrew Luck is coming back this season due to a shoulder injury. Jacoby Brissett has done a fine job fillinf in for Luck, and the Jaguars should strongly consider making a play for Brissett if they want to be considered true contenders.

Winner: Jaguars

 

Upset of the Week: Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams

Saints head coach Sean Payton owes RB Adrian Peterson an apology. He still has plenty in the tank, running for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns on 26 carries last week in a win over the Bucs. The more of the load Peterson can take off of QB Carson Palmer’s shoulders, the better off the Cardinals will be.

Upset of the Week Winner: Cardinals

 

New York Jets at Miami Dolphins

Somehow, both of these teams are still in the race for the AFC East division title heading into Week 7. In a division that’s currently wide open, both of these teams need to win in order to keep pace for the division crown.

Winner: Dolphins

 

Baltimore Ravens at Minnesota Vikings

A golden opportunity has arisen for the Vikings now that Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is out. And the Ravens lost to Mitchell Trubisky at home last week. Yikes.

Winner: Vikings

 

Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers

The C. J. Beathard era is officially underway in San Francisco (* Santa Clara, because Jed York*). It doesn’t matter who plays at QB for the 49ers, they stink. The Cowboys may be going through more twists and turns than The Young and the Restless with the Ezekiel Elliott soap opera, but they will to thrive off of dysfunction this week against a team that could be staring at an 0-11 record before their first winnable game.

Winner: Cowboys

 

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers

You can’t quite get a grip on the Steelers. One week they look like Super Bowl contenders, the next week they look like pretenders. Bet on the former this week in a heated divisional match-up at home.

Winner: Steelers

 

Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers are on a winning streak, and the Broncos laid an egg last week on Sunday Night Football. Which of these teams show up is as unpredictable as to what President Donald Trump will tweet next.

Winner: Broncos

 

Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants

The Giants finally got their first win of the season sans WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall against a good Broncos defense. They won’t have the same luck this week against the legion of boom.

Winner: Seahawks

 

Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots (Sunday Night Football)

Just in case a Patriots fan or Mark Wahlberg  hasn’t reminded you, the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl 51 against the Patriots. Last week, just ahead of their Super Bowl 51 re-match, the Falcons blew a 17-0 lead against the Dolphins. If that isn’t an ominous sign of what’s to come, then what is?

Winner: Patriots

 

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles

The NFC East is always a brutal division, and this week features a key match-up that will put the winner in good playoff standing. The Redskins need this game more to avoid being 0-2 in the division, QB Carson Wentz has the Eagles flying high, and they’re going to be tough to ground.

Winner: Eagles

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NBA Season Preview

It’s the Warriors’ world, everyone else is just living in it.

With the start of the 2017-2018 NBA season upon us, every fan has the hope and dream that their team can ascend to the top of the league and be crowned as NBA champions. If the last three seasons are any sort of indication, that’s wishful thinking at best. There’s no doubt the Golden State Warriors are the team to beat, but it would be unwise to say the Western Conference didn’t get a little more interesting after an off season that resembled the wild wild west.

In the Eastern Conference, it’s still LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers sitting at the top of the mountain. However, even the king and his soldiers look beneath them and see a potential rising power in the otherwise lowly Eastern Conference.

Here’s how the conferences will finish when it’s all said and done.

Western Conference

1. Warriors 67-15

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A team that steamrolled through the playoffs last season en route to an NBA championship managed to retain all of their key players and add more depth to their bench. It’s not fair.

2. San Antonio Spurs 60-22

Gregg Poppovich is still coaching, and they’ve got an MVP candidate in Kawhi Leonard returning from injury. The off season acquisition of Rudy Gay will also help this squad as well.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder 55-27

The combination of last season’s MVP PG Russell Westbrook and all-stars Carmelo Anthony and Paul George gives them enough offensive fire-power to hang with the best the NBA has to offer. It’ll be on coach Billy Donovan to manage these 3 big personalities.

4. Houston Rockets 53-29

Head coach Mike D’Antoni will have his hands full trying to manage ball dominant guards James Harden and Chris Paul. There isn’t much reason to believe this relationship will work or last, but their talent alone keeps them at the top of the conference.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves 51-31

The popular pick to make headway in the Western Conference this season, there’s no doubt a starting lineup that contains superstars Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, and Andrew Wiggins should help catapult this team to new heights. Maybe not as high as their 2003-2004 season when they appeared in the Western Conference Finals, but higher than they’ve been in over a decade.

6. Los Angeles Clippers 44-38

Yes, losing PG Chris Paul hurts, but they’ve got PGs Patrick Beverly and Lou Williams to fill in for him. They also still have PF Blake Griffin, C DeAndre Jordan, and a good head coach in Doc Rivers who finally gave up his head of basketball operations hat to the logo, Jerry West. They’re no longer title contenders, but they’re good enough to be in the playoff discussion.

7. Portland Trailblazers 41-41

PG Damian Lillard and SG C.J. McCollum have enough firepower to keep this team around the .500 mark, but they’re going to need a mid-season acquisition if they want to rise from the bottom of the playoff picture.

8. New Orleans Pelicans 40-42

The twin towers combo of PF Anthony Davis and C DeMarcus Cousins didn’t excel last year. However, having a full off season under their belts and the additions of defensive stopper SG Tony Allen and a once healthy PG Rajon Rondo should be enough to sneak into the postseason.

9. Sacramento Kings 38-44

The off season additions of  SG Vince Carter, PF Zach Randolph, and PG George Hill along with Rookie of the Year candidate PG De’Aaron Fox will make the Kings a compelling watch. However, can a dysfunctional front office led by GM Vlade Divac and owner Vivek Ranadivé finally stay out of the way? More than likely not.

10. Denver Nuggets 37-45

They’ve got offensive firepower, averaging 111 points per game last season. But if they’re expecting an aging PF in Paul Milsap to be the difference between them making the playoffs and them missing the playoffs, they might be in for a rude awakening.

11. Los Angeles Lakers 35-47

There’s a buzz to this team with the arrival of Rookie of the year candidate PG Lonzo Ball, but will his father, LaVar Ball, be too much of a distraction for the big baller? Also, if you think the off season additions like C Brook Lopez and SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will help you get into the playoffs, you’re living in LA LA Land.

12. Memphis Grizzlies 34-48

There’s always been a grittiness and toughness about the Memphis Grizzlies the last decade or so, but that’s nearly gone with the departures of PF Zach Randolph and SG Tony Allen. Sure, they’ve still got a solid PG in Mike Conley Jr. and a superstar in C Marc Gasol, but losing the heart and soul of your team is nothing short of crippling. Take that for data.

13. Utah Jazz 33-49

Losing SF Gordon Hayward hurt this team immensely. They still have a rising star in C Rudy Gobert and a good coach in Quin Synder, but this will be a down year for the team in the wake of recent success.

14. Dallas Mavericks 32-50

They have a Rookie of the Year candidate in PG Dennis Smith Jr., but as the Dirk Nowitzki era winds down, their best offensive play is SF Harrison Barnes. Let that sink in. Mark Cuban will be spending more time on Shark Tank this year.

15. Phoenix Suns 26-56

Potential Rookie of the Year candidate SF Josh Jackson may showcase his talent enough to suggest the future is bright in Phoenix, but he’s also the guy who called Stephen Curry “Small and unathletic.” After an idiotic statement like that, maybe the future isn’t as bright as the Suns hope.

Eastern Conference

1. Cleveland Cavaliers 54-28

Despite all the drama surrounding the Cavaliers this off season and the rumors that coach, GM, and best player in the world LeBron James is bolting his hometown for the Lakers next year, the Cavaliers’ additions of SG Dwayne Wade, SF Jae Crowder, and PG Isaiah Thomas (*once he’s healthy*) keeps them at the top of the East. Plus, LeBron is not going to let Kyrie Irving beat him, especially with another shot at the Warriors on the line.

2. Boston Celtics 52-30

Sure, the off season acquisitions of SF Gordon Hayward and PG Kyrie Irving make the Celtics more appealing on paper, but for a team that was the number one seed in the East last year to have only 4 returning players from the previous year is troubling. They’re definitely the future best team in the Eastern Conference, but they’re not getting past the King.

3. Washington Wizards 50-32

The dynamic guard duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal is enough to keep this team at the top of the East, but paying SF Otto Potter Jr $106.5 million is ridiculous. It makes you wish you were an average NBA player, you’d be financially set for life.

4. Toronto Raptors 48-34

Why PG Kyle Lowry decided to stay in Toronto is puzzling, as the Raptors aren’t nearly as good as they were 2 years ago when they made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. When SF C.J. Miles is your best pickup of the off season, that should be an indication of how appealing of a destination Toronto is to free agents.

5. Milwaukee Bucks 46-36

SF Giannis Antetokounmpo, otherwise known as “The Greek Freak”, is a superstar that can carry the Bucks back into the spotlight. The development of PG Malcolm Brogdon and a healthy PF Jabari Parker can only further this team’s chances of obtaining relevancy.

6. Miami Heat 44-38

Even after a disastrous 11-30 first half of the season last year, head coach Erik Spoelstra was able to turn SG Dion Waiters into the go-to offensive threat en route to a .500 record. Add in PF Kelly Olynyk, and the Heat should find themselves back in the playoffs.

7. Charlotte Hornets 41-41

Yes, C Dwight Howard is not the player he once was, but he’s a big acquisition for a team that allowed 106 points per game last year. If he doesn’t get his act together, owner Michael Jordan may have to suit up for one practice to relive his glory days of punching teammates during scrimmages.

8. Detroit Pistons 40-42

While the Palace of Auburn hills is no longer the Piston’s home, new life will be breathed into this franchise with the opening of their new arena, Little Caesars Arena. Off season moves such as acquiring SG Avery Bradley adds toughness and grit to the team, something that’s been missing from Detroit to help them back into the playoffs.

9. Philadelphia 76ers 38-44

Yes, they have a lot of young talent in red shirted rookie PG Ben Simmons, rookie PG Markelle Fultz, and the recently turned 148 million dollar man C Joel Embiid. But it’s not yet the time for the “trust the process” montra to make its way into the playoffs.

10. Orlando Magic 36-46

If you really think about it, the Magic aren’t that much better than they were last season, particularly when you account for the fact their biggest signing of the summer was SF Jonathan Simmons. But since other teams have gone into full re-build mode, they’re able to ascend the ranks and avoid the dregs of the East.

11. Indiana Pacers 33-49

No Paul George spells rebuild for the Pacers. PF Myles Turner’s development will be key for the Pacers’ future success, but even former GM Larry Bird didn’t want to stick around to see just how boring a development that might be.

12. New York Knicks 30-52

The Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony eras (*or errors depending how you look at them*) mercilessly came to an end this off season. But removing 2 problems doesn’t mean you’ve found a solution. PF Kristaps Porzingis may be a unicorn and a superstar, but he can’t do everything all by himself.

13. Atlanta Hawks 25- 57

It’s puzzling as to why the Hawks have decided to tank. Sure, they weren’t ever true contenders, but this was a team only 3 years ago that won 60 games and was the number one seed in the East. PG Dennis Schroder is an exciting young player, but the Hawks went from mediocre to awful seemingly overnight.

14. Brooklyn Nets 22-60

Remember when Jay-Z owned the team all so that he could steal money from Brooklyn to build a new stadium for a team people in New Jersey didn’t even pay to see? Good times. Hopefully new PG D’Angelo Russell can finally live up to his potential after bombing with the Lakers, but he may be too busy breaking the bro-code filming his teammates.

15. Chicago Bulls 19-63

Bulls management fired coach Tom Thibodeau for being too difficult of a coach to deal with. Their current head coach, Fred Hoiberg, still finds it difficult to coach grown men after 2 years. Whoops.

Award Winners:

MVP: (*It’s actually LeBron James every year*) Kevin Durant, Warriors

Rookie of the Year: De’Aaron Fox, Kings

Coach of the Year: Tom Thibodeau, Timberwolves

Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

Sixth Man of the Year: Rudy Gay, Spurs

Most Improved Player of the Year: Myles Turner, Pacers

Playoff Predictions:

Western Conference Finals: Warriors over Spurs

Eastern Conference Finals: Cavaliers over Celtics

NBA Finals: Warriors over Cavaliers

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Bro-Reviews: Marshall

Based on a (*not as well known*) true story.

It’s been said before here, but bio-pics can be a tough sell every now and then. We’ve already seen the disastrous results bio-pics have yielded thus far in 2017, namely the egregiously mishandled Tupac Shakur bio-pic All Eyez on Me. Therefore it wasn’t out of the question to believe a bio-pic on Civil Rights activist Thurgood Marshall, entitled  Marshall, might have also been bungled as well. Would it be able to avoid all of the same issues that plagued All Eyez on Me? Or would it rise above the ashes of that atrocity and present audiences with a gripping film chronicling one of the most influential Civil Rights figures?

Marshall sees a young Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) as the go-to lawyer for the NAACP, who attempt to ensure all African Americans accused of crimes are given a fair trial. Marshall is sent to Greenwich, Connecticut to serve as council for Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown), a man accused of raping and attempting to murder Elanor Strubing (Kate Hudson), a white socialite in the town. In order to overcome an unfair judge (James Cromwell) and a well connected, biased prosecution lawyer (Dan Stevens), Marshall must team up with the reluctant Sam Friedman (Josh Gad), a small time lawyer who appears to be unprepared for the case.

If you don’t know, Thurgood Marshall was the first African-American Supreme Court Justice along with an advocate for the Civil Rights movement. It would have been a tall task for director Reginald Hudlin to cover Thurgood Marshall’s story in its entirety, and it works to the film’s benefit to cover this lesser known case to highlight Marshall’s beginnings. By only focusing on this case, Hudlin is able to grasp the audience’s attention for the entirety of the film by presenting us with a good-old fashioned courtroom drama in the same elk as 1996’s A Time to Kill. You as an audience member are also treated as a member of the jury through the proceedings, and are left squirming in your seat at every moment in the courtroom as you try to decipher the case being presented on-screen.

The highlight of the film is the captivating, swaggering performance of one Chadwick Boseman. Marshall is his latest triumph and another tremendous addition to his resume, as his portrayal as Thurgood Marshall is not only relatable, but also endearing. We feel for Marshall at every obstacle that is put in front of him, and we root for him to succeed in this against all odds case. We’ve seen Boseman do this before as historical black figures in 2013’s 42 as Jackie Robinson and as James Brown in 2014’s Get On Up, and eventually we’ll more than likely see him play every single historical black figure there is.

The supporting cast also shines in the film. While Josh Gad is essentially a more dramatic incarnation of Jack Black and Dan Fogler, Gad delivers a stellar performance as a resistant at first lawyer, and his transformation into a capable defense attorney is one of the better character arcs this year. Kate Hudson also delivers a fine performance as Mrs. Strubing, and it’s a good to see her branch out into more dramatic territory after making a career of off sub-par romantic comedies. James Cromwell and Dan Stevens also give solid performances as an unjust judge and prejudiced prosecution lawyer respectively, adding tension to an already heightened situation.

In regards to the usually superb Sterling K. Brown, he doesn’t quite find his footing until the end of the film as the accused Joseph Spell. Most of the film, Brown appears to be a bumbling, unintelligent black man most racists believe black men to be, and something about his confused demeanor didn’t sit entirely well with me. As stated earlier, James Cromwell and Dan Stevens are well-cast in their villainous roles, but they might as well be waking around with signs that read “BAD GUY”. And as with many courtroom dramas, there are no shortages of cliches and telegraphed moments. One in particular that stands out is an aforementioned character’s sudden change from the behavior he had displayed throughout 99% of the film, and the camera’s lingering on this moment is a dead giveaway as to what is about to occur.

Sure, Marshall may contain many elements we’ve seen numerous times before in other courtroom drama films. However, Marshall‘s tense moments, stellar supporting cast, and knockout performance from its lead makes it one of the best the genre has to offer. It may not get the awards attention it probably deserves because of its familiar themes, but Marshall has enough to it to not only stand on its own, but also stand out from the rest, much like Thurgood Marshall himself.

Rating: 3.5/4 Stars. Pay Full Price.

Marshall stars Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, Kate Hudson, James Cromwell, Dan Stevens, Keesha Sharp, and Sophia Bush. It is in theaters October 13th.

 

 

Bro-Picks: NFL Week 6 Predictions

The picks keep coming.

Week 5 of the NFL season saw some entertaining match-ups, but also gave us a glimpse into who’s a contender and who’s a pretender. Let’s not make those determinations until midway through the season, because no one is willing to say the New York Jets are the favorite to win the AFC East with a 3-2 record. It’s much too early.

Last Week: 6-8

Overall: 42-35

Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers (Thursday Night Football)

A match-up between two of the best teams not only in the NFC but maybe even the NFL itself, this has the potential to be the best Thursday Night Football game ever. With two young stud QBs in Cam Newton and Carson Wentz starring in this match-up, Thursday Night Football won’t be the bane of everyone’s existence this week.

Winner: Panthers

Chicago Bears at Baltimore Ravens

After not being able to find the end zone for two straight weeks, the Ravens found the perfect remedy to cure their scoring woes: the Oakland Raiders defense. Next on the agenda, Bears rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky.

Winner: Ravens

 

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings

Aaron Rodgers is a one man team. The Vikings can’t decide between an oft hurt Sam Bradford or career backup Case Keenum to hold down the quarterback position.

Winner: Packers

 

San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins

The 49ers should take a good hard look at Redskins QB Kirk (*or Kurt?*) Cousins. He could be their QB of the future.

Winner: Redskins

 

Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints

The Adrian Peterson era/ error mercilessly came to an end after the Saints traded him to the Cardinals. That doesn’t solve all their problems, but with Lions QB Matt Stafford not at full strength, the Saints seem prime to climb back to mediocrity.

Winner: Saints

 

Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons

The Dolphins are embroiled in controversy due to their now former offensive line coach Chris Foerster being filmed snorting a white powdery substance. Hardly a rallying cry for a struggling Dolphins offense.

Winner: Falcons

 

Cleveland Browns at Houston Texans

Texans QB DeShaun Watson will make the Browns pay for passing on him in the 2017 NFL Draft. But look on the bright side Cleveland, you’ve still got the Indians… who blew a 2-0 series lead against the Yankees. Well, you’ve got LeBron James… for one more year.

Winner: Texans

 

New England Patriots at New York Jets

The Jets are riding high because of a three game winning streak. Hope they enjoyed it while it lasted.

Winner: Patriots

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals

Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, and Adrian Peterson all on the same team?! This team could go to the Super Bowl… if it were 2009.

Winner: Buccaneers

 

Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville Jaguars

These two teams are surprisingly 3-2 through 5 games, but let’s pump the breaks on declaring these teams the favorite to win their respective divisions. This pick will also be a first in Bros Can’t Hang history…

Winner: Jaguars

 

Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders

Something is amiss in Raiderville after a 2-3 start, and the Chargers are coming off of an emotional first win. In a key AFC West showdown, the Raiders need this game if they hope to remain in title contention.

Winner: Raiders

 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs

Ben Roethlisberger threw 5, count ’em, 5 interceptions last week against the Jaguars. He has openly considered retirement since the off season. The Kansas City Chiefs defense, who are fourth in the NFL in takeaways thus far, may accelerate that consideration.

Winner: Chiefs

 

New York Giants at Denver Broncos (Sunday Night Football)

The Giants are 0-5, and there are talks of QB Eli Manning being traded to the Jaguars to reunite with his old coach, Tom Coughlin. WR Odell Beckham Jr. is out for the season with a broken ankle. WR Brandon Marshall is out for the year as well.  Can things get any worse for the Giants? Yes, because the Denver Broncos’ number 1 ranked defense are a pulverizing bunch.

Winner: Broncos

 

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (Monday Night Football)

Titans QB Marcus Mariota and Colts QB Andrew Luck are injured. Remember when these teams were rising superpowers in the lowly AFC South? That seems like a distant memory.

Winner: Titans

Bro-Reviews: Blade Runner 2049

This Blade Runner cuts deep.

Hollywood has been in the business of making money off of old properties for quite some time. Hollywood has also been in the business of attempting to create franchises by making sequels to popular properties, a trend that has no foreseeable end in sight. Combine these two trends together, and most of the time it yields disastrous results. That’s why when it was announced a sequel to the 1982 Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic Blade Runner was getting a sequel 35 years after its original release, many were apprehensive to the idea. A sequel to one of the most groundbreaking genre films of all-time? And old man Harrison Ford was returning as the original Blade Runner, Rick Deckard? It seemed like all was lost, but is there a chance Blade Runner 2049 is the rare exception that comes along every now and then?

Blade Runner 2049 sees bioengineered humans called replicants integrated in society, including LAPD “blade runner” K (Ryan Gosling). K finds himself embroiled in a case revolving around a secret regarding the human nature of replicants, something his superior officer, Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) believes to be dangerous. Lt. Joshi tasks K to get rid of all traces regarding this potentially revolution sparking secret, which leads to K encountering former “blade runner” Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), whilst on the run from the head of replicant manufacturer Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) and his deadly assistant Luv (Sylvia Hoeks).

While I understand the cinematic significance of the original Blade Runner and the influence it has had on the sci-fi genre, I personally can’t hop on the bandwagon of saying its a masterpiece. It was visually stunning an presented may thought provoking ideas, but its narrative just wasn’t cohesive enough. Blade Runner 2049 is the rare sequel that improves upon the faults of its predecessor, and is much better than the 1982 original.

While the film runs at an epic 163 minutes and still retains some of the clumsy narrative that made the original a divisive film at the time of its release, it uses its length to tell more clear, simple story with a thought provoking premise. Fans of the original Blade Runner and its many cuts will no doubt love the narrative provided by visionary director Denis Villeneuve, as it functions perfectly as a continuation of the last film. And fear not those who are not fans of the 1982 film, Blade Runner 2049 spoon feeds you just enough so that you too can follow along this thinking man’s neo-noir science fiction film as well.

Blade Runner 2049 retains its striking visuals that made the original such an influential film in the genre as well. It wastes no time in integrating the audience into this futuristic society with overcrowded cities, larger than life advertisements, and barren wastelands, making the world seem not as far fetched as some may believe it to be. In that regard, Blade Runner 2049 is nothing short of a visual masterpiece.

Blade Runner 2049 also features stellar performances from its talented ensemble cast. Ryan Gosling continues to showcase he’s one of the top leading men in Hollywood as officer K, and gives an emotionally engrossing performance. Robin Wright also gives the film a jolt of energy when needed, proving she can still deliver emotionally charged performance. Sylvia Hoeks is chilling and frightening as a cold blooded killing replicant, and functions perfectly as the film’s main threat. Jared Leto isn’t in the film much, but is delightfully creepy as a replicant manufacturer similar to Joe Turkel’s Dr. Eldon Tyrell in the first film. And while Harrison Ford remains as grouchy as ever and doesn’t appear until the last act of the film, his reinsertion into the Blade Runner universe as an older Rick Deckard works, and questions linger in regards to whether or not he too is a replicant.

In regards to the stunning Ana de Armas, she proves she can give a solid performance in the film, but her character as K’s holographic companion Joi doesn’t quite work. It’s an interesting idea and a thoughtful commentary on how our society is moving closer and closer to developing more meaningful relationships with machines rather than humans, but since K too is some type of replicant, it makes this aspect of the film feel somewhat out of place, and could have possibly trimmed or cut out entirely to shorten the film’s already lengthy run time.

Despite the initial backlash and the one aspect of the film that doesn’t quite work, Blade Runner 2049 is a definite improvement over its already highly regarded precursor. The rare sequel that is not only better than the original, but takes the original’s themes and furthers them to comment on today’s society and dares to ask prominent questions we have regarding our own existences. Blade Runner 2049 undoubtedly cuts deep, and leaves audiences and fans of the original begging for more, even after 163 minutes.

Rating: 3.5/4 Stars. Pay Full Price.

Blade Runner 2049 stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks, Jared Leto, Mackenzie Davis, Lennie James, Dave Bautista, David Dastmalchian, Carla Juri, Wood Harris, Barkhad Abdi, and Hiam Abbas. It is in theaters October 6th.

 

Bro- Picks: NFL Week 5 Predictions

1 quarter down, 3 to go.

We’re a quarter of the way through the NFL season, and to say there have been surprises would be an understatement. Such shocking developments include:

The New England Patriots are 2-2, and their defense is on pace to be one of the worst defenses in NFL history. QB Tom Brady may be somewhat of an ageless wonder at 40 years old (stats), but even he cant overcome a historically bad defense. There’s not enough crow to go around for all the dopey experts who predicted this team would go 19-0.

The Oakland soon to be Las Vegas Raiders looked like a force to be reckoned with the first two weeks of the season, and even held a dance party because of it. Since then they’ve looked like the Jamarcus Russell era Raiders, getting punk’d on Sunday Night Football against the Redskins, and looking impotent against the Broncos. To make matters worse, QB Derek Carr is out 2-6 weeks with a transverse fracture in his back. Should Carr come back quickly there’s a good chance the Raiders could recover. If Carr is out for an extended period of time, the Raiders’ season is sunk.

The Jets are 2-2. So much for tanking.

The Dallas Cowboys are 2-2, and everyone seems to be panicking. Prior to last seasons 13-3 outing, the Cowboys went 40-40 from 2011-2015. If anything, the Cowboys have been their typical selves so far this season. Factor in a defense that can’t stop a nose bleed, and it’ll be tough for QB Dak Prescott and company to match last year’s success.

Last Week: 10-6

Overall: 36-27

Upset of the Week: New England Patriots at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Thursday Night Football)

The New England Patriots are lucky to be in the AFC East, because nobody is buying the Buffalo Bills as the best team in that division. The Patriots defense has allowed every opponent’s QB to throw for over 300 yards this year, and Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston will fest upon New England’s poor pass defense.

Upset of the Week Winner: Buccaneers

San Francisco 49ers at Indianapolis Colts

Colts QB Andrew Luck is finally practicing, but there is no timetable for his return. This is the last winnable game for the 49ers until December 3rd against the Chicago Bears, but it will be Colts QB Jacoby Brissett who will show flashes of being a franchise QB, perhaps even one the 49ers should look into next off season.

Winner: Colts

New York Jets at Cleveland Browns

I like Browns coach Hue Jackson a lot. He deserves better than the dumpster fire known as the Cleveland Browns. And aren’t the Jets supposed to be tanking?

Winner: Jets

Lock of the Week: Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers

The soap opera known as the Pittsburgh Steelers never seems to end. First WR Antonio Brown throws a temper tantrum on Sunday after not receiving the ball when he was wide open. QB Ben Roethlisberger then chides Antonio Brown publicly after saying he wished Brown had voiced his frustrations privately. All of this would spell disaster for most teams, but none of it matters, as the Steelers play the perpetually schizophrenic Jaguars on this week’s episode.

Winner: Steelers

Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants

A battle of 0-4 teams. One team feels as if they are playing road games every week since opposing teams’ fans take over their tarp covered, 27,00 seat soccer stadium. The other team is the worst New York football team right now, and that was supposed to be the Jets. It’s getting tiresome picking the Giants every week, but they’re playing a Chargers team that has got to be the biggest joke other than the Browns right now. This has got to be the Giants’ week, right?

Winner: Giants

Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals

The Bills, whom many thought were tanking, are 3-1 and in first place in the AFC East. That may not last much longer, but for one more week, the good times will roll in Buffalo.

Winner: Bills

Carolina Panthers at Detroit Lions

Cam Newton seems to have gotten his swagger back after scoring 4 touchdowns against the Patriots last week. That swagger carried over in the wrong way during a press conference Wednesday, where he said “It’s funny” when a female reporter asked him a question regarding the routes his wide receivers ran in week 4. There’s nothing funny about the Lions, who lead the NFL with 11 takeaways this season. While Newton’s remarks were reprehensible at best, Cam has his groove back, and that’s all the Panthers need.

Winner: Panthers

Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins

The Titans may be without QB Marcus Mariota this weekend, and instead of signing a QB who could actually run their offense (*cough* Colin Kaepernick *cough*), they signed Brandon Weeden. They’re lucky they get to face smokin’ Jay Cutler and the Miami Dolphins this week, whose offense looks like it’s being ran by a man enjoying his retirement.

Winner: Titans

Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles

The Cardinals two wins have come against the the Colts and the 49ers. The Eagles have proven to be the beasts of the NFC East through 4 games, and it’s games like these against vulnerable teams at home you must win in order to be considered true contenders.

Winner: Eagles

Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders

As stated earlier, the Raiders will be without QB Derek Carr for sometime. Their backup is former 16th overall pick and only the QB taken in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft EJ Manuel (*seriously, nobody wants to call Colin Kaepernick?*). The Ravens defense may be stout with 11 takeaways this season, but the Raiders will find a way to eek out a victory against a Ravens team whose QB Joe Flacco can no longer be considered elite.

Winner: Raiders

Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams

The Rams are the surprise team at the top of the NFC West with a 3-1 record, including a stunning win over the Cowboys at Jerry World last week. This will be the biggest indicator of whether they are a true contender or not, as it has been QB Russell Wilson and the Legion of Boom Seattle Seahawks who have owned this Division since 2013. The Rams aren’t ready for the spotlight.

Winner: Seahawks

Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

A rematch of last year’s Divisional Playoff game (*quite possibly one of the best ever*), the Packers have injuries upon injuries stacking up. The Cowboys look vulnerable after looking invincible last season. The Cowboys need this game more to prove they are still a force to be reckoned with, and anticipating they will play with that urgency is enough to prevail over Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.

Winner: Cowboys

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans (Sunday Night Football)

The Chiefs are the only undefeated team left in the NFL at 4-0. Chiefs coach Andy Reid wins 61% of his regular season games, so we should’ve seen this success coming. However, they’ll be facing a dynamic young QB in Deshaun Watson this week. After his 5 touchdown performance against the Titans last week, maybe Watson’s former college coach Dabo Swinney wasn’t far off when he said any team that passes up on him in the NFL draft is passing up on the next Michael Jordan.

Winner: Texans

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears (Monday Night Football)

The Bears have mercilessly ended the Mike Glennon era (*or error*) and will start rookie QB Mitch Trubisky this week. Seriously? The Bears want to trot out their prized possession against a defense that is only allowing offenses to score 19 points a game? Hardly a confidence booster for a QB making his NFL debut in prime time.

USP NFL: CHICAGO BEARS-MITCHELL TRUBISKY PRESS CON S FBN USA IL

Winner: Vikings

 

Bro-Reviews: American Made

Cruise-Control.

Despite his short stature, Tom Cruise is a controversial figure. His devotion to the religion of Scientology, horse toothed smile, and constant running in motion pictures to the point that it must be an obligation specified in his contract for every movie he does, garners him polarizing opinions. There are some who despise Tom Cruise. There are those who love Tom Cruise. But one thing that cannot be taken away from him is his longevity, as Cruise has had arguably the longest spanning career as an A-list actor who has ever graced the silver screen. Despite some recent hiccups, including this past summer’s so bad it turns around to being good The Mummy, Cruise’s status as a leading man doesn’t appear to in jeopardy, especially if his latest film, American Made, has anything to say about that.

American Made sees Tom Cruise as Barry Seal, a talented pilot for commercial airline TWA who appears bored with life in the late 1970s in America. One day, he is contacted by CIA agent Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson), who convinces Seal to work for the agency at first by flying covert reconnaissance missions in order to spy on Communist bases in South America. This then escalates to Seal becoming involved in the drug smuggling industry with the Medellin Cartel, running guns to the Nicaraguan Contras, and even transporting the Contras to Mena, Arkansas for training. While Seal reaps the benefits of these missions by obtaining a lofty sum of cash, these situations continue to spiral out of control, and with the DEA hot on his trail, Seal must navigate through all the chaos.

American Made does a splendid job of transporting audiences into the late 1970s all the way through the 1980s during its 117 minute run time. From the classic Cadillac vehicles all the way to the the character’s outfits, there’s little confusion as to what setting the film takes place in. Also included is archive footage of speeches from former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan to highlight how our world leaders appear to be against everything Barry Seal is doing, but are in fact the ones who are allowing Seal to profit from all they publicly denounce.

The supporting cast in the film also functions well within the well-done script by Gary Spinelli. Sarah Wright is smoldering as Seal’s wife Lucy, but also acts as the audience reacts to all of the seemingly unrealistic events that are unfolding. Alejandro Edda and Mauicio Mejia do a great job as Jorge Ochoa and Pablo Escobar respectively, doing these larger than life business men turned paranoid drug lords justice. Caleb Landry Jones is a riot and a nuisance as Lucy’s slow, red-neck brother JB, and continues his ascension to the top of the character actor ranks. It’s Domhnall Gleeson who fares best among the supporting cast as CIA agent Schafer, and being the catalyst for Seal to embark on these dangerous but bankable undertakings makes him one of the more charismatic characters in the film.

But let’s not make any bones about it, this is Tom Cruise’s movie. Cruise expertly portrays Seal as a hustling, aw-shucks attitude having Southerner who can’t believe his luck due to excess earnings he’s making and his ability to avoid the law while doing it. Cruise puts us in Seal’s shoes, and you too can’t believe the events unfolding on this roller coaster ride in a slice of life of a real life figure. Cruise owns the screen as Barry Seal, and many would consider this role the first time he has actually acted since 2008’s Valkyrie. This is somewhat puzzling, as there is a reason as to why Cruise has been a leading man for over 30 years in Hollywood. This is the type of role that Cruise can do in his sleep, but even Tom Cruise at his laziest is a compelling watch.

If there’s anything to criticize, it’s the fact there isn’t much commentary on the previously mentioned politics involved in the film. Sure, the archive footage serves as a great reminder as to what was going on during this time period, but the film barely provides a surface level commentary on just how twisted and corrupt the agencies sworn to protect the United States of America. Sure, American Made is supposed to be a classic Tom Cruise vehicle rather than a thoughtful account regarding the United States’ involvement in drug and gun smuggling, but providing that analysis could have made American Made an even better film than it already is.

Despite the missed opportunity director Doug Liman had to provide more insight on the corruption of the United States government in the late 1970s through the 1980s, Liman nails the setting and gets the most out of the supporting cast. He has also seems to be a director who can get a lot out of the ageless wonder that is Tom Cruise, who bolsters the film with his tremendous lead performance. Even though there are signs of Cruise being on Cruise control, American Made is a triumph and a cautionary tale that all good things must come to an end, but to enjoy the ride while it lasts and become the epitome of the American Dream.

Rating: 3/4 Stars. Pay Matinée price.

American Made stars Tom Cruise, Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson, Alejandro Edda, Mauicio Mejia, Jamaya Mays, Jesse Plemons, Caleb Landry Jones, and Benito Martinez. It is in theaters September 29th.