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.

 

 

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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-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.

Bro-Reviews: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

A well-tailored, golden sequel.

One of the bigger surprises of the 2015 movie release slate was the stylish, hyper-kinetic spy-parody  Kingsman: The Secret Service. It elegantly balanced action with comedy, while retaining a sense of class, making it one of the best spy-action films the genre has to offer. Audiences agreed, and rewarded the film handsomely with their wallets, as Kingsman: The Secret Service went on to gross $414 million worldwide. When a film such as this over achieves at the box office, studio executives are quick to pull the trigger on green-lighting a sequel, and over 2 years later, that sequel has arrived in the form of Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle sees Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) and the rest of the Kingsman organization going about their typical daily duties until they come into contact with members of an underground organization called “The Golden Circle.” Led by criminal mastermind Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) , who plans to poison all of those who use narcotics while holding government agencies for ransom for an antidote, “The Golden Circle” destroys all known Kingsman associates with the exception of Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong). Seemingly on their own, they travel to America to enlist the help of “The Statesman”, an organization similar to theirs but with Southern charm, to take down Poppy while also reconnecting with the presumed to be dead Harry Hart/ Galahad (Colin Firth).

The issue plaguing most sequels in the 21st century is the dreaded symptom known as sequelitis. Symptoms of sequelitis include forgoing of a good story, bigger special effects, more lavish set-pieces, and an overlong runtime. Kingsman: The Golden Circle shows signs of these symptoms, but in the competent hands of writer/ director Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman: The Golden Circle displays these symptoms to not only parody spy film sequels, but also deliver a rowdy good time with the Kingsman.

Taron Egerton continues to showcase he’s a rising star in Hollywood as Eggsy, and his cockney British accent along with the finely tailored suits makes him a likeable hero. His interactions with the always splendid Mark Strong were some of the high points in the original film, and those high points continue here in the sequel. While it’s a shame the studio chose to spoil the return of Colin Firth in the trailers, Firth’s arch gives the film some much needed depth and insight we did not get from his character in the first film, and Firth is once again a calm, cool, and collected mentor in the film.

The selling point the studio is undoubtedly exploiting most is the inclusion of Statesman agents, most notably Channing Tatum as Agent Tequila, Jeff Bridges as Agent Champagne/ Champ, and Halle Berry as Agent Ginger Ale. Tatum delivers his movie star qualities as a southerner once again, but only briefly. Bridges is essentially playing himself and a similar role to Michael Caine’s in the first Kingsman, but Bridges’ Southern twain more than makes up for his lack of screen time. Berry is in the film the most out of the three, but is the American version of Mark Strong’s Merlin, not necessarily the most exciting role, but she does a fine job.

The real star of the film are the action scenes, which invoke memories of the first film while adding enough of a twist and being larger in scale to please those looking forward to the film. The film starts off with a bang in a car chase scene while Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” blasts in the background, providing for a fun and exciting start to the film. There’s a repeat of the first film’s bar fight scene, but it’s got enough new material to justify it’s inclusion in the film. Action set pieces including a snowy mountain lair in Italy and Poppy’s 1950s dreamland “Poppy Land” (*which blasts Elton John’s “Saturday Night”, who also plays a fictionalized version of himself*) are non-stop fun, and further highlight the absurdity of spy movie villains hideouts and home bases.

If there are any complaints to have regarding the film, it would be its length and having the unfortunate task of trying to top a tremendous villain in the first film. At 141 minutes, the film is a bit overlong, mainly due to Pedro Pascal’s obvious arch as Agent Whiskey. Julianne Moore is clearly having fun as criminal mastermind Poppy, and there’s no doubting an actress of her caliber brings her A-game. However, she’s nowhere near as memorable as Samuel L. Jackson’s over-the-top villain role in the first film, rendering her villain somewhat lackluster.

While common symptoms of sequelitis are present, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the rare sequel that doesn’t get bogged down by its desire to be bigger and zanier than the original. This should please fans of the original, action movie junkies, and spy film aficionados, but its overlong runtime may leave some exhausted by the end. Overall, Kingsman: The Golden Circle aims to please, and does so in the form of a well-tailored, golden sequel.

Rating: 3/4 Stars. Pay High Matinée Price.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle stars Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Pedro Pascal, Hanna Alström, Edward Holcroft, Emily Watson, Bruce Greenwood, Sophie Cookson, Channing Tatum, and Jeff Bridges. It is in theaters September 22nd.

Bro-Reviews: Mother!

Pretentious filmmaking at its finest.

One of the last true artists remaining in Hollywood today is director/writer Darren Aronofsky, whose career has been built upon making artistic and ambitious films. With the exception of The Wrestler, most of Aronofsky’s work is filled with metaphors, allegories, and pure insanity. After making the story of Noah’s Arc a post-apocalyptic fever dream with no clear setting in 2014’s Noah, Aronofsky is out to outdo himself once again with the release of his new psychological horror film, Mother!.

Mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence as Mother, a young housewife married to Him (Javier Bardem), a poet who’s experiencing writer’s block. One night, a mysterious man (Ed Harris) appears at their house, and against the wishes of Mother, is invited to stay by Him. Soon after, a mysterious woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) appears at the house, claiming to be the mysterious man’s wife and is also invited to stay by Him despite a reluctant Mother. A series of strange arrivals and disturbing events then occur, and mother is left to solve the mystery behind these occurrences.

In regards to the acting, everyone in the film does a fine job. Jennifer Lawrence somehow actually manages to act for the first time since her award winning turn in Silver Linings Playbook while still maintaining her blank stare that has somehow made her one of Hollywood’s most sought after actresses. Javier Bardem clearly chooses his projects based on their absurdity, and delivers a fine performance considering the ludicrous material he’s given. Ed Harris is a veteran actor who knows what he’s doing at this point in his storied yet underrated career, and its good to see Michelle Pfeiffer getting the chance to show off her undervalued acting prowess.

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There’s little doubt that Darren Aronofsky is a true auteur. But sometimes auteurism can lead to pompous filmmaking, and that is what precisely plagues Mother!. The film is clearly an allegory to religion, most notably Christianity. To explain any further would spoil the entire movie.

Aronofsky clearly has some sort of hangup with Christianity and religion in general, and uses his platform as a director and writer to explore the themes of spiritualism and cultism that exists within religion. However, his findings are nothing more than surface level observations about the ridiculousness of certain beliefs in religion and the dangerous effect it can have on the people who follow it excessively. While some may call his vision and work ambitious and thought provoking, the peculiar and unsettling events and images at the beginning of the film turn into obvious and cheap shock value by the film’s hellish climax.

Highlighting the absurdity of certain beliefs in religion and then realizing them is no doubt disturbing to watch. However, if one already acknowledges the belief is somewhat preposterous when you really sit down and think about it, showing the audience what that belief would look like if realized in full form on film is shoddy imagery. And for over two hours, Aronofsky fills Mother! with these depictions, and has no insightful commentary whatsoever. So unless you’re easily mesmerized by horrific symbolism, they are largely ineffective due to Aronofsky’s inability to provide useful insight into what is a controversial and thought provoking subject matter.

Mother! may have fine performances within it, but they are muted by Aronofsky’s desire to place his performers under unusual circumstances as an excuse for him to be weird. Some may marvel at Aronofsky’s lofty ambitions, but Mother! comes across as a useless, pretentious film that states the obvious and has absolutely nothing of value to say or add to its contentious subject matter.

Rating: 1/4 Stars. Stay Away.

Mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeseon, Brian Gleeson, Jovan Adepo, Stephen McHattie, and Kristen Wiig. It is in theaters September 15th.

Bro-Reviews: The Top 10 Football Movies of All Time

Are you ready for some football?

Football season has officially kicked-off, and fans everywhere will be glued to their televisions rooting for their favorite team until after the College Football Playoffs and the Super Bowl. Given the popularity of the sport, Hollywood has attempted to cash-in on the football craze by making numerous football-themed films over the years. So in-between your already filled Saturdays and Sundays, you should make time for the top 10 football films of all time.

10. Number One (1969)

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Before he became a right-wing NRA nut-job, Charlton Heston was actually a talented matinee idol. He shined in Number One as an aging quarterback for the New Orleans Saints who struggles to accept his Super Bowl winning glory days are behind whilst also maintaining his relationship with his wife, played by Jessica Walter. While Heston broke his ribs while performing his own stunts for the movie and was criticized for not having an athletic bone in his body, the film is a great character piece that for the longest time did not see the light of day on DVD until MGM finally released it on DVD in 2015.

9. (Tie) The Longest Yard (1974 & 2005)

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The original 1974 Burt Reyonolds film is one of the edgiest dark comedies of all time, and is a classic Reynolds star vehicle. While the 2005 Adam Sandler remake doesn’t have the same edge as the original, the film boasts a memorable supporting cast that delivers laughs throughout the film, and features an unusually reserved performance from star Adam Sandler. Also, Nelly’s “Here Comes the Boom” is a football anthem still used to this very day, and for good reason.

8. The Waterboy (1998)

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Perhaps Adam Sandler’s best film, The Waterboy is a hilarious football comedy. Sandler shows off his comedic chops as Bobby Boucher, and features a great comedic turn by Academy Award winner Kathy Bates as Boucher’s mom. The movie’s jokes also hold up today, and is one of the most quoted comedies of the last 20 years.

7. Rudy (1993)

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The epitome of the ultimate underdog story, Rudy is one of best crowd pleasing sports films of all time, with Sean Astin shining as Rudy Ruettiger. It perfectly captures the magic of playing for Notre Dame’s historic football program, and delivers a great message by showing how hard work and dedication can lead to one achieving their dreams. It also features one of the most iconic football movie images of all time, with fellow Notre Dame teammates carrying Rudy off the field at the film’s climax.

6. Varsity Blues (1999)

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If there were ever a film that captured the grasp high school football has over small towns in Texas, it’s Varsity Blues. While there are numerous unrealistic scenes of high schoolers committing acts of debauchery even College football programs on probation from the NCAA would blush at, the football action is intense, and the performances of James Van Der Beek as a back-up QB finally getting his shot at glory and Jon Voight as a power-hungry football coach makes Varsity Blues a football film classic.

5. Friday Night Lights (2004)

While it helps that it’s based on real life events, Friday Night Lights is a more realistic take on the stranglehold high school football has in the state of Texas. Featuring a tremendous performance by Billy Bob Thorton, who delivers one of the most motivating speeches ever captured on film, Friday Night Lights transports you back to the glory days as you embark on an emotional journey through Periman High School’s tumultuous 1988 season.

4. Jerry Maguire (1996)

Some may argue Jerry Maguire isn’t really a football film and more of a romantic comedy, but whats wrong with adding a little romance to football? The film also gives us a different perspective of the sport as we follow Tom Cruise as a football agent attempting to salvage his career by signing his last remaining client, loudmouth wide receiver Rod Tidwell, to a big money contract with the Arizona Cardinals. Cuba Gooding Jr. won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as Tidwell, and with so many quotable lines such as “SHOW ME THE MONEY JERRY!” and “You had me at hello.”, it’s impossible to exclude Jerry Maguire from this list.

3. Remember the Titans (2000)

A film that handles the real life subject matter of Herman Boone and racial tensions with grace, Remember the Titans is a triumph. Featuring excellent performances from Denzel Washington and  Will Patton as the coaches of the recently desegregated T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, Remember the Titans is an excellent football film. It’s also one of the most emotionally resonating sports films of all time, and if you’re not crying by the film’s end, your heart isn’t in the game.

2. Brian’s Song (1971)

Most television movies don’t hold a candle to theatrically released films, but Brian’s Song is an exception. Based on the true story of the relationship between Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and NFL Hall of Fame RB Gayle Sayers (Billy Dee Williams), Brian’s Song packs an emotional punch like no other football film. It holds up to this very day as one the best tales of a rivalry turned friendship, and is one of the most effective tearjerkers of all time.

1. Any Given Sunday (1999)

Perhaps misunderstood at the time of its release, Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday is a mirror image of the NFL today. Featuring subject matters including a QB controversy, a power struggle between a legendary head coach and young upstart General Manager, and the degenerate off the field lives of professional football players, Any Given Sunday feels more like a documentary than a fictitious piece of work. With the added help of an ensemble cast consisting of Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, and Jamie Foxx bringing their game faces to the film, Any Given Sunday is a football masterpiece.

 

Bro-Reviews: 2017 Summer Box Office Winners and Losers

Whether you’re a winner or a loser, box office revenue is down significantly compared to last summer.

The Summer movie season is officially over, after 4 long months, it’s finally over. While this summer had it fair share of winners that won the box office, their were plenty of losers, and boy did they lose. It’s now time to asses the winners and losers of the 2017 Summer box office.

Winner: Wonder Woman

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The highest grossing film of the summer by a significant margin, Wonder Woman was a much needed win for the DC extended universe and showed girl power is alive and well in Hollywood. The film saw unprecedented holds from weekend to weekend over the summer, playing similarly to 2002’s Spider-Man en route to $406.8 million domestically, making it the 7th highest grossing super-hero film of all time and the highest grossing film ever directed by a woman.

Loser: Valerian and the City of A thousand Planets

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Valerian is a prime example of what happens when you let directors go into a CGI candy shop and allow them to lose their minds on screen. While visually striking, Valerian lacked star power and chose style over substance in this over-long, over-budgeted Star Wars wannabe. The film’s box office receipts didn’t help matters either, as it grossed a puny $39.8 million at the North American box office compared to its $172.2 million budget. A bomb indeed.

Winner: Marvel Studios

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At this point, Marvel Studios has perfected the blockbuster formula. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 grossed $389.4 million in May, showing that Star Lord and the gang won’t be going away anytime soon. Marvel Studios was also able to reap the rewards of re-booting the Spider-Man franchise with Spider-Man: Homecoming in July, grossing an impressive $321.2 million during its theatrical run.

Loser: Former Franchise Tent-Poles

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Alien: Covenant, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Cars 3, Transformers: The Last Night. What do they all have in common? They are all franchises that at one point were box-office giants who presided as the kings of the summer movie season but have now all but exhausted ideas to the point that audiences have grown tired of them. While the international box office receipts helped prevent them from flat-out bombing and in some cases made them profitable, it’s time for studios to re-think their strategies in regards to tent-pole franchises.

Winner: War for the Planet of the Apes

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A stunning achievement in motion capture and special effects, War for the Planet of the Apes is nothing short of technically brilliant. Add in the emotional component most summer box office films are missing along with enthralling action, and War For the Planet of the Apes proves you don’t have to be brainless to be a successful summer blockbuster.

Loser: Baywatch

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On paper, Baywatch seemed to be a no-brainer. A summer comedy filled with beaches, bikinis, and the Rock would surely breed box office success, right? Unfortunately, incompetent direction, lazy joke writing, and exploitation of female bodies made Baywatch unwatchable, making it one of the biggest duds of the summer movie season.

Winner: Rotten Tomatoes

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If there were ever a time where the influence of the review aggregate site flexed its muscles, it was this summer. Films that boasted overwhelmingly positive reviews such as Dunkirk ($175.5 million) and Baby Driver ($104.3 million) enjoyed box office success and long theatrical runs. Maligned films such as The Mummy ($80.1) and The Dark Tower ($46.1 million) on the other hand saw their hopes and dreams of launching franchises either stall or end due to dog piling bad reviews.

Loser: The Summer Box Office

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For every financially and critically successful film released this summer, there was an even more financially and critically disastrous film released. Add in an August with very few appealing films, and the summer box office is down nearly 16% compared to last year and movie going attendance is the worst it has been in 25 years. One can only hope the looming Fall movie season can pick up the slack, but the 2017 box office appears to be experiencing diminishing returns.