2017 NFL Season Preview

Football is back.

The NFL season is upon us. Every year fans get a newfound sense of hope. The hope that their favorite team may rise up and raise the Lombardi trophy as Super Bowl champions. While some teams are closer to accomplishing this goal than others, it’s time to separate the contenders from the pretenders and predict the 2017 NFL Season.

AFC North

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1. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4

2. Cincinnati Bengals 8-8

3. Baltimore Ravens 7-9

4. Cleveland Browns 4-12

The Steelers are by and far the best team in this division, and their schedule will allow them to rack-up wins this season. The Bengals will be average, the Ravens don’t have enough offensive talent to be a contender, and Browns QB DeShone Kizer will showcase his talent whilst running for his life.

 

AFC East

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1. New England Patriots 13-3

2. Miami Dolphins 7-9

3. Buffalo Bills 6-10

4. New York Jets 2-14

It’s Tom Brady’s world. Every other team is just happy to be considered an NFL team in the AFC East. Jay Cutler won’t move the needle with the Dolphins, the Bills are rebuilding, and the Jets look like they could be one of the worst teams in a long time by tanking this season.

 

AFC South

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1. Houston Texans 9-7

2. Tennessee Titans 9-7

3. Indianapolis Colts 6-10

4. Jacksonville Jaguars 3-13

Defense wins championships. Houston still has one of the best defenses in football, and rookie QB DeShaun Watson will be the starter for the Texans come the end of the season. The Titans are building something special in Nashville, the Colts will be lost without QB Andrew Luck, and the Jaguars are starting QB Blake Bortles because QB Chad Henne is the alternative. (*cough Colin Kaepernick*)

 

AFC West

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1. Oakland Raiders 10-6

2. Kansas City Chiefs 9-7

3. Denver Broncos 7-9

4. Los Angeles Chargers 6-10

The Raiders’ offense will carry this team to a division title, but the back seven of the defense seems to have regressed. The Chiefs will eventually start rookie QB Patrick Mahomes, the Broncos lack of offensive firepower will be mitigated by their stellar defense, and the Chargers play in a soccer stadium.

NFC North

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1. Green Bay Packers 10-6

2. Detroit Lions 8-8

3. Minnesota Vikings 7-9

4. Chicago Bears 3-13

The Packers have Aaron Rodgers. The Lions have Matthew Stafford. The Vikings have Sam Bradford. The Bears have Mike Glennon and Mitchell Trubisky. The quarterback situations for each team in this division tell you all you need to know.

 

NFC East

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1. Dallas Cowboys 11-5

2. New York Giants 10-6

3. Philadelphia Eagles 9-7

4. Washington Redskins 6-10

QB Dak Prescott is the real deal, and he’ll thrive with or without RB Ezikiel Elliot. The Giants’ defense is Super Bowl worthy, the Eagles will fly with their new toys on offense, and the Redskins still don’t know if their QB’s name is Kirk or Kurt Cousins.

 

NFC South

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1. Carolina Panthers 11-5

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6

3. Atlanta Falcons 8-8

4. New Orleans Saints 6-10

QB Cam Newton will see the Panthers rise from worst to first now that their Super Bowl 50 hangover is gone. QB Jameis Winston will help the Buccaneers take the next step towards contention, the Falcons will still be hungover from their Super Bowl 51, and the Saints still don’t play defense… ever.

 

NFC West

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1. Seattle Seahawks 13-3

2. Arizona Cardinals 8-8

3. Los Angeles Rams 5-11

4. San Francisco 49ers 4-12

The Seahawks tout one of the best defenses in the league, and QB Russell Wilson is one of the best QBs in the league despite taking snaps from a stitched-together offensive line. The Cardinals are another year older, the Rams are still trying to make QB Jared Goff happen even though it will never happen, and any progress the 49ers may make will be sabotaged because their owner runs every coach out of town, even when they make it to the Super Bowl.

 

AFC Playoff Picture

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1. New England Patriots

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

3. Oakland Raiders

4. Houston Texans

5. Kansas City Chiefs

6. Tennessee Titans

 

Wild Card

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3. Raiders over 6. Titans

4. Texans over 5. Chiefs

 

Divisional Round

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1. Patriots over 4. Texans

2. Steelers over 3. Raiders

 

AFC Championship

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2. Steelers over 1. Patriots

 

NFC Playoff Picture

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1. Seattle Seahawks

2. Dallas Cowboys

3. Carolina Panthers

4. Green Bay Packers

5. New York Giants

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Wild Card

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5. Giants over 4. Packers

3. Panthers over 6. Buccaneers

 

Divisional Round

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1. Seahawks over 5. Giants

2. Cowboys over 3. Panthers

 

NFC Championship

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1. Seahawks over 2. Cowboys

 

SUPER BOWL LII

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Steelers over Seahawks

 

 

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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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Gal Gadot in “Wonder Woman.”

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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Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevigne in “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.”

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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“Marvel Studios.”

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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“Transformers: The Last Knight”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”, and “Cars 3.”

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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“War For the Planet of the Apes.”

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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“Baywatch.”

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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“Rotten Tomatoes.”

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.

Bro-Reviews: The Top 5 Movies of 2017 (Thus Far)

It may not be Oscar season, but it’s never too early to discuss the best films of the year.

To this point, many would claim 2017 has been a bit of a bummer in regards to quality filmmaking, particularly pointing to a summer movie season that has seen box office receipts dwindle considerably. With the Summer movie season ending this weekend without a new wide release, it’s time to look back at the last eight months worth of movies and rank the top 5 films of 2017 thus far.

5. Baby Driver

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“Baby Driver.”

In a summer filled with numerous sequels no one asked for, Baby Driver was one of the lone original works to break-out and have success financially and receive critical acclaim. While it is essentially a hipster’s interpretation of a Transporter movie, Baby Driver features terrific performances from its ensemble cast and a hilarious script from writer/director Edgar Wright. Throw in a killer soundtrack and enthralling action, and Baby Driver proves you don’t have to be an established franchise tent-pole to have success during the summer.

4. Ingrid Goes West

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“Ingrid Goes West.”

Every year, there’s at least one independent film that flies under the audience’s radar only to be discovered later on the home video market. Ingrid Goes West is destined to have this fate, which is a shame considering it’s one of the most topical films of the year. It’s biting commentary on our society’s current obsession with social media and its stardom and a committed performance from lead actress Aubrey Plaza makes it one of the most underrated films of the year thus far, and should definitely be on your to-stream list in the future.

3. Get Out

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“Get Out.”

If there were ever a film that was released at the perfect time, it would be writer/ director/ comedian Jordan Peele’s debut feature film. Released shortly after the election of Donald Trump (*still weird to say that*), Get Out is the greatest slave movie ever made. It’s thematic elements dealing with white America’s obsession of wanting all of the benefits of being black without the skin color is one of the most dynamic elements ever explored on film. Throw in some great imagery and horror thrills, and Get Out is proof that originality is alive and well in Hollywood.

2. Logan

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“Logan.”

We’ve been waiting for a great solo Wolverine film for years, and Hugh Jackman and company finally delivered. A post-apocalyptic western action-drama masquerading as a comic-book movie, Logan is Hugh Jackman’s finest hour as the titular character, and also features Patrick Stewart’s best performance as Professor X. With high emotional stakes that have consequences, Logan is not only the most heart-wrenching comic-book films ever, but one of the most moving films released in quite sometime. Logan may be Jackman’s swan song as Wolverine, but he goes out on what could be the new gold standard of comic-book movies.

1.War For the Planet of the Apes

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“War for the Planet of the Apes.”

War For the Planet of the Apes is a tremendous achievement in filmmaking. The motion-capture technology used makes for some of the best special effects ever captured on film, making the apes the most realistic as they’ve ever looked on screen. Andy Serkis of course leads the way with his touching performance as Caesar, and saves his best for last in the conclusion of what could be regarded as one of the best film trilogies ever. It’s emotional impact combined with outstanding action and performances makes War for the Planet of the Apes not only the best of the modern Planet of the Apes trilogy, but the best film of 2017 thus far.

 

Bro-Reviews: Ingrid Goes West

#topical.

The summer movie season has come to somewhat of a standstill, with many studios all but abandoning these last two weekends of August. It’s around this time of the year that many good movies slip through the cracks, only to be discovered later on during their second life on the home video market. A top candidate to have that same fate is Neon’s Ingrid Goes West, a film that received critical acclaim when it was first screened at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and has finally gotten a wide release in theaters.

In Ingrid Goes West, a mentally unstable, social media obsessed woman name Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) finds herself having to stay in a mental hospital after crashing the wedding of an unrequited friend (Mereidith Hagner). Upon her release, Ingrid is given an inheritance due to the death of her mother, and decides to use this money in order to move to Los Angeles in order to befriend a social media influencer named Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). After renting an apartment in Venice from aspiring screenwriter and Batman enthusiast Dan (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) , Ingrid begins her quest to become besties Taylor.

Ingrid Goes West is undoubtedly an indictment on today’s social media obsessed world. While the story is obviously fictitious, it’s not too hard to believe someone could or would follow a person on instaface or any other form of social media platform to the point of obsession and wanting to be close to that person. In that regard, Ingrid Goes West is a harrowing film that displays just how preoccupied today’s society is with social media and using it as a means of replacing intimate, personal relationships with “likes” and nice comments from otherwise complete and utter strangers. This makes Ingrid Goes West not only a fascinating take on today’s social media driven world, but also an agonizing watch as we see the title character continually act socially awkward and downright creepy in order just to have an otherwise surface level relationship with someone she doesn’t know from Adam.

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Elizabeth Olsen and Aubrey Plaza in “Ingrid Goes West.”

Also making the film a tough watch for viewers is the fact that almost none of the characters are likeable or relatable in the least. We’re meant to empathize for Plaza due to the fact that her mother, whom she seemed to have a close and touching relationship with, has died, and at first we sympathize with her. But all of that is nearly thrown out the window as we cringe at every awkward moment Plaza’s Ingrid makes when stalking Olsen’s character. Ingrid takes advantage of people in almost any way she can in order to not only pursue a friendship with Taylor, but also become a social media celebrity, a shallow and disturbing pursuit. Even though this is done on purpose, Olsen’s Taylor is also just as unlikable. Her willingness to put on filters and trying portray her life as heavenly is about as annoying as a Kardashian’s post on what clothes they bought that day, and is the epitome of superficial. Although Olsen’s character is supposed to be an example of everything that is wrong with social media celebrities, it makes her that much more annoyingly uninteresting.

But therein lies the genius in Ingrid Goes West. The film is attempting to tell audiences that life cannot be lived nor mimicked by what we see from those we follow on social media platforms. Life is not going to be as pretty as one of the filters we are able to use on social media posts, and it is downright unhealthy to the point of mental instability to rely on these filters to mask our lives and build relationships upon. The film is a commentary on what can happen to us and our society if we continue to overly rely on social media, taking advantage of the fact that nearly every single audience member has taken a look at a social media post much like how Ingrid looks at Taylor’s posts in the film and wishes that her life could be like Taylor’s, and we have copied her same actions and thoughts.

What ultimately makes the film intriguing and watchable, however, are the fantastic performances in the film. Aubrey Plaza’s portrayal of Ingrid is stellar, as she is able to play the character’s mental instability as quirky in some aspects and downright unlikable in others. Plaza continues to prove she has the comedic and dramatic chops to be one of Hollywood’s most talented actresses out there. Elizabeth Olsen continues to showcase she is the most talented of the Olsen sisters, and her take as a flat socialmedialite nails the current Instagram famous celebrity we cannot help but follow today. O’Shea Jackson Jr. demonstrates he’s not just a one trick pony after portraying his legendary gangster rapper father, Ice Cube, in Straight Outta Compton. Jackson Jr. is the most likeable of all the characters in the film, and his character’s obsession with Batman delivers one of the most hysterical sex scenes ever captured on film.

Overall, Ingrid Goes West isn’t the easiest film to sit down and watch due to its downright chilling take on the current state of our social media driven society. But the film is able to ride the terrific performances of its lead actors to make the film topical, but hilariously educational in the sense that it is a cautionary tale of what not to put emphasis on in our lives. There’s nothing like a film that not only points the finger at the audience in an uncomfortable manner, but makes us laugh while doing so. In the end, Ingrid Goes West tells us to disregard the filters we use to mask our otherwise blisteringly uninteresting lives and to live them in the hopes that we can be happy and loved without the need for a “like” button to replace the real feeling.

Rating: 3/4 Stars. Pay Matinée Price.

Ingrid Goes West stars Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen, Pom Klementieff, and Meredith Hagner. It is in theaters August 11th.

 

 

Floyd Mayweather versus Connor McGregor Reaction: We Deserved This

Rocky versus Thunderlips was more compelling.

After months of hype, numerous press tours, a weigh-in, and a fight, Floyd Mayweather versus Connor McGregor came and went. “The Great White Hope” versus “The Greatest Boxer Ever” was built as a spectacle of biblical proportions. A clash of the titans. A must see summer blockbuster film. The result? A con job that rivals the one Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao pulled on the viewing public back in May of 2015.

This is exactly what we deserved. We deserved to be hoodwinked and bamboozled by a has been boxer and a man in way over his head. We paid $99.95 to watch a farce. We epitomized the meme of Frye from Futurama and told Flyod Mayweather and Connor McGregor to shut up and take our money in the hopes that a woman beating dirt-bag and a racially insensitive loud-mouth would titillate us into believing we would experience an entertaining fight.

There was evidence of this fight being a farce from the start. Floyd “Money” Mayweather walked to the ring dressed in a black and gold jacket he stole from Michael Jackson’s closet and wore a black mask akin to the one Ms. Puff wore in an episode of Spongebob Squarepants.

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Is that Floyd Mayweather or Mrs. Puff from Spongebob under that mask?

He wore this mask in order to hide a smirk and his utter disdain for the viewing public he claimed he owed for the Pacquiao fight and wanted to “entertain” the fans. Floyd knew the check had cleared before the first bell had rung.

Connor McGregor’s demeanor may exude confidence, but he knew he had no chance in this bout. This was an opportunity for him to further expand his celebrity stardom by participating in this charade, and he made like the Steve Miller Band and ceased the opportunity to take the money and run. He made millions of dollars by agreeing to get his face rearranged. Sure, his “**** you” suit was nothing short of clickbait worthy, but when your most memorable moment of this entire farce was a cheap custom suit you wore, we should’ve known just how abysmal the entire exercise would be.

The farce first started with the presentation of McGregor’s UFC title belts and Mayweather’s boxing championship belts. This was undoubtedly shameless advertising for both UFC and boxing, and resembled two kids holding up plastic WWE title belts before play fighting. Showtime desperately tried to convince paying customers they were watching an entertaining fight. Ring announcers/ color commentators Mauro Ranallo, Paulie Malignaggi, and Al Bernstein shamelessly lauded the awkward McGregor and continually gave him the benefit of the doubt. They contiually used some iteration of the word “entertain” throughout the 45 minutes of so called action. There’s no doubt McGregor was the aggressor and won first three rounds… because Floyd was toying with him.

Once round four arrived, Mayweather carried McGregor in a fight he predicted would not even go the distance. He had to give him those first three rounds so that audiences wouldn’t turn away so quickly. They should’ve changed the channel immediately after seeing the obvious product placement of Body Armor being used to hydrate the fighters, and the fact that Mayweather had no more than a scratch on his face and body while McGregor’s face and body looked like hell, and had to be iced down to avoid resembling a tomato.

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Mayweather carried the overmatched McGregor.

Though past his prime, Floyd Mayweather can sleepwalk his way through a boxing match. All he has to do is his trademark shoulder-roll move and avoid being hit while landing a couple of combinations en route to a victory. Floyd Mayweather is arguably the greatest boxer of all time, a Las Vegas showman who listlessly performed his act and made millions of dollars by merely rolling out of bed in a tenth round TKO victory.

Does this fight resolve the argument that boxers are more skilled the Mixed Martial Artists? Hardly. This was vaudevillian buffoonery at its finest, not a true measure of whether a famed UFC fighter could save face in the realm of boxing. It didn’t help that the UFC fighter, who won’t go down as even the best athlete in his sport, went up against quite possibly the pound for pound king of boxing, albeit a has been who came out of retirement to participate in the bout.

In the end, we should be ashamed of ourselves. I know I am. I tuned in hoping at the very least to be entertained by this joke, but I felt as if I was watching a summer box-office bomb that would never end.  I would’ve rather watched the King Arthur: Legend of the Sword movie released earlier this summer that Connor McGregor passed on to be in this fight. At least McGregor’s acting debut would’ve been something to behold.

We would’ve been better off re-watching Rocky III when Rocky fought Thunderlips. At least that was for charity. If you are trying to convince yourself what you just spent $99.95 and watched was even amusing, stop kidding yourself. If you aren’t calling your cable provider right now and demanding your money back, you’re doing it wrong. Maybe there’s a chance that by doing so, you’ll actually end up talking to a real person rather than a voice automated message. The sound you’ll end up hearing is the sound of popping champagne bottles, the sound of dollar bills smacking together, and Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor laughing whilst joyously screaming, “GOT ‘EM!”

The Cavaliers Celtics Megatrade

The NBA off-season continues to be more dramatic than last season.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to trade point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics in exchange for point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round pick.

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge finally pulled the trigger in an effort to pursue an NBA title. Acquiring Kyrie Irving gives them an All-Star caliber player and one of the most effective offensive players in the league, and he will compliment new free-agent forward Gordon Hayward very well. They also avoid having to pay a super-max deal to point guard Isaiah Thomas with this move as well, thus assuring they won’t have to overpay a 5’8 point guard who is a defensive liability.

Earlier this off-season, Kyrie Irving went to Cavaliers management and requested a trade, with the rumor he no longer wanted to play second fiddle to Cavaliers forward LeBron James and be “the man” on another team. While Irving was granted his request, is he really “the man” on the Boston Celtics? Sure, he’s their most talented offense player now even with the arrival of prized free-agent forward Gordon Hayward, but the Celtics aren’t going to build around Irving. They’ll play team basketball and incorporate everyone on the court, something Kyrie Irving hasn’t always been best at considering he  averages merely 5.6 assists per game for his career. Irving may have been gotten what he wanted in regards to moving away from LeBron James (*a dumb move, but more on that later*), but he isn’t going to be “the man” in Boston. And while there is also the rumor he will not commit long term to his new team, the Celtics will be hesitant to commit long term to an oft-injured ball dominant point guard.

Sure, the Celtics are now more offensively talented with the addition of Irving, but they’ve forgone their hard-nosed defensive mentality by trading away Crowder to the Cavaliers and trading guard Avery Bradley to the Detroit Pistons earlier this summer. Without their defensive tone-setters and swapping the same type of player, the Celtics aren’t much better than they were, and even then they weren’t able to be competitive in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavaliers. And considering the price they had to pay to acquire Irving wasn’t that much, we can still criticize Danny Ainge for being hesitant in trade discussions relating to now Timberwolves forward Jimmy Butler and now Thunder forward Paul George. All the Celtics had to give up was a starter or two and a future draft pick, so the Celtics could have easily had either Butler or George earlier this off-season and improve their chances of dethroning King James and the Cavaliers.

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Kyrie Irving was tired of playing second fiddle to LeBron James, and forced his way out of Cleveland.

The Cavaliers come out winners in this deal in the short-term. They are still the best team in the Eastern Conference by making this move and will represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals next year. While Isaiah Thomas is the worst defensive player in the league and there are lingering concerns regarding his hip injury he suffered in the Eastern Conference Finals, he is another offensive option for the Cavaliers who can get his own shot. They’ve essentially traded a ball dominant point guard for another ball dominant point guard, so not much changes for the Cavaliers offensively. The addition of Jae Crowder bolsters the Cavaliers’ defense as well, as he can guard a team’s best offensive player night in and night out. Crowder also shot nearly 40% from behind the three-point line last year, adding yet another sharp shooter to their three-point shooting heavy offense.

Regardless of whether or not the Cavaliers win the title next year, they know LeBron James is as good as gone. There’s only so much LeBron James can do to help this dysfunctional franchise, and the Cavaliers added an insurance policy for when LeBron James bolts for another team by acquiring Brooklyn’s 1st round pick. The Nets are sure to be one of the worst teams in the NBA this year, and the Cavaliers have effectively managed to mitigate the damage that will be done when LeBron James leaves, as they are sure to have a high draft pick in next year’s draft and can start rebuilding.

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LeBron James holds all the cards once again.

One thing I cannot wrap my mind around, however, is why Kyrie Irving requested a trade. Even though the Celtics are an ideal situation due to the fact they are contenders, Irving has thrown away a guaranteed trip to the NBA Finals by jettisoning away from LeBron James. Over the last seven seasons, any team LeBron James has played for has made it to the NBA Finals. He’s managed to win three titles during that span. Irving was also a more efficient player upon James’ arrival back to Cleveland, and was the man who made the game winning shot for the Cavaliers in Game 7 of 2016 NBA Finals because LeBron James, the best player in the world and ever, deferred to him. Why would anyone abandon a situation in which you are the second best player on the team only because you are playing beside the best player in the league and the best basketball player ever, yet still treated as a superstar/ “the man?”

While there will inevitably be a Shaq/ Kobe situation in which Irving will say he regrets leaving LeBron James and the way in which their time together ended, for now the NBA’s Eastern Conference has been made somewhat dramatic. While the season opener between these teams on October 17th will be sensationalized in an effort to make the upcoming NBA season seem less predictable, the Cavaliers are still the class of the Eastern Conference. Every fan also knows, however, everyone is playing for second place, as the Golden State Warriors are the overwhelming favorites to be champions for the third time in four years.

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Despite the move, the Warriors remain the favorite to win the NBA title next season.

Bro-Reviews: Logan Lucky

Ocean’s 7-Eleven.

The heist genre can be quite tricky to pull off now these days. While most moviegoers themselves fantasize of stealing a large sum of cash in the hopes of a rags-to-riches storybook ending, audiences have seen this story played out dozens upon dozens of times. The only director who seemed to get it right two out of the three times he directed such a film was Steven Soderbergh, who announced his retirement three years ago much to the dismay of film buffs around the globe. However, Soderbergh has ended his retirement and returned to the all-too-familiar heist film genre with his latest project, Logan Lucky.

Logan Lucky centers on Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), a would be NFL quarterback had he not blown out his knee at LSU, thus continuing a family curse that also extends to his his one-handed Iraq veteran brother, Clyde Logan (Adam Driver). After Jimmy is fired from his construction job, he and Clyde devise an elaborate plan to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway with the help of their sister Mellie Logan (Riley Keough) and incarcerated explosives expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig).

Logan Lucky rests upon the shoulders of its performers, and everyone brings their A-game to the picture. Channing Tatum continues to prove why he is one of the most  sought after A-listers in Hollywood today, bringing to life a smarter-than-you-think character who is doing this just to remain closer to his daughter. Adam Driver also gives a great performance as the down and out younger brother, and it’s roles such as these that allow Driver to expertly portray his awkwardness to make his character seem ever-so appealing. The rest of the ensemble also performs well in the film, particularly Katie Holmes, whose portrayal of Jimmy’s ex-wife makes you wish you had the gumption to pick-up a Southern belle like her. Hilary Swank also makes a welcome return to the mainstream in the third act of the film as a hard-nosed FBI investigator, and it’s great to see a talent like her back where she belongs.

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Daniel Craig, Adam Driver, and Channing Tatum in “Logan Lucky.”

However, it’s Daniel Craig’s Joe Bang who steals the show. Craig has of course always had the reputation of a suave actor due to his excellent turn as James Bond, but he immerses himself so much into his red-neck character you understand why Steven Soderbergh chooses to bill him as “and introducing Daniel Craig as Joe Bang”. It’s as if he has actually discovered a new bona fide character actor out there, and there’s no doubt Craig should be up for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar come next March. Soderbergh also returns with his slick and stylish direction that brings life to the heist. Soderbergh is also able to get the most out his performers, continuing his winning streak of being able to work with and properly direct actors, something that seems to come at a premium these days with most directors.

What helps Logan Lucky rise above its otherwise generic plot is the setting and its willingness to dive into it. These are poor, simple folk we’re following in the film, and there’s something refreshing about having poorer people in the South be the heroes we root for instead of the pretty and attractive people we see in most other heist films. The film’s Southern charm made the characters rather charming and likeable, particularly when you realize that although these characters aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, they are in fact smarter than you think and are counting on you buying into that stereotype so that they can set out what they want to accomplish. Logan Lucky is the anti- Ocean’s 11. It’s not glitzy and glamorous, it’s grimy and rednecky. As one of the extras in the film says, it’s Ocean’s 7-Eleven.

If there’s anything to gripe about regarding the film, it’s that its not as hilarious as it’s been marketed. The marketing campaign would have you believe it’s an all-out hillbilly robbery romp, but it’s more a heist film with quirky characters and a surprisingly good amount of heart. One of the performers that tries to play it up for laughs is Seth McFarlane, who never quite jells in his NASCAR sponsor role to be memorable and or effective in the film.

Overall, Logan Lucky is one of those rare late-summer releases that’s actually a good movie. It’s the kind of film Burt Reynolds would have excelled in and made a boat-load of money back in the 1960s and 1970s. With exceptional performances, great direction, and willingness to get down and dirty, Logan Lucky marks a welcome return for legendary director Steven Soderbergh and is more than worth one last trip to the theater before Labor Day.

Rating: 3/4 Stars. Pay Full Price.

Logan Lucky stars Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Seth McFarlane, Katherine Waterson, Dwight Yoakam, Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid, and Hilary Swank. It is in theaters Friday, August 18th.