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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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 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.

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-Picks: NFL Week 2 Predictions

Are you ready for some (*week 2*) football?

Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season provided a couple of surprises, namely the New England Patriots looking vulnerable and the Jacksonville Jaguars looking like the 1985 Chicago Bears. It’s only the first game mind you, but that doesn’t mean week 2 of the NFL season won’t have its fair share of tricks up its sleeve.

Last Week: 9-6

Overall: 9-6

Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals (Thursday Night Football)

Thursday Night Football, otherwise known as the plague of the earth, makes its unwanted return this week. This week’s snoozer features two teams known as “the kings of almost”, the Bengals and the Texans. Bengals QB Andy Dalton threw 4 interceptions last week, and Texans head coach Bill O’Brien pulled QB Tom Savage in favor of rookie QB DeShaun Watson since Savage is as mobile as a tree stump. Watson will lead the Texans to victory, and questions regarding if Dalton is the answer at QB for the Bengals will be asked more frequently.

Winner: Texans

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

Had it not been for a blocked punt on their first possession, the Browns might have actually taken down the Steelers last Week. Browns QB DeShone Kizer looked poised considering it was his first career start, while Ravens QB Joe Flacco threw for a measly 171 yards. The Ravens defense is for real, but the Browns will show signs they are a much improved team in defeat.

Winner: Ravens

Buffalo Bills at Carolina Panthers

Bills head coach Sean McDermott faces off against his old team this week, and he’ll really want this win. Despite tossing 2 touchdowns last week, Panthers QB Cam Netwon looked rusty. Facing a tough Bills defense won’t help knock off the rust any faster, but the Bills played the equivalent of a college football team last week against the Jets. Sean McDermott is in for a real test this week.

Winner: Panthers

Arizona Cardinals at Indianapolis Colts

Cardinals RB David Johnson is out 2-3 months due to a wrist injury, not only crushing the hopes and dreams of his fantasy football owners, but also the Cardinal’s chances at contention. QB Carson Palmer looked like 38 year-old QB last week in a loss at the Lions, but they face a Colts team whose QB options are Jacoby Brissett and Scott ‘pick 6’ Tolzien. Maybe the Colts should give Colin Kaepernick a call…

Winner: Cardinals

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars stunned many by crushing the Texans last week. Their defense looked Super Bowl worthy, collecting 10 sacks, and rookie RB Leonard Fournette looks like the real deal. The Titans came out flat against the Raiders last week, but the Jaguars will come crashing down to earth because Blake Bortles is their starting QB. Hey, did Colin Kaepernick take the Colts’ call?

Winner: Titans

Upset of the Week: Philadelphia Eagles at Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs dominated the 4th quarter last week against the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, and Alex Smith finally discovered the power of throwing the ball down the field after 13 years. Eagles QB Carson Wentz knows of this power, and threw for 307 yards and 2 TDs last week against the Redskins. Without All-Pro S Eric Berry, the Chiefs could be exploited by Wentz.

Upset of the Week Winner: Eagles

New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints

There isn’t enough crow to go around for all the dopes who picked the Patriots to go 19-0 this season. Father time looked like it finally caught up to QB Tom Brady, and the Patriot’s defense looked awful. Luckily, they play the Saints, who also have a near 40 year-old QB in Drew Brees, an even worse defense, and a has been RB in Adrian Peterson who has already started bickering with overrated Saints coach Sean Payton. Not a recipe for success.

Winner: Patriots

Minnesota Vikings at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers were a blocked punt away from losing to the lowly Browns, and were rescued by Facebook Live’s favorite user, WR Antonio Brown, who had 11 receptions for 182 yards last week. The Vikings looked tremendous last week, as QB Sam Bradford finally played like the number one overall pick. This is going to be a slugfest.

Winner: Steelers

Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bears looked better than advertised last week against the NFC champion Falcons. Bears rookie QB Mitch(*ell?*) Trubisky may have to wait a little longer behind current starter Mike Glennon. The Buccaneers on the other hand no thanks to the bumbling NFL begin their stretch of playing 16 straight games due to Hurricane Irma cancelling their week 1 match-up. Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston, who replaced Glennon, will get the better of his former teammate.

Winner: Buccaneers

Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers

The Dolphins also begin their stretch of playing 16 straight games because of the amazing incompetency of the NFL and Hurricane Irma. Thankfully, they’re playing the Chargers, who will have their home opener in a soccer stadium and find more creative ways to lose, while referees won’t remember which city they play in. By the way, how does being the RB coach of the Bills and a Rex Ryan protégé earn you a head coaching job again?

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Winner: Dolphins

Lock of the Week: New York Jets at Oakland Raiders

The Jets are tanking. The Raiders are Super Bowl contenders.

Lock of the Week Winner: Raiders

Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos

The Broncos were in control for much of their game against the Chargers, but needed a freeze the kicker timeout and a blocked field goal to win. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but QB Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys both lucky that RB Ezekiel Elliott isn’t suspended (*yet*) and are really good.

Winner: Cowboys

Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Rams

Rams head coach Sean McVay had an impressive debut against the woeful Colts, and *gasp*, QB Jared Goff actually looked halfway competent. McVay will get a chance to stick it to his old team this week, and Redskins QB Kirk (*or is it Kurt?*) Cousins won’t like that.

Winner: Redskins

BONUS Lock of the Week: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

Including the playoffs, the 49ers have lost to the Seahawks 7 straight times. The last time they won in Seattle at Century Link Field, Tarvaris Jackson started at QB for the Seahawks. The 49ers looked awful last week, and the Seahawks will want to beat up on the 49ers after looking impotent against the Packers in week 1.

BONUS Lock of the Week Winner: Seahawks

Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons (Sunday Night Football)

In a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game, the Falcon’s Super Bowl Hangover will officially take over. The Packers haven’t been known for their defense the last couple of seasons, but if they play half as well as they did against the Seahawks in week 1, QB Matt Ryan and the Falcons may be in for a long night.

Winner: Packers

Detroit Lions at New York Giants (Monday Night Football)

While the Lion’s offense looked explosive last week, the Giants offense was muted without WR Odell Beckham Jr. There is such a thing as a must win game in week 2, and this is a must win game for the Giants if they want to avoid their season going off the rails before it even starts. And by the way, the new “Are You Ready For Some Football?” theme doesn’t need Florida Georgia Line and Jason Derulo. Let ol’ redneck Hank Williams Jr. have the stage all to himself before he makes another ill-advised political comment.

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Winner: Giants