Monthly Archives: August 2013

Movie Review: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Yesterday, two of my new friends down the hall, Alex and Kyle, suggested I watch the 2004 production, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. Thanks for the recommendation guys.

This movie was popular back in the day, but I have to admit I never saw it. I don’t watch a lot of comedies these days, which is mostly because so many of these new comedies just don’t look any good. I also haven’t seen Vince Vaughn in anything before and many of my friends say he’s a bland actor, so I try to avoid him at all costs. However, Ben Stiller does know how to get a laugh out of me. Night at the Museum, Meet the Fockers, and Tropic Thunder all had their moments so I wasn’t so worried about him.

The plot is pretty simple. Peter LaFleur (Vince Vaughn) maintains a gym called Average Joe’s right across the street from Globo-Gym, a big budget workout bonanza managed by White Goodman (Ben Stiller). Peter defaults on his mortgage and unless he’s able to get $50,000 to pay off the debt, Average Joe’s is closing down. Peter and his loyal gym members enter a dodgeball tournament to try and win the money, but are going to have to face off against numerous professional dodgeballer teams to do so.

Ben Stiller does a great job acting like an ecstatic, egotistical rich guy and while Vince Vaughn is definitely bland, the rest of the supporting cast evens out his poor performance by their solid back-up roles. Justin Long, who later starred in the blockbuster hit that was Live Free or Die Hard, did a great job with a stereotypical nerd who’s got issues with the ladies. His character was memorable for me despite the poor script he was given. Each character has enough screen time that they’re not taking too much, but just enough that their character is noticed and remembered. The humor is not over-bearing, but it’s also not like I can’t breathe I’m laughing so hard. It got some chuckles and smiles from me, but not much else.

Like most comedies, the plot line is weak but it has the basic outline that a movie needs in order for it to work. The filmmakers want to get the story on the road and get the laughs going. I understand the logic, but I’d like to see a comedy do something more, something unexpected. One of the reasons my favorite comedy is Adam Sandler’s Click is because the movie was different from any other comedy I had seen before. Adam Sandler’s character actually has character development and the plot is very simple but yet so great. The first half of the movie they throw joke after joke at me that got me howling and then the second half gets more serious, I care more and more about the characters, and there’s some genuine emotional scenarios. This movie doesn’t do anything like that because I don’t think it really cares about whether we care about the characters or not. Their only goal is laughter.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Iron Man 3World War Z42)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Now You See MeMan of SteelMonster-In-LawWhite House DownJobs)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (OblivionThe WolverineJagged EdgeElysium)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Pacific RimThe Long Kiss Goodnight)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The HobbitAfter EarthRoad to PerditionTotal Recall)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Patriot Games, The Great Gatsby)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30’s ironically define the 1930’s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (The ContractPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Midnight Cowboy)

My score for Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story: 67.

This movie isn’t great but it’s not terrible. It’s a decent comedy that’s not a bad movie to watch if you’re looking to chill and watch a movie at the same time.

*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED, STOP READING!!!

*SPOILER’S EDITION*

Vince Vaughn is not good in this movie no matter who tells you that. He’s probably less than an average joe to be honest. All of his compadres seem to care more about the gym than he does. He doesn’t seem to show a care in the world and is simply too relaxed and carefree for me to be able to relate. Luckily, Justin Long was around to save the day and take Vaughn to school on how to entertain in a boring role. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have liked this movie that much. Ben Stiller helped out a lot, too, but Vaughn gave a half-baked performance in this. It didn’t seem he wanted to be there and or maybe his character was supposed to be a jerk.

 

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Movie Review: The Great Gatsby

First off, I’d like to apologize to all my readers for not writing many movie reviews recently. I have returned to college and classes and extracurricular activities have been taking up most of my time. I have a few movies that I have not seen that I plan to watch and write reviews on, but I won’t be posting movie reviews as often as I had been doing previously. I will be posting a NFL sports report each week that will include who I though had the best and worst performances of the week, a Steelers recap, and what I think the game of the week will be. Now let’s get to this movie review.

I never read the novel in high school so I had no idea what was going to happen. The movie is slow to start off. Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) narrates for what felt like the first half hour, by which time I wanted him to shut up so I could get to know the characters based off of their interactions with others, not based off of Carraway’s viewpoint. Don’t get me wrong, his narration is important, but by the time he was done I had nearly lost my patience and I’m a pretty patient person. Nick Carraway is a writer who decides to get involved with the booming stock market. He ends up buying a house next to Gatsby’s, which is like party central for the city. Carraway sees his cousin Daisy and her husband Tom, which is how we as an audience start meeting all of the supporting characters.

Nick flourishes with the big city lifestyle: goes to parties, gets wasted, the usual. Towards the later half of the first hour, Gatsby makes his appearance, and the real show gets started.

The visuals in this movie were pretty good. Everything looked like I would imagine it would during the 1920’s. Up to this point, this movie doesn’t sound so bad. That is not the case.

The acting is sub-par. Half the time it’s because of the actors and the other half it’s because of the script. Daisy’s character is bland, DiCaprio and Maguire’s scripts are lacking and some of the people in this movie don’t even need to be there. Why are Jordan Baker and Meyer Wolfsheim in this? Daisy tries to get Jordan and Carraway together, which works for all of five seconds. Wolfsheim has probably the quickest lunch meeting with Carraway and Gatsby that I have ever seen, so I don’t know why they couldn’t just cut that out. Just use Wolfsheim’s name. That’s all I really know about him anyway.

The main problem with this movie is the plot. I acknowledge that most of the blame for this falls on writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and not on the filmmakers themselves, but they were the ones who decided to make this.

Among the many problems I have with this movie is the character of Gatsby himself. Whether that is Fitzgerald’s fault or the filmmakers, I don’t know, but I can honestly say after watching this movie that I still don’t really know who Gatsby is. The whole movie Carraway as well as the audience is trying to figure out who Gatsby is, and while Carraway apparently finds out, the audience is never gifted with the details. We only get the main points. I want to know who he is, what he does, what makes him tick, and I’m never really satisfied with the answers the filmmakers give me to these questions. Notice I said satisfied, not that I didn’t like them. You can give me something in a movie that I didn’t like but I know satisfies the need. For example, I hated Jobs, but still gave it an 83 because the acting was good and the story was told.

I never get into the head of any of these characters and it drives me up the wall that I don’t know anybody. There isn’t any character connection for me in this and that’s a serious problem.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Iron Man 3World War Z42)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Now You See MeMan of SteelMonster-In-LawWhite House DownJobs)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (OblivionThe WolverineJagged EdgeElysium)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Pacific Rim, The Long Kiss Goodnight)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The HobbitAfter EarthRoad to PerditionTotal Recall)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Patriot Games)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30’s ironically define the 1930’s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (The ContractPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Midnight Cowboy)

My score for the Great Gatsby: 47.

This movie’s pace is slow to begin with, and even if you manage to wait for something to happen, you probably won’t be happy with what the film gives you. As I said before, there’s no character connection here, and because it’s a drama, the movie relies on its characters and the plot, and for me, neither was worth watching.

*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED, STOP READING!!!

*SPOILER’S EDITION*

I don’t know who Gatsby is. He’s a bootlegger, but that’s the extent of the audience’s information. It would have been nice if they could have given us a peek under the curtain and showed him doing business with underhanded crooks or something, maybe shown his conflict over whether to be with Daisy or continue to live the life he’s living. How did he get into business with Wolfsheim? All things that I don’t know that I’d like to know.

I could tell there was always something going on in Gatsby’s head, but it never gets revealed what that is. He never opens up. There are people who don’t talk about their feelings and prefer to keep everything to themselves and if that were the case with Gatsby, I wouldn’t be complaining right now, as long as the character portrayal gave me subtle hints as to what was going on upstairs. However, Gatsby reveals his whole life story to Jordan and then to Nick and yet the audience gets the smallest glimpse of his story. That’s just stupid. It’s obvious the guy is tired of living a life of lies and wants to tell the truth and yet the audience doesn’t get to be a part of it. Why the heck would I care about this character if you’re not going to show me the character development?! I know Gatsby now about as well as I knew him going into the movie and I didn’t even know anything about him other than he was rich!

Gatsby thinks that he can just convince Daisy that she never loved Tom, and that she can come with him and they can live happily ever after, which is probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. Gatsby’s been away for five years and he thinks he can just repeat the past. You can’t do that no matter how hard you try. Life doesn’t allow you to just turn back time.

The whole reason this is even a problem is because Gatsby never returned after the war because he was broke and was worried what Daisy and her parents would think of him. You would think if it was a genuine love and he cared for her that much and her for him, that he would come to the conclusion that “hey, maybe I just have to believe our love is true and take the risk”. If Daisy were to dump him on the spot, then he knows it wasn’t for real and can move on with his life without any guilt over having done or not done something. If her parents disapprove, who cares? You would think the “Great Gatsby” would have used some basic logical processing.

The guy’s life is focused on Daisy all the time. All the parties are done in the hopes that she comes to his place sometime. He refuses to believe that life has anything more to offer and so is completely miserable. You would think he would have heard of the “bros before hoes” rule. Maybe then he would have friends.

The real sad thing is that Gatsby is expecting Daisy to call him the morning that he is killed and she never calls. She also leaves town without attending his funeral. Apparently the funeral of the guy that she claimed to love more than anything wasn’t worth going to. This tells me Daisy wasn’t worth waiting for in the first place if she wasn’t willing to leave a husband that cheats on her on a regular basis for a man who is fully devoted to her and her alone. Gatsby was willing to give her everything and it still wasn’t enough. She was a typical dumb blonde who didn’t know what she wanted and two people got killed because of it. You would think this movie would be enough to convince people that women shouldn’t drive. Just kidding guys, but I seriously can’t stand her.

Finally, Gatsby says “old sport” at least fifty freaking times. I don’t care if this is the way people talked back then or not, it’s obnoxious. Every time he said it I wanted to punch his face in. This movie shoved that line down my throat the whole movie and I didn’t appreciate it.

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2013-2014 NFL Preview: Playoff Picks

First off, if you haven’t gotten a chance to read my division previews, here were my predictions.

AFC North                AFC West               AFC East               AFC South

Y Ravens 10-6          Z  Broncos 12-4    Y Patriots 10-6   Z Texans 12-4

X Bengals 9-7           Chiefs 8-8               X Dolphins 8-8   Colts 8-8

Steelers 8-8              Chargers 6-10       Bills 5-11               Titans 7-9

Browns 5-11             Raiders 4-12          Jets 2-14               Jaguars 3-13

 

NFC North               NFC West               NFC East               NFC South

Y Packers 10-6        Z 49ers 13-3           Y Giants 10-6        Z Falcons 12-4

Vikings 9-7               X Seahawks 12-4  X Redskins 9-7     Bucs 9-7

Bears 7-9                  Cardinals 6-10       Cowboys 8-8        Saints 8-8

Lions 6-10                Rams 4-12              Eagles 4-12            Panthers 5-11

 

Wild Card Round:

4 Ravens vs. 5 Bengals

I have the Ravens winning the division because while the defense won’t be the same, the Bengals still only have one receiver to throw to. The Bengals defense is now better than the Ravens though and I think the Bengals will overtake them in the playoffs.

3 Patriots vs. 6 Dolphins

The Dolphins will squeak out a playoff spot but are no contest for the Patriots.

4 Giants vs. 5 Seahawks

While the Giants get the playoff spot, they face one of the best defenses in the Seattle Seahwaks. If I was talking about the Giants in years past, I would pick the Giants to win this game, but after they’re poor season last year, my faith in them only goes so far. I’ll take the Seahawks in a close one.

3 Packers vs. 6 Redskins

The Redskins are a good team but they’re still young. Too many offensive weapons for the Packers for the Redskins to keep up.

Divisional Round:

1 Broncos vs. 5 Bengals

The Bengals don’t have enough firepower on offense to contend with the Broncos.

3 Patriots vs. 2 Texans

This Patriots team is not as good as in years past. The rushing game is definitely improved as is the defense, but Tom Brady just doesn’t have enough receivers to throw to. The Texans don’t have a lot either, but they’re defense is better, so I’ll take Houston.

1 49ers vs. 5 Seahawks

This 49ers has a practically impenetrable defense. The receiving core will be limited during the regular season but WR’s Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham are predicted to return towards the end of the year. With them back, the offense should be tough to stifle, even with a Seahawks defense that is just as tough. At the end of the day, I have more faith in the passing game of the 49ers then I do in the Seahawks. QB Russell Wilson is in only his second year. I’ll take the 49ers in a close one.

3 Packers vs. 2 Falcons

Both of these teams have decent defenses but not elite ones. If QB Matt Ryan plays like he did last year it will be a shootout game. I have more faith in the Falcons running game with a veteran in RB Steven Jackson then I’m willing to put in rookie RB Eddie Lacy.

Conference Round:

1 Broncos vs. 2 Texans

This is so hard to choose because these teams are so close to perfection on defense. The Texans secondary is one of the best in the league and the Broncos aren’t too shabby themselves. I think RB Montee Ball is going to have a great year and RB Arian Foster should demonstrate that he is only behind AP when it comes to running the ball. I think QB Matt Schaub will have a great year this year, too, but his receiving core is weak. Meanwhile, one of the best quarterbacks to play the game, QB Peyton Manning, is on the opposing sideline, and if that wasn’t enough, he has three great pass-catchers in WRs Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker. I think it will be just enough to overpower the Texans. This will be a single-digit win at the end of the game.

1 49ers vs. 2 Falcons

A rematch of last year’s championship game is what I have planned and while the Atlanta Falcons are one of my favorite teams, their defense worries me, especially their linebacker core. Meanwhile, the 49ers have some of the best linebackers in the league, and one of the best secondaries in the league…and one of the best receiving cores in the league. There’s just too much “one of the best” squads on this team for it to fall short. The Falcons need to improve their defense as well as prove to me that RB Steven Jackson is the runningback for this team before I’m willing to put them in the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XLVIII

1 49ers vs. 1 Broncos

I hate picking one seeds in a final match because very rarely does it end up that way. However, I really do think these are the two best teams in football right now. The Broncos made some key additions during the offseason that really helped them. The 49ers defense is nearly undefeatable, but nearly is the key word there. The Ravens proved it’s possible last year and I think with a playmaker like QB Peyton Manning at the helm, it can be done again. I’m just not willing to put my faith in a quarterback who hasn’t even played two full seasons in the NFL.

 

 

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2013-2014 NFL Preview: NFC South

All the numbers that come after players’ names represent how they were on ESPN’s Free Agent Tracker.

NFC SOUTH

ATLANTA FALCONS

GET: RB Steven Jackson (81), DE Osi Umenyiora (80)

LOSE: CB Brent Grimes (79), DE John Abraham (77), RB Michael Turner (76), CB Dunta Robinson (74), OT Tyson Clabo (70)

RE-SIGNS: TE Tony Gonzalez (83), S William Moore (77), OT Sam Baker (72)

DRAFT: 1st round: CB Desmond Trufant, Washington     2nd round: CB Robert Alford, Southeastern Louisiana     4th round: DE Malliciah Goodman, Clemson     TE Levine Toilolo, Stanford     5th round: DE Stansly Maponga, TCU     7th round: S Kemal Ishmael, UCF     S Zeke Motta, Notre Dame     QB Sean Renfree, Duke

SUMMARY: In my opinion, the NFC South is the toughest division this year. The Falcons were led by QB Matt Ryan, having his best year since entering the league, but everything else struggled on paper. Their run game (29th) and defense against the pass (23rd) and the rush (21st) were all causes for concern. The defense ranked 24th in yards per game, but were fifth in turnover differential (+13) and points per game (18.7). Those last two stats are the ones that really matter and those are the ones the Falcons will have to replicate if they want to get farther into the playoffs. RB Steven Jackson isn’t in his prime, but is still an upgrade from Michael Turner. DE Osi Umenyiora is a younger and stronger version of DE John Abraham. While these were the only two moves the Falcons made in free agency, at least they were good ones. The loss of CB’s Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson will hurt, but the Falcons’ safeties are solid. CB Asante Samuel should fill the void alongside first-round pick CB Desmond Trufant. The linebackers are young, but not inexperienced, so not too much worry there. The Falcons have one of the best passing attacks in the league. If the running game gets going and the defense makes significant improvements, there’s no reason why this team can’t be a title contender.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 12-4

Week 1: @ NO     Week 2: vs. STL   Week 3: @ MIA   Week 4: vs. NE   Week 5: vs. NYJ   Week 6: BYE   Week 7: vs. TB   Week 8: @ ARI   Week 9: @ CAR   Week 10: vs. SEA   Week 11: @ TB   Week 12: vs. NO   Week 13: @ BUF   Week 14: @ GB   Week 15: vs. WSH   Week 16: @ SF   Week 17: vs. CAR

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

GET: S Dashon Goldson (81), RB Peyton Hillis (75), K Lawrence Tynes (70), TE Tom Crabtree (66), WR Kevin Ogletree (64), CB Darrelle Revis (trade), RB Jeff Demps (trade), OL Gabe Carimi (trade)

LOSE: DE Michael Bennett (79), LB Quincy Black (72), TE Dallas Clark (70), CB Ronde Barber (retired), RB LeGarrette Blount (trade)

RE-SIGNS: none

DRAFT: 2nd round: CB Johnathan Banks, Mississippi State     3rd round: QB Mike Glennon, North Carolina State     4th round: DT Akeem Spence, Illinois     DE William Gholston, Michigan State     5th round: OLB Steve Means, Buffalo     6th round: RB Mike James, Miami

SUMMARY: This team started off 6-4 to start the season before dropping five of their last six games. The Buccaneers also failed to beat any tough teams aside from the Falcons and Vikings. They lost to the giants, cowboys, redskins, saints, and broncos. QB Josh Freeman led the Bucs’ tenth-best passing attack but he has shown he’s not a consistent quarterback. When he’s good, he’s good, but when he’s bad, he’s bad. He eclipsed the 4,000 yard mark and threw for 27 touchdowns, but his 17 interceptions and 8 fumbles nearly equaled his touchdown total. This is a contract year for Freeman, so if he wants to stay with this team, he’s got to mature and show he can lead this team to the playoffs. This team had the best rush defense but the worst defense against the pass. They fixed that by acquiring S Dashon Goldson and CB Darrelle Revis. This team has made some strides in the past couple years, but I’m not sure if it’s enough for a playoff spot.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 9-7

Week 1: @ NYJ   Week 2: vs. NO   Week 3: @ NE   Week 4: vs. ARI   Week 5: BYE   Week 6: vs. PHI   Week 7: @ ATL   Week 8: vs. CAR   Week 9: @ SEA   Week 10: vs. MIA   Week 11: vs. ATL   Week 12: @ DET   Week 13: @ CAR   Week 14: vs. BUF   Week 15: vs. SF   Week 16: @ STL   Week 17: @ NO

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

GET: CB Keenan Lewis (75), TE Ben Watson (73), OT Jason Smith (73), DE Kenyon Coleman (69)

LOSE: OT Jermon Bushrod (76), DT Sedrick Ellis (75), RB Chris Ivory (trade)

RE-SIGNS: none

DRAFT: 1st round: S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas     3rd round: OT Terron Armstead, Arkansas-Pine Bluff     DT John Jenkins, Georgia     5th round: WR Kenny Stills, Oklahoma     6th round: DE Rufus Johnson, Tarleton State

SUMMARY: QB Drew Brees continue to lead the best passing game in New Orleans, but without Drew Brees, this team has nothing. Their rushing game (25th) as well as their defense against the pass (31st) and the rush (32nd) are close to non-existent. The Saints still managed to win seven games despite their mishaps. They brought in CB Keenan Lewis from Pittsburgh, which if he produces like he did last year, will be a big help to this secondary. DE Kenyon Coleman was brought in to help the Saints transition to a 3-4 defense. However, Coleman has been lost for the season, so that transition won’t be as smooth as they were hoping. Also, the 3-4 defense relies on the linebackers to fill in the holes. The Saints’ two starting outside linebackers, Martez Wilson and Junior Galette, combined for a total of 39 tackles last year. That doesn’t speak well for a transition. Despite the defensive woes and lack of a running game, QB Drew Brees is simply too dominate for this team not to win at least six games. This team won’t make the playoffs, but they’ll be in the hunt and could overtake the Bucs.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 8-8

Week 1: vs. ATL   Week 2: @ TB   Week 3: vs. ARI   Week 4: vs. MIA   Week 5: @ CHI   Week 6: @ NE   Week 7: BYE   Week 8: vs. BUF   Week 9: @ NYJ   Week 10: vs. DAL   Week 11: vs. SF   Week 12: @ ATL   Week 13: @ SEA   Week 14: vs. CAR   Week 15: @ STL   Week 16: @ CAR   Week 17: vs. TB

CAROLINA PANTHERS

GET: CB Drayton Florence (69), CB D.J. Moore (67), LB Chase Blackburn (66), WR Domenik Hixon (61)

LOSE: LB James Anderson (75), CB Chris Gamble (retired)

RE-SIGNS: DT Dwan Edwards (72), CB Captain Munnerlyn (69)

DRAFT: 1st round: DT Star Lotulelei, Utah     2nd round: DT Kawann Short, Purdue     4th round: G Edmund Kugbila, Valdosta State     5th round: ILB A.J. Klein, Iowa State     6th round: RB Kenjon Barner, Oregon

SUMMARY: Statistically, the Carolina Panthers are a middle-of-the-road team. Their passing (16th), rushing (9th), pass defense (13th), and rush defense (14th) are all average. However, being average in the NFC South simply isn’t going to cut it. This team isn’t bad, it really isn’t, but this division is simply too tough for the Panthers to get out of the cellar. QB Cam Newton may have done well in fantasy, but he didn’t come close to exciting the league like he did in 2011. He needs to step it up if he wants the Panthers to be even moderately successful. Like I said, this team isn’t bad, but it doesn’t have many star players that really jump out at you. Aside from Cam Newton and LB Luke Kuechly, that’s about it. WR Steve Smith is 34 and he’s still got talent, but the days of him being a top receiver in this league are short.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 5-11

Week 1: vs. SEA   Week 2: @ BUF   Week 3: vs. NYG   Week 4: BYE   Week 5: @ ARI   Week 6: @ MIN   Week 7: vs. STL   Week 8: @ TB   Week 9: vs. ATL   Week 10: @ SF   Week 11: vs. NE   Week 12: @ MIA   Week 13: vs. TB   Week 14: @ NO   Week 15: vs. NYJ   Week 16: vs. NO   Week 17: @ ATL

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2013-2014 NFL Preview: NFC East

All the numbers that come after players’ names represent how they were rated on ESPN’s Free Agent Tracker.

NFC EAST

NEW YORK GIANTS

GET: DT Cullen Jenkins (80), DT Mike Patterson (71), CB Aaron Ross (71), LB Dan Connor (69), S Ryan Mundy (66), K Josh Brown (65), TE Brandon Myers (59)

LOSE: DE Osi Umenyiora (80), RB Ahmad Bradshaw (78), DT Chris Canty (78), S Kenny Phillips (77), TE Martellus Bennett (74), LB Chase Blackburn (66), WR Domenik Hixon (61)

RE-SIGNS: WR Victor Cruz (80), OT Will Beatty (79), S Stevie Brown (71), G Kevin Boothe (71), DT Shaun Rogers (69)

DRAFT: 1st round: OT Justin Pugh, Syracuse     2nd round: DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State     3rd round: DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M     4th round: QB Ryan Nassib, Syracuse     5th round: S Cooper Taylor, Richmond     7th round: G Eric Herman, Ohio     RB Michael Cox, Massachusetts

SUMMARY:  After winning Super Bowl XLVI against the New England Patriots, the Giants went 9-7 with a defense that was 28th against the pass, 25th against the rush and gave up the second-most yards per game behind the New Orleans Saints. So despite a defense that just didn’t click last year, the Giants almost made the playoffs anyway. The Giants had a decent offseason. DE Osi Umenyiora left for Atlanta, but the Giants got two DT’s in Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson to help out up front. TE Brandon Myers is a risk, as Myers never was very productive in Oakland, but the Giants hope that will change with QB Eli Manning throwing to him. RB David Wilson seems ready to take over the starting runningback duties and if he can demonstrate the same explosiveness as he did last year, the Giants may make an improvement from last year’s 14th-best rushing attack. Manning is renowned for his durability, as he has played eight consecutive seasons without missing a start, and should continue to produce consistently as he has done his entire career. The secondary is solid, but the linebacking core is young this year. Despite last year’s poor defensive performance, I expect coach Tom Coughlin will have gotten this defense back into shape. The Giants have won at least eight games in every season since 2004, when they went 6-10 in Coughlin’s first year. I expect that streak to continue this year as the Giants edge out the Redskins for the division crown.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 10-6

Week 1: @ DAL   Week 2: vs. DEN   Week 3: @ CAR   Week 4: @ KC   Week 5: vs. PHI   Week 6: @ CHI   Week 7: vs. MIN   Week 8: @ PHI   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: vs. OAK   Week 11: vs. GB   Week 12: vs. DAL   Week 13: @ WSH   Week 14: @ SD  Week 15: vs. SEA   Week 16: @ DET   Week 17: vs. WSH

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

GET: none

LOSE: OT Jammal Brown (76), S Madieu Williams (74)

RE-SIGNS: TE Fred Davis (79), CB DeAngelo Hall (79), G Kory Lichtensteiger (69)

DRAFT: 2nd round: CB David Amerson, North Carolina State     3rd round: TE Jordan Reed, Florida     4th round: S Phillip Thomas, Fresno State     5th round: RB Chris Thompson, Florida State     OLB Brandon Jenkins, Florida State     6th round: S Bacarri Rambo, Georgia     7th round: RB Jawan Jamison, Rutgers

SUMMARY: This team went far beyond expectations last year, winning their last seven games to make the playoffs. This despite a defense that gave up a total of 377.7 yards per game (28th), 24.3 points per game (22nd) and a pass defense that was 30th in the league. However, the Washington Redskins finished high in two of the most important statistics in the game: turnover differential and turnovers. They had the third highest turnover differential at +17. Only Chicago and New England were better. The Redskins also had only 14 turnovers, the fewest in the league. TE Fred Davis, OLB Brian Orakpo and  veteran S Brandon Meriweather are all coming back from injuries. However, the Redskins lost 4th round pick S Phillip Thomas to a Lisfranc tear, meaning 6th round pick S Bacarri Rambo will be one of the starting safeties. The linebacking core is strong, but the secondary must perform better than last year, especially if CB DeAngelo Hall is part of that unit. RB Alfred Morris should keep the rushing game moving smoothly and although I’m worried about QB Robert Griffin III’s durability, he is consistently accurate and doesn’t commit a lot of turnovers.  If the secondary improves and RG3 stays healthy, this team could overtake the Giants for the division.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 9-7

Week 1: vs. PHI   Week 2: @ GB   Week 3: vs. DET   Week 4: @ OAK   Week 5: BYE   Week 6: @ DAL   Week 7: vs. CHI   Week 8: @ DEN   Week 9: vs. SD   Week 10: @ MIN   Week 11: @ PHI   Week 12: vs. SF   Week 13: vs. NYG   Week 14: vs. KC   Week 15: @ ATL   Week 16: vs. DAL   Week 17: @ NYG

DALLAS COWBOYS

GET: LB Justin Durant (77)

LOSE: RB Felix Jones (75), LB Dan Connor (69), DE Kenyon Coleman (69), CB Mike Jenkins (67), WR Kevin Ogletree (64), S Gerald Sensabaugh (retired)

RE-SIGNS: LB Anthony Spencer (80), C Phil Costa (68)

DRAFT: 1st round: C Travis Frederick, Wisconsin     2nd round: TE Gavin Escobar, San Diego State     3rd round: WR Terrance Williams, Baylor     S J.J. Wilcox, Georgia Southern     4th round: CB B.W. Webb, William & Mary     5th round: RB Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State     6th round: OLB DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina

SUMMARY: The Dallas Cowboys had one of the worst offseasons in my opinion. They got LB Justin Durant in free agency, but that was it, even though their defense was a cause for concern last year. They gave up 25 points per game (24th) and the team had a -13 turnover differential, tied for fifth-worst in the league. The Cowboys had the second-worst rushing attack last year and to solve it, drafted a running back in the fifth round, even though runningback should have been one of the main priorities for this team. RB Demarco Murray breached the 100-mark one time last year, which was on opening day and that’s gotta change if this team wants to win. QB Tony Romo shows time and time again he is not the quarterback for this team, but Jerry Jones signed him to a contract extension this summer so the Cowboys will continue to turn the ball over and fail to perform when it matters. The Cowboys haven’t made the postseason since 2009 and I don’t see that changing this year.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 8-8

Week 1: vs. NYG   Week 2: @ KC   Week 3: vs. STL   Week 4: @ SD   Week 5: vs. DEN   Week 6: vs. WSH   Week 7: @ PHI   Week 8: @ DET   Week 9: vs. MIN   Week 10: @ NO   Week 11: BYE   Week 12: @ NYG   Week 13: vs. OAK   Week 14: @ CHI   Week 15: vs. GB   Week 16: @ WSH   Week 17: vs. PHI

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

GET: LB Connor Barwin (79), S Kenny Phillips (77), DT Isaac Sopoaga (77), S Patrick Chung (75), P Donnie Jones (75), RB Felix Jones (75), CB Cary Williams (73), FB James Casey (67), CB Bradley Fletcher (66)

LOSE: DT Cullen Jenkins (80), CB Nnamdi Asomugha (80), CB Dominique Rodger-Cromartie (78), DT Mike Patterson (71), LB Akeem Jordan (70)

RE-SIGNS: none

DRAFT: 1st round: OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma     2nd round: TE Zach Ertz, Stanford     3rd round: DT Bennie Logan, LSU     4th round: QB Matt Barkley, USC     5th round: S Earl Wolff, North Carolina State     7th round: DE Joe Kruger, Utah     CB Jordan Poyer, Oregon State     DE David King, Oklahoma

SUMMARY: This team was once called a dream team by fans a couple of years ago, fated to make a Super Bowl run. Everyone, including myself, was wrong. QB Michael Vick has failed to shine the last few years, WR DeSean Jackson is no longer the electric receiver he used to be, the defense has fallen apart, and RB LeSean McCoy is dealing with injuries. College coaches haven’t had much success in the pros, but the Eagles are hoping new coach Chip Kelly will be different. The team lost two of its best DT’S as well as both of their starting CB’s. They picked up two new safeties, and CB Cary Williams from Baltimore is expected to start. Despite all the help, I don’t think the Philly defense will improve much after allowing 27.8 points per game (tied-29th) last year. The Eagles have to get a better turnover differential, after a -24 last year, tied for worst in the league. The secondary will struggle and the offense will once again fall on RB LeSean McCoy and QB Michael Vick, who has less targets to throw to after WRs Jeremy Maclin and WR Arrelious Benn tore their ACL’s. The city of brotherly love won’t be getting any love on the field this year.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 4-12

Week 1: @ WSH   Week 2: vs. SD   Week 3: vs. KC   Week 4: @ DEN   Week 5: @ NYG   Week 6: @ TB   Week 7: vs. DAL   Week 8: vs. NYG   Week 9: @ OAK   Week 10: @ GB   Week 11: vs. WSH   Week 12: BYE   Week 13: vs. ARI   Week 14: vs. DET   Week 15: @ MIN   Week 16: vs. CHI   Week 17: @ DAL

 

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Movie Review: The Long Kiss Goodnight

After the bitter taste I got in my mouth after watching Jobs, I decided I needed to watch another movie to get that out of my system so my mom, brother and I ended up watching this 1996 film. The backstory is that Samantha Caine (Geena Davis) has dementia and can’t remember anything from before eight years ago. Through a bunch of surprising, unforeseen circumstances, she discovers she was once a spy and now along with Detective Henessey (Samuel L. Jackson), must finish the mission she failed to complete eight years ago.

First off, there are some serious problems with the “circumstances” that cause her to discover her past, ones I’ll discuss in the spoiler’s edition. All the roles in this movie seem very stereotypical. For example, Samuel L. Jackson is the guy who’s done nothing right his whole life and Samantha’s daughter is the typical “I’ll get myself into dangerous situations whenever possible” child.

The acting is sub-par and the dialogue is cheesy and corny. Like when Samantha meets Dr. Waldman, who tells her what her real name is, what she did, what her mission was, etc., it all seemed really corny for me. Some of the emotional acting that they try to include was so pitiful it actually got me chuckling.

This movie’s special effects team could have really used George Lucas, because he did a better job with his special effects in the Star Wars movies in the ’70’s and ’80’s then this team did in ’96. The explosions were overdone to the point of absurdity with Davis and Jackson naturally missing the explosions by mere inches. Other times, it was very obvious that the backgrounds were computer-generated and I’m someone who doesn’t even pay attention to that stuff.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Iron Man 3World War Z42)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Now You See MeMan of SteelMonster-In-LawWhite House Down, Jobs)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (OblivionThe WolverineJagged EdgeElysium)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Pacific Rim)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The HobbitAfter EarthRoad to PerditionTotal Recall)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Patriot Games)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30’s ironically define the 1930’s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (The ContractPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Midnight Cowboy)

My score for The Long Kiss Goodnight: 66.

Part of me thinks this movie wasn’t meant to be taken seriously because there’s just too much wrong with it. Director Renny Harkin was responsible for Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger, both of which were good movies. I have trouble believing he could go from Die Hard 2 to crapola. This is one of those bad movies that’s fun to watch and I did enjoy it.

*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED, STOP READING!!!

*SPOILER’S EDITION*

First off, this movie tells you that Samantha Caine has dementia. That is not the case at all. At one point, her daughter and her go ice skating and her daughter falls and hurts her arm. She skates over and in a demanding, militaristic tone, tells her to get up, and that “pain is life.” What?! First of all, no matter who you are, who talks like that? Life is pain? Pain is life? Are you kidding me? Anyway, you can tell she’s not herself but later complains to her boyfriend that she doesn’t remember what she said to her daughter. Then she gets attacked by some guy who was in prison that saw her on the news in a Christmas parade. Apparently, this guy was sent to kill her and succeeded in shooting her on the side of the head and she fell off a cliff into water with spiked rocks below. He finds out she’s not dead and after escaping goes to finish the job. He dies in like five seconds, which only shows how important his character really was. She ends up killing him after breaking his neck and once again, you can tell she’s not herself. After enough hints, I figured out she had multiple personalities and that in reality her problem wasn’t dementia at all. Her spy personality comes out and starts killing bad guys, blah, blah, blah, and then after she kills everybody, the end of the movie concludes with her boyfriend, daughter and her at some farm hanging out. Narration tells us she kept her job as a school teacher and just goes back to the life she was living. WHAT?! There’s no way that would work, no way. Her daughter is traumatized after all the crap she’s seen by the end of this movie, so how can she be a teacher when it’s evident her own daughter has problems? Finally, Samuel Jackson gets shot up and then miraculously lives to save the day and lives in general, too. I can’t say I saw that happening either. This movie will get some laughs out of you just because it’s that bad, but you’ll probably agree with me that it’s a bad movie that’s fun to watch.

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Movie Review: Jobs

 

[ JOBS POSTER ]I was worried about this movie coming in because while the trailer looked good I was worried about the final product. I read through Steve Jobs biography on Wikipedia a couple days before going to see this so I had some knowledge going into it.

First, the acting was very good. The story of Steve Jobs was depicted well, or at least to the best of my knowledge. Like I said, I didn’t know a whole lot about the guy going in, so I can’t verify it’s historical accuracy, but it definitely played out like a story. Despite Ashton Kutcher being known for his comedy work, his representation was convincing and I found no major faults with it. I’d say it’s worthy of a Best Actor nomination.

Despite the good acting, this movie left a bitter taste in my mouth. I don’t think it’s the movie’s fault so much as it is the story of Steve Jobs himself. The problem is that Steve Jobs wasn’t kind of a jerk, he was a jerk. The guy was given up at birth and was very hurt by that and yet when his girlfriend got pregnant, he abandoned her and did exactly what his parents did to him. He refused to give any stock to the guys who helped him get the business on its feet. He betrayed all of his friends except for Woz. He also lied to Woz at the beginning of the movie and said that his boss was paying him $700 for the game Woz helped him build, not the $5000 that he was actually getting paid. Two character traits that I hold most dear are loyalty and honesty, and Jobs didn’t have either of them.

He was a businessman who was always doing what was best for the business. Perhaps not giving his friends stock in the company was the right choice from a business standpoint, but it wasn’t right from a fair, moral standard. Everything was his way or the highway. Every time someone disagreed with him, he was either demoted or fired. He was a terrible people-person, who was horrible at teamwork, if that word was even in his vocabulary.

He desired to create something that had never been seen before, to change the world. There are plenty of people who have a similar dream, to do something extraordinary, to be remembered, to create a legacy for oneself. It’s the way he went about it that was wrong. He felt the ends justified the means and he would do anything to get there. Whatever it was, he was willing to do it to be remembered. The only problem was the genius forgot that how he got there would be remembered, too. People will remember how he failed to acknowledge his daughter for many years and vehemently denied it to everyone who asked. How he was one of the most demanding and domineering people on the planet, and was willing to deplore whatever treachery, deceit, and dishonesty necessary to get it his way.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Iron Man 3World War Z42)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Star Trek Into DarknessNow You See MeMan of SteelMonster-In-LawWhite House Down)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (OblivionThe WolverineJagged Edge, Elysium)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Pacific Rim)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The HobbitAfter EarthRoad to PerditionTotal Recall)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Patriot Games)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30’s ironically define the 1930’s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (The ContractPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Midnight Cowboy)

My score for Jobs: 83.

Despite my dislike for this movie, I can’t ignore the good acting and storytelling that took place in it. You care about the characters, at least I did, except for Steve Jobs. I just can’t connect with the character man that he was.

There’s a monologue in the middle of the movie that Woz (Josh Gad) gives that was truly heart-warming and touching. In it, Woz says, “Not everyone has an agenda, Steve.” That’s exactly who Steve Jobs was, someone who had an agenda and nothing more. The guy had blinders on, his head focused straight ahead, hypnotized by the goal of creative vision and success. He failed to notice all the havoc he caused and lives he damaged, because it was all about “keeping the eye on the ball”. For me, that severely degrades his accomplishments. I’ll continue to use my Ipod Nano when I listen to music and continue to use those Apple Desktops in my design classes at school, but every time someone mentions the name Steve Jobs, all I’ll be able to think is, “that guy was a prick.”

*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED, STOP READING !!!

*SPOILER’S EDITION*

Sorry guys, nothing to spoil. It’s a biography film so…

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2013-2014 NFL Preview: NFC West

All the numbers that come after players’ names represent how they were rated on ESPN’s Free Agent Tracker.

NFC WEST

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

GET: CB Nnamdi Asomugha (80), DL Glenn Dorsey (79), K Phil Dawson (77), WR Austin Collie (75), S Craig Dahl (66), QB Colt McCoy (trade), WR Anquan Boldin (trade)

LOSE: S Dashon Goldson (81), DT Isaac Sopoaga (77), TE Delanie Walker (72), WR Randy Moss (72), K David Akers (65), QB Alex Smith (trade)

RE-SIGNS: none

DRAFT: 1st round: S Eric Reid, LSU     2nd round: DE Cornelius Carradine, Florida State     TE Vance McDonald, Rice     3rd round: DE Corey Lemonier, Auburn     4th round: WR Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech     RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina     5th round: DE Quinton Dial, Alabama     6th round: OLB Nick Moody, Florida State     7th round: QB B.J. Daniels, USF     OT Carter Bykowski, Iowa State     CB Marcus Cooper, Rutgers

SUMMARY: San Francisco had a great year last year, finishing 4th in rushing and in defense against the pass and rush. Their passing game scored a measly 23rd, but should improve this year after the acquisition of WR Anquan Boldin, who showed last year he has more in the tank. The receiving core will struggle early though since star WR Michael Crabtree tore his ACL in May. A possible return in late November is on the board, but that’s still half a season without a starting receiver. The loss of S Dashon Goldson won’t hurt as much as expected after the signing of S Craig Dahl and drafting of LSU S Eric Reid. QB Colin Kaepernick must step up to the plate this year and show he can produce solid performances over a long term period. I’ll admit that despite all of his success last year, I’m still not entirely sold on this rookie prodigy. If he can dominate the field again this year, then I’m sold. Even if Kaepernick struggles early, he has a top-three defense behind him. All four starting linebackers are returning this year and the secondary is looking even better with the addition of CB Nnamdi Asomugha. RB Frank Gore may be 30, but he will continue to produce and stay healthy, just as he has done for his whole career. The Seahawks will definitely give the 49ers a run for their money, but I think the 49ers end up with the division crown once again.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 13-3

Week 1: vs. GB   Week 2: @ SEA   Week 3: vs. IND   Week 4: @ STL   Week 5: vs. HOU   Week 6: vs. ARI   Week 7: @ TEN   Week 8: @ JAC   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: vs. CAR   Week 11: @ NO   Week 12: @ WSH   Week 13: vs. STL   Week 14: vs. SEA   Week 15: @ TB   Week 16: vs. ATL   Week 17: @ ARI

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

GET: DE Cliff Avril (84), DE Michael Bennett (79), CB Antoine Winfield (77), QB Brady Quinn (53), QB Tarvaris Jackson, WR Percy Harvin (trade)

LOSE: DT Alan Branch (77), LB Leroy Hill (74), RB Leon Washington (73), CB Marcus Trufant (67), QB Matt Flynn (trade)

RE-SIGNS: none

DRAFT: 2nd round: RB Christine Michael, Texas A&M     3rd round: DT Jordan Hill, Penn State     4th round: WR Chris Harper, Kansas State     5th round: DT Jesse Williams, Alabama     CB Tharold Simon, LSU     TE Luke Wilson, Rice     6th round: RB Spencer Ware, LSU     7th round: G Ryan Seymour, Vanderbilt     OLB Ty Powell, Harding     DT Jared Smith, New Hampshire     OT Michael Bowie, Northeastern State

SUMMARY: Of all the teams that I underestimated last year, this was the team that I will admit I terribly overlooked last year. This defense gave up the fewest points per game last year at 15.3 and the fewest total points at 245, right ahead of rival San Francisco. They were sixth against the pass and tenth against the rush and Marshawn Lynch powered the team to third in rushing. However, this team was 27th in passing last year, something that will need to drastically improve if they intend to overtake San Francisco for the division crown. A lot was given up for WR Percy Harvin, but there is no timetable for his return, so there’s no telling whether we will even see him this season or not, so starting WR’s Sidney Rice and Golden Tate will have to keep the pass going. DE’s Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett will bolster an already superb D-line and the secondary for this team is practically unbeatable. In any other division, they would probably win the crown, but I think San Francisco takes the crown and Seattle takes a wild card spot once again despite a tough schedule.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD12-4

Week 1: @ CAR   Week 2: vs. SF   Week 3: vs. JAC   Week 4: @ HOU   Week 5: @ IND   Week 6: vs. TEN   Week 7: @ ARI   Week 8: @ STL   Week 9: vs. TB   Week 10: @ ATL   Week 11: vs. MIN   Week 12: BYE   Week 13: vs. NO   Week 14: @ SF   Week 15: @ NYG   Week 16: vs. ARI   Week 17: vs. STL

ARIZONA CARDINALS

GET: LB Karlos Dansby (83), CB Antoine Cason (79), DE Matt Shaughnessy (79), OT Eric Winston (78), DE John Abraham (77), RB Rashard Mendenhall (77), LB Jasper Brinkley (75), DE Frostee Rucker (70), S Yeremiah Bell (69), QB Carson Palmer (trade)

LOSE: S Kerry Rhodes (77), S Adrian Wilson (77), RB Beanie Wells (72), WR Early Doucet (71), CB William Gay (67), QB Kevin Kolb (67), RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (66), QB John Skelton

RE-SIGNS: none

DRAFT: 1st round: G Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina     2nd round: ILB Kevin Minter, LSU     3rd round: CB Tyrann Mathieu, LSU     4th round: DE Alex Okafor, Texas     G Earl Watford, James Madison     5th round: RB Stepfan Taylor, Stanford     6th round: WR Ryan Swope, Texas A&M     RB Andre Ellington, Clemson     7th round: TE D.C. Jefferson, Rutgers

SUMMARY: This team had a very disappointing season last year, but had a great free agency and draft. This team was actually 5th against the pass last year. The loss of both starting safeties will hurt, but the drafting of CB Tyrann Mathieu and signing of veteran CB Antoine Cason will minimize the damage. To fix the poor run defense, star players were brought in such as LB Karlos Dansby, DE Matt Shaughnessy, DE John Abraham, LB Jasper Brinkley, and DE Frostee Rucker. The drafting of ILB Kevin Minter and DE Alex Okafor will also help in the future. Their rushing attack was worst in the league last year, so RB Rashard Mendenhall was brought in. They also picked up RB’s Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington in the draft. Finally, no wide receivers were brought in, but a new quarterback in Carson Palmer will help there. This team is definitely trying to fill in the holes, but it’s simply not enough to contend with the 49ers and Seahawks. I’m also not willing to put my faith in any quarterback that went to USC. USC quarterbacks are historically bad, Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez to name a few. Expect improvement and maybe some surprise wins, but no playoffs for the Cards.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 6-10

Week 1: @ STL   Week 2: vs. DET   Week 3: @ NO   Week 4: @ TB   Week 5: vs. CAR   Week 6: @ SF   Week 7: vs. SEA   Week 8: vs. ATL   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: vs. HOU   Week 11: @ JAC   Week 12: vs. IND   Week 13: @ PHI   Week 14: vs. STL   Week 15: @ TEN   Week 16: @ SEA   Week 17: vs. SF

ST. LOUIS RAMS

GET: OT Jake Long (86), TE Jared Cook (77)

LOSE: RB Steven Jackson (81), S Quintin Mikell (79), WR Danny Amendola (76), LB Rocky McIntosh (72), S Craig Dahl (66), CB Bradley Fletcher (66), WR Steve Smith (62)

RE-SIGNS: none

DRAFT: 1st round: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia     ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia     3rd round: S T.J. McDonald, USC     WR Stedman Bailey, West Virginia     4th round: C Barrett Jones, Alabama     5th round: CB Brandon McGee, Miami     RB Zachary Stacy, Vanderbilt

SUMMARY: Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola, Sam Bradford…that’s basically  what this offense consisted of last year. RB Steven Jackson and WR Danny Amendola departed during free agency, leaving QB Sam Bradford with no running game and no star receiver.The defense watched both of their starting safeties leave. Already it looked like it was going to be a tough year for the St. Louis Rams. However, there is hope. RB Zac Stacy was taken in the draft and while the backfield isn’t encouraging, OT Jake Long is sure to help in the run game and in pass protection. TE Jared Cook was a nice addition to this team and I also think the selection of West Virginia WR’s Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey were excellent choices. The Rams have an underrated defense that finished with 52 sacks, tied with Denver for the most in the league.  They were 15th against the pass and the rush and I think this team will have a top-half defense once again. The NFC West is too difficult for the Rams to compete this year and their schedule is preposterous, but if they draft well in the next couple of years, they could become a team to watch out for.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 4-12

Week 1: vs. ARI   Week 2: @ ATL   Week 3: @ DAL   Week 4: vs. SF   Week 5: vs. JAC   Week 6: @ HOU   Week 7: @ CAR   Week 8: vs. SEA   Week 9: vs. TEN   Week 10: @ IND   Week 11: BYE   Week 12: vs. CHI   Week 13: @ SF   Week 14: @ ARI   Week 15: vs. NO   Week 16: vs. TB   Week 17: @ SEA

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Movie Review: Elysium

Have you ever had a really bad day followed by another bad day followed by another? Everything seemed to go wrong and you thought you were like anti-Irish or something? In this movie, our protagonist Max DeCosta (Matt Damon) is having a really bad day.

Max grew up in an orphanage and didn’t really have much, which led him to becoming a car thief later in life. However, he’s changing his ways and now he’s got a job at Armadyne, a military contractor that is responsible for assembling the police robots that roam the streets. Max is still on parole and gets searched by two of these robots, who then break his arm. He then has to run to an overflowing hospital for medical attention, shows up to work late, gets reprimanded…yeah, it’s a bad day already for poor Max.

Even though you don’t know a lot about his character yet, it’s hard not to feel sorry for the guy, partly because he hasn’t shown me anything not to like, and partly because no regular guy should have to put up with that crap. After an unfortunate work accident the very next day, Max’s life changes in a major way.

One reason I feel like I really connect with Max’s character is because when we’re mad, we both seem to act in similar ways. Everything that could go wrong for Max does, and his approach is, “I’m going to accomplish task A, and nothing is getting in my way.” Similar to Max, when I’m really peeved, I develop a you-ain’t-stopping-me attitude. I act like I’m indestructible, so much so that I would be willing to charge at a 350-lb defensive lineman with my 150-lb cornstalk frame. It’s almost like a blind rage (as well as obnoxious stupidity),  which is obviously not the best way to deal with anger, but that’s what happens sometimes. Max has this same attitude, which makes it very easy for me to connect with this character. Max just puts all the brakes on and has that attitude like “I’m not putting up with this crap”. I was loving it the whole movie because like I said, it’s so easy for me to connect. Matt Damon does a great job with his character portrayal and I never doubt Max’s resolve.

Despite Jodie Foster’s name being on the front cover, she doesn’t do that much in this movie. She’s the one responsible for shooting ships out of the sky that are trying to reach Elysium and she just ignores all the criticism that she gets from her government peers.

Sharlto Copley’s name is the one that should be on the front cover. This guy was fantastic in District 9 and he did a pretty good job with this character here even though he’s portraying an entirely different person. He’s a power-hungry psycho and he’s a boss at it. He was a great star to put opposite Matt Damon. The rest of the supporting cast does what is needed of them, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The action scenes, as well as the story, took a while to get going. The first half of the movie was a little slow for my liking but I was patient about it. The first half does some character development with Max, which I appreciated, but some of the time, it involved interacting with other supporting cast members that I didn’t care for, such as his girlfriend/friend Frey. Throughout the movie, I was trying to figure out if she was supposed to be a romantic interest or just a really good friend and it was never really obvious which one it was. At some points, it felt like they were just friends, but then in their next interaction the scriptwriters would make it out like there was more there. Some consistency there would have helped.

The second half was much better, especially the third act. The third act really sent this movie off with a boom, which I had been waiting for for the previous 90 minutes. The action scenes were pretty sick and I was pleased with them. I wish there would have been more in the first half though.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Iron Man 3World War Z42)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Star Trek Into DarknessNow You See MeMan of SteelMonster-In-LawWhite House Down)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (OblivionThe WolverineJagged Edge)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Pacific Rim)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The HobbitAfter EarthRoad to Perdition, Total Recall)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Patriot Games)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30’s ironically define the 1930’s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (The ContractPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Midnight Cowboy)

My score for Elysium: 77.

There were a few plot holes, but they were necessary to move the story along and the result of those plot holes were for the better, so I wasn’t all that mad about them. This movie is slow-moving as I said, but once it gets going, you’re in for a great ride.

*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED, STOP READING!!!

*SPOILER’S EDITION*

First off, Jodie Foster asks the CEO of Armadyne if he can reboot the government program on Elysium, which would allow Jodie Foster to take control and become the new president. Wait, why would you give that kind of power to a military contractor? Wasn’t the Elysium government concerned that the military might attempt a coup? Why would you allow a government program to be rebooted? It’s just a little confusing.

The government officials on Elysium have microchips in the side of their head for storing information. Why? Haven’t they heard of flashdrives?

Finally, Kruger (Sharlto Copley) gets his face blown off by a grenade. When I say blown off, I mean it’s like someone took a blow torch to his face for a minute and turned his facial bones into yogurt. His two comrades carry him to one of the healing stations and it puts his whole face back together. That’s great and all, but he would have zero brain function after that.

Despite these things, it’s still an entertaining one and one I got a kick out of. I can’t say it’s a must-see though.

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2013-2014 NFL Preview: NFC North

All the numbers that come after players’ names represent how they were rated on ESPN’s Free Agent Tracker

NFC NORTH

GREEN BAY PACKERS

GET: none

LOSE: WR Greg Jennings (83), S Charles Woodson (79), RB Cedric Benson (72), RB Ryan Grant (70), LB Erik Walden (70), TE Tom Crabtree (66)

RE-SIGNS: LB Brad Jones (69)

DRAFT: 1st round: DE Datone Jones, UCLA     2nd round: RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama     4th round: OT David Bukhtiari, Colorado     G J.C. Tretter, Cornell     RB Johnathan Franklin, UCLA     5th round: CB Micah Hyde, Iowa     DT Josh Boyd, Mississippi State     6th round: OLB Nathan Palmer, Illinois State     7th round: WR Charles Johnson, Grand Valley State     WR Kevin Dorsey, Maryland     OLB Samuel Barrington, USF

SUMMARY: The Packers had one of the quietest offseasons in the league, as they were one of only two teams not to sign anyone during free agency. However, they did lose some people. They  lost two of their starting runningbacks in RB Cedric Benson and RB Ryan Grant, and also lost some veteran leadership in WR Greg Jennings and S Charles Woodson. They did well in the draft, selecting two talented stars in RB Eddie Lacy and RB Johnathan Franklin. They also selected DE Datone Jones in the first round and he is projected to start opposite DE B.J. Raji. The Packers still have an elite quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, but Green Bay must do a better job with protection this year. Last year, the Packers allowed 51 sacks, second-most in the league. Things are already not looking so hot for the offensive line, as starting LT Bryan Bulaga tore his ACL and will be out for the year. 4th round pick OT David Bukhtiari has been tasked with taking his place, but if Bukhtiari can’t handle it, Rodgers will be getting hit from behind once again. The running game must get better for this team after finishing 20th in rushing last year. The most run production they had last year was against the New Orleans Saints. Departed RB Benson ran for 84 yards in the game. The last time the Packers had a 100-yard rusher was when RB James Starks ran for 123 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles in the January 9, 2010 wild card match-up. In case you forgot, it’s 2013. Whoever is the starting runningback this year must step up to the plate. Few teams can succeed with a one-dimensional offense and even fewer can win a championship with such an offense. If the running game makes great strides at improvement, the defense performs, and Rodgers stays healthy, this team will not only win the NFC North despite a tough schedule, but become a serious playoff threat.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 10-6

Week 1: @ SF   Week 2: vs. WSH   Week 3: @ CIN   Week 4: BYE   Week 5: vs. DET   Week 6: @ BAL   Week 7: vs. CLE   Week 8: @ MIN   Week 9: vs. CHI   Week 10: vs. PHI   Week 11: @ NYG   Week 12: vs. MIN   Week 13: @ DET   Week 14: vs. ATL   Week 15: @ DAL   Week 16: vs. PIT   Week 17: @ CHI

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

GET: WR Greg Jennings (83), QB Matt Cassel (69), CB Jacob Lacey (69)

LOSE: CB Antoine Winfield (77), LB Jasper Brinkley (75), WR Michael Jenkins (69), WR Percy Harvin (trade)

RE-SIGNS: OT Phil Loadholt (79), LB Erin Henderson (75), WR Jerome Simpson (74), S Jamarca Sanford (71)

DRAFT: 1st round: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida     CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State     WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee     4th round: OLB Gerald Hodges, Penn State     5th round: PT Jeff Locke, UCLA     6th round: G Jeff Baca, UCLA     7th round: ILB Michael Mauti, Penn State     G Travis Bond, North Carolina     DT Everett Dawkins, Florida State

SUMMARY: RB Adrian Peterson’s MVP season led the Vikings to a playoff appearance despite a 31st overall finish in passing and 24th overall finish in pass defense. The Vikings did great in the draft, selecting either offensive lineman to protect AP in the future or defense. The signing of WR Greg Jennings is a big help to QB Christian Ponder. Hopefully he will be able to show improvement and take advantage of a better receiving core.  The secondary is a little weaker after the loss of CB Antoine Winfield, but the strength of the front seven of this team should help counter that. The Vikings had 44 sacks last year, good for fifth-most in the league. If they perform like they did last year, they will definitely be in the hunt for a wild card spot.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 9-7

Week 1: @ DET   Week 2: @ CHI   Week 3: vs. CLE   Week 4: vs. PIT   Week 5: BYE   Week 6: vs. CAR   Week 7: @ NYG   Week 8: vs. GB   Week 9: @ DAL   Week 10: vs. WSH   Week 11: @ SEA   Week 12: @ GB   Week 13: vs. CHI   Week 14: @ BAL   Week 15: vs. PHI   Week 16: @ CIN   Week 17: vs. DET

CHICAGO BEARS

GET: LB D.J. Williams (80), OT Jermon Bushrod (76), LB James Anderson (75), TE Martellus Bennett (74), OL Eben Britton (69), DT Sedrick Ellis (retired)

LOSE: LB Nick Roach (74), C Chris Spencer (74), G Lance Louis (72), DL Israel Idonije (70), TE Kellen Davis (68), TE Matt Spaeth (68), LB Geno Hayes (68), CB D.J. Moore (67), OL Gabe Carimi (trade), LB Brian Urlacher (retired)

RE-SIGNS: DT Henry Melton (79)

DRAFT: 1st round: G Kyle Long, Oregon     2nd round: ILB Jonathan Bostic, Florida     4th round: OLB Khaseem Greene, Rutgers     5th round: OT Jordan Mills, Louisiana Tech     6th round: DE Cornelius Washington, Georgia     7th round: WR Marquess Wilson, Washington State

SUMMARY: After starting 7-1, the Bears finished 3-5 in their last eight games, missing the playoffs despite a 10-6 record. The face of the franchise, LB Brian Urlacher, retired, and in a surprise move, the Bears fired coach Lovie Smith. Smith was 81-63 in his nine years in Chicago and led the Bears to 3 playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Those stats don’t look that good on paper, but the defense was stellar under Smith. Last year, the Bears finished 8th against the pass and against the rush, led the league in takeaways, and finished third in points allowed. The Bears struggle on the offensive side of the ball though. While RB Matt Forte was able to lead the Bears with a 10th best rushing attack, QB Jay Cutler’s struggles continued, as the Bears finished 29th in passing. To try and fix that, the Bears picked up TE Martellus Bennett in free agency, but aside from that, have done nothing to solve the problem. They lost a lot of players during the offseason but did well filling the holes. LB D.J. Williams should be a suitable replacement for Urlacher and OT Jermon Bushrod and 1st round pick G Kyle Long should help out in pass protection and on the rush. This is also a big year for Cutler because a lot of potential franchise quarterbacks will be coming to the draft next year. Cutler has failed to perform and this might be his last chance to do so. I think once again the offense will be on the shoulders of WR Brandon Marshall and Forte and it will struggle once again. Only the strong defense will allow this team to contend for third place with the Detroit Lions.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 7-9

Week 1: vs. CIN   Week 2: vs. MIN   Week 3: @ PIT   Week 4: @ DET   Week 5: vs. NO   Week 6: vs. NYG   Week 7: @ WSH   Week 8: BYE   Week 9: @ GB   Week 10: vs. DET   Week 11: VS. BAL   Week 12: @STL   Week 13: @ MIN   Week 14: vs. DAL   Week 15: @ CLE   Week 16: @ PHI   Week 17: vs. GB

DETROIT LIONS

GET: RB Reggie Bush (77), S Glover Quin (76), DE Israel Idonije (70), DE Jason Jones (64), S Chris Hope (61), QB Thaddeus Lewis

LOSE: DE Cliff Avril (84), DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (77), LB Justin Durant (77), OT Gosder Cherilus (76), G Stephen Peterman (72), CB Drayton Florence (69), CB Jacob Lacey (69), RB Jahvid Best

RE-SIGNS: CB Chris Houston (77), S Louis Delmas (75), LB DeAndre Levy (75), S Amari Speivey (71)

DRAFT: 1st round: DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU     2nd round: CB Darius Slay, Mississippi State     3rd round: G Larry Warford, Kentucky     4th round: DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina     5th round: PT Sam Martin, Appalachian State     6th round: WR Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech     RB Theo Riddick, Notre Dame     7th round: TE Michael Williams, Alabama     ILB Brandon Hepburn, Florida A&M

Summary: Last year, I picked this team to take one of the NFC wild card spots. I was clearly mistaken. This team has a lot of promise despite their lack of a running game but that should change this year with the signing of RB Reggie Bush. QB Matthew Stafford led the Lions passing attack to a second place finish while the running game crawled to a 23rd place finish. The defense was 14th against the pass and 16th against the rush, but they finished 27th in points allowed. They also had the 3rd-worst turnover differential at -16, only ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. The Lions got 17 takeaways and had 33 giveaways. The Lions have got to improve those numbers if they want to have a chance at winning this division, which in my opinion is the second-hardest division in the league behind the NFC South. The loss of both of their starting DE’s, especially Cliff Avril, will hurt, but hopefully 1st round pick DE Ezekiel Ansah will prove to be an explosive force and help lessen the blow. The linebacking core is slightly weaker after the loss of LB Justin Durant, who I thought had a lot of potential. Receiving depth is a concern but if the running game can get going and the Lions can be even half as productive as they were last year in passing, this team has a chance to overtake the Bears for third.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 6-10

Week 1: vs. MIN   Week 2: @ ARI   Week 3: @ WSH   Week 4: vs. CHI   Week 5: @ GB   Week 6: @ CLE   Week 7: vs. CIN   Week 8: vs. DAL   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: @ CHI   Week 11: @ PIT   Week 12: vs. TB   Week 13: vs. GB   Week 14: @ PHI   Week 15: vs. BAL   Week 16: vs. NYG   Week 17: @ MIN

 

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