Monthly Archives: December 2014

Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 16

This one is really late and I apologize. Week 17’s will be out tomorrow as well as a regular season recap. Get ready for the playoffs!

Top 5

1. QB Russell Wilson 20/31 for 339 yards, 2 TDs, 122.9 QBR, 6 carries for 88 yards, TD vs. ARI

2. QB Ryan Tannehill 35/47 for 396 yards, 4 TDs, INT, 118.8 QBR vs. MIN

3. WR Odell Beckham, Jr. 8 receptions for 148 yards, 2 TDs vs. STL

4. RB Frank Gore 26 carries for 158 yards, TD vs. SD

5. TE Zach Ertz franchise-record 15 receptions for 115 yards vs. WAS

Worst of the Worst

1. 49ers drop to Chargers after 21-point lead

2. Colts smashed 42-7 vs. DAL

3. QB Joe Flacco 21/50 for 195 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 41.7 QBR vs. HOU

At one point, 4/22 for 80 something yards.

4. QB Peyton Manning 28/44 for 311 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs, 61.8 QBR vs. CIN

5. QB Andrew Luck 15/22 for 109 yards, 2 INTs vs. DAL

Steelers Recap

Despite the narrow win the box score may give those who didn’t watch Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, it was one of the Steelers’ best games of the year. The offense may have struggled against one of the best defenses in the league, accumulating only 282 total yards of offense, but the steel curtain came to play, limiting one of the league’s best running backs to 29 yards rushing and forcing a fumble. Six times the Chiefs entered the red zone and they left with four field goals, a fumble and a failed fourth down conversion. This defensive highlight was only more impressive when you consider that the Chiefs were second in the league in red zone touchdown percentage coming into the game. The Steelers are 7-2 since losing to the Browns and dropping to 3-3 in October.

In my week 13 Steelers Recap, I said I was disappointed with the team this year because of their lackluster play against substandard opponents. As we’ve been saying in Pittsburgh for the last three seasons, the outcome of Sunday’s game usually doesn’t depend on who we’re playing. It depends on which Steelers’ team decides to show up.

This season has been one of the most stressful seasons of Steelers football that I’ve watched but looking at the blooming talent the team has right now, including the B3 attack of Ben, Bell and Brown, the Steelers look to have a bright future right now, especially with the Bengals poor season this year.

The Steelers will win on Sunday night and will clinch the division. And they did by the way.

Game of the Week: Lions @ Packers

Week 17, aside from finalizing playoff spots, is the least exciting week in football, leaving for few big games. However, the Lions were looking to hold on to a NFC North division title and Aaron Rodgers is probably this year’s MVP. It was a game to watch, but as always, the Lions choked in December and the Packers maintain their dominance of the division.

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Movie Review: Rage

In 2010, College Humor made a popular video on YouTube: Nicolas Cage’s Agent. It was a video satirizing Nicolas Cage’s ability or rather inability to say no to a role because it seems like Cage takes any role he can get his hands on. The video wasn’t funny because of its acting. It wasn’t funny because of the fake movie titles. It was funny because it was true.

Nicolas Cage seems to be in everything these days, which leaves us to conclude that he just accepts everything offered to him.

Since beginning his career in 1981, Cage has starred in 77 films, including 22 in the last five years. The only actor I can think of that can come close to matching that five-year total is Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson has made 24, but it’s worth noting that Samuel L. Jackson has starred as Nick Fury in almost all of the Marvel films, a total of five films where he’s played the same character and been on the screen for a short amount of time.

Nicolas Cage has made only one sequel and that was Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Let’s not talk about that.

Nicolas Cage seems to have lost all standards he may have had for himself and perhaps that is because of his tax problems, but he was one of the highest-paid actors in 2009 according to Forbes, rounding out the top five at $40 million. He had six films hit theaters during 2009 and 2010.

However, while he makes the money, he’s not getting the ratings.

Aside from Kick-Ass (7.8 IMDB, 76% Rotten Tomatoes, 66% Metacritic), none of his other films have reached a 7.0 on IMDB and none have reached a 70% on Metacritic.

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans received a 87% on Rotten Tomatoes and was hailed by critics. I’ve never seen it, so I can’t judge how good or bad the film is, but I will say this: I’m unsure how I can put faith in a scoring system that gave the same score to The Hangover and Gran Torino (79%), when the former was so dumb and the latter was so underrated.

All of this prefacing goes to say that when you see Nicolas Cage on the cover of a movie, no one’s going to blame you if you decide to turn around and walk away.

I quickly googled Rage before I hit the play button on Netflix. A 14% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 28% on Metacritic is what greeted me.

Watching it, I saw why.

Paul Maguire (Nicolas Cage) is a successful business man with a construction empire. His daughter’s kidnapped. Why? Because we learn that Paul used to be part of the Irish mob and only after stealing a large chunk of change from the Russian gang did he finally leave the life.

There’s no call for ransom. Paul fears his past has caught up with him. To save his daughter, he’ll have to revert back to his past life and the skills he acquired during that time.

Paul sounds a fair amount like someone named Bryan. Who’s Bryan you may ask? Just wait. I’ll keep giving you hints.

Both directors’ first names begin with the letter “p”.

Both films involve a father trying to save their kidnapped daughter.

Both films have a running time of about 90 minutes.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Rage is Taken. Without Liam Neeson. And Luc Besson.

If you look at Taken from a neutral standpoint, it should never have come close to being the money-maker that it was. There have been far too many movies about a father trying to save their kidnapped child. Ingenuity does not spawn on such a desolate canvas. The resources have been consumed by the previous mimes’ visitations. Yet Luc Besson, probably France’s greatest export in the last 50 years, made it work. A resonating script with Liam Neeson tearing apart foreign countries embattled the hostage cliché and won with a first-round knockout and a $226.8 million cash prize.

Rage does not fare so well in its bout.

I find the boxing metaphor to be a fair portrayal of a hostage film. The themes of thievery, loss and desperation are big-board headlines for hostage films and trying to utilize those same concepts while trying to differentiate your film from the rest of the genre is very difficult. The genre (the boxer) will not stand in his corner and wait for you (the challenger) to come to him. He’s going to come out swinging and pounding on you because he thinks he knows what you got: nothing. He thinks you’re just like every other chump he’s fought and flattened. He doesn’t expect a rival and why should he? How many successful hostage movies have really been made? How many times has he really lost? Four, five times out of how many? A thousand? Hard to bet against odds like that.

Yet, the genre’s tragic flaw is the same as many others: pride. His pride will allow him to tire himself early in the first round, allowing you to ignite a counterattack and get back in the trenches, but you still have to fight your way there. He’s taken innumerable punches during his career, comparable to Rocky Balboa’s punishment and will not be worn down easily. If you want to survive, you need to unleash the bombs…now.

To add yet more support to this rather elaborate metaphor, it’s worth noting most hostage films struggle to graze the 90-minute mark let alone two hours. That’s because the challenger can’t stay in the ring with the champ for ten rounds. He’s got three rounds to make it happen. If the bell sounds at the end of the third round and both are still standing, it’s over. The champ has won.

Taken‘s knockout punch was Liam Neeson’s magnetizing monologue with his daughter’s captor over the phone, easily one of the best monologues of the last five years. If anyone in the audience was not already chained to their chair by that point in the film, they were when Neeson shut his phone.

Rage has no such chain. If Rage had a chain, it would be a Christmas streamer that you could rip with your pinkie.

To begin with, there’s no story prior to the conflict. I could open up Netflix, select Rage and scroll along the timeline until I found when the kidnapping occurred, but I’m not going to because it’s irrelevant. Whether it was because Rage completely neglected Cage’s Maguire or they simply didn’t manage their time correctly really doesn’t matter here. The first round is over and the champ doesn’t even bother to sit down for his water break. He continues standing, like a medieval knight offended by the fighting skills of the local stable boy.

Maguire assumes that his daughter’s disappearance is because of his shady past and that the Russian mob is responsible. He gets his two best buds to help him find out what happened to his daughter, but they don’t go about it the way you would think. Rather than act like a private detective, Maguire picks up guns and knives and starts killing people, thinking that will determine who is behind the killing.

How? How exactly will dead people answer your questions? Was Davy Jones wrong? Do dead men tell tales after all? They don’t? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. This plot diversion doesn’t make any sense nor is it productive for the characters, those involved with the production of Rage, or the audience. What happened to the characters? They weren’t glossed over. They were buried ten feet in the ground, the area was encased in concrete and they put a skyscraper on top of it. Director Paco Cabezas flat-out forgot.

Given that, I don’t blame Cage for this forlorn venture. I blame him for taking the job and continuing to take such roles, but not for his performance here. Cage’s ability to overdramatize and exhibit uninhibited enthusiasm is never released aside from one haphazard instance. The acting is flat, no doubt aided by the vanilla script, striving for no noticeable goal aside from the standstill pose of a mannequin.

Yet, undeterred by mediocre peers, Rage managed suspense. I was not held by anything. I did not break my streamer, but rest assured I could have whenever I wanted to. Perhaps it was because I planned to review Rage, but a small morsel of me wanted to know how this ended. I’m talking about crumbs here, a nibble worth, but it was enough I guess.

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. (American BeautyGone GirlMulanGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the Apes)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young Guns)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(SnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk DownRed Dawn(2012))

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (House at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead SnowRubberHansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters)

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. (ZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: RetaliationVantage Point)

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. (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an Empire)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe 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.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Rage: 52.

Rage could avoid a knockout, but its defeat was certain. It was going to lose. Still, losing in a decision, even if it was one of the easiest decisions the judges ever had to hand down, was preferred to tasting the mat. The bell for the third round rang and the challenger ran right into the champ’s uppercut, knocked out cold in a hit that was comparable to Jadaveon Clowney’s infamous smackdown.

The third act of Rage was a total cop-out, stealing the molecule of sugar that was left by the Grinch when he raided the houses. Once again revealing the greediness of Hollywood’s pockets, Rage makes me want to send a pair of notes to Hollywood executives. One pleading them to remember why they entered the business: to make movies that mattered. The second, a hate-filled message cursing them all for allowing greed to override their passion for cinema. Each year, we get less “real” films and more wastes of time. It’s unacceptable.

Quick sidenote, Cage needs to star in a film called “No Man”, a spin-off of Jim Carrey’s Yes Man. Learn to say no, Cage.

Merry Christmas!

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 15

Top 5

1. WR Odell Beckham, Jr. 12 receptions for 143 yards, 3 TDs, Fmb vs. WAS

2. WR Dez Bryant 6 receptions for 114 yards, 3 TDs vs. PHI

3. RB Jeremy Hill 25 carries for 148 yards, 2 TDs vs. CLE

4. RB DeMarco Murray 31 carries for 81 yards, 2 TDs vs. PHI

5. QB Drew Brees 29/36 for 375 yards, 3 TDs, 137.8 QBR vs. CHI

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Tom Savage fumbles on handoff to Foster on first NFL play

2. Eagles fail to catch opening kickoff, Cowboys recover

3. QB Johnny Manziel 10/18 for 80 yards, 2 INTs, 27.3 QBR vs. CIN

4. QB Aaron Rodgers 17/42 for 185 yards, 2 INTs, 34.3 QBR vs. BUF

5. QB Colin Kaepernick 11/19 for 141 yards, 6 sacks, 81.2 QBR vs. SEA

Steelers Recap

Honestly, I don’t have much to say here. I didn’t watch a whole lot of the game but the Steelers got the win off another fine performance from Ben, who’s second in the league in passing yards. They’ve got Kansas City at home today and if they win, they clinch a playoff spot and keep in mind the AFC North is still up for grabs. Let’s go Steelers!

Game of the Week: Broncos @ Bengals

The only other game I was considering choosing her was Colts @ Cowboys, but I’m going with the Monday Night game because the last few weeks these teams have struggled. The Broncos have struggled because Peyton Manning hasn’t been himself recently. I should know. He tanked in the playoffs and my team lost because of it. The Bengals have struggled all year, as the Bengals defense that was one of the best in the league last year has disappeared after the departing of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who went to coach the Vikings. The Bengals defense hasn’t been the same since then. While the Broncos have clinched the AFC West, it’s crucial they put up a solid performance against a solid team to give themselves some confidence going into the final week of the regular season. The same goes for the Bengals, who are on the verge of losing control of the AFC North with the Steelers and Ravens close behind. I’m taking the Broncos because Cincinnati’s defense has just fallen so far this year.

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Movie Review: American Beauty

Not since December 1 have I written a movie review. Reviews kept getting pushed off. This, however, is one I have to talk about, but first, why American Beauty?

I’ve read a couple lists from my blogging friends such as “Top Ten DiCaprio Movies” or “Ten Movies I Need to See” and have loved reading them. Yet, as many movies as I’ve watched, there are still so many that I haven’t seen, leaving my tastes somewhat limited. Something I want to do to fix that is watch all of the films that have won Best Picture.

There have been 86 Academy Awards and 86 Best Picture winners and there’ll be another film tacked on to that list in February.

One of the reasons I want to do this is because it seems impossible to see every great movie in a lifetime. Maybe I’m wrong, but there are just so many. I also don’t think I’ve ever seen a film before 1960 aside from The Wizard of Oz, meaning I’m missing some fantastic films. I’ve stuck mostly to the late 70’s to current.

As I scroll through the list, starting in 1927, the first film I recognize is Gone With the Wind in 1939, followed by Casablanca (1943) and Around the World in 80 Days (1956).

The earliest Best Picture I’ve seen is The Sound of Music (1965), but I hardly remember it at all, so I’ll need to revisit it. Below are some others I’ve been able to cross off the list. To see all the Best Picture winners, click on the Best Picture page.

The Sound of Music (1965), Midnight Cowboy (69), One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (75), Rocky (76), The Silence of the Lambs (91), Schindler’s List (93), Forrest Gump (94), Braveheart (95), Titanic (97), Gladiator (2000), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (03), Slumdog Millionaire (08), Argo (12).

Now, why American Beauty? Kevin Spacey is one of my favorite actors, that’s why. Breaking out as John Doe in Seven, Spacey starred as Roger “Verbal” Kint in The Usual Suspects, a role that won him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Spacey also had a commanding role opposite Samuel L. Jackson in one of my favorite films, 1998’s The Negotiator. That same year he did the voice of Hopper, the antagonist in Pixar’s A Bug’s Life, before portraying Lester Burnham in American Beauty in 1999, a film that was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won five, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Kevin Spacey’s first Best Actor Oscar.

I haven’t seen any of his films but rest assured I intend to. What I have seen is House of Cards, easily one of the best television shows on right now. Under the mask of a conniving politician, Kevin Spacey murders, cheats, lies and manipulates nearly everyone around him in his quest to gain the Oval Office. Political dramas have never seemed so flawless, at least to me, as House of Cards does. If you haven’t seen it, I insist you do. You don’t want to miss this, trust me.

Now, to the film itself.

Lester Burnham is a huge weasel who hates his life and everyone hates him. Not because Lester’s a bad guy, but because he’s such an embarrassment. He’s a huge klutz, excels at creating awkward situations and let’s not forget purposeless. The film begins with Lester admitting he’s masturbating in the shower and how it’s all downhill from there. That’s how much of a loser Lester is.

Lester has no friends. His wife, Carolyn (Annette Bening), is a real estate agent and his daughter, Jane (Thora Birch), hates him. She views him as a nuisance, the awkward figure in her life that she wish would disappear.

As if that’s not enough, Carolyn is disgusted with her husband, too. He’s detrimental to her professional image, an image that must be as precise and correct as possible, only furthering her need, no, her requirement, to control everything.

When Carolyn drags Lester to their daughter’s dance routine at a high school basketball game, Lester becomes sexually infatuated with one of Jane’s friends, Angela Hayes. He dreams of her on a bed of roses and overhears one of their conversations, hearing Angela say she’d sleep with him if he bulked up a little. Using that as motivation, Lester starts living. For a long time, Lester wasn’t living. He was just going through the motions, but now he’s doing what he wants to do and he doesn’t care who says he can’t. The theme of entrapment is what’s going on in American Beauty‘s introduction. He’s been caged by his manipulative wife and now he’s free.

Carolyn isn’t a terrible person, but she’s just so controlling that it ruins everyone around her. She has an agenda and plays her cards and pieces accordingly. Her manipulation is a depressant to every situation.

A subplot blossoms when Colonel Frank Fitts and his son Ricky move into the neighborhood. The colonel is homophobic and like Carolyn, demonstrates a requirement to control life’s proceedings. His son Ricky is odd, with a stare that seems to penetrate your soul and he’s always carrying a video camera around, at one point taping Jane through a window.

American Beauty‘s writing is truly beautiful, creating unique characters and at times transporting our perception of some of these characters to the other side of the spectrum. The prime example is Lester Burnham, who exacts a precise and pervasive change to his life and to himself. He’s not pretending he’s someone else, nor was he pretending to be someone else before, but he was caged in a free world. Watching Lester remove the chains and exude the confidence that’s been bottled up for quite a while is both refreshing and hilarious, because with his new-found confidence he acts and voices exactly what he thinks of you. Lester isn’t just removing the boundaries of his wife and daughter, he’s getting rid of everything, societal constraints included.

The acting doubles the writing’s effect on audiences, as Kevin Spacey is sure to blow your mind in this Best Actor performance. The theme of entrapment is a quality character dilemma, but the choice of your actor/actress is integral to its effectiveness. Even though we only see Lester as a dweeb for a short amount of time, we know he’s a dweeb. There’s no doubt in our minds. If Spacey didn’t convince us of this fact, then the character change isn’t as fulfilling. It would still succeed, but not at the incredible standard that it does.

Every character serves a purpose, even the Colonel’s wife. While it’s never explicitly stated, Ricky’s mom shows symptoms of early onset Alzheimer’s. This would explain Ricky’s fascination with taping everything, so he can remember, but in the film’s best piece of writing, Ricky explains himself:

“It was one of those days where it’s a minute away from snowing…and there’s this electricity in the air. You can almost hear it, right? And this bag was just…dancing with me… like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That’s the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid…ever. Video’s a poor excuse, I know, but it helps me remember. I need to remember. Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can’t take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.”

This monologue sets the tone for the overall film, although the tone begins much earlier than the introduction of this speech. Alan Ball’s script sticks to a positive perspective of life throughout the film, running the subhead “Look Closer” into as many crevices as he can. One example of this, one that I missed during my viewing, is at the beginning of the film when Lester is at work. His face is reflected off his computer monitor, which is showing seven vertical lines of numbers, giving the image of Lester behind a jail cell. Even though I missed it initially, that is some fantastic camerawork right there, using the lens to drive the purpose.

Life is given such a bad rap by the entertainment industry. Of course, with all the examples the people of the world give them, it’s hard to ignore. However, Ball includes those perceptions in his film as well in Lester’s wife Carolyn. The battle of “life is good” and “life is bad” is performed through the contrast of Lester and Carolyn, as demonstrated by yet another great piece of writing from Ball:

Carolyn: Lester you’re going to spill beer on the couch.

Lester: So what? It’s just a couch.

Carolyn: This is a 4000 dollar sofa upholstered in Italian silk. This is not just a couch.

Lester: It’s just a couch! This isn’t life. This is just stuff and it’s become more important to you than living. Well honey, that’s just nuts.

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. (Gone GirlMulanGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the ApesTransformers: Age of Extinction)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young Guns)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(SnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk DownRed Dawn(2012))

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (House at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead SnowRubberHansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters)

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. (ZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: RetaliationVantage Point)

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. (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an Empire)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe 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.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for American Beauty: 98.

1998’s American Beauty succeeds at making life beautiful through some award-winning cinematography, screenwriting from Alan Ball and first-rate acting from all parties involved. I loved the way it entwined itself with the lives of the audience and made its subplots formidable enough that they could be a plot all by themselves if they wanted to. I strongly recommend you watch American Beauty and remember: Look Closer.

Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 14

Top 5

1. QB Derek Carr 22/28 for 254 yards, 3 TDs, 140.2 QBR vs. SF

2. RB Le’Veon Bell 26 carries for 185 yards, 2 TDs, 6 receptions for 50 yards, TD vs. CIN

3. WR A.J. Green 11 receptions for 224 yards, TD vs. PIT

4. WR T.Y. Hilton 10 receptions for 150 yards, 2 TDs, Fmb vs. CLE

5. WR Julio Jones 11 receptions for 259 yards, TD vs. GB

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Colin Kaepernick 18/33 for 174 yards, TD, 2 INTs, 5 sacks, 54.4 QBR vs. OAK

2. 49ers lose to Raiders

3. QB Brian Hoyer 14/31 for 140 yards, 2 INTs, 31.7 QBR vs. IND

4. QB Peyton Manning 14/20 for 173 yards, 2 INTs, 56.9 QBR vs. BUF

5. Eagles held to 139 total yards vs. SEA

Steelers Recap

I didn’t watch much of last Sunday’s game because I didn’t expect a win. Pittsburgh disappointed vs the Saints and the game was at home, only irking more further. Cincinnati was on the rise and Pittsburgh was on the decline. However, Le’Veon Bell certainly was not, putting up 41 fantasy points in standard leagues with the stats I listed above, earning the number two spot on my top five this week. A playoff spot is still in the cards, but the team’s losses to poor teams may get the better of them this year. It’s against the Falcons this week, who nearly pulled off a comeback against the hottest team in the league, the Green Bay Packers, so don’t be surprised if the game is close. It’s a must-win for Pittsburgh so I’m taking them, but don’t be blown away with Matt Ryan’s Falcons leave with a win.

Game of the Week: Cowboys @ Eagles

It’s the only game this week that pops out to me and it’s a game that matters in the NFC playoff picture. I’m rooting for the Cowboys to miss the playoffs again, #MerryDALmiss, and after the Cowboys were throttled at home, I’ll take the Eagles this time.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 13

Top 5

1. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 19/27 for 358 yards, 6 TDs, 147.5 QBR vs. TEN

2. WR DeAndre Hopkins 9 receptions for 238 yards, 2 TDs vs. TEN

3. RB Le’Veon Bell 21 carries for 95 yards, TD, 8 receptions for 159 yards vs. NO

4. WR Calvin Johnson 11 receptions for 146 yards, 2 TDs vs. CHI

Set record as fastest receiver to 10,000 yards in just his 115th game.

5. QB Drew Brees 19/27 for 257 yards, 5 TDs, 140.0 QBR vs. PIT

Worst of the Worst

1. Raiders demolished 52-0, commit five turnovers vs. STL

2. Giants allow two fumble returns for touchdowns, lose to Jaguars after 21-0 lead.

3. The Bears on Thanksgiving. They have one of the best running backs in the NFL and they handed him the ball five times for six yards. Nearly every other play was a screen pass because of their poor pass protection and Cutler struggled to complete a pass he had to throw more than five yards.

4. Panthers allow two blocked punts returned for touchdowns vs. MIN

5. QB Colin Kaepernick 16/29 for 121 yards, 2 INTs, 36.7 QBR vs. SEA

Steelers Recap

When I saw fantasy guru Matthew Berry had Drew Brees on his hate list for last Sunday’s game, I chuckled to myself. This year hasn’t been Brees’ best year and he hasn’t put up the stats we’re using to seeing from him, but the hate list? The Pittsburgh Steelers are exceeding the expectations I had for them in my pre-season review but they still lost to the Buccaneers and the Jets, two of the worst teams in the NFL. Had they won those games, a playoff spot would almost be a certainty. Instead, they faltered in two easily winnable games and now are on the outside looking in. Berry was also putting his faith in the Steelers secondary, which by this point, has been given photo credit for a team picture posted next to the word “inconsistent” in this year’s Webster’s dictionary. Some of the defense is too young and inexperienced to be able to make the big plays required of them and some are too seasoned to compete at the level they were once capable of. I picked the Steelers to win a game they should have won, yet I wasn’t surprised they lost. They have struggled against aerial teams this year and in past years and will continue to struggle until they start drafting a corner or safety in the first round of the draft.

William Gay is the team’s best corner despite the hate Steelers’ fans give him. Ike Taylor is done in Pittsburgh at the end of the year. Cortez Allen is not worth half the five-year, $26 million contract we signed him to in September. Brice McCain has been probably the worst of the bunch aside from a pick-six against Jacksonville, consistently getting beat short and down-field again and again. Shamarko Thomas has potential but is struggling to adapt to the Steelers scheme, leaving undrafted free agent Antwon Blake as our only other true corner. Blake has made some great plays on special teams and in pass coverage and I would be very surprised if he isn’t moved up the depth chart at the start of next season.

The fact I’m already talking about next season is the attitude I have towards the Steelers right now. I’m still a huge fan and have hope for a playoff spot but I’m more disappointed in the fact that they lost to Tampa Bay and New York then I am impressed that they beat the Texans, Colts and Ravens in back-to-back-to-back weeks. True playoff contenders don’t lose to Josh McCown/Mike Glennon and Geno Smith. The team has a lot of potential, they just keep falling short of coming out the other side of the tunnel.

The Steelers have won three of their last five games in Cincinnati but the team always struggles in the jungle. Ben has averaged 242 yards passing during that stretch. The Steelers haven’t won a game in Cincinnati where they scored less than 20 points since 2004 when they won 19-14, so if the offense doesn’t come to play, don’t expect a win. Ben had probably his worst performance of the season last week against the Saints and whether that is because of an injured hand or not doesn’t make any difference. I got to take the Bengals at home.

Game of the Week: Seahawks @ Eagles

The Eagles defense is terrible, but is it worse than the Seahawks offense? And can Mark Sanchez lead his team past a Seahawks defense that’s back on track? Should be a thriller, but if it’s a blowout, it’s probably a Seahawks win. I refuse to put my faith in a USC quarterback in tough games.

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Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Image result for hunger games mockingjay part 1 poster free useTo say the trailers for the new Hunger Games installment were some of the worst trailers I’ve ever seen might be a bit harsh. Okay, a lot harsh.

To say they were ineffective at gaining anyone’s interest seems fair. The teasers and trailers served one primary purpose: to allow us to mark the date on our calendars. There was nothing there that got me excited for it. I’m invested in the product already so I feel obligated to finish it but what if I wasn’t? This film didn’t hold much allure for me.

I also feel like as the films have progressed they’ve begun to fall apart. The introductory piece was directed by Gary Ross and was a solid starter film. Ross decided not to direct the sequel and the reins were given to Francis Lawrence, a relatively inexperienced director. His most successful film prior to Suzanne Collins’ adaptation was probably Will Smith’s I Am Legend, which held some highlights but critics agreed failed in its conclusion. That was in 2007. Fast forward to 2013 and suddenly he’s directing The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

It was a slightly better film yet I felt there was still so much missed potential that was ignored. The acting from Jennifer Lawrence was just not there and I know she possesses the talents because she was fantastic in Silver Linings Playbook, which redirects my frustrations towards the writers who handed her the lines.

Who is Katniss Everdeen? Who is she really? Does anyone know? Does anyone who did not get to partake in the readings of the original material understand her? I don’t and I don’t consider myself a slow individual.

Here’s what I can say: she’s very sheltered and introverted and values her personal space, which you can see in the first movie when she’s giving Peeta such a hard time with everything. She doesn’t trust easily. She prefers to keep her inner thoughts to herself rather than unleash them for criticism. She’s a talented archer. She struggles to make decisions and stick to them. She’s traumatized from the Hunger Games experience. She loves her family and will do what she has to to protect them.

That synopsis is just about all I can say about our protagonist. It seems like an awfully short list for a main character that shouldered three novels and now her third movie. To say she’s down-to-earth is one thing, but to demonstrate character writing in an almost puberty-like stage is quite another.

Something I mentioned in my Catching Fire review was that one of my fellow critics, Dan the Man, said that Peeta and Katniss were like this generation’s Jack and Rose and in that review, I politely stated we would have to agree to disagree because in no way are persons from a novel aimed at 13-year-old girls as refined, drafted and perfected as Jack and Rose from the legend that is James Cameron.

It’s not even comparing apples and oranges. It’s like comparing Joe Montana with a young high school quarterback named Joe Smith. Sure, maybe Joe Smith will attend a division one school like Michigan, win a national championship and travel to the NFL en route to the greatest NFL career of all time, but there is no way of determining that, even with the extensive analytics we have today. Everyone has the potential to be great, but only time, precise, detailed precision and the never-ending stride for perfection can turn that potential into extraordinary performance. 

Due to Suzanne Collins’ target audience, her writings were probably not the best she could muster and even if they were, that is not a jab at her. They were clearly successful books that have led to financial success, critical acclaim and a promising career in the future and I wish her all the best.

With that said, an adaptation of any film should hold elements for all audiences, not just your targeted group. That is what makes movies like The Lion King and Frozen so obnoxiously profitable. Yes, parents are dragged along for the ride, but I doubt many parents would be allowed to be dragged a second or third time by their youngsters unless they got something from the experience. The Lion King and Frozen do that for older audiences as well they should. Everyone should be allowed to partake in the experience and feel like it was worth it coming out. It’s good marketing and public relations. It shows companies care about their customers and it’s not about the nine-digit figures that come out at the end of the weekend. At least not entirely.

When older people come into a film like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, there should be something there that provides enjoyment for them. It’s harder to do if they’re in their seventies, but it shouldn’t be hard if they are in their twenties, such as myself. I’m not that far outside the target audience. It shouldn’t be difficult.

Yet this film struggled to gain my attention and eyeballs. This film’s opening was comparable to The Hobbit.

The Hunger Games crew decided to make their third book into two films. That’s stupid and primarily a money-making decision. Whoever started that trend, I hate them. Even Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, a 759-page finale, overstretched itself into two films. At times, it was a little slow, but it was probably the only book in recent memory that required two films to tell its tale.

Turning The Hobbit into three feature films was pitifully desperate and thankfully The Hunger Games didn’t become that pathetic. With that said, Mockingjay did not need to be two films. Period.

Take a guess how long Mockingjay is? 700 seems like a fair first guess, right? Two 350-page novels into two films? No, not even close.

Try 390. 390 pages, depending on the material, might struggle to make one film, but two films is simply madness. It leads to pandering and pondering and “What if” this and “What if” that and character indecisiveness and plot cliches to fill in space and actors and actresses with little to work with and do you see how this sentence won’t end and it’s really really long and drawn out and is starting to lose any attachment you may have had to this writing because it’s all just wasted space that’s being used when it could be used to discuss or do something people actually care about but it’s not because all we care about is money?

It’s detrimental to your audience, to getting anyone new to join your experience and to future earnings. The only thing that won’t change, at least most likely, is box office totals, because if you hooked them for the first and second, they’ll probably be there for the third even if your advertising campaign was garbage. Like I said, all of this was for the money and it’s hard to respect someone whose only motivation is money.

To help me with this review in another bonus brother edition is Chris, who blogs on theofficialgrump.wordpress.com. Make sure to check him out!

Chris: Jennifer Lawrence was put in one of the worst acting positions in recent memory. They could have summed this movie up in thirty seconds: Katniss Everdeen is the Mockingjay and Peeta has gone psycho. Oh wait, that takes about ten seconds to explain.

Tim: Sadly true on both points. This film’s premise is like that really long sentence I rambled out above: pointless and unengaging.

This visual compilation is a tutorial on how to make political advertisements. Katniss and the leaders of the rebellion make a clip showing Katniss is alive and fighting for the freedom of the districts. Then Peeta, now President Snow’s spokesperson, asks for a peaceful resolution. It goes back and forth during the whole film. That’s it. Seriously. I’m not kidding.

Chris: Liam Hemsworth. Who is this guy? All I know is that women find him attractive.

Tim: Some of my friends at school have discussed the love triangle of Katniss, Peeta and Gale. It was not touched on at all in the first two films. Gale is hanging around but you don’t have a clue who he is. He’s good-looking. So? That doesn’t make him part of a love triangle, not unless you’re trying to convince me that Katniss is finding it difficult to choose between someone who has fought for her life and confessed his love for her and some childhood friend who’s attractive. You can’t bring that into the story without painting Katniss as an immature teen, something she clearly isn’t, having survived through two Hunger Game escapades. If you’re going to make a love triangle and dismember your main character in the process, fine, but you have to characterize both sides, not just show us Peeta being the heroic one and Gale being the hunk. That’s not a love triangle. That’s two people next to a cardboard cutout of a model. It’s not a difficult choice.

Chris: Tim is right. This movie is about making movies and then communicating to each other through them. The course of events in this movie are as follows: Rebellion advertisement. President advertisement. Rebellion advertisement. Choir solo? President response. Rebellion response, etc.

Tim: No plot should be that easy to summarize.

Chris: There is zero character development in this film. Every action scene in the movie you saw in the trailer. This movie was as dull as a Flo Progressive commercial.

Tim: There’s no push to this film. Little is accomplished during Mockingjay‘s running time. Looking where we were and where we are now, there doesn’t seem to be much change. It’s a character-driven segment but there’s no character drive. No exploration occurs and no character reveals are unfurled.

In terms of action, there truly is none to behold. Aside from a few mass shootings of charging, unarmed rebels and one arrow from Katniss, no shots are fired. It’s basically a ceasefire.

Chris: The little amounts of action and the big amounts of talking and talking and talking left me frustrated. The trailers gave a very different view of the movie compared to what we actually saw.

Tim: What trailers? All kidding aside, I felt the trailers indirectly hinted to some serious material and societal clashes going down.

Chris: The trailers were the movie. “Katniss is the rebellion!!!” Thank you Captain Obvious. Every fight scene was shown in the trailer. Overall, just a very poorly directed movies and one that brought the franchise down for me.

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. (Gone GirlMulanGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the ApesTransformers: Age of Extinction)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young Guns)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(SnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk DownRed Dawn(2012))

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (House at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead SnowRubberHansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters)

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. (ZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: RetaliationVantage Point)

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. (Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and Aliens)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe 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.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1: 42.

Similar to District 12’s now desolate landscape, The Hunger Games was a once fertile farming ground for film production, but has seemingly not only dropped the ball, but possibly shut the door on what looked like a promising career for the teen franchise. Unless part 2 blows expectations out of the water and makes its previous portions look like Fisher Price play sets, The Hunger Games has left a sour taste in the mouth of its audience and a black mark on its legacy.

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