Monthly Archives: January 2015

Movie Review: In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

Another Statham film. I know, guys, that it seems that all I review is Statham films, but I review other things, too…sometimes.

It’s hard to describe my dedication to Statham. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a bromance, but I’m definitely a big fan of the guy, which is why when he offers me a rotten apple of a film and I’m understandably disgusted with it afterwards, I’ll still go back to the guy. I know he’ll always give it his best shot even if the tools he’s given for filming are inadequate.

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is that and so much more and by so much more, I mean so much more trash to take to the curb. A decent cast list might be there, in Statham, John Rhys-Davies, Ron Perlman and Ray Liotta but the talent is so misused or not used at all that it’s a total waste.

Statham is Farmer. You might read that and think, “I don’t think that sentence is correct. I think there was supposed to be an ‘a’ between ‘is’ and ‘Farmer’. On the other hand, why would he capitalize Farmer?”

Doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? Statham is Farmer is what I meant to type. His character’s name is Farmer. Really.

Calling a character by their occupation is stupid. The film will go on to say Farmer is adopted and was never given a real name so he just went by Farmer which leads me to ask, why would you name yourself after an occupation? That’s like naming yourself Burger Flipper or Garbage Man. Just imagine this dialogue for a few seconds:

“I love the way your hair flows. You’re beautiful.”

“Why thank you! My name’s Emily.”

“I’m Garbage Man.”

“Oh, you’re a garbage man? Ok, what’s your name?”

“Garbage Man.”

“Yeah, I heard that. It’s not a big deal, I can deal with that. What’s your name?”
“Garbage Man.”

“What’s your problem?”

“I don’t have a problem! My name is Garbage Man!”

Aside from completing ignoring their main protagonist, which is one of the more important aspects of character writing, In the Name of the King has no support structure to hold it up either. John Rhys-Davies is so bad in this film, it’s hard for me to fathom this is the same man who played Gimli in Lord of the Rings, easily some of the best films of all time. Ron Perlman holds no purpose in the equation and holds a winless record for me right now. He’s 0-4, starring in the two Killboy films, Pacific Rim and this butchered carcass. One of these days, perhaps a day soon, I’ll write posts discussing my winning and losing actors, actresses and directors in my little book here but for now, let’s at least try to stick with this film.

Trying is probably all that can be done with Uwe Boll’s medieval skirmish. A 4% on Rotten Tomatoes is certainly warranted and Boll has a losing record with me as well, even if it’s just 0-1 at this point.

The term “brainstorming” came to mind more than a few times during my viewing of this travesty. Was any brainstorming or pre-screening talked about with this film or did they just jump in and hope the ink pool would manifest itself onto the page? Unscrewing the pen and draining the stored ink onto the page would be just as productive. The story never divulges any deeper than the platform it was born on and shows no want to remain in our hearts and minds. It’s about having fun. If only there was fun to be had.

The acting is torturous by all parties involved, even my man Statham. He had no clue what to do with this material.

Ray Liotta looks high on acid during most of his screen time but resides as the film’s only memorable role.

The dialogue is chunkier than Chips Ahoy and is neglected by any editing from its crewman. This boat was sinking before it sailed and somehow no one, including “Captain” Boll, managed to notice.

Burt Reynolds is probably the worst of them all, starring as the king, and is pertinent ability to not give a rodent’s behind about his reputation is quite astonishing. I understand that he’s broke but maybe if he wasn’t so zealous with his earnings that wouldn’t have been a problem. Second, his problems are not my concern. There was a great tweet I read the other day from Philadelphia Eagles WR Jordan Matthews. He tweeted, “90% of people don’t care about your problems…10% are glad you have them.”

It’s cynical but it holds a lot of truth. I’m sorry, Reynolds, but I don’t care. You’ve bathed in luxury your entire life and you somehow managed to waste millions of dollars. That does not deserve pity in my opinion. If you want to go do something meaningless and make some cash, go work a 9-5 minimum wage job. Learn what it’s like to be an everyday joe because the fact that Reynolds can still profit from cobweb performances like this disgusts me. If an everyday guy would give a substandard effort, he’d get fired. If Reynolds gives a substandard effort, he still gets paid. The privileges of the upper class!

As if the clichéd characters weren’t enough, the film plagiarizes consistently. Uwe Boll clearly wanted his own Lord of the Rings but to try to attempt to make a medieval film right now is just a major no-no. The genre is basically off-limits for the next ten years, five if you’re pushing it. Regardless of whether it’s fair or not, any film that tries to breach the void will be held to the Lord of the Rings standard instead of being viewed as its own experience. The visual effects and costumes are third-rate and it’s a film devoid of fantasy dreams. This is not the world cosplayers dream of.

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. (TwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead Snow)

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. (RageZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: Retaliation)

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. (ErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly Madison)

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 In the Name of the King: 21.

The action sequences are flacid, the acting turns stupendously stupid and the story arc expressionless, In the Name of the King is one of the worst films I’ve seen but somehow avoids a suckage label, if only because I love mocking this film’s attempt at seriousness.

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Movie Review: Erased

I’ve got quite a few drafts I’m working on right now and I’m churning them out the best I can.

Erased is up next and I watched this because again, I was tired of looking at it on my “Top Picks for Tim” list on Netflix.

Erased, known as The Expatriate outside of the U.S., stars Aaron Eckhart in another film he shouldn’t be in.

Aaron Eckhart, why do you keep doing this to yourself? Eckhart continues to find substandard roles to follow the upper-caliber talent he expressed in The Dark Knight as Harvey Dent, easily his best performance. Another half-baked character and father-daughter relationship that I can add to the list “Times Netflix has wasted my life.”

Ben Logan (Eckhart) works for a technology company in Belgium with his daughter Amy, who until recently never knew him. As always the other parent has died after “getting sick” and now Eckhart has some new obstacles in his way.

A quick sidenote: If I had a $100 for every time I watched a movie where one of the kid’s parents “got sick”, I’d be able to payoff a semester of tuition. It is one of the most overused clichés in film today. Come up with something creative or better yet, just don’t mention it. I don’t need to know what happened to the mother. It’s not important. She’s not here and that’s all that matters. Stop throwing it in there. Assuming that’s the case is fine if you want to but don’t waste screen time talking about dead parents. It’s not building connections with the material or the parties involved. Move on.

I’m sorry, but man does that bug me. Anyway, Logan notices one of the products he’s working on has a patent not registered with the company and when he lets his superior know, everything starts getting weird. However, before I talk about what’s getting weird, let’s have Logan accidentally give his daughter a cookie with peanuts in it and visit a hospital, which will somehow play into the happenings later on or just act as a brief intermission. The next day, he goes to work and the office is empty. Everything is gone. Something that doesn’t make sense in this introductory clause is he decides to bring his daughter to work with him for some reason. He was going to pick up a delivery so I assume it was meant to be an in-and-out thing, but why does she need to be there? Earlier in the film, Logan sees his daughter is struggling with school and he lectures her about the need to keep her grades up but his solution to getting her to improve is to have a “bring child to work” day? Doesn’t make any sense to me.

That’s all the plot you’re going to get from me and you should be grateful I don’t say more. Might put you to bed.

One example of this film’s incoherence is Liana Liberato. Apparently she won a best actress award for a drama flick called Trust and was even praised by critic Roger Ebert, but Liberato wouldn’t be allowed on my high school stage. Nearly everyone mentioned Liberato’s lifeless acting in the Netflix reviews for this and I couldn’t agree more. Her character, Ben’s daughter Amy, is meaningless to the plot and does nothing but whine all the time. At times, it replicates relationship turmoil that can be found in the daytime soap opera of your choosing. It’s uninviting dialogue and far too choppy a script to accomplish much smiles for the audience. Director Philipp Stolzl has no sense of humor, allowing no quick comedy or lightheartedness to take place between the two, which might have eased the awkwardness audiences are sure to feel whenever Liberato tries to put on a serious face. The pitch of the film seems to be in an uncomfortable range because it never flows right. Scene transitions make this story pace like the heartbeat of an adrenaline-filled rabbit, which is counter-productive to establishing surprise or apprehension. Stolzl is in such a hurry to get this film over with that he ignores the opportunity to highlight Eckhart’s narrative voice and doesn’t create any impactful dialogue for Ben and Amy to share.

Yet to say the film is up-tempo would be a lie. Events unfold at a brisk pace but time proceeds in such a lackadaisical fashion. Removed of build-up and without deciphering a theme, Erased leaves you feeling empty.

The concept of having your life erased was a good starting point, but it was downhill from there, especially when they brought Olga Kurylenko into this. I’m unsure how she maintains the title “actress” because she cannot perform. She’s so lifeless in everything I’ve seen her in aside from Centurion, but that was because she was a mute and had to demonstrate some emotion so she wasn’t standing still like a mannequin. She needs to stick to modeling and stop picking up scripts all together. Her character is only an expanse of an overused story cliché.

The whole script was underdeveloped and that left Eckhart shouldering the film. Any entertainment you get from Erased will probably be from Eckhart, but I doubt you’ll get much from it. The plot’s overly symptomatic of other thriller films such as the Bourne trilogy and is comfortable wearing the coats of those before it.

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. (TwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead Snow)

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. (RageZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: Retaliation)

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. (I, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly MadisonA Haunted House)

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 Erased: 41.

Over the last week, I’ve watched Twisted, The Frozen Ground, Stolen, In the Name of the King and this. Twisted was the best of the group so if you’re looking for some decency, I’d go with that. As for Erased, erase it from your memory.

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Movie Review: Twisted

I watched this about a month ago and thought it was okay but the review for it got pushed back until I didn’t feel writing one would be fair to the material, which has happened to quite a few films this year. I’m going to try to go back to each one, watch it again and write reviews. Keep in mind that some of these were pretty pitiful and will be painful to relive. Be thankful.

It’s yet another Samuel L. Jackson movie and I’m still not sick of the guy nor do I think I ever will be. Samuel L. Jackson is the man. That’s why I made him my profile picture 🙂

However, the camera focuses on Ashley Judd’s Jessica Shepard, a crime-fighting cop brought into the world by a serial killer.

That alone is intriguing enough to hold my attention. You’d forever have self-identity issues, constantly concerning yourself, wondering if the murderous gene had been passed on to you, if your fate was already predetermined. Could you ever outrun your family’s wrongdoings?

Based off those few ponderings, I was expecting a lot from this character. I mean, this isn’t a drop in the pond of characters. This is some deep material.

Yet Twisted seems oblivious to the expectations of the audience and treats Judd’s Shepard like any other character in a thriller. No special treatment or further effort is put into her. She’s our protagonist and that’s it. The fact that her father was a serial killer and ended his streak by killing her mother before killing himself is apparently not worth remembering.

Philip Kaufman helped write the story for Raiders of the Lost Ark and directed 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers. These are two successful films that had such character writing and I therefore would expect similar results from him here. Twisted was one of the last films he directed so perhaps he just lost the spark in the latter half of his career, but that doesn’t mean his product is going to get viewed any differently by me.

It’s a story that plops and plods along the road rather than sneakily skulking across dark alleyways, which is the manner you would expect a thriller to move. There’s a rat’s portion of suspense at the beginning, but it dwindles down because questionable plot points steal our attention from the tempo and tone at the beginning.

The plot ends up going ahead without its badly needed sidekick, suspense, and suffers greatly for it. Without suspense, many films in the thriller genre struggle to maintain a firm hold on our minds. Without the two-pronged attack of story and seasoning, many stories can come across as bland and seen-before ripoffs. Soon the film’s on its way down a slippery slope of bland characters, cheesy dialogue and boredom.

We’re welcomed into the film’s experience but following the opening scene, we’re almost shooed out the door by the film’s lack of self-confidence. Twisted seems unsure of who it is, as does our focal point Shepard. She has no social life outside of her interactions with co-workers. Her daily life could be summed up in three words: work, drink, sleep. Perhaps that might be okay once in a while, but on a continual basis, that’s pretty depressing.

All of the tape spent on Shepard binge-drinking could have been used on her inner demons, something we actually cared about. No need to bash me over the head with the bottle for fifteen minutes.

Despite Shepard’s mental state, she gets promoted to investigator and gets a new partner, Mike Delmarco (Andy Garcia). Her father’s partner, John Mills (Samuel L. Jackson), raised her and is now the police commissioner so I guess this is what happens when you know people. On the first day, there’s already a brutal murder and Shepard knows him. They had a one-night stand a couple of weeks ago.

That’s yet another part of Shepard’s life that I forgot to mention above. Actually, her life could be summed up in four words: work, sex, drink, sleep.

I like the sleeping with the victim aspect, but question Shepard’s choices. Hooking up in a bar doesn’t make you a bad person, but since we’re talking about someone who is in a fragile mental state, what purpose do one-night stands serve? Pleasure? That’s really all you’re getting out of it. You’re still the same distraught daughter of a serial killer you were before and you still hate yourself. Unless you add nymphomaniac to her character description, which I’ll admit I did, there’s little point to these scenes. The only possible meaning is that all the people she cares about are dying, except for the fact that these were one-night stands and she didn’t really care about them at all,. It was just a sexual hook-up. Yeah, it’s tragic but there wasn’t any lost sleep over these deaths.

Maybe that’s a little heartless on my part, but these middle segments felt overstretched like an over-sized caterpillar trying to keep its front half and its back half together. The wheels were very close to falling off this project and I’m grateful they didn’t but still frustrated this film wasn’t hitting zero to 60 in ten minutes. Let’s go! What are you waiting for? Most of these plot points don’t need to be here!

What I was looking for, personally, was a character profile and I don’t feel my expectation was unwarranted. When your Netflix summary is “Jessica, a cop, is more dedicated to her job than most of her colleagues, as she feels she has a lot to make up for: Her father was a serial killer,” I don’t feel I was being unfair with my expectations. That’s what drew me to this in the first place: cop, her father was a serial killer. That’s a catchy idea, definitely one that I’m sure hooked a lot more fish than me, but the execution is really frustrating. Twisted wastes so much time with Shepard finding bodies with the same M.O. instead of Shepard finding herself, which in my opinion, was the theme this thriller thrillingly ignored. Talk about taking the wind outta the sails.

Instead, Shepard and Delmarco serve as plot-pushers and occasionally have some fair dialogue but don’t contribute much to the film’s afterthoughts and by that I mean, no one really cares. When I leave a film, I like to sit for a few minutes and think about what quintessentially held this film together and made it meaningful/memorable. I sat and thought about Twisted and thought, “The only things this film really succeeded in were the philosophical questions presented before the film even started and casting Samuel L. Jackson because that man is hilarious and commanding in his roles.”

One of those things didn’t even happen in the movie and Samuel L. Jackson was a side role!

My anger aside, Twisted did keep me somewhat interested even though there was no suspenseful draw to it. For example, the film spends a solid half-hour if not more trying to convince us that Shepard committed these murders and I wasn’t buying it for a second. Explanation in the spoiler’s edition.

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. (ParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead SnowRubber)

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. (RageZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: Retaliation)

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. (I, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly MadisonA Haunted House)

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 Twisted: 64.

All in all, Twisted is not deserving of its 1% on Rotten Tomatoes, but certainly wasted a lot of potential that may have given critics the wrath required to score it that way. The acting was fine, but could not breach the proficient boundary because of the scripting. Honestly, we’re talking about Netflix here and we all know you could do a lot worse than this on there, so don’t let my frustration coming out on the page push you away from giving this a shot. I had some fun with this and I’ll give the writers props for the final third. The twist wasn’t bad, though certainly brings more questions than answers.

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

*SPOILER’S EDITION*

Shepard’s an alcoholic and during one of her binges, passes out but not in the way that people usually pass out. She is very composed, clearly knows how to hold her liquor from her daily experience with it. Then out of the blue she’s dazed, confused and has tunnel vision and passes out flat in three seconds. I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how you pass out. However, I decided it was probably the film being stupid and let it pass. Then she’s drinking at home again and it happens a second time. Again, I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how you pass out.

Now, I hate seeing the doctor as much as anyone, but if you pass out like that two separate times in that narrow a time period, you go to the doctor. Shepard doesn’t do that because she’s evidently stupid.

It seemed pretty obvious that she was drugged and I guessed roofies, not because I’m a doctor but because that was the only drug I could think of off the top of my head that could do that. I looked up roofies and researched it a little, searching for if there were any symptoms of complete amnesia. Wikipedia says roofies can cause anterograde amnesia, meaning “loss of the ability to create new memories after the event that caused the amnesia, leading to a partial or complete inability to recall the recent past, while long-term memories from before the event remain intact.”

If I understand that correctly, that means Shepard would have had problems creating memories after the event and would have trouble remembering minute details during the day after. My understanding appeared to be correct as I kept reading: “In cases of pure anterograde amnesia, patients have recollections of events prior to the injury, but cannot recall day-to-day information or new facts presented to them after the injury occurred.”

What all that means is that Shepard would have remembered passing out. She would have known that she had passed out each morning when she woke up, meaning there is no reason why she shouldn’t have seen a doctor and it’s her own stupid fault for continuing to drug herself because of her own ignorance. If she had seen a doctor, she would have found out she’d been drugged and this film would have been over a lot earlier.

Finally, the twist. The whole movie it’s painfully obvious Delmarco is the culprit. He’s constantly peeking around corners, stalking Shepard a few times, smokes and was in the presence of all but one of the victims.

However, the film pegs Samuel L. Jackson’s John Mills as the killer. During a long-winded explanation to Shepard, he admits that he was the one that killed all those people years ago and then killed her mother and father and made it look like her father killed himself over guilt. Then he raised her for those 20-plus years and for some reason, decided to go back to killing people again. Nice twist, except for a few things:

How does a serial killer become the chief of police?

How does a serial killer control his murderous urges for 20-plus years?

How has he not slipped up once during all of this time?

If Mills is that good of a serial killer, how does he allow himself to be caught saying all this while Shepard’s recording all this on her phone, which is in plain sight? It’s in her hand, right next to her other hand, which is holding a gun. It is right there.

Also, if you’ve seen The Negotiator, another Samuel L. Jackson movie, you know that the film ends with Jackson’s character being shot by Kevin Spacey and while he’s lying on the floor in a pool of blood, he records the bad guy admitting to the stolen money, so in a way, this film stole this ending from The Negotiator. It wasn’t even an original idea.

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Movie Review: Parker

That two-week blogathon didn’t work out very well, did it?

No, no it did not, but I have quite a few things to write about. This review is but one. Also, how about that new profile photo?

In yet another Jason Statham movie where he yet again plays a man who’s good with guns, knives and women, Statham stars as Parker, a priest. Wait what?!

The opening scene shows Parker wearing the wardrobe and collar of a priest at the Ohio state fair, only to rob the place of over a million dollars with four compadres. Simple enough.

The gang’s so impressed with his ability to control the situation, they ask him to do another job with them, an even bigger one, but there’s a price: they all have to contribute the money they just ripped off for this next heist. As in the Transporter franchise, Statham doesn’t like things going out of the boundaries of the plan and so says no, which is where our conflict starts.

There’s plenty to talk about now, like this whole start-up sequence. It’s not bad. It’s a decent start for an action film and it drew some new surroundings for a familiar occurrence, like a robbery, to happen and make it seem not so familiar.

Then I see Michael Chiklis and I cringe. Fantastic Four will always be in the deep recesses of my mind. He will always be the Thing, the very dumb, ugly Thing that was a thing and nothing more. A large, terrible thing, but still just a thing. Not important at all. Therefore, when Chiklis’ Melander proposes this idea to Parker in the most flat and non-threatening way possible, I cringe a little more. Fantastic Four acting.

Chiklis can’t act, though I’m sure an overall shadeless character and an advertisement-length amount of time in front of the camera didn’t help either. On the other hand, commercials seems to be getting pretty long these days so maybe that’s not the correct phrase to use, but moving on.

Parker’s gonna go beat these former pals of his senseless after they left him for dead but first he needs to find out where they are, what they’re stealing and where they’re going to be afterwards because Parker wants to make some cash out of this, too. Still seems basic enough but can it hold the audience’s attention for two hours? Can it even run that long?

Apparently not, because in walks Jennifer Lopez. Now, Jennifer Lopez is one of the few people who came outside of the acting business that has the ability to act, at least in my opinion. Most musicians should stick to singing. However, this isn’t Lopez’s type of film so I’m unsure why she agreed to this role. Lopez thrills in rom-coms, not a dark action film and it shows because she’s so out-of-place in Parker. She doesn’t belong here and neither does her character, Leslie. A real-estate agent who’s practically bankrupt and living with her mother, talk about down on your luck. However, it’s hard to relate to Leslie’s predicament. A cop is clearly interested in dating her but she continues brushing off his advances. He never does anything questionable in character and seems to really care about her, yet she never seems to even consider it. Seems like a clear avenue to me, at the very least something to look forward to. What’s she looking forward to now? Failing at work, failing at having a social life?

It’s only harder to relate to Leslie’s depression because she’s Lopez. If a woman looks like that, she gets the guy, the job perks, the car and the everything-you-can-think-of. No one, and I mean no one, who has the appearance of Jennifer Lopez is having a tough time at work or is struggling to start a romance. It’s preposterous to even propose such an absurdity.

Which leaves us to ask, why is Lopez here and honestly, I don’t know. She serves as a subplot distraction as well as a handicap on both the character of Parker and on Statham. To find out where these “friends” of his are, Parker enlists the services of Leslie under the surmise that he’s looking for a vacation house, which she digs to find out is not the case.

Yet Leslie’s subplot, pity-party character becomes its own animal asking for its own spotlight even though it has no right to ask for such screen time, but it gets it anyway, for some reason. There’s no draw to her person or problem. She still lives in Palm Beach, one of the richest neighborhoods in the not just the state of Florida, but the entire country. Yes, she lives with her mother, but still. We’re talking about Palm Beach here.

I did some research. In Palm Beach, a median household income is $124,562. Naturally, Leslie didn’t make that, but still! One of the richest neighborhoods in the United States, according to a study done by Business Insider, is Everglades Club in Palm Beach. The mean household income is $467,000!

But yes, poor old Leslie. Let’s ignore the fine body she has, the charm, the weather that millions of Americans get to experience a few days a year but wish they could live in, the picturesque scenery and let’s not forget the beach. Poor Leslie. Bah humbug!

The daddling plot accentuates clear plot errors, like Parker consistently breaking into unlocked cars.

Uncertainty with the direction of the story’s noticeable and drags a lot in the middle while its initial tone is shredded and irreparable in the film’s final third, which can be categorized as a letdown and far too quick resolution.

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. (RageZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: Retaliation)

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. (I, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly MadisonA Haunted House)

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 Parker: 61.

I had to put this one review from Netflix in here because it was just too funny:

“1 star for getting a middle-aged J-Lo into lingerie. 1 more star for a strong opening sequence. Minus 1 star for not just stopping there. This film is Terrible, capital T, as in Made for TV. Story is beyond contrived, the action makes The Transporter look like a documentary, the direction is Horrible, and the acting isn’t even high-school drama class. This might be right for the daytime soap-opera folks, but otherwise, avoid like the plague.”

Parker isn’t necessarily a bad film, but it’s just very meh. Jennifer Lopez is one of the few non-actors that can act, at least in my opinion, but the character she’s given here is one-key and off kilter. Statham’s Parker is forced to twiddle his thumbs while dealing with this pitiful real estate agent and the forced interaction compromises the tone the film originates with. Overall, it’s another miss for Statham.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Divisional Week

Top 5

1. QB Tom Brady 33/50 for 367 yards, 3 TDs, INT, 99.3 QBR, rushing TD vs. BAL

46 career playoff touchdown passes surpasses Joe Montana for most in NFL history

2. QB Russell Wilson 15/22 for 268 yards, 3 TDs, 149.2 QBR vs. CAR

3. WR Davante Adams 7 receptions for 117 yards, TD vs. DAL

4. WR Kelvin Benjamin 7 receptions for 75 yards, 2 TDs vs. SEA

5. LB Julius Peppers 6 tackles, 4 solo, sack, 2 forced fumbles vs. DAL

Worst of the Worst

1. Ravens allow Patriots to overcome two 14-point deficits in loss.

No team has erased a pair of 14-point deficits in a regular-season game since KC beat Green Bay in 2003.

2. Marshawn Lynch’s postgame interview

3. Patriots’ 14 rushing yards vs. BAL

4. QB Peyton Manning 26/46 for 211, TD, Fmb, 75.5 QBR vs. IND

Lost 13th career playoff game, most in NFL history

Reported he was playing with an injury after the loss, which is why he’s lower on the list.

5. Cowboys’ fortunes change in seconds after Dez Bryant’s catch is overturned. It was the correct call, just thought that’s no way to have a playoff game decided.

Championship Predictions

4 Colts @ 1 Patriots

I picked the Colts to beat the Broncos and Patriots in back-to-back weeks in my preseason picks and despite the odds they’re facing, I’m sticking to my guns. How can I not? I’m feeling Lucky. The Colts have a solid secondary to face off against a Patriots receiving core that’s struggled at times this year and has been united only by Brady’s prowess at the position. If the Colts stuff the run and can make this a one-dimensional game, I have faith in the Colts secondary led by Pro-Bowler Vontae Davis. Let’s go Luck!

2 Packers @ 1 Seahawks

I picked the Seahawks in the Super Bowl once again and I’m sticking to my guns on this one, too. Russell Wilson has had a franchise year despite the personnel changes and the issues with the media (see Marshawn Lynch). The Packers have an injured Aaron Rodgers right now and his mobility is sure to be an issue in this game. It’s imperative the Packers protect their quarterback because if he gets knocked out of the game, it’s over. The Packers aerial attack is dynamic and Eddie Lacy has reanimated a quaint running attack, but the defense still struggles at an immense degree. Going to take the Seahawks and predict the Colts-Seahawks Super Bowl I saw coming from the start.

Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Wild-Card Week

Top 5

1. LB Daryl Smith 10 tackles, 9 solo, 3 forced fumbles vs. PIT

2. RB Jonathan Stewart 24 carries for 123 yards, TD vs. ARI

3. LB Terrell Suggs catches interception between his legs vs. PIT

4. LB Jerrell Freeman 15 tackles, 1.5 sacks, forced fumble vs. CIN

5. WR Terrance Williams 3 receptions for 92 yards, 2 TDs vs. DET

Worst of the Worst

1. Bengals become first team in NFL history to lose four consecutive opening-round games. QB Andy Dalton ties Warren Moon for the most consecutive opening-round playoff losses by a quarterback (4). Coach Marvin Lewis ties Marty Schottenheimer, Jim Mora and Steven Owen for most consecutive playoff losses by a coach (6). Ties Mora for most consecutive playoff losses to start a career and ties Own for most consecutive playoff losses with one team. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since January, 1991.

2. Cardinals are held to 78 total yards vs. CAR, the fewest in an NFL postseason game.

3. Refs blow pass interference call in DET-DAL game

4. Lions drop 20-7 lead in Dallas, lose 24-20

5. QB Matt Stafford 28/42 for 323 yards, TD, INT, 2 Fmb, 87.7 QBR vs. DAL

Divisional Round Predictions

4 Colts @ 2 Broncos

I picked this match-up in the preseason and I’m sticking to my guns and taking Luck and his magic. Peyton Manning completely fell apart in December and tanked my fantasy season. Perhaps I’m still a bit salty about that but the team didn’t perform well in December either. They got the two-seed but this is the upset to take this week.

6 Ravens @ 1 Patriots

It’s time for Flacco’s streak to end. The Patriots shut down all the naysayers early in the season calling for Brady’s head and their defense has been just as dominant as I thought it would be. True, the running game is stifled for the second straight year, but Brady is consistently clutch as always. The apparent disappearance of Torrey Smith for the Ravens this year and heavily leaning on Justin Forsett limits this Baltimore offense. If they can’t establish the run, they can’t take the shots down field. I’ll take Mr. Clutch (Brady).

4 Panthers @ 1 Seahawks

The Panthers set a new record for least total yards allowed in a postseason game but let’s not give them too much credit. They were playing against a third string running back and quarterback in a playoff game as well as a defense decimated by injury. Let’s see how they do against Russell Wilson, who has truly earned my respect this year, even if I originally hated the guy. I’m starting Seahawks defense for Gridiron Playoffs. Newton’s coming back down to Earth.

3 Cowboys @ 2 Packers

The Cowboys finally ended their playoff drought but let’s see how they handle Lambeau. Last time they were there it was the Ice Bowl and they left defeated. With Aaron Rodgers shushing the naysayers and an apparent Patriots-Packers Super Bowl seemingly predetermined, I’ll take Green Bay.

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Movie Review: I, Frankenstein

It’s been far too long, guys. Far too long.

I’ve neglected my blog for the past few weeks with things continuing to draw my attention away from WordsofWisTIM and I’m sorry. I’m more than three weeks behind on blog reading and there are so many films I’ve seen this year and not written about.

To try to make up for that, I’m going to challenge myself. I’m going to post each day for the next two weeks to the best of my abilities. Movie reviews, sports reports, sports features and a Movies in 2014 feature coming your way. I’m dusting off the pen and going mad crazy on the ink. I’m so excited to get back and I’ll try my hardest to never drift off again.

To begin my two week marathon, I’m starting with a film made in 2014 and I think I was one of maybe five people who wanted to see it: I, Frankenstein.

The trailer didn’t bore me. Dare I say I kinda wanted to see this in theaters, but I couldn’t. How could I? It looked like garbage and Jai Courtney, too and Aaron Eckhart? “Hopefully it’ll come out on Netflix,” I said. Well it did, so thanks Netflix.

I, Frankenstein’s 3% on Rotten Tomatoes is simply amazing. Sometimes I question how films make it look so easy. How do a bunch of people get together for a project and manage to fail so badly? That’s one of the questions that Hollywood still puzzles me with. Might have to blog about that sometime, maybe make a new series focusing on the questions Hollywood puzzles me with? I don’t know.

So the film opens with a Lionsgate logo. So far so good, I’ve enjoyed lots of their films.

Lakeshore Entertainment. The logo looks familiar. It’s a kid jumping off a dock into a lake.

SKE Films? Did someone just make that up?

Hopscotch. Hopscotch Features. Wow. Don’t even know how to respond to that. How can I take you seriously when you name yourself Hopscotch? When you read a production company name like that, you slowly close your eyes and sigh. Crap.

I knew it was going to be crap. I knew it before I started it, yet I still watched the darn thing anyway. What’s the matter with me? A few years ago, I’d just shut it off, but I’ve developed a need to finish what I start and now every cursed film that finds its way into my hands has been watched from beginning to end.

Five minutes in? Time for some exposition. The whole universe is laid out like a blueprint for a bystander who just wants to watch the construction process. Do I need to know all this? Do I really?

There’s a war between gargoyles and demons and blah, blah, blah. This was produced by the same guys who did the Underworld series so I should have expected it but I still cringe. Has anyone watched those films? There is so much exposition that there is no substantial time to develop character because we’re too busy learning about this fantasy universe.

It’s a plague that infects so many science fiction and fantasy worlds today. Simplify, simplify, simplify, that’s really all you need to do. For this film, they didn’t even have to do that. Director/writer Stuart Beattie cast Bill Nighy, the same guy who played the villain in Underworld and in every movie ever. Has Bill Nighy ever played a good guy? If I cared enough, I’d research that but I feel I can safely assume he hasn’t. I think he may have had a good guy role in the 2012 Total Recall remake, but it was more of a cameo than anything. He’s got the villainous voice and in no way am I saying he’s not a good actor but if you cast Bill Nighy in a movie, the audience can safely assume he’s a bad guy and that he’s trying to take over/destroy the world. Guess what? That’s what he’s doing in I, Frankenstein.

I never watched this and I knew that was where it was going. Anyone who has watched three of Nighy’s movies knew where this was going.

If Stuart Beattie, who wrote Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, wants to be lazy and toss the cast a scarce script, fine, but cut out all this set-up garbage. No one cares. We all know the weapons have to be anointed or something to kill demons/bad guys. We’ve seen enough vampire movies, demon movies and Underworld movies. We’re not dumb.

We all know that Frankenstein is supposed to be overly strong in this film. Frankenstein can’t be an action hero without inserting that clause. Don’t need reminded of that for five minutes.

Don’t need to know about the gargoyle/demon war. It’s evident there is one. They’re killing each other. That meets the requirements of the Oxford definition. I already know why because again, Bill Nighy is here, figure it out people. I know the when (forever…Nighy), the how (Nighy) and the where (everywhere…Nighy). This is all Nighy’s baggage. I got it, okay?! Geez. Move on.

Maybe I’m being unfair, saying Nighy asserts himself that much in a movie like this, but that’s how I felt and thought about this introduction. Just a total waste.

A film should never start with substantial exposition five minutes into the film. Ever. That’s a terrible way to start a film. Aside from being lethargic and unbearably uninviting, opening with exposition is akin to giving the audience the first draft of the script, unedited and unfiltered product scraped together and molded into a block of words on paper. Discolors the art of screenwriting, doesn’t it? A mind-blowing intro is an unfair expectation for almost any film, but expecting a plot extrapolation before reaching the double-digit minute mark is like being a fan of the Buffalo Bills, Chicago Cubs and Edmonton Oilers, the three teams that have the longest playoff/World Series droughts in their respective sports leagues. You wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Why does a crew willingly subject themselves to that? What purpose does it serve? If they’re trying to set up signs that say, “Turn back now. If you don’t, you’re about to go dumpster diving,” they’re doing a great job, but if they’re trying to make a theatrical presentation that makes millions and entertains audiences, they’re really off track.

Extended opening exposition is one of the cardinal sins in film-making, at least for me, and I, Frankenstein suffered greatly for continually throwing blueprints in my face.

Aaron Eckhardt isn’t a bad actor, only a bad decision-maker. The Dark Knight had some of the best acting of the decade and Eckhardt as Harvey Dent was part of that Christopher Nolan epic. He has the tools if he’s coached the right way and given the right part, but his reliance on substandard films such as this is a continual grievance for his fans. The focal point of the movie, Eckhardt commanded my attention at least but not my mind.

Eckhardt was asked to build a palace out of sand in an hour and a half and was given but three grains to start with. An unattainable goal only worsened by a lack of co-worker participation, Eckhardt’s voice grows graver and deeper as the film goes on, something I found ironic since everyone wants to bury him.

For a character that’s enshrined in the gothic world of fictional characters, Frankenstein is poorly written here. He’s a monster and he wants to be left alone. Surely there’s some complexity? Not I, Frankenstein. Every chance at proficiency is skipped over and standards were lowered as the film progressed. Some basic themes can be colored in, like loneliness and self-identity most of all, but the space is left blank. Frankenstein would have a self-identity problem. He can give hardcore death stares all he wants but he hates himself. Anyone in the same predicament would, no matter how confident they were in themselves and their own abilities before. You don’t wake up each day covered in scars, knowing you were created and hated by your creator and say, “Aw, it’s a glorious day. Time for me to get some Jimmy Dean breakfast!”

There are far more lessons and values that could have been covered but any drama or takeaways you might have expected from this are not arriving to the presentation. CGI and action sequences overshadow them. The character Frankenstein constitutes respect and I, Frankenstein does him no such thing.

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. (RageZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: Retaliation)

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 I, Frankenstein: 47.

A thoughtless venture, which I suppose is ironic considering the subject matter, I, Frankenstein is bad but not degenerative. The action starves and the plot is moot, but I still got a little fun out of this, bumping it from the low 40’s.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 17

Top 5

1. QB Geno Smith 20/25 for 358 yards, 3 TDs, Fmb, 158.3 QBR vs. MIA

2. WR Eric Decker 10 receptions for 221 yards, TD vs. MIA

3. RB Lamar Miller 19 carries for 178 yards, TD vs. NYJ

4. WR Michael Floyd 8 receptions for 153 yards, 2 TDs vs. SF

5. RB Frank Gore 25 carries for 144 yards vs. ARI

Worst of the Worst

1. Peyton Manning caused a lot of people to lose in the fantasy playoffs, including me. His last few games have been truly dreadful, so dreadful that I would not be surprised if the Broncos are upset in the playoffs. Here are some stats to think about:

In Dec: 77/121 for 990 yards, 63.6% completion, 3 TDs, 6 INTs, 76.8 QBR.

In losses: 127/204 for 1,441 yards, 62.3% completion, 7 TDs, 9 INTs, 76.4 QBR.

There is a strong correlation between those two stat lines. Just something to think about if you decide to bet on the Broncos.

2. Bucs drop 20-7 halftime lead vs. NO, grab number one pick in draft

3. QB Drew Brees 24/38 for 281 yards, TD, 3 INTs, 61.4 QBR vs. TB

4. QB Philip Rivers 20/34 for 291 yards, 2 INTs, 7 sacks, Fmb, 62.3 QBR

5. Eagles block Giants punt, Giants return for 73-yard TD, called back for holding

To conclude the NFL regular season, here’s the top five performers from each of the main stat categories.

Passing

1. Drew Brees, NO: 4,952

1. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT: 4,952

3. Andrew Luck, IND: 4,761

4. Peyton Manning, DEN: 4,727

5. Matt Ryan, ATL: 4,694

Rushing

1. DeMarco Murray, DAL: 1,845

2. Le’Veon Bell, PIT: 1,361

3. LeSean McCoy, PHI: 1,319

4. Marshawn Lynch, SEA: 1,306

5. Justin Forsett, BAL: 1,266

Receiving

1. Antonio Brown, PIT: 1,698

2. Demaryius Thomas, DEN: 1,619

3. Julio Jones, ATL: 1,593

4. Jordy Nelson, GB: 1,519

5. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN: 1,404

Tackles

1. Luke Kuechly, CAR: 153

2. DeAndre Levy, DET: 151

3. Lavonte David, TB: 146

4. Curtis Lofton, NO: 145

5. Paul Worrilow, ATL: 143

Sacks

1. Justin Houston, KC: 22.0

2. J.J. Watt, HOU: 20.5

3. Elvis Dumervil, BAL: 17.0

4. Connor Barwin, PHI: 14.5

4. Mario Williams, BUF: 14.5

Interceptions

1. Glover Quin, DET: 7

2. Tashaun Gipson, CLE: 6

3. Harrison Smith, MIN: 5

3. Brent Grimes, MIA: 5

3. Bruce Carter, DAL: 5

Next, how my division previews matched up with this season’s results. Some were on point (Broncos 12-4, Dolphins 8-8, Colts 11-5, Rams 6-10) and some, I don’t know what I was thinking (Titans 6-10, Bears 10-6, Redskins 8-8, Buccaneers 9-7).

AFC North            AFC West              AFC East              AFC South

4 Bengals 10-6    1 Broncos 12-4      3 Patriots 10-6   2 Colts 11-5

6 Steelers 8-8     Chiefs 8-8              5 Dolphins 8-8    Titans 6-10

Ravens 8-8          Chargers 8-8         Jets 6-10              Texans 5-11

Browns 5-1          Raiders 5-11          Bills 5-11               Jaguars 4-12

NFC North           NFC West              NFC East              NFC South

3 Packers 11-5     1 Seahawks 13-3   4 Eagles 8-8       2 Saints 11-5

5 Bears 10-6        6 49ers 10-6         Redskins 8-8   Buccaneers 9-7

Lions 6-10           Cardinals 7-9        Cowboys 5-11     Falcons 7-9

Vikings 4-12        Rams 6-10             Giants 3-13        Panthers 6-10

Here’s what they were:

AFC North            AFC West                AFC East             AFC South

3 Steelers 11-5     2 Broncos 12-4      1 Patriots 12-4     4 Colts 11-5

5 Bengals 10-5-1     Chiefs 9-7            Bills 9-7                Texans 9-7

6 Ravens 10-6         Chargers 9-7        Dolphins 8-8       Jaguars 3-13

Browns 7-9              Raiders 3-13        Jets 4-12               Titans 2-14

NFC North           NFC West                 NFC East             NFC South

2 Packers 12-4     1 Seahawks 12-4     3 Cowboys 12-4   4 Panthers 7-8-1

6 Lions 11-5          5 Cardinals 11-5      Eagles 10-6           Saints 7-9

Vikings 7-9           49ers 8-8                 Giants 6-10            Falcons 6-10

Redskins 4-12      Rams 6-10               Redskins 4-12       Bucs 2-14

Finally, my predictions for the wild-card round.

5 Cardinals (11-5) @ 4 (7-8-1) Panthers

The Arizona Cardinals, despite their injury-riddled quarterback position, managed a 11-5 record. Since Palmer’s season-ending injury in week 10, the team went 3-4, including 0-2 under third-stringer Ryan Lindley. The Cardinals have not scored 20 points since losing Palmer and their rushing attack has dwindled after losing running back Andre Ellington. Their secondary, which highlights Antonio Cromartie and Patrick Peterson, has been awful, allowing 260 yards in the air (29th).

On the other side, Ron Rivera saved his job. After losing six consecutive games and dropping to 3-8-1, the Panthers won their final four games to clinch the NFC South title. Cam Newton’s inconsistency as well the Panthers lack of depth at receiver plagued the team about as much as I thought it would and it’s important to note the last four wins came against struggling teams.

Despite the Cardinals lackluster aerial coverage, the Panthers weak receiving core that relies far too heavily on rookie Kelvin Benjamin and tight end Greg Olsen most likely won’t be able to take advantage. It’s the Panthers 7th-best rushing attack versus the Cardinals 13th-ranked defensive front. I’m simply not willing to put my faith in Cam Newton and I think Arians will coach his team to victory.

6 Ravens (10-6) @ 3 Steelers (11-5)

The Ravens have not been themselves as of late and nearly missed the wild-card spot. The Steelers, on the other hand, truly dazzled. Ben Roethlisberger had the best statistcal year of his career, Antonio Brown led the league in receptions and total receiving yards and Le’Veon Bell turned the Steelers rushing attack into a real threat after being towards the bottom last year. However, Le’Veon Bell injured his knee in the team’s season finale and will miss today’s game. Despite that, Flacco’s poor play in December and Justin Forsett’s apparent disappearance make me believe the Steelers will pull out the win.

5 Bengals (10-5-1) @ 4 Colts (11-5)

If I’ve learned anything from this NFL season, it is that coordinators, not coaches, are more responsible for on-field performance.

Last year, Cincinnati was third in total yards allowed, behind only Seattle and Carolina and fifth against the pass (209.0), the run (96.5) and points allowed per game (19.1).

This year, the Bengals were 22nd in yards allowed, 20th against the pass (243.0) and the rush (116.3) and 12th in points allowed (21.5).

Keep in mind that the Bengals added a lot of depth this past offseason and it leaves you scratching your head. What happened?

Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer left, that’s what happened. Zimmer was the key to the Bengals defense and with him gone, they struggled mightily. Guess who was ahead of the Bengals in nearly every defensive stat category? Zimmer’s Vikings, who struggled against the run (25th) but outpaced the Bengals against the pass (7th) and in total yards (14th) and points (11th). The Bengals just aren’t the same team and if it wasn’t for the emergence of LSU rookie Jeremy Hill, the Bengals would not have made the playoffs, even with an easy schedule.

The Colts, my preseason Super Bowl pick, had the record I predicted but struggled in December, including a disastrous defeat against the Cowboys. The running game is still ineffective and I don’t think it’s because of the personnel. The Colts are just not a running team and never have been. Edgerrin James was the last overachieving running back they had, a decade ago. Getting Trent Richardson for a first-rounder was a bargain, but you have to put him in a system where he has a chance to succeed.

Andrew Luck hasn’t been himself of late, but the entire Bengals team hasn’t been themselves all year. Also considering A.J. Green’s doubtful status for Sunday’s contest and that the Bengals have never won a road playoff game, I’m feeling Luck-y.

6 Lions (11-5) @ 3 Cowboys (12-4)

I hate the Dallas Cowboys. With that said, bravo guys.

Easily the biggest surprise of the season, at least for me, the Dallas Cowboys went from having one of the worst defenses in NFL history ever to a middle-of-the-road group that was 15th in points allowed (22.0). Plagued by injuries up to this year, not only did DeMarco Murray play the full season, he set some records. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark 12 times and scored at least once in 11 games! A truly incredible year, especially considering he faced the NFC West, rushing for triple digits in three of the four contests. A dominant running back is exactly what the Cowboys needed because Romo can’t shoulder the offense every game and that showed this year. Aikman had Emmitt and Romo needed someone. Too bad it took forever for Jerry Jones to find one.

The Lions under Jim Caldwell, a former coordinator, became a new team this year as their defensive line of first-round picks finally played to expectation and became the best rushing defense in the league. Their mediocre secondary is sustainable due to the constant pressure on the quarterback. Their rushing game is falling apart as the Lions are seeing Reggie Bush become a non-factor in the NFL. Bush had 76 carries this year. Stafford had more than half that (43). Joique Bell has taken over the starting role and has shown promise but a better offensive line is required if this team is to be balanced. The Lions’ December play was also questionable. After throttling the Buccaneers, the Lions squeaked past the Vikings with a two-point win and beat the Bears by 6. The defense allowed only 14 points in both match-ups and yet they still barely won. The offense has to show up now because the defense can’t play much better than it’s playing now.

This is the game to watch this week and as much as I hate the Cowboys, they’re the more balanced team. I’ll be rooting for them to choke in crunch time though.

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