Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Patriot in All of Us

*Originally posted on SportsTalkFeed

If there is one thing that everyone can appreciate, it’s an underdog. It is easy to stand up for the little guy, the guy who wasn’t given a shot until now because he was too small or too poor or didn’t go to a big school. We relate because we, the everyday people who keep the cogs of this country and its businesses moving, know what it is like to face such adversity and yet we would still sell everything we had to be in the same position as them. Proving someone wrong is one of the most exhilarating and relieving moments of one’s life. Doing it on national television? Doesn’t get any better than that.

Tom Brady was drafted with the 199th pick in the sixth round of the 2000 draft. Only two Hall of Fame quarterbacks were drafted later, Bart Starr with the 200th pick in the 1956 draft and Warren Moon, who went undrafted in 1978.

In his second season, his first in which he regularly started, Brady made it to the Super Bowl against the St. Louis Rams. The Rams sported the last three league MVPs and remain the only team to win three consecutive league MVPs with more than one player (Kurt Warner 1999, Marshall Faulk 2000, Warner 2001). The Rams were 14-point favorites.

With 1:21 left and no timeouts, Brady and the Patriots drove from their own 17 to the Rams 31. With seven seconds left, Adam Vinatieri kicked the game winning-field goal and the Patriots pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.

Brady did all this in his first real season, becoming the third quarterback to reach a Super Bowl in his first or second season and second to win it at the time. I still remember watching this game. It was the first Super Bowl I watched (I was 7) and it was certainly one to remember.

15 years later, Tom Brady will be 38 years old entering his 16th season.

For most of his career, I hated Brady. I rooted for him to pull the upset and I rooted for him to beat the Panthers. He was the perfect underdog story but it was there that I began to root against him. I didn’t want to see a dynasty. I didn’t want any dynasty unless it was the Pittsburgh Steelers. As a Steelers fan, you are expected to hate the Patriots and Tom Brady. I gave into that hate for a while. I was young and didn’t appreciate the greatness that Brady has given us.

People will talk about how great Peyton Manning is. Peyton is an NFL icon and has set plenty of records, but it is worth noting his playoff struggles. When you consider he had Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Edgerrin James as well as one of the best offensive lines in football for many years and managed one turnover-laden Super Bowl victory out of it, well, that’s very disappointing. It is also worth noting that Brady was never given such talent. Brady had Deion Branch, Wes Welker, Randy Moss for a short stint and now he’s playing with Julian Edelman. Hardly a comparison to what Peyton has had during his career. Peyton has had a better assembly of talent around him. Look at what Peyton has had to accompany him in Denver these last few years. Brady is throwing to a former quarterback from Kent State.

Edelman is a top-tier receiver right now, don’t get me wrong, but Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders against Edelman and injury-prone Danny Amendola? Not even a contest.

For me, that is why Tom Brady will always be a better quarterback than Peyton Manning. This is not a bash against Peyton in any way. Peyton’s work ethic and attention to detail is unparalleled and his miraculous feats innumerable, but Peyton has never been the clutch player that Brady has been, especially in the playoffs. Brady’s prevailing quality during his tenure in New England is clutch and with far fewer tools to work with.

Only four times during Brady’s career in New England has a Patriot running back broke the 1,000 yard barrier, a barrier equitable to a pillow cushion. To break 1,000 yards in a season, a running back has to gain 62.5 yards a game, a modest total. Only four times has that happened, all with different backs (’01 Antowain Smith-1157, ’04 Corey Dillon-1635, ’10 BenJarvus Green-Ellis-1008, ’12 Stevan Ridley-1263)

The Patriots depth at receiver, particularly in later years, has also been a cause for concern, but Brady has never struggled. Minus his first year as starter, Brady has never thrown for under 3,500 yards in a season and never had his yards per pass fall below 6.2. If you exclude the 2002 season, it’s never fallen below 6.84. He’s thrown for over 4,000 yards for four consecutive years. Including his first year as starter, he’s never had a completion percentage below 60.

With those statistics, you may find it surprising that only ten receivers have broken the 1,000 yard mark with Brady, including none between 2002-2006. For four of those years, the Patriots didn’t have a 1,000 yard rusher either. Fun fact: the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2004 and 2005.

Yes, the Patriots won the Super Bowl in back-to-back years with Tom Brady throwing to David Givens, Deion Branch and David Patten. Peyton Manning was throwing to future Hall of Famers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Let’s not forget about Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley or Edgerrin James, who had 1,259 and 1,548 rushing yards in those two years. Which team won the Super Bowl again?

Looking at Brady’s introduction on Wikipedia is almost hilarious:

13 full seasons as a starter, three SB MVPs, two league MVPS (’07, ’10), ten Pro Bowls; led the Patriots to more division titles than any other quarterback in NFL history (12), fifth on all-time passing and career touchdown list.

Tied for most playoff games in a career with Rice, holds record for most playoff wins (21), record for longest consecutive win streak with 21 over two seasons, most consecutive playoff wins with 10, first undefeated regular season since 16-game schedule began, more passing yards and touchdowns than any quarterback in postseason history, sixth highest passer rating of all time (95.9).

Brady and Montana are the only two players in NFL history to win the NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP multiple times. Only quarterback to lead his team to six Super Bowls and holds records for most Super Bowl touchdown passes. First quarterback to throw for 50 or more touchdowns in a season. NFL record for consecutive passes without an interception (358), highest season touchdown/interception ratio among players who’ve started a full season (9:1)

Brady and Belichick form the most successful quarterback-coach tandem in NFL history, winning 160 regular season games, 21 postseason games, and appearing in six Super Bowls, all NFL records.

As much as it hurts me to say as a Peyton fan, Peyton holds individual records. Brady holds the records that matter. Brady has done what has been asked of him, developing new receiver after new receiver from Welker and Gronk, to Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, to Brandon LaFell and Shane Vereen.

Peyton Manning has played with a top-ten receiver every year of his career if you remove his rookie year. He has played with 22 top-twenty receivers, 17 top-ten receivers and 12 top-five receivers.

Tom Brady has played with nine top-twenty receivers, five top-ten receivers and two top-five receivers.

22, 17 and 12. 9, 5, and 2.

With less, Brady has done more. That is the sphere at the center of Brady’s legacy. For Brady, it’s always the same goal but the tools he’s been given have always been changing. Not once do I recall him complaining about his supporting cast. Not once has he complained about his contract. He’s taken pay cuts willingly. Not once do I recall him lashing out at the public for the unfair perception of him. Not once.

Tom Brady understands humility. He understands what it means to carry a team for not just a game or two, or a season, but for every year of his career and his knee has blown out only once.

Terry Bradshaw had Franco Harris, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Joe Montana had Roger Craig and Jerry Rice. Troy Aikman had Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. Tom Brady had Deion Branch. Wes Welker was there for a while, but they never won a Super Bowl together.

Tom Brady’s best teammate has been himself. The greatest dynasties are built on believing in your teammates. Even greater ones have been built by believing in no one but yourself (please see, Michael Jordan). Brady has done that to an absurd proportion and for that, he deserves respect.

There is nothing wrong with rooting against Brady. I still find myself doing that from time to time and don’t get me wrong, I loved the Giants destroying the Patriots’ hope of a perfect season in the Super Bowl, but there is something wrong with hating the man who has better exemplified NFL excellence than any player in the 21st century. No single individual in any sport has brought a dynasty to a city whose prior teams were lucky to eat the scraps off the floor. Not even LeBron James has accomplished that. No team has relied on an individual more heavily and yet still found success on the biggest stages. Again, no LeBron here.

And so, I mock those who say that Brady is a cheater for SpyGate, to my understanding a practice that was not legally against the rules until after the fact, or for those who point to DeflateGate, an investigation that blatantly said, “We have no concrete evidence” and is somehow justified to deliver punishment regardless.

If we’re pointing to tarnished legacies, let’s look at Drew Brees and Bountygate, a Super Bowl run that encouraged opponent disfiguration and mutilation. Do not for one second tell me that he did not know what was going on in the huddles of his teammates or what was coming out of the mouths of his coaches. Yet NFL fans have not blinked an eye over the toxicity and vileness that covers that Lombardi. No, instead, let’s look at the second-greatest quarterback of all-time and defame him for decimals of air pressure. How dare you.

In the words of Taylor Swift, “haters gonna hate”. No one says you have to root for Brady, but if you consider yourself a football fan, no, a sports fan, then you had better damn respect him because there has been no greater athlete in the 21st century than Tom Brady and to hate Brady is to hate all that we hold dear: the love of the game, the heart of the game and the underdog within us all. The Patriot in all of us.

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Movie Review: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Hello, my loyal fans!

I want to begin by saying I’m nearing my 300th post on WordsofWisTIM! It’s been quite a journey.

Second, I’m doing a lot of work. I’m still working as a cashier, completing an internship, blogging on here and have recently taken a job with SportsTalkFeed. They are a sports forum that’s looking to break into the industry of sports writing. My first article, The Patriot in All of Us, was posted last Friday on their site. I’ve linked it here. The stats have gone through the roof. It’s gotten a lot of traffic and someone even posted a link of it on sbnation, one of the largest sports forums in the world. I was also contacted by LastWordonSports, a site that’s been up since 2011 and boasts a monthly readership of over 200,000 and a staff of over 250. I’m considering applying at the end of the summer when I’ve completed my internship and returned to Waynesburg for my senior year. It’s a big deal. It’s already the most viewed article on SportsTalkFeed and I’ve been blown away by the feedback.

With all that said, that should not interrupt my writing on WordsofWisTIM. There will be some reviews I will not be able to write until days after my viewing, which may lead to them being more condensed, but I will churn them out. Everything I write for SportsTalkFeed will be exclusive to that site only for the opening week. After the first week, I will blog it here on my home site. All of my material will eventually find its way onto WordsofWisTIM. If you could give SportsTalkFeed a look though prior to me posting it on here, I’d greatly appreciate it. Now to the review.

Today was about going back to a sequel in 2013: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Anchorman remains one of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s best collaborations and one of Hollywood’s best original comedies. While overrated, its enshrinement is deserved for its stellar stand-up and character uniquity, which to an extent make up for a disturbingly vacant third act.

When a second part to this media mockery was announced, I scoffed. How desperate can you be? What crevice did you crawl into that you felt the need to unearth this fossil?

Know when to quit. Don’t tarnish a legacy. Looking at you, A Good Day to Die Hard.

That was my concern with Anchorman 2. Sequels many years after the original material usually don’t fare very well. The same can be said for a writer who stops writing a book and comes back to it years later. Rediscovering the state of mind and attributing similar variances of tone, flow and style can be agonizingly difficult. I try to write and edit all of my pieces in one sitting because when you’re in the zone, you don’t want to let go until you’ve completed everything to the highest pedigree. It doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes you need a breather and you can spark the embers back to life. With Anchorman, the embers had laid dormant for year.

One could argue that Anchorman 2 was trying to create a brand new aurora but that’s not what Anchorman is about. It’s not about changing the formula. It’s about “salon-quality hair and reading the news.”

Months ago, Jon (my best friend, I might stop with the endless best friend reminders) saw Anchorman 2 and said it was better than the first one and I thought, “What witchcraft is this?! Surely that’s impossible.”

I assure you it is not witchcraft. It’s just Ron Burgundy and crew discovering new life.

That’s all it really is and that’s all it really needed to be. One-timers and gimmicks, skits and gaggles, comics and cameos. There’s no real structure to Anchorman and there never was, which was probably the whole point. We’ve been taught as a society that news is supposed to be rigid and clear-cut. Ron Burgundy says hogwash and does it the way he sees it to be.

Thankfully, we can throw Ron’s wife Veronica to the wayside for the majority of this film because if it wasn’t working in the first one, it’s not going to work here and man, was I thankful. Instead, we embark on “The Boys Are Back In Town” get-up and it just feels right. It felt like this is what it should have been all along. Anchorman had all the pieces for a bromance, about entering the real world and fighting it out together with some great laughs and some stupid times along the way. The characters might have been gone for a while, but the pieces for that story never dissipated.

The comedic timing was practiced for many years by our fine cast, most notably Will Ferrell and Steve Carell. Brick Tamland will never get old and I almost think a TV show with the guy would be justified. His pure idiocy is convulsing. Meanwhile, Ferrell’s Ron gets the central spotlight that avoided him during the first take. There’s character unearthing, including Burgundy finally prioritizing family over career and also realizing the greater good and service he has to the community, to tell them the real news that matters. Until he gets there though, here comes a cake’s worth of reality right to the face.

Kristen Wiig is a great addition to the cast. A love interest for Brick? One of the most awkward and yet least-predictable relationships film has seen in a while. It never handled itself like a subplot. It was direct.

Relationships and characters are some of the most vital driving points to a film. Genre does not factor into the equation. If your characters aren’t stimulating, you’ll have to get us some other way and most of the alleyways to the highway of entertainment are paths that have been trodden on hundreds if not thousands of times before. With a set of characters as strong as they are here, we didn’t need any highways. In my next review, you’ll see what I mean by alleyways.

The humor is raw. It’s very racist and sometimes overly sexual but not to the point of offensive. I had a blast.

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. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

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

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Leon: The ProfessionalEnemySleeping with the EnemyEquilibriumDead Snow: Red vs. Dead)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitzThe PunisherDrive Hard)

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 Lost BoysZombeaversCrankErasedI, Frankenstein)

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 Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future Past)

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.” (OutcastSabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafe)

My score for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: 73.

I doubt it will be known as a better movie than its predecessor because of its elder’s cult status, but Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues steps over its older brother in character, story, humor and most importantly, entertainment.

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Movie Review: The Lost Boys

The 1987 vampire film, The Lost Boys, directed by 90’s Batman director Joel Schumacher, is pretty far out there.

Michael (Jason Patric), his younger brother, Sam (Corey Haim) and their now divorced mom, Lucy (Dianne Wiest) move to Santa Carla, California. Michael and Sam don’t know what’s ahead of them. As they pass a colorful sign welcoming them to the beach community, Michael notices the back of the billboard. In dark red letters, “Murder Capital of the World”. Not what you hope to see when you reach your new home.

What’s worse is they’re shacking up with Lucy’s father, an odd old man with a taxidermy hobby.

They go to the boardwalk because there’s nothing else to do and while at a small concert at the beach, Michael locates a pretty girl and stares. And stares. And stares.

Honestly, we’re ten minutes and 24 seconds into the movie and I already know this is going to suck. I went back to this scene and I clocked it. Michael stares at this girl for an entire 30 seconds. He doesn’t glance to the sides or anything. It’s like he’s in a trance. She’s pretty, I got it, move on. Well this girl (Jamie Gertz) finally picks up that he’s staring at her and guess what? Instead of acting like a normal person and looking away or maybe walking away out of embarrassment, he keeps staring for another 30 seconds before she gets creeped out and leaves. He then follows her through the whole park until she meets up with her apparent boyfriend, David (Kiefer Sutherland) and his gang and leave.

This is not attractive. Girls do not get turned on by stalkers, but I swear to you, before she leaves, she smiles at him. I also swear to you by the end of the film, Michael and this girl have sex.

That is some of the stupidest scriptwriting I’ve ever seen in a film. No guy, no matter how attractive, should be able to get away with stalking someone like that and still get a shot with them. That is nonsense. That doesn’t happen. Schumacher is a pitiful fool for thinking anyone was going to let that slide.

And guess what? We’re going to spend the majority of our time with the stalker. Isn’t that lovely?

After talking to this girl, Star, Michael rides out with the gang on a dangerous route and the rest of the movie shows him doing a bunch of rash things that seem absurd to undertake for a girl, especially one that’s already taken. On the other hand, Michael’s already shown to be a stalker so maybe he’s a sleaze, too.

There’s no lead-up to this journey either, so we don’t know if this is out of the norm for Michael or if this is his pig-headed pride getting in the way of his frontal lobe. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess.

There’s a side story going on with Sam and these two kids at a comic book store that are vampire experts. While it foreshadows the plot, it’s overly corny and some of the badgering that goes on between these kids is incredibly difficult to take seriously. What is this?

The acting and characters are just not there. Dianne West is just awful as Lucy and Lucy has got to be the most oblivious mother I’ve ever seen in film. She’s completely clueless and could not be more of a bubble brain. The divorce seems justified when you see how empty-headed this lady is.

Fun fact: Dianne West won two Academy Awards during her career. Keep that in mind when you watch this banana peel flop end over end.

Perhaps the hardest thing to grasp about The Lost Boys is deciding what is worse, the acting or the characters. You choose one and an example highlighting the errors of the other makes you want to change your mind. It’s a tug-of-war of mediocrity and as expected, it’s not a hypnotizing struggle.

Jason Patric’s good looks do not qualify him as an actor. Good looks do not equate to success. If for some reason you don’t believe that, watch this film and then try to defend Patric’s acting. I will tear your argument to shreds and put you through a grinder.

Michael’s drive for self-discovery discovers a vampire underworld, which diverts from character build-up or in this case, character acknowledgement. The film’s heavy leaning on plot overloads any subsidiaries that try to branch out. The boot of Schumacher’s oh-so-important plot manages to smash every ant that tries to leave the garden full of weeds, mud and rubble.

Michael does whatever David tells him to do. There never seems to be any questioning of David’s orders, a guy he’s just met mind you. Michael never shows any decision-making abilities or independence in this first stage but will magically discover them for the rest of the film as he predicates his individuality and rebukes authority. I sure am happy Michael managed to change his life mantra in such a short span of time.

Yet somehow the one who really gets buried in this affair is Kiefer Sutherland. As head vampire David, you would imagine that would lead to an enticing antagonist, someone who would spur change and intimidation. If vampires have truly been desolating Santa Carla for all these years as we’ve been told, David is probably a fearsome villain. I know what they say about assuming, but am I really being unreasonable for expecting this?

David is not any of those things. He name drops Michael at least 30 times. The gang laughs like hyenas the whole movie.

Laugh laugh laugh, laugh laugh laugh, laugh laugh laugh.

“Oh, Michael.”

Laugh laugh laugh, laugh laugh laugh, laugh laugh laugh.

“Come here, Michael.”

Laugh laugh laugh, laugh laugh laugh, laugh laugh laugh.

Piss off, Schumacher. Geezus.

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. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

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

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Leon: The ProfessionalEnemySleeping with the EnemyEquilibriumDead Snow: Red vs. Dead)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitzThe PunisherDrive Hard)

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. (ZombeaversCrankErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1)

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 Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future Past)

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.” (OutcastSabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafe)

My score for The Lost Boys: 47.

The Lost Boys became a cult classic in the 80s and spawned a prequel and a sequel. Why? Who knows. Perhaps it was the public’s fascination, perhaps it was the “pretty people”, but The Lost Boys certainly didn’t get popular for being The Lost Boys.

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Movie Review: Zombeavers

In March, Jon and I spent Bad Movie Wednesday (BMW) watching a film from New Zealand called Black Sheep. It was going to be bad, we knew it from the get-go, but it was also so good. If you like “so good, it’s bad” movies, give this one a watch.

In that review, I said the following:

“Jonathan King is a marketing guru for the simple fact that he has discovered one of the secret truths of America: to attract the masses, think of something preposterously stupid and they’ll swarm to it like bees to honey.”

Months later, that holds true today.

I wanted to watch a movie on Monday and this title popped up on Netflix. I continued scrolling because I wanted to look at an award-worthy film that I’ve been pushing off, like Wolf of Wall Street or Whiplash. In the end, I couldn’t help myself. I hit play on Zombeavers.

I’d avoid the trailer because it highlights some of the best parts of the movie but if you need that extra kick in the rear to hit play, watch it.

Zombies are trending right now. Put zombies in anything and we’re going to watch it. We can’t help ourselves. Zombies are a lot of fun. With the grandeur and drama of The Walking Dead continuing to impress and haunt, the genre of zombies has surpassed the heights of George Romero’s films. Foreign filmmakers are contributing to the spike such as the Norwegian films Dead Snow and Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead. Zombies is not an American epidemic. It is a worldwide one and it’s an epidemic people aren’t looking to cure.

It’s been nearly a week since I’ve seen it, but I can still say with sure confidence that Zombeavers was meant for BMW. The opening dialogue serves as a model of how you want “so bad, it’s good” movies to begin. It’s blunt and honestly, this first scene was pretty funny. I went back to the beginning just to watch it again. Some of the things these guys say are so outta left field that you can’t help but crack up. I almost wanted the scene to keep going, but zombies though.

Teenagers going to a cabin for a getaway isn’t new and the style of the script writing for the rest of the film isn’t seasoned near as well as its opening set. It is all too easy to distinguish the different styles of the three writers that worked on this script. One wonders why three writers needed to collaborate to diagram this simple a tale. The conversations between these characters at times are pubescent despite the fact that these girls seem to be in their 20’s. Immaturity runs rampant in both the characters and production of this far-fetched fable.

At times though, Zombeavers‘ simplicity is what keeps the dam together and prevents the water from crashing down on its disabled cast. I think Jon would agree that at times that was what made Black Sheep and even Sharknado so much fun. There were plot holes canyons and streams of ridiculousness, but the tone never felt misplaced in either of those films and it doesn’t feel like that here. That’s hardly an excuse for mediocre drafting, but at least it wasn’t suckage.

Other times, some wider turns of the wheel would have been welcomed because such simplicity is not engaging. It never got boring but only because it was so absurd, not just the situation these characters find themselves in but the way they handle it and the way they express themselves. There are a couple of one-liners the screenwriters decided to throw in for some reason and while I’m sure audiences will react to them, if they’re like me, they’re not laughing with them so much as they’re laughing at them. It is a laugh of mockery and a slice of enjoyment rather than a fun-filled pie.

Also similar to Black Sheep, Zombeavers uses puppets instead of CGI. Some leeway can be offered to a film with little to spend but the beavers don’t frighten. I applaud the effort, certainly, but the result is dead wood (beaver pun). Hard to build with, harder to build on.

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. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

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

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Leon: The ProfessionalEnemySleeping with the EnemyEquilibriumDead Snow: Red vs. Dead)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitzThe PunisherDrive Hard)

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. (CrankErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

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 Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future Past)

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.” (OutcastSabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafe)

My score for Zombeavers: 43.

Days after watching Zombeavers, I still found myself smirking over the stupid amounts of ineffectiveness in it. It’s one of the few films I’ve scored under 50 that I have an interest in watching again. The acting is strong-armed and gesturing with one hand. As you can guess, it doesn’t make the cut and the visuals are bearable at best. The dialogue that I criticized, believe it or not, is what keeps the film trudging in the mud and from afar, looking through binoculars, it’s pretty fun, but I wouldn’t dare get any closer.

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American Pharoah Says Neigh to the Naysayers

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37 years.

For 37 years, the Triple Crown was an illusion, a bedtime story horse racing fans told their children. There were the days of War Admiral in 1937, the days of the tremendous machine known as Secretariat, the days of the last legend known as Affirmed.

No sport has gone more than 750 days without crowning a champion. Horse racing went 13,514 days, more than 18 times that.

No other sport demands a team or athlete win three consecutive competitions in a six-week span while also facing every competitor. In every sport, you may face three or four competitors on a championship run, perhaps five or six if you’re in tennis. In horse racing, you can face up to 47 during the three races. (19 at the Derby, 13 at the Preakness, and 15 at Belmont.)

The Triple Crown is one of if not the most elusive honor in all of professional sports. Three races in six weeks against the very best in the sport.

It is the most grueling 3 15/16 miles in the history of sports and it went undefeated against the challengers that threatened it for 1,924 weeks.

To affirm something is to state it as a fact, to do so strongly and publicly. Affirmed was the last horse to affirm itself in horse racing. For almost four decades, no horse would show such purposeful stride for all of the Triple Crown’s 6,300 meters.

2014’s top horse was California Chrome and he would become the 13th Triple Crown bid to fall short in the Belmont since Affirmed’s win in 1978.

Again, horse racing fans would turn to the old tapes of past champions. Again, they would look back at the horses that held so much promise, that so many put their faith in and that so many watched lose on that dirt track in New York.

The older fans relived the glories of the greatest, Secretariat. They remembered the bitter taste of Silver Charm, who lost the lead in the last 50 yards, and the photo finish defeat of Real Quiet.

The next generation struggled with memories of Smarty Jones, who led with one furlong to go before falling to Birdstone. Big Brown’s dominance and dramatic loss at the Belmont continued to linger. I’ll Have Another’s scratch from the Belmont remained a dream of what could have been.

Following his horse’s loss in the Belmont, Califronia Chrome owner Steve Coburn questioned the legitimacy of the sport’s jewel, saying that horses who weren’t eligible for the Derby should not be allowed to run in the Preakness or Belmont.

Coburn did not understand or respect the tradition of the Triple Crown. If he did, he would know that the Triple Crown is the quest to be not just a winning horse, but a legend, a legend forever engraved in the history books, a name that would be forever traced to the greatest racing championship in the world. That honor is not something earned from being great or exceptional. It is a distinction awarded to absolute supremacy and complete dominance, a distinction awarded to a ruler, a king of a sport, an athlete that outpaces all others.

37 years later, we have that king. It is ironic that the last horse to affirm himself in the sport was named Affirmed. How fitting is it now, that the horse to break the unbreakable drought of horse racing has a name that is a synonym for king? His name is American Pharoah and he is the 12th winner of the Triple Crown.

Never was the booming thunder of “into the stretch” as pervasive as it was on June 6. Broadcaster Larry Collmus’ voice was calm and yet it hit harder than it ever had before.

The audience remained controlled, some seemingly afraid to believe and who could blame them? Santa Clause had given them more of a reason to believe than horse racing ever had.

Yet around the final turn, you could see jockey Victor Espinoza let him run. You could see him run, with passion and discipline, physically demanding, “Are you not entertained?” a la Gladiator.

The crowd roared.

This was no longer a horse race. This was an athlete ordering his crown.

For 19,460,160 minutes, horse racing fans waited for this.

 

It lasted 2:26.65.

For 1,167,609,600 seconds, aficionados waited for that partial second when a horse would pass that final bar in the dirt.

That partial second has a name.

History.

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Movie Review: The Boy Next Door

It was time for a movie yesterday and Mom wanted to watch The Boy Next Door. She said she liked it and my brother, Chris, said he hated it. When I asked what he would have scored it out of 10, he said a 1 or a 2. Who would I side with?

As someone who follows upcoming films rather closely, I didn’t recall The Boy Next Door ever hitting theaters. It couldn’t have been there long. Did I really miss it?

I missed The Boy Next Door in theaters but I didn’t miss anything, let me assure you of that.

Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) is unsure where to go next. Her husband has had an affair with a secretary and she doesn’t know how to proceed.

This section of the plot is already unbelievable to me. We’re talking about Jennifer Lopez. No one in their right mind would cheat on Jennifer Lopez. She’s Jennifer Lopez!

Claire seems taken aback when she meets her wheelchair-bound neighbor’s grandson who has just moved in, Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman). He’s remarkably good-looking and takes her son, Kevin, under his wing, teaching him how to fix cars and other stuff around the house and becoming one of his true friends at school, where Claire teaches English literature.

Noah is attracted to Claire as well and Claire, unsure of her life’s trajectory, sleeps with him.

The sex scene goes much farther than it needed to go and it’s here that the sled’s speed down the cliff truly picks up.

The script writing is awful and I did more than a handful of face palms during this sullen strut. Predictability is one of a film’s major choke points. It can really take the air out of a story’s lungs and The Boy Next Door is a perfect example. The story went exactly how I thought it would and there weren’t any believable twists to hold my interest. Plot conveniences were given free reign, only sinking the ship faster and farther.

The dialogue is pubescent at best as if the film was targeting a teen audience. It’s immature and developmental. The confrontations between characters are destitute of strain and never emulate a tightrope struggle. There’s no aroma to this story to constitute any intrigue.

Claire’s unstable character digging for self-identity lingers without outlets to pursue. Character formation is abandoned for a hole in the ground, a hole that Claire jumped into and has to get out of. Pity can take an audience so far before it’s time for something else to shoulder the burden, a replacement that never arrived. Lopez has no embers to enforce the flame of this story and it slowly withers into dust. The writers paid Lopez to walk the plank.

Noah is a minor proponent of the film’s minute success, far more engaging a character than Claire’s buried self. With that said, don’t expect tremors of uneasiness. Guzman does not grasp the lens with a forceful grip and model malicious profiles. He doesn’t command attention. The character is copy-pasted from better films of the psycho lover genre and demonstrates an inability to make itself its own. If the role had been done right, it would command and control, but from end to end, the audience rules, allowing yet another mark on this film’s record.

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. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

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

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Leon: The ProfessionalEnemySleeping with the EnemyEquilibriumDead Snow: Red vs. Dead)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitzThe PunisherDrive Hard)

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. (CrankErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

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 ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

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.” (OutcastSabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafe)

My score for The Boy Next Door: 28.

Cliche-ridden dialogue, cold cut-thin acting and plot conveniences out the wazoo, The Boy Next Door is a dull knife with no impressions made nor marks left behind. The constant throttling of the theme of “don’t cheat on your wife” could not be more abundantly clear albeit distracting from the film. A podium and microphone would have been a more appropriate course of action if that was all that writer Barbara Curry wanted to talk about.

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Movie Review: The Sentinel

It’s been a long time since I’ve watched this, like five years long and watching it the other day, I’m reminded for the last time why that is.

Secret Service agent Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas) is a personal bodyguard for the First Lady, Sarah Ballentine (Kim Basinger) when a former informant alerts Garrison that the recent murder of one of Garrison’s close friends may be connected to an assassination attempt on the President and that there might be a mole inside the Secret Service. Lie-detector tests are taken, results are analyzed and Garrison looks like the culprit. After escaping the custody of the FBI, it’s up to Garrison to clear his name and uncover this lethal plot.

The word “assassination” should have been put before the word “plot” in the last sentence of the previous paragraph because nothing about The Sentinel‘s plot is lethal. I like silence while I’m watching movies aside from the snark comment here and there from my family and friends but even I found myself talking through the first ten or so minutes of this movie. Some of the most uninviting character introductions I’ve seen in a while. The film is hanging a neon EXIT sign everywhere it can for the audience.

Garrison’s innocence is noted within the first 15 before the conflict has even been introduced, causing a ripple effect that eliminates any suspense or upheaval The Sentinel tries to present in its later stages. Rather than allowing for audience discussion and debate over Garrison’s innocence, Clark Johnson plays spoiler to his own film, shows us what’s going on in Garrison’s life that might be considered suspect and suddenly, but not surprisingly, audiences have nothing to talk about.

There are two central points to this story: 1) Is Garrison innocent? and 2) Does he get caught or killed?

These points are integrated with each other. One cannot succeed without the other. If we know the answer to question one before the story has moved, the impact of question two is severely diminished. Hard to whisk some suspense into the batter when you’ve already watered it down. The knowledge of question two does not disturb the pond as much, but a bother is a bother nonetheless.

Johnson’s assault of his own creation doomed this from the start, as did the casting of Eva Longoria. She can not act. Her most notable part of dialogue is when Kiefer Sutherland gives her a death threat and has her translate it in Spanish. The Spanish chick can speak Spanish? NO WAY!

It’s one of the most useless takes I’ve ever seen. That’s the most time she’s on-screen the entire movie! To speak Spanish!

Then there’s poor Kiefer Sutherland. He’ll always have my respect for putting together one of my favorite shows, 24, but the guy also typecast himself forever by starring in that show. He’s found no way to distance himself from the president-saving, bomb-defusing, terrorist-killing, cuss-filled tirade that is Jack Bauer and the hourglass is running low on sand.

The Sentinel is no different. Kiefer can go by whatever name the director gives him, but that’s still Jack Bauer running around on the screen and we all know it.

Michael Douglas, who to my recollection has never done me wrong, can’t not do me wrong with the support he’s given. He’s got no one to bounce dialogue off of, a script that asks for jogging, driving and pretending to care and a flawed story. Sounds like a losing formula to anyone that’s not named Clark Johnson. Probably why Johnson was given the job. He was the only one clueless enough to take 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. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

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

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Leon: The ProfessionalEnemySleeping with the EnemyEquilibriumDead Snow: Red vs. Dead)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Black SheepTwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe Raven)

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. (Mad Max: Fury RoadBlitzThe PunisherDrive HardRun All Night)

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. (CrankErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

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 ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

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.” (OutcastSabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafe)

My score for The Sentinel: 56.

There’s no action boost, the suspense was ruined by Johnson’s bullet and the third act trashes any entertainment that might have been had. Somehow only half way down the ladder to being intolerable, the only thing The Sentinel succeeded at was proving that I gave Mad Max: Fury Road a lesser score than it deserved, that and this deserves its place on the bookshelves of the forgotten.

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Winners And Losers: Round 2

Hello, everyone! It’s time for another round of Winners And Losers (WAL)!

If you missed Round 1, here’s a link.

If you haven’t read a Winners And Losers post before, here’s what Winners And Losers is. Each movie an actor/actress/director gives a memorable performance or a good film, I consider that a win. For every movie they give a shoddy performance or star in a detestable film, they get a loss, leading to an overall record of wins and losses. Over 50%, you’re a winner. Under, please get off the screen. I’m more likely to see winners’ films and do my best to avoid losers entirely.

Not all the films included in Winners And Losers have been reviewed by me yet, but I have seen them. I haven’t seen some in a long time and I don’t feel comfortable grading them a win or a loss, so they’ve been excluded from the list. There are also some films that actors have been in but did not play a substantial enough role to be considered for Winners And Losers. There is a tab at the top of the homepage for Winners And Losers and all records will be updated regularly when I see films with participants.

The bell rings for Round 2 and three more action stars come into the ring. Let’s go!

Jason Statham

The One

The One is headed by Jet Li but Jason Statham has a large enough role to be included for WAL. It’s a boring one. The film is a watchable bad movie but Statham’s presence here is a head scratcher.  Verdict: You’re not the one.

The Transporter

Statham’s breakout ride is a joyride. Statham’s best character to date spawned three films and now a TV series as well, though sadly without him. Jason Statham is Frank Martin and he drives fast. Not the best of the series, but a fun flick nonetheless. Verdict: Win

Transporter 2

Louis Leterrier’s sequel is an improvement as Statham digs himself farther into the character. Frank Martin remains the man. Verdict: Win

Chaos

I watched this on Netflix not too long ago. It has Wesley Snipes and Ryan Phillippe co-starring. Wesley Snipes put another dingo on his board and Chaos remained as stable as a film can get. Excessively boring and I don’t remember anything about it. Not looking forward to reviewing this. Verdict: You call this chaos?

Crank

This film was definitely different but not all difference is good. Crank‘s overwhelming reliance on fast-paced film editing overshadowed a weak story, but Statham’s character defines this film and the entertainment it offers. Verdict: Win

War

This film is at war with itself and with me. Unable to meet the basics of a revenge storyboard and flat-out ignoring the stunt work ability of two of the best in the business is enough for a hard L. Verdict: You want a war with me?!

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale

This film is absolute garbage. It was the worst film I’d seen for a time and my return to it earlier this year was just as painful. Verdict: What king? The king of the trash heap?

Transporter 3

Haven’t penned a review for the final installment, but Transporter 3 remains my personal favorite and was a salute to the character and series. Verdict: Win

The Expendables

Statham and Stallone owned the screen for the opening flick and it was well-deserved time. The chemistry between the two was on point and rarely does Statham disappoint in the stunt department. Verdict: Win

The Mechanic

A film that was going to be excluded from this round squeaked its way in when it showed up on TV the other day. It’s not the best, but it’s one I look forward to visiting again, especially with Ben Foster co-starring. Verdict: Win

Blitz

I watched this once and hated it, a second time and still hated it, and a third and final trip was the strikeout that did it in. No interest in seeing this flawed film again or watching the overblown subplots and limited presence Statham was afforded. Verdict: Blitz off the screen, pronto.

Safe

This film was the worst! Oh my gosh, so bad. Time jumps were constant, the character motives were weak as glass and that Asian girl better never act again. EVER. Verdict: You are not safe. Not safe at all.

The Expendables 2

Still digging the explosions, stunt choreography and Statham’s character, Christmas. One of the leading lads of the entourage and again, well-deserved. Verdict: Win

Parker

Watched it twice, missed the target twice. Jennifer Lopez didn’t show up to play, Statham’s given pebbles to work with and let’s not talk about The Thing. Verdict: You’re not parking on my street.

Redemption/Hummingbird

Another real doozy, Redemption was a protegé at the sport of boredom if ever there was one. A story of self-identity that never identified itself, Redemption was purposeless and didn’t even hum entertaining. Verdict: Redemption? You got a lot to make up for, bud.

Homefront

James Franco’s presence in any movie not titled Spider-Man is a bad sign and this was no different. Useless as usual, Franco tore this movie down like it was built on cotton candy straws and Statham sunk down with it. Verdict: Foreclosed.

Final Record: 7-9, 43.8% LOSER!

Statham was a solid 6-1 prior to my subscription to Netflix, but since then his rating has taken a tumble. He’s fallen into a rut, but I’m confident he can dig himself out. I’m still a fan of his, but he’s got to give me something to work with or I’m going to start being a lot more selective with the films I choose with him.

Wins: 7 (The Transporter, Transporter 2, Crank, Transporter 3, The Expendables, The Mechanic, The Expendables 2)

Losses: 8 (The OneChaos, War, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, Blitz, Safe, Parker, Redemption/Hummingbird, Homefront)

 

Liam Neeson

Schindler’s List

I watched it for the first time my senior year of high school. It’s a very dark film that contrasts villainy with a message of hope and it ushered in the great Liam Neeson so the whole world could finally recognize his brilliance. Verdict: Win.

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Hate it all you want, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace isn’t a terrible movie. It might not be great, but it’s not awful and Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn was a great cast. Verdict: Win.

Batman Begins

Christopher Nolan’s first Batman film grabbed a great actor in Neeson to oppose Christian Bale and it really helped hold the film together. Verdict: Win.

Taken

3-0? Make it 4! Luc Besson’s writing and one of the best monologues of the 21st century shoots Liam Neeson into action star elites! Verdict: Duh, winning.

The A-Team

I picked up this on TV a few months ago and forgot how much I loved this movie. It’s dumb at times, corny at others, but it still remains way too much fun given the duo of Bradley Cooper and Neeson. Verdict: Make it 5.

Unknown

The streak ends with this garbage. A story that draped a blanket over our head for the entire movie worked with the suspense but the climax was a complete dud and Neeson was never given the materials to act, nor did he do well with what he was given. Verdict: Hope it remains unknown.

The Grey

When my family rented this, Mom quoted a review saying, “The dogs did better acting than the actors.” Whoever wrote that review wasn’t kidding. I didn’t hate this the second time around as much as the first, but it’s still a bloody dog carcass laid out in the snow. This survival tale struggled to survive an audience and those CGI dogs. Verdict: Woof, woof. It only gets darker from here.

Taken 2

Somehow close to the same standard as the original, Besson’s work comes out swinging again. Verdict: Win.

Non-Stop

Not a great film and I’m on the fence in terms of how good it was, but at the time of my review, I looked at it favorably. Verdict: Win.

Taken 3

The whole identity of the film was switched up and I didn’t like the change of direction, but Neeson remained faultless. Verdict: Win.

Run All Night

Neeson’s last venture was a mold of a prior film, somehow avoiding an obvious copyright lawsuit that should have been filed. Neeson was doomed from the start with this one. Verdict: Run from this all night.

Final Record: 8-3, 72.7% WINNER!

As long as Neeson keeps hitting the targets, I’ll keep watching. It’s a shame it took so long for the guy’s career to take off, but better late than never. I want to believe he’s got one more good drama left in him, but I’m unsure if he’ll go for it or not. His catchphrases and ability to relate are what really jumps out to me. He may not be one of Hollywood’s best right now, but he is one of Hollywood’s most entertaining.

Wins: 8 (Schindler’s List, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Batman Begins, Taken, The A-Team, Taken 2, Non-Stop, Taken 3)

Losses: 3 (Unknown, The Grey, Run All Night)

 

Tom Cruise

Taps

One of Cruise’s first films, Taps was forgettable and it’s a good thing because if he put out product like this, he never would have become the Hollywood superstar that he is today. Verdict: I didn’t play Taps when this movie ended.

Top Gun

This might be a popular film but it’s not a good one. Corn on the cob it’s so corny, Top Gun‘s following among Americans makes no sense to me. Verdict: You’ll never be my wingman.

A Few Good Men

Tom Cruise’s first truly good role, at least that I’ve seen, A Few Good Men remains one of the best law films ever made and Jack Nicholson’s monologue remains just as profound as it did the first time we heard it. Verdict: Win

Mission: Impossible

The introduction of Ethan Hunt and a series that would spawn some of Cruise’s best stunt work, Mission: Impossible was truly gravity-defying. Verdict: Win

Mission: Impossible II

Climbing another rung in the ladder, Mission: Impossible II remained hot. Verdict: Win

Minority Report

One of the best sci-fi films of the last two decades, Spielberg’s Minority Report explores a lot of angles and Cruise gets to be the leading lad we all know him to be once again. Verdict: Win

The Last Samurai

A study of oriental culture and character transformation, The Last Samurai is such a film to honor that Tom Cruise was given his own holiday in Japan. Verdict: Win

War of the Worlds

Many critics still don’t know what went wrong with War of the Worlds, but something did. That much is evident. However, for me, Cruise sneaks away with a surprise win because I found his role the key piece that prevented this film from turning into pure feces. Verdict: Win

Mission: Impossible III

While the question, “How many impossible missions are there?” may begin to circulate your mind during this film, it is the best Philip Seymour Hoffman delivery I’ve seen and Tom Cruise continues to get farther involved with the character of Ethan Hunt. Verdict: Win

Valkyrie

A history lesson for those interested in World War II, Valkyrie never got to the depth of character I wanted, but remained attractive enough to keep me involved, with kudos to Cruise included. Verdict: Win

Knight and Day

Saw it in theaters and sadly haven’t gotten to see the whole thing again since, Knight and Day allowed Cruise to demonstrate the wit he’s so easily capable of as well as an upside-down story that will throw you for a loop. Verdict: Win

Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol

The Mission: Impossible train refuses to stop and doesn’t look to do so anytime soon with a fifth film coming out this summer. The script writing still thrived, the stunts never disappoint and the adrenaline comes in a constant stream. Verdict: Win

Jack Reacher

Based off of Lee Child’s novel and filmed in my home city (Pittsburgh), Jack Reacher featured some good camera work, a dominant presence from Cruise and a twisting story that worked. Verdict: Win

Oblivion

2013’s Oblivion had potential and like many other sci-fi films that came before it and have yet to come, had potential go unreached. The third act is a major letdown, but the first two-thirds made it, at minimum, an intriguing experience worth riding out once. Verdict: Win

Edge of Tomorrow

Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise had some great chemistry, the story was driving and Cruise played comedian, drama king and action hero like it was picking apples. Verdict: Win

Final Record: 13-2, 86.7% WINNER!

Tom Cruise steals the top spot on Winners And Losers from Bruce Willis (81.8%) with an impressive 13-2 tally. His personal life is one easily criticized but his talent in front of the camera is undeniable. He never feels out of his element, always at the top of his game and continuing to impress me. He performs his own stunts, a trait I will always applaud and root for. Now in his 50’s, Cruise is still performing his own stunts, including hanging on the outside of a plane on takeoff and holding his breath for six minutes in an underwater scene in the newest Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation. You can question his personality and character all you want, but there’s no question of his dedication

Wins: 13 (A Few Good MenMission: Impossible, Mission: Impossible 2, Minority Report, The Last Samurai, War of the Worlds, Mission: Impossible 3, Valkyrie, Knight and Day, Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol, Jack Reacher, Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow)

Losses: 2 (Taps, Top Gun)

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