Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Utah Jazz - 2013 Season in Review

The NBA season is now over with the Heat defeating the Spurs in one of the best NBA Finals series that I can remember. While the NBA season is over, the excitement in the NBA hasn't ended yet as the NBA offseason is in full swing with the 2013 NBA Draft is this Thursday, June 27th, 2013, followed shortly by the NBA free agency signings. No, I don't have an NBA mock draft ready at this time, but I did want to look back at the 2012-2013 season of my Utah Jazz before the 2013-2014 season essentially begins with the NBA Draft this week. The Jazz's season ended tragically as they were officially eliminated from the playoffs in the last game of the season, so their season has been over for a while and thus I could've done this earlier, but I do figure this is good timing with all that is about to happen. Like I did last year, I am going to go player by player with this.

*Al Jefferson, C/PF - The Jazz have a huge decision to make this offseason as both Jefferson and Millsap are unrestricted free agents. Statistically Al Jefferson is the Jazz's best player, averaging 17.8 PPG and 9.2 RPG last season, which is a bit down from previous years, but still fantastic. It might seem reasonable to bring him back because of that, but I think they need to look beyond that. First of all, I don't imagine that the Jazz have enough money to bring both back and second I don't think they want to. It's time to usher in a new era with Kanter and Favors and in ushering that era, the Jazz have to decide which player, Jefferson or Millsap, will best integrate in with those two. Or is it better to let both go and draft a backup big men or two? Also, which player would be easier to bring back and cost less? Considering all this, I think the right answer is to let Jefferson walk. First off, I think he is going to be harder to get back. I think he will demand more money and want to be in the starlight. Bringing him back I think will hinder the progress of Enes Kanter specifically. Plus, even though Jefferson puts up the consistent numbers, I don't always see him putting forth his best effort and at times I feel he is lazy, especially at the defensive end. He'll be highly sought over in free agency and I think it is time for the Jazz to let him go.

*Paul Millsap, PF - A lot of my thoughts here, I just barely expressed because the story of the offseason for the Jazz will be who they decide to keep, Jefferson or Millsap. My pick is Millsap because even though there were several times during the season where he disappeared, I think it will be more beneficial for the Jazz to keep him. He has been with us his whole career and he likes it here. Also I see him as less selfish and more of a versatile player, so I think a trio of Kanter, Favors, and Millsap will work perfectly for the Jazz. The big question is whether or not he can take a smaller role if he is asked. Obviously I think that wouldn't be the case initially, but eventually we have to turn the future of the Jazz over to Kanter and Favors and Millsap is not a part of that future, but would work great as a mentor and a sixth man player. But Millsap spent the first four years of his career as a sixth man and after a long time he finally got his time to shine. Knowing the direction the Jazz want to go, is he willing to take that role again? Despite how much he likes it here, he may decide he has a better future with another team and thus making the decision harder for the Jazz. The Jazz do have two first round picks and it may be smart to use one of those on another big man as insurance.

Gordon Hayward, SF/SG - Hayward has improved every year that he has been with the Jazz and that makes me really excited about him and his future with the team. Coach Corbin did an interesting thing for him this year and gave him a Manu Ginobili type of role. Even though Gordie obviously the best small forward on the team and gets the most minutes, which include the minutes that really count at the end of a game, Marvin Williams started at small forward and Gordie came off the bench. I guess I don't have a big problem with that, but I would like to see him in the starting role. Maybe that's just me be a traditionalist, though, and liking to see the best player in each position get the start.

*Randy Foye, SG - I really liked the addition of Foye this year for the Jazz. He's obviously not the future of this team at shooting guard given the fact that he does turn 30 this offseason and is only a decent role player. The thing that I really liked was his 3-point shooting. The Jazz are really good down low, but they could use improvement with the outside shooting. This year having that in Foye was really nice as it helped balance out the team. However, Foye is an unrestricted free agent and I don't know if the Jazz are planning on bringing him back as they have other priorities this offseason. I wouldn't miss him too much as I would love to see Alec Burks take a starting role on this team, but if the Jazz do let him go, they at least need to pick up another shooter to replace him.

*Mo Williams, PG/SG - Outside the situation with Jefferson and Millsap, the point guard position is something that the Jazz really need to figure out. The three point guards on the roster from last season, Mo, Tinsley, and Watson, are all free agents. Even so, the Jazz could've used an upgrade anyways so I would be really surprised if the Jazz brought more than one of them back. The Jazz have the 14th pick in the draft and if they don't use that on a point guard, I will be an angry Jazz fan. I didn't actually mind Mo. I really liked him when we first drafted him back in 2003 and I thought it was a mistake to let him go after his rookie season and I was really excited to have him back this past year. Now he wasn't the long term solution. Just a momentary fix. If the Jazz decide to part ways after just one year yet again, I wouldn't be too disappointed. I also wouldn't be disappointed if we signed him on for another year or two to start while we develop whatever young point guard we decide to draft and thus let Tinsley and Watson walk.

Enes Kanter, C - Kanter is the future at center for the Jazz and I am really excited for that as there were many times this season where I really saw how dominate he can become. After two years of coming off the bench I think it is time for the Jazz to let Jefferson walk and plug Kanter right in as the starting center. If the Jazz do this, I really think Kanter can have a breakout year and be a star for many years to become. He only averaged 15 minutes per game this year and that was mostly due to the logjam at the front court for the Jazz, but if he gets more minutes, his game will improve. The Jazz also made a smart decision by bringing Karl Malone on as an assistant coach to mainly work with Kanter and Favors. That should be huge. Malone may have a crazy mouth, but he was one of the best big men to ever play the game, so he can definitely teach them many things.

Derrick Favors, PF - I could almost copy and paste the last entry on Kanter to this spot as the situation is very similar. It's amazing to think that Favors will be entering his fourth year in the league, but will only be 22 years old this July. This means he has a good 10 - 15 years in the league still and he has shown many times how much of a beast he can be and with Malone on the bench teaching him, he can be even more of a beast and it's time for him to shine. I love Jefferson and Millsap, but it's time for the Favors and Kanter era to begin. Favors definitely should get the start at PF this upcoming season. That will be good for him.

Marvin Williams, SF - The addition of Marvin this season has been nice. He's definitely not the star of the team, but he is a really good role player and when he is at the top of his game, the Jazz play well. He also has received most of the starts at small forward this season and I don't quite like that idea. The Jazz have him on contract for another year, so what they need to do with him is let him become a huge force from off the bench to help the second squad out while giving Hayward the shot at starting more.

Alec Burks, SG/PG - I feel Alec Burks made some pretty big strides this past year. No, I don't know if he'll ever be a star in the league, but he has the chance to be a very good role player at the least. I would like to see his minutes increased more this next year and I wouldn't even mind if he ended up getting the starting shooting guard spot going into next year. It would be interesting to see if he can have a breakout year if given the chance to start. Burks did get some time at point guard with all the point guard troubles that the Jazz had this past year and it was fun to see him in that role, although the more he is playing that role, the more concerned I will be because it probably means the Jazz don't have much else, unless of course he steps up his game big time in which case I wouldn't mind, but I expect him to remain as shooting guard with his point guard skills being an insurance policy

*Jamaal Tinsley, PG - A couple years ago the Jazz snatched up Jamaal Tinsley on a whim after he had been out of basketball for a year and that turned out rather well for the Jazz as he ended up being a decent backup point guard, and even a decent starting point guard when he was called on. However, all of the Jazz's point guards are free agents and I would be shocked if more than one of them returns next season. Tinsley has served the Jazz well in the last two years, but being that he is 35 years old right now, chances of him being the one that gets re-signed is pretty slim. However, it is possible he does return given the fact that he is the one true pass-first point guard out of the there, thus fitting the mold of the type of point guard that has worked out well for the Jazz.

*Earl Watson, PG -  Another surprising player for the Jazz, Watson was picked up back in 2010 and surprised the Jazz organization by being a really decent back-up point guard. That in turn led him to spend three full years with the Jazz, which is tied for the most he's played with any other team. Personally, because of his play and his down to earth, humble attitude, I have called him Earl "The Man" Watson. Sadly, though, I do think it is time for "The Man" to say goodbye as the Jazz need to get younger and Watston suffers the same thing that Tinsley does. He is not young. And both his production and ability to stay healthy has been in a decline as of late.

*DaMarre Carroll, SF - The story of DeMarre Carroll this year was a confusing one to me. I think he is a solid small forward that is a great asset coming off the bench. The former first-round pick struggled in his first few seasons as a pro and bounced around a bit, but he seemed to be coming into his own as a member of the Jazz. When he first got here, he looked like a confused young man who wasn't going to do anything for us and when he first scored a basket me and some friends immediately  went to celebrate by getting ice cream. Now he has progressed to the point where there was a game this season where he scored a career high 19 points. The he somehow landed in Coach Corbin's doghouse for reasons that I still don't know. Corbin just suddenly stopped playing him towards the end of the season and now I think his days as a Jazz man are over as he is a free agent. It's a shame because I really liked the man as a player.

Jeremy Evans, PF - The human pogo-stick is definitely a fan favorite in Utah with his charismatic personality and his extremely athletic abilities. He participated in the Dunk Contest for a second straight year and after winning the competition in 2012, he was runner up this past season. The problem here is that he really hasn't proven himself as someone who can play the game of basketball. He hasn't quite progressed from the position of showcasing his dunking abilities in the last few minutes of a game when the game is already over. I would love to see him step up and become a rotational bench player who contributes 15-20 minutes per game, but I don't know if that will ever happen. With the revamping of the upcourt this offseason, he will actually have a chance to prove himself next season, so let's hope he steps up.

Kevin Murphy, SG - The Jazz usually do well with their second round picks, so grabbing the sharp shooting Kevin Murphy with their late second round pick last year seemed like a good idea. However, the initial outlook after one season isn't good as Murphy looks like a dud. He never got established into the rotation for the Jazz as he only appeared in 17 games. In those 17 games, he got a grand total of 52 minutes and in those minutes he went 7-28 shooting on the season and only 1-7 from behind the arc. Four of those seven made field goals came in one outing. In theory if he works hard this offseason he still has a chance to prove himself, but things aren't looking up at this point.

Tyrone Corbin, Head Coach - I will be honest and say that I was never a fan of the Ty Corbin hire. I think when Sloan resigned, Corbin definitely should've gotten the job, but on an interim basis, allowing for the Jazz to do a real coaching search. But instead he was hired on as full time head coach. In fairness to him, he has done better than I initially thought he was going to do, but throughout this past season there were always weird coaching decisions that he made, the Carroll situation being only one of many and I honestly think that he has hit his ceiling as a head coach for this team. Perhaps he is good enough to get his team to the playoffs, but the highest he will get them to is the bottom half of the playoff bracket, which will thus result to a first round exit in most of those situations. As a Jazz fan, I have never seen my team win an NBA title and one of my life goals is to see that happen at least once. With Ty Corbin on board I don't know if I will ever see them get out of the first round of the playoffs when they even make it and that is a problem. Now the Jazz did make a few interesting moves recently. First off they hired Karl Malone to help out our big men and that'll help. They also brought back Jerry Sloan in an advisory-type role and I also think that will help. So we'll see where that takes us this season, but in the end I think Ty Corbin needs to get fired and since it has been a long time since a Jazz head coach has been fired, I wonder if they even know how to do that. I was hoping that they would fire Corbin after this season and hire Jeff Hornacek as head coach as it has been my dream for the past ten years or so to have him as the head coach and that almost came true given the fact that he was an assistant head coach here, but nonetheless the Jazz made the dumb decision to keep Corbin for another year and Phoenix made the smart decision by snatching Hornacek up as their head coach. That broke my heart.

Overall, I think that this Jazz team has a lot of potential with Kanter, Favors, Hayward, and Burks on the team as a young group that could turn out to be the main corps of this team, but presently the Jazz have a lot of decision to make and that could lead to some growing pains in the next season or two, but ultimately things are looking up for this team. They are on the right track and really need to get lucky starting in the draft that happens this week and moving on into free agency.

*- Unrestricted Free Agent

Sunday, June 23, 2013

World War Z Review

It's been quite the journey for World War Z in getting to the theater. It was originally scheduled to come out in December of last year, but due to same major internal conflicts which was mostly due to a poor ending to the original script, the movie was postponed for six months and that ending was completely scrapped. Damon Lindelof and a couple others were brought on to fix the problem by writing a brand new ending. One can imagine the level of stress as all this is unfolding. As the movie finally neared its final release date, many fingers were being crossed that it would all work out. All this led to many believing that World War Z would be one of the summer's box office flops, but there must've been many sighs of relief as box office numbers totally exceeded expectations (projections for the movie were in the high $30 millions to low $40 millions, but the movie instead scored in the upper $60 millions). However, not only did this huge venture pay off financially, but in my opinion it also totally payed off movie-wise as I thought this movie was fantastic!

World War Z is based off of Max Brook's novel of the same title that came out in 2006. I have not read that novel, but from what I hear it is given from the prospective of a writer interviewing people after a zombie outbreak ends. The movie takes a much different approach by going with the present point of view (no interviewer or flashbacks) starting at the beginning of the outbreaks. Going in I was expecting an entertaining end of the world movie full of zombie action and yes, I did get that, but I also got something that was a lot more than just that. The movie is a super intense zombie thriller that is borderline horror. It's not the non-stop action style that I was expecting. It goes back and forth from zombie action to quiet scenes the whole movie and thus it is quite terrifying. If you don't like jump scenes, don't see this movie because they occur over and over from beginning to end. Definitely keep small children far from this movie as it will give them zombie nightmares for months. Personally I loved this, though. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time scared to death of what was going to happen next. Also on this note, the zombies were awesome. What made them awesome was that they were very human. They weren't your typical gross and gory undead monsters. Just humans. Crazy, hyper, super fast, morbid humans. And once you got bit by a zombie, you were turned in about 10 seconds into one and thus the zombies multiplied rapidly, instantly destroying cities while causing mass chaos throughout.

What really made this movie so awesome was that it wasn't just an action packed zombie horror/thriller. It had a great story to go along with it. Yes, I can enjoy brainless action movies when I'm in the mood, but this wasn't one of them. It was smart. It also had a fantastic lead role in Brad Pitt and he almost single-handedly carries this movie to greatness with his superb performance. I especially have to give a round of applause to Damon Lindelof and the other writers that came on and fixed the ending, because that ending I thought was the best part of the movie. I am disappointed that the trailer spoiled the plane scene right before the ending, but it was still awesome as well (if you don't know what I'm talking about, forget that I just said that) and was apparently where the re-writing started. Visually the movie was a spectacle. I hear some people complaining about the look of the zombies, but I don't understand where they are coming from. I was really pleased that when we got to see the zombies close up, much of them weren't actually CGI. Sure, when it got the scenes like the mountain of zombies climbing the wall of Jerusalem, those were CGI. But I still think they looked really good, so none of the CGI bothered me at all. Also, if you are expecting a completely realistic movie, you probably shouldn't go watch a zombie movie in the first place.

Overall this movie was quite the thrill ride for me. When it finished, I myself breathed a sigh of relief because for a moment or two during the movie I felt like I wasn't going to come out alive. I felt like I was going to get attacked by those zombies and get transformed into one myself, but I made it. Like I said, if you don't like movies with tons of jump scenes, this movie isn't for you. But if you do like those movies, you're going to love this because it is all around a fantastically fun movie and one of the best movies of the summer. How does it compare to our other zombie movie this year in Warm Bodies? Well, hard to compare because it is completely different, but I would pick World War Z. I'd also call this the best end of the world movie this year and we've gotten quite a few of those this year, so that's saying something. World War Z gets a 9 out of 10 from me.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Monsters University Review

Back in 1995, Pixar Animation Studios, having teamed up with Disney, revolutionized that animation world by making Toy Story, the world's first feature length computer animated movie. That movie was a huge success and after that Dreamworks quickly jumped into the game with Antz in 1998. A month later Pixar released A Bug's Life and followed with Toy Story 2 the next year in 1999. Ever since that, the industry has sky-rocketed and now there has been around 100 movies made by computer generated imagery (CGI). In 2013 alone there has now been four such animated movies made with six more on the schedule. Despite all this, Pixar has managed to remain king of the computer animated movie. Starting in 2001 with Monsters Inc, Pixar produced eight straight movies that earned at least $200M in the US box office. Their previous three, Toy Story, A Bug's Life, and Toy Story 2, would also be in this range if we adjust for ticket price inflation. This impressive streak ended when Cars 2 fell just short of this mark. Brave put them back on track with this streak, but not by much. Adjusted for inflation, Cars 2 is Pixar's lowest grossing movie and Brave is its second lowest. Most of this success is not just because Pixar was revolutionized the animated movie, but also because their movies have been praised by both critic and general audience alike. The 13 Pixar movies have been nominated for a grand total of 42 Academy Awards, winning 12 of those. Since the advent of the Best Animated Feature at the Oscars in 2001, 7 out of 10 of Pixar's movies have won the award. Monsters Inc and Cars were both nominated for the award, but lost out to Shrek and Happy Feet respectively. Cars 2, in addition to being Pixar's lowest attended movie was also the first Pixar movie to not be nominated. Brave, despite getting sub-par reviews in Pixar's standards, did manage to somehow pull the upset over Wreck-It Ralph and win the award.

Now that I have given you a history lesson, let me dive into Pixar's 14th animated movie, Monsters University, which was just barely released this weekend. Why did I spend so much time giving you that history? Well, first off I think it's a really interesting history, but more importantly I did it to show you why I hold Pixar to a really high standard when it comes to movies. In addition to this strong history of success, on a personal level I have loved every Pixar movie from 1995's Toy Story all the way to 2010's Toy Story 3, the latter being my favorite Pixar movie. Cars 2 in 2011 I thought was a disaster. Last year's Brave I actually did enjoy, but at the same time I thought it was extremely predictable and not nearly as good as Pixar's other movies, so for me I have been let down twice in a row by Pixar and now I'm waiting for Pixar to return to it's excellent history and impress me. However, ever since Monsters University has been announced I've been nervous that it would become the third disappointment in a row. Was that true? Well, almost. A solid third act in the movie helped save it from disaster and I would thus put it ahead of Cars 2 and Brave, but a poor first two acts makes it so that it doesn't quite redeem Pixar in my mind from this slump they've been in.

My problems with Monsters University? Well, they ultimately stem from the fact that I don't think this was necessary. Yes, I love Monsters Inc. It would probably be in my list of top five favorite Pixar movies (I only say probably because that would be a hard list for me to create). But it is the type of movie that is a stand alone movie. A sequel doesn't make sense for it and neither does a prequel. Pixar has been excellent with making original movies as that is all they did for ten years, but with the huge success of Toy Story 3 I felt they decided they needed to start making second movies from all their original movies. Outside their Toy Story trilogy, Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo are their two most popular movies and that is where they decided to go in making second movies. This to me is the Dreamworks approach and while many times it can work out, other times it fails miserably. Monsters University I felt was one of those times where it wasn't going to work out. In addition to being nervous that it was happening, none of the trailers ever proved me wrong. They didn't make me laugh at all and while they made the movie look fun for the kids, it seemed boring and predictable for adults.

Was this what I thought it was? For the majority of the movie it was. Yes it did seem very forced. The premise of the movie is that Mike and Sully are just starting out as students at Monsters University, both studying to become scarers. Mike is the type of student that takes things super seriously. No fun. No parties. Just reading and living by the textbooks, eating and breathing school work. Sully is the exact opposite. His father was a scarer and thus he believes he has natural talent and doesn't need to put any effort into things at all. The opposite personalities of the two immediate clash and thus present several different problems, of which I won't dive into because that would be giving away too much story. It is obvious here that the two have never met before this, which I think does work for the purposes of the story. I do have a minor issue with it, though, because towards the beginning of Monster's Inc, Mike light-heartedly accuses Sully of having been jealous of his good looks since the fourth grade. The movie doesn't dive into this any further, but you get the impression that Mike and Sully have been best friends since they were both really little and thus having them being complete strangers in the beginning of Monsters University felt wrong to me. Nevertheless, if you overlook that and keep going, you dive into the main conflict of them movie and to me at this point it felt a lot like Brave. Brave was a fun, goofy movie that seemed really predictable at first. Once you got to the main conflict, you had a feeling of exactly how it was going to end and you won't be wrong, thus despite it being fun and goofy, it leaves you a little empty in the end. This was how Monsters University was for me as I was watching it. The only difference at this point was that, while a lot of people in the theater were laughing throughout the whole movie, I felt like a grinch because I wasn't laughing. I thought there were many clever parts and I chuckled a few times, but I wasn't laughing in the way Monsters Inc made me laugh. Also giving another Brave comparison, in the movie Brave despite it being predictable it does have a few great lessons that it teaches and the same thing goes with Monsters University. It teaches you great lessons about college life, which I thought were really cool, especially when it dove into the fact that you can be whatever you want in life if you just put some effort into it, so I do give it kudos for that.

When you get to the end of the movie, even though I thought it was going to continue the Brave comparison, it actually threw me a curveball. No, I will not give anything away, but there is a point in the movie where you feel like it is going to end, and end really predictably at that. But it does neither. It keeps going for like another half an hour with an ending that is actually super impressive. At this point it actually felt like Monsters Inc for the very first time. It was emotional. It was clever. And there were a few times in the end where I actually had a good laugh like I do when watching Monsters Inc. I ended up walking out of the theater with a good, positive feeling about what I just watched.

Wrapping this review up, if you are a parent with young kids this is a movie I would highly recommend. Despite concerns that I had with the beginning, your kids will be in love with this movie from start to end, so take them to see it. If you are an adult without kids, I would actually recommend you give this a chance. Yes it was a tale of two movies for me. Acts 1 and 2 would probably get a rating of 5 out of 10 from me, but act 3 would get a 9 out of 10 for me, so in giving it an official score, I will go in between and give it a 7 out of 10. No, it's not one of Pixar's best and if I were to rank all the pixar movies, this would probably be in the bottom three, but that speaks more to the excellency of all their other movies and less on this one because like I said, I left with a positive feeling about the movie.

P.S.- There is a scene at the end of the credits, so stick around. There is also a short film at the beginning called The Blue Umbrella and it is pretty good.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Man of Steel Review

Man of Steel is a movie that I have been looking forward to for a long time now. Easily one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Leading up to the movie, I had myself a Superman Marathon to get me in the mood. Specifically I had the first two Superman movies in mind, the Christopher Reeve ones made in 1978 and 1980 respectively. Those are two movies that I love to death. Sure the effects are lacking due to how old they are and there are some cheesy moments, but they just hit it out of the park. All the characters are perfect. The story lines are fantastic. Character development is superb. There is just enough action to make it really fun, but not too much action, which gives it plenty of time for the to develop the story and the characters. In judging this new one, I had practically every plot detail from those two ingrained in my mind and I was really curious what direction they were going to take. I didn't expect to like it as much as those first two, especially after the critics didn't give it very much love, but I still expected to be thoroughly entertained. So I thus went in with fairly high expectations and was excited about the movie all the way up until the previews ended. Then the movie happened. All it took to completely wipe away all excitement and energy from my soul was that first sequence on Krypton. When that unfolded, I knew I was in for a long and painful ride. After drudging through 2 1/2 hours of complete slop, I walked out of the theater feeling completely offended at this disaster of a movie that I had just witnessed.

Superman has been around since 1938 and most Americans know the basic story of what happens, so I don't feel too bad in dishing out a few minor spoilers. If you don't want anything Superman spoiled at all, then I would stop reading this right here and take that first paragraph as my review. If you don't care or you have already seen Man of Steel, then let's proceed.

In the beginning scene of 1978's Superman, we see General Zod standing in front of Jor-El and the Krypton Council. Zod was once good, but has since gotten extremely power-hungry and cares about nothing but being a dictator. This causes him to get banished into space. One of his biggest desires is for Jor-El to bow to him and being banished with his two cohorts causes a huge built in anger towards Jor-El that turns out to never be fully satisfied because Krypton gets destroyed by running into the red sun. We don't dive into Zod more until Superman II, but this scene is very important as it builds up to a fantastic showdown with one of the best movie villains of all time. Zod doesn't know that Jor-El had a son named Kal-El. Just before Krypton gets destroyed, Jor-El and his wife Lara Lor-Van send Kal-El to earth in a capsule, knowing how different he will be, but yet also knowing what he has the power to become.

Why do I tell you this? I know most of you already know the background to Superman. The answer is I want to paint for you the beautiful picture of the original Superman series and then contrast it to the movie I just witnessed so that you understand where I am coming from. Now the picture I just painted of the opening to Superman I think is one of the best opening scenes in movie history. How do they do it in Man of Steel. First off, I immediately see this picture of Krypton that reminds me of a Star Wars planet. Krypton is not about to crash into the sun, but is imploding. Immediately that is a bad sign for me. Also, we do not open with Zod being in custody. We open with him starting a war on Krypton and we immediately dive into this huge, unnecessary action sequence that includes Jor-El riding on this weird and creepy Star Wars-esque creature. Kal-El is not kept a secret to Zod, bur rather after Jor-El send him off, he announces to Zod that he just sent his son away. Anger and hatred from Zod towards Jor-El is not built up because after Jor-El announces what he did right to Zod's face, Zod stabs Jor-El and kills him. It is after that where Zod gets brought before the council and banished. Krypton then explodes and pretty soon we find that this explosion is what shatters Zod's cage thing. No built up anticipation at all. No built up anger towards Jor-El. Lame death of Jor-El. Lame creature that Jor-El was riding on. Lame destruction of Krypton. Lame, pointless, over-the-top action already. Yeah, that's how this movie begins for me.  But I am willing to move on from that terrible opening if the rest of the movie is different. It's not. This awful story continues for all 143 minutes of the movie. Those around me could see how much pain I was going through by my reactions.

Going quickly through more story, we spend quite some time in Kal-El's (named Clark Kent by his earthly parents) childhood, his journey in learning who he is, his decoy job being a newspaper reporter for the Daily Planet, his falling in love with Lois Lane, and his unveiling of his Superman powers to the city, thus making him an immediate hero that is never questioned by the people. We really dive into Superman's character. Yes, he has nearly unstoppable superpowers, but he also has human emotions and is really kind and charismatic. Everyone loves Superman. We also dive into the fun and entertaining crew of villains led by criminal mastermind Lex Luthor. We also focus on Lois Lane and we see this relationship slowly but beautifully develop. We get more deep and complex with all this in Superman II, adding in the genius villain Zod, but I have already said enough.

Now I didn't expect Man of Steel to rehash the same story of Superman. I expected them to do something different with it and I was really curious and excited about what direction they would take. Yes I get very picky with remakes of movies, but if they do things intelligently I don't mind the changes they make. This one it just didn't cut it for me. We immediately jump right into him being an adult. But he is a much different Superman. We don't get to see him progress much, and when we do, it is confusing and backwards. He starts out as a perfect child and grows into a morally challenged being. We have this weird scene of him going crazy and not being able to handle his powers when he is young, so apparently it takes him many years to adjust. We get this story of his childhood get explained by in flashbacks that jumped all over the place. I think that ruined the story of his earthly upbringing. The death of his dad is awful in this one, by him getting killed by the world's slowest tornado after making the world's worst decisions when being chased by that tornado. Superman himself is an arrogant idiot and I don't develop any emotional connection towards him. He hides his power for the most part, deciding to remain a mysterious character living with his mom and doing very little until somehow Zod immediately comes to earth and says he is going to blow up the earth if Kal-El doesn't turn himself in, so then he shows his face as Superman.

Then we get the Zack Snyder effect. I hate Zack Snyder's movies. Sucker Punch is especially a movie of his that I think is one of the worst movies ever made. If you don't know Zack Snyder, he is known for his over-the-top action movies that lack on story and character, focusing solely on that action. When he was announced as the director, I was really nervous, but having Christopher Nolan on board as producer I hoped would tame him. It didn't. Once we jump into Zod coming to Earth and Superman coming to meet him, we get lost in this high-powered action frenzy that is way too over the top, completely pointless and brainless most of the time, and really hard to follow with how confusing it is and how much we jump around.  Add to that we have endless plot holes and other confusing aspects of the script which shows that Zack Snyder along with screenwriters David Goyer and Christopher Nolan really didn't seem to care about the script and story that they wrote. Why was Lois Lane in the North Pole with her crew? Why did she randomly run into Superman's cavern? What is up with the random dream or flash of Superman sinking into a lake of Skulls? What is up with us showing the random polar bears? Why is Superman's suit randomly sitting there? How does Lois Lane suddenly end up with Clark Kent's mother in Kansas? Why does Superman care so much about the people on Earth yet when he is fighting villains liberally throws them into buildings which should kill thousands? Why this? Why that? What is he doing? What is she doing? Why did he randomly switch his mindset? Why aren't they running away? Why are we showing so much product placement? Why is that Sears store not getting destroyed when every other building around it has? Why did they just make out when there was very little romantic development? Why is the city magically built up again at the end as if nothing happened? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! I was asking these questions for the whole movie and it was so frustrating.

No, I'd not done quite yet. I have to talk about the actors. Yes, this is actually a pretty good cast. I can't say that anyone did a bad job. What I can say is that few of them did nearly as well as the cast from the old Superman movies. Russell Crowe played Jor-El pretty good. But I thought Marlon Brando was a lot better. Kevin Costner did a great job as Jonathan Kent. However they wasted his character by only showing him in flashbacks and giving him a super lame death. Amy Adams actually surprised me by doing a great job as Lois Lane (which if you know me you'll know I've been worried about that ever since I heard about it). However, she doesn't shine a light on the excellent performance of Margot Kidder (who I have actually personally met). She does do a much better job than Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns, though. Michael Shannon does an excellent job at being an evil and crazy General Zod. The problem is his character wasn't written nearly as well as the character of General Zod in Superman I and II. And of course Henry Cavill. The man actually does a decent job. The problem is, as I have already complained a few paragraphs ago, I hate how Superman's character was written in this movie. Christopher Reeve IS Superman. No one has come close to his amazing performance and I don't think anyone ever will. Hans Zimmer is not an actor in this movie, so maybe he doesn't belong in this paragraph, but I am putting him in here anyways because I have to mention his score. The man has talent in writing music and I enjoyed the score for the most part. But I dearly missed my beloved Superman theme that was gone. Speaking of being gone, Lex Luthor was also gone from this movie. I don't completely hate that decision, but I think they could've at least included him in a minor role, foreshadowing a bigger performance. A Superman movie without Lex Luthor almost feels incomplete.

Now if you have come this far and have read every word of this review, I congratulate you as I think this is the longest review I have ever done. In wrapping this up, Man of Steel is a pathetic movie. It is loaded with way too much, over-the top, brainless, confusing action. The story is dumb. The countless plot holes are ridiculous. This movie doesn't even shine a light on the original Superman movies that I love. I'd even go as far as saying that it is an embarrassing addition to the Superman franchise. It's not the worst movie I have ever seen and it may not be the worst movie of this year, but it is easily the most disappointing movie of the year and one of the most disappointing movies I have seen in a very long time. I am giving this movie a 4 out of 10... and I give it that high of a score because of the impressive visuals and decent acting. But know that I feel a little generous with that.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

After Earth Review

In case you haven't noticed yet, this year in Hollywood we have been on an end of the world craze, sparked by the end of the world rumors due to the end of the Mayan calendar in December. Obviously the world didn't end because we are still here, but the event gave Hollywood tons of ideas. Those ideas can be separated into a few different categories. We have our zombie movies, our comedy movies making fun of the end of the world, our attack the White House movies, and our post-apocalyptic movies. After Earth is the second of three post-apocalyptic movies, the first being Oblivion in April and the last being Elysium in August. Oblivion was a movie I actually really liked. It was a smart movie with great acting and had a unique twist at the end. In going to see After Earth, I had Oblivion in mind and in order for me to consider it good, I wanted it to be at least as good as Oblivion. It wasn't. In fact, it wasn't even close.

While Oblivion stars Tom Cruise, After Earth stars Will Smith. Usually having Will Smith in your movie is a good sign. The man is a really good actor and is very picky with the movies he decides to star in, which is really respectable. Although with that in mind, his decision to do this is a real head-scratcher. The thing that made Oblivion really cool was the fact that it was a unique idea and was unpredictable. After Earth is the exact opposite. It's a very generic sci-fi movie. The story isn't interesting and is definitely not unique. It is also very predictable. Starring alongside Will Smith is his son Jaden and they play a father-son duo in this movie. It is a thousand years since humanity has lived on Earth and it has since become unlivable and dangerous. Will Smith plays a prestigious general Cypher Raige and at this point he is ready to be a family man. Meanwhile, his son Kitai wants nothing more than to be like his father and while the two are on a journey in space, their craft crash lands on Earth. While Cypher remains in the ship near death, Kitai has to take a long journey to the other side of the ship to grab a beacon or else they are both going to die.

Just from that basic premise, don't you have an idea of exactly how the movie is going to end? Yup, that's the first problem. However, sometimes a predictable movie can still be fun if it is executed well. Good acting, good character progression, intense drama, and fun action can still redeem a movie that is extremely predictable. After Earth fails on all of those levels. Now I love Will Smith and I actually really like Jaden as well. Unfortunately, neither did a good job at all. Now a part of that is how their characters were written. As the legendary general, Will Smith is completely serious and emotionless. I guess he does a good job at acting emotionless, but his character really is just boring. Meanwhile Jaden's character does have plenty of emotion, but as a 14 year old actor, he isn't given very good direction in this and it shows. There are times where he nails it on the head, but other times he gives way too much or not enough. Character progression? In a movie where the huge premise is the father/son relationship, it really needed a strong and beautiful character progression that is really emotional and that just doesn't happen. Jaden and Will's characters go through a little bit of progression, but not that much and I didn't feel the chemistry in the movie. Now I know Will and Jaden know how to be father and son, they have 14 years of experience with that, but in this is just doesn't work that well. Intense drama and fun action? Sometimes. But overall this was a really boring movie. I had a hard time staying awake and that wasn't because I was tired. I was bored. There was some action as Jaden came face to face with the deadly animals and aliens, but that was few and far between. It didn't help that when Jaden did run into the creatures that they looked really fake.

Was there anything good about this movie? Well the music done by James Newton Howard was actually really good. The visual effects in the movie were really impressive and this actually could've been a decent 3D movie, which makes the fact that they didn't make this in 3D puzzling. While I would call it bad, I wouldn't call it as completely unwatchable as something like Battleship. It's just really boring and predictable, with very few redeemable qualities. Honestly I don't blame the Smiths for this one. I place the blame on M Night Shyamalan. He was once a great director with tons of potential, but it seems like he just doesn't know how to put a movie together anymore. I look at The Last Airbender as a comparison to this and it compares really well. That was a movie that had potential as it is a really popular TV show. It had great music and good visuals, but the acting in the movie is just terrible and the story is just poorly put together. The problems in the two movies are pretty much the same and I now think that M Night needs to just stop making movies because he doesn't know how to anymore. My rating on After Earth will definitely be one of the lower ratings I give this year as I will award it a 4 out of 10.

Movie Preview: June 2013

The box office in 2013 started off very abysmal, but this past month of May lit a spark that got it going. Thanks to strong success from sequels Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Fast and Furious 6, as well as some help from somewhat surprising hit, The Great Gatsby, May 2013 broke the May box office record with $1.14B. So far this past May has produced four movies that crossed the $100M mark, those being the previously mentioned movies, but the total should end up at six as Hangover Part III and Epic near their way towards the mark. This current month will try to continue the Summer success and has a great chance of doing so with a few surefire hits. The June record is currently held by 2009, a month that saw Transformers 2, The Hangover, and Up contribute huge dollars. With Man of Steel and Monsters University on the schedule, June of 2013 will try to challenge that record, but only time will tell if it succeeds. Meanwhile, there are a lot of great options to see, so let's jump into our week by week look at the month of June.

June 7th - 9th - 

The first weekend in June is oftentimes viewed as the weakest week of the month and while that is not always the case, it certainly will be this year as there are two movies opening up in the shadow of Man of Steel and for the most part, audiences will choose to wait and save their money for Man of Steel. This may cause Now You See Me and Fast and Furious 6 to battle it out for first place. Although, if there is a new movie this weekend to jump out and steal first place, the chatter so far is that The Purge may be the one to do so. The Purge is an R-rated horror/thriller in which there is one 12 hour period per year in which any and all crime. Specifically we follow a family that is just trying to make it through the purge, but they run into several different problems in the process. You can easily see the messages there that will try to be portrayed. Either that or it will be an excuse for a really violent movie.

The second wide release on this quiet weekend is The Internship. This movie reunites the Wedding Crashers duo Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson to star in a movie that looks like one big advertisement for Google. Comedies this year have had a really tough time attracting crowds, especially the PG-13 comedies. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Admission, and Scary Movie V are some recent examples. You would think that a combo of Wilson and Vaughn might attract crowds like they did in Wedding Crashers, which made over $200M back in 2005, but with the boring premise of a big Google advertisement, I would be surprised to see The Internship get a final total that equals that movie's opening weekend of $34M.

Yes, we are done with wide releases this weekend, but there is one notable limited release this weekend that I want to mention and that would be Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing. Yes, I did just talk about comedies flopping this year, but this one is different. One, it's a remake of a classic Shakespeare play if you didn't know that already. Two, it's Joss Whedon. Already a TV mastermind, Whedon's work on The Avengers will has made him a huge name in the movie business as well and this being his next movie after The Avengers should get the movie plenty of attention. Cast-wise, Whedon is working with several people he's worked with in the past, so that makes it more interesting. Taking the limited release route means that the movie's success will depend on word of mouth and that will gauge how quick it expands to a wide release.

June 14th - 16th - 

The second weekend of June is definitely the most anticipated weekend of the month as Superman once again returns to the big screen in Man of Steel. This starts DC's attempt to replicate Marvel's huge success with The Avengers. DC has been trying to do a Justice League movie for a long time, but talks died off for a while until of course The Avengers happened. That sparked Justice League talks once again because of The Avengers worked out, why not Justice League? Man of Steel was planned before that talk sparked up again, but if Man of Steel turns out to be a huge success, it will definitely help out. Superman has always been a beloved character to Americans as the Superman comics have been around for quite some time. Superman movies started in 1978 and that original Superman movie to this day is considered one of the best Superhero movies of all time. Three sequels followed in the 80's and then we had a 20 year gap until Superman was brought back in 2006 with Superman Returns. That one was generally considered a failure and no sequels to it were made and so Man of Steel will be starting the franchise over again, with hopes of better success this time around. Financially, Man of Steel will be one of the biggest movies of the year. It probably won't beat Iron Man 3's numbers, but it will come close and ultimately have no problem become the highest grossing Superman movie ever. That, of course, is before we adjust for inflation because if we adjust for inflation we will see how lucrative the Superman movies are. Superman, Superman II, and Superman Returns earned $455M, $309M, and $242M respectively when looked at in terms of today's movie prices. Man of Steel needs to earn at least the adjusted total of Superman Returns to avoid being considered a disappointment. My guess is that it ends somewhere between Superman and Superman II.

Usually opening up alongside a huge movie like this is very risky and thus most movies avoid doing it, but This is the End is doing just that. Either it will end up dying a terrible death or it will provide some good counter-programming to Man of Steel as it is going for the crowd that enjoys the R-rated raunchy comedies. Being that The Hangover Part III opened up at the end of May and The Heat opens up at the end of June, This is the End got stuck in this spot and if Man of Steel does kill it, it will exit theaters fast as The Heat will swallow it up either way in two weeks, so it has a very small window of success. Electing to opening on Wednesday the 12th is thus a pretty good idea. The premise of This is the End is a comedy that makes fun of all the end of the world movies and drama of late and stars a whole slew of actors playing... uhhh... themselves. Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel and a bunch of others are at a party at James Franco's house when the Apocalypse happens. This many celebrities in a raunchy comedy reminds me of another movie that came out this year that did a similar thing, that being Movie 43 in January. Movie 43 earned close to nothing, so that is a bad omen for This is the End.

June 21st - 23rd - 

The third weekend of June will probably end up being the biggest weekend of June financially. Not only will it be Man of Steel's second weekend, but there are two new movies opening up that should do fantastic business as well. The most likely candidate to take away the crown from Man of Steel will be Pixar's movie this year in Monsters University. This movie is of course a prequel movie to the beloved Monsters Inc. My personal opinion is that making this movie was a head-scratching move for Pixar. While I love Monsters Inc, I think it is a stand alone movie. A sequel was definitely not needed and even Pixar knew that, but I honestly don't think a prequel was necessary either. But it is happening as so now we get to follow Mike, Sully, and crew as they go to college to prepare to be scarers. The twist is that Mike and Sully are rivals at Monsters University and so we get to watch that relationship develop. My bold prediction on the movie? Mike and Sully become friends in the end. Of Pixar's 13 movies, 10 of them have ended up above $200M and most of the 13 have opened between $60M - $70M , so Monsters University will most likely do the same. And at the very least, the kids are guaranteed to love it.

Providing some great counter-programming to the family-oriented Monsters University is the most recent zombie movie, World War Z. Obviously opening up at the same time as Monsters University won't hurt it at all as the two movies will attract complete opposite crowds, but the challenge that will be present will be last week's Man of Steel that will still be attracting huge crowds. But despite that, it still should do well and thus continue the huge success of the Summer of 2013. It once again continues the craze this year of end of the world movies and is the second zombie movie of the year, the first one being Warm Bodies. Helping the movie out is the fact that it is based the book World War Z and that is a book that is well-liked, so the chances of this being just a brainless zombie movie is minimal. Also it stars Brad Pitt, so that is a huge plus as he is a well liked actor.

June 28th - 30th - 

After what should be two positive weeks in a row, the final weekend of June should leave June on a positive note with two additional movies. It will be a week void of huge blockbusters like the previous two weeks with Man of Steel and Monsters University, but both of the new movies could easily pass the $100M mark. First up is the second R-rated comedy of the month, The Heat. The movie stars Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock, the former playing a police officer and the latter being an FBI agent. The two are paired up to catch a drug lord and the back and forth banter between McCarthy and Bullock  is what will make this movie a success. It's turning out to be a good year for McCarthy as she was the reason why Identity Thief was such a huge hit earlier this year and my guess is that The Heat will end up having similar success as that movie which opened to $34M and ended up with $134M.

The casual movie goer might raise an eyebrow at this final movie of June as White House Down is the second movie this year with the premise of the White House being attacked. Opening this past March, Olympus Has Fallen was the first. Some might falsely consider White House Down a copy and thus ignore it, but the truth is that White House Down started production first, but just took longer to get to theaters. Olympus Has Fallen did turn out to be a decent hit as it earned just under $100M, but White House Down looks to be the bigger of the two. The most obvious advantage that it has is a lighter PG-13 rating compared to the R that Olympus Has Fallen was slapped with. Also, White House Down is directed by Roland Emmerich, a director with a very good track record as five of his nine movies have ended up with more than $100M, those five being Independence Day, Godzilla, The Patriot, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012.  Those numbers get more impressive as you adjust for ticket price inflation. Add that to the fact that White House Down stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx and this movie is in pretty good shape. It should provide an interesting battle for the box office's top spot in this week.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Now You See Me Review

This review may not be one of my longer reviews, but quantity doesn't equal quality, right? I really have a desire, like I always do, to write a review of this movie for those people who haven't seen it. As you will quickly learn, Now You See Me is a movie that I totally love. I saw it once on opening weekend, then again a few days later and it is a beautifully made movie and most of the reasons why it is such a beautiful movie are reasons that I can't say. Now I could do what I did with Iron Man 3 and write one normal review and then a second spoilers review, but quite honestly I don't want to do that because even though I label it as a spoilers review that is only for those who have already seen it, I don't even want to give the option to people who haven't seen it to get it spoiled. Sure, if they want it spoiled they can find places that will spoil it for them, but I won't be responsible. Part of the experience with this movie is going in to see it without knowing what happens and if you have it spoiled for you, that experience is ruined.

For those who have no idea what this movie is about but yet are reading this review, the extremely basic story line is that there is this group of magicians performing magic shows. As a part of this magic show, they pull of illegal tricks, like robbing a bank. This gets the FBI on their tail and thus is our story. There is a lot more to it than that, but that is all I am going to say. And I am only willing to say that because that is what is in the trailer and that premise was enough to get me on board. I love magic shows and a magic/heist movie sounded like tons of fun. The movie had quite the cast. The group of four magicians are played by Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games), Isla Fisher (The Great Gatsby), and Dave Franco (21 Jump Street). Those four have amazing chemistry. They are funny, entertaining, and just plain awesome to watch as they lead the magic shows and run away from the FBI. Speaking of FBI, our lead characters that we follow there are Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers), Melanie Laurent (Inglorious B******s), and Michael Kelly (Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior). Mark Ruffalo is the standout star of the group, but the other two are good as well. Then we have Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine in the movie in addition to all that. I'm not even going to tell you what their roles are, but they both do a great job like always.

Overall, like I mentioned earlier, I have a ton that I could say about this movie, but in order to preserve your experience, I won't even mention half of what I want to say. If you want to know more of what I think on a me and you level, then find a way to contact me and I will be happy to oblige. If there is anything that I have against the movie it is the language and sexual content. It's not overly bothersome or distracting for me, just a touch on the annoying side. I'll refer you to the content advisory section on Now You See Me's IMDb page if you want details. But like I said, I loved the movie and I would highly recommend that you go see it. It was even better the second time around, so I will also recommend that you see it twice. I will give it the momentary crown of best movie of 2013 (not counting Jurassic Park 3D because that is really a 1993 movie) and I will dare any movie that comes out to challenge that crown. 9.5 out of 10 is my grade for it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

2013 NBA Finals Predictions

After a surprisingly quick series in the West and a surprisingly long series in the East, the NBA finals are finally upon us. Despite the fact that many NBA fans would've loved to see the Memphis Grizzlies or the Indiana Pacers in the finals, or possibly even both, the match-up we did get included neither team. Yet the match-up of the Heat vs the Spurs is a super interesting one that definitely includes the NBA's two top teams. Being honest, if it were a Spurs vs Pacers, that might be a fairly quick series. Also if it were the Heat vs the Grizzlies, that also might be a fairly quick series. A Pacers vs Grizzlies series would be super interesting, but it would be one of the least watched finals. Not that I am one that really cares about ratings and viewership when it comes to the NBA finals, but match-up we got certainly will optimize those TV ratings as it is the most interesting of the possible finals match-ups that we could've gotten.

Instead of jumping right into my predictions and thus ensuing in a fairly short blog post, I want to look at the journey of the two teams, starting with the Spurs, the first team to punch their ticket to the finals. Ever since they picked up Tim Duncan in the 1997 NBA draft, the Spurs and coach Gregg Popovich have been a dominating force in the west, winning the NBA finals four times, 1999, 2003, 2005, and 2007. Tim Duncan and David Robinson in those early years were considered the two towers, but the success of the Spurs continued after the retirement of Robinson and Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili have continued to be the dominant corps of the Spurs team. For several years now people have written them off because they are getting old, but every year they continue to play well as if they just will never get young. This year they entered the playoffs as the number two seed as the defending Western Conference Champions, the Oklahoma City Thunder, took the top seed. After struggling a bit going into the playoffs, the Spurs quickly became the favorite as Russell Westbrook went down for the Thunder, causing the Thunder to barely struggle past the eighth seeded Rockets. Despite the struggles going into the playoffs, the Spurs quickly shed off the rust as they swept the Los Angeles Lakers in round one. Next up was the surprise of the west, the Golden State Warriors, whose high powered offense was too much for the overachieving Nuggets team. Despite some serious struggles, including snapping their 29 game winning streak that they had against the Warriors in San Antonio, the Spurs snuck by Warriors in six. Last up in the west was the team that was supposed to give them the most problems, the Memphis Grizzlies, a team who had just come off knocking off the Thunder in five. Every game of the series against the Grizzlies was pretty close, but nevertheless the Grizzlies failed every single time to come out on top and thus the Spurs brought out the brooms again, leaving the Spurs with a 10-2 record in the playoffs so far this year heading into the finals.

The opponent that the Spurs having been waiting for will be the Miami Heat, the NBA defending champs. Everyone knows their story. Starting with the ridiculous live announcement by King James that had never been done before where LeBron announced to the world that he was taking his talents to South Beach and continuing with promise of not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven..., the Heat quickly became the NBA's most hated team. Criticisms were abound, but since then the Heat have managed to make it to the finals in all three years of the big three's existence in Miami, getting better every year. Year one they made it to the finals and lost. Year two saw LeBron finally winning his first NBA title and the scene of him jumping up and down like a 5 year old on Christmas morning will always be stuck in my head. Year three we obviously don't know the ending to, but in terms of the regular season, they had their best season yet as LeBron has been playing better than he ever has and the Heat enjoyed a 27 game winning streak, the second best in NBA history, during the second half of the season. They quickly disposed off the playoff-unworthy Milwaukee Bucks (their 38-44 record would've made them 11th place in the West) in round one. Choked against the Bulls in game one of the second round, but won the next four against the depleted Bulls. Then this past series, the Pacers stretched them to their limits, taking them to seven games while exposing some weaknesses. But in the end, the Heat took control and made it to their third straight NBA finals, something not too many teams have pulled off.

So who do I think is going to win? Honestly it's a huge toss-up for me. Both teams are super good and when playing at the top of the game, they are both hard to beat. I don't think that we are going to see any blowouts in this series. In deciding such a close series, I look towards the schedule in the NBA finals. Due to travel concerns with an East team playing a West team, the NBA goes for the 2-3-2 system and that actually favors the underdog quite a bit, which is the dangerous San Antonio Spurs. So the first two games will be in Miami, the next three will be in San Antonio, then the final two games, if necessary, will be in Miami. That three game stretch in San Antonio is going to be killer for the Heat and if they are going to win this series, I honestly think they are going to have to win both games at home. If the Spurs win one of those two games, it'll be really tough for the Heat and if the Spurs win both of those games in Miami, the series is over. The last time LeBron faced the Spurs in the finals was back in 2007 when he was with Cleveland and in that series it was essentially LeBron versus everyone else. That worked in the Eastern Conference, but when he played this Spurs team in the finals, the Cavs got swept. There have been times in these playoffs, especially in the Pacers series, where that's how it was. LeBron took over and did most of the work. If the Heat are going to win, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh need to step it up big time. Despite how good LeBron has been playing, if it is LeBron versus the Spurs again, this series will be quick. If it's LeBron, Wade, and Bosh all at the top of their game playing against the Spurs, the Heat have a chance. How I see it playing out is the two teams split in Miami, the in the San Antonio stretch I think the Spurs win two games there and the Heat sneak one. This will make it 3-2 in favor of the Spurs headed into Miami and I think the Spurs will take one of those games as well, winning the series. It could be 6 or 7, but for the sake of this blog, I will say the Spurs take it in 6.

Prediction: Spurs 4-2