Saturday, August 31, 2013

2013 NFL Season Preview: NFC

Now that my NFL Predictions and AFC preview for this year are complete, it's time to try to make some sense out of a crazy and confusing NFC. While with the AFC this year, you pencil in two or three teams and then sit and stare blankly at who to fill in, the NFC is the exact opposite. I can literally make a good case for every NFC team as to why they will make the playoffs and thus I don't think there is one standout favorite to win either of the four divisions. That means making predictions is almost like pulling random records out of a hat, but I do it anyways because it is fun and I just love talking about football.

NFC East:

It's easy to pick defending division champs Washington Redskins this year. However, I'm not so sure about them. The main question with them is how soon will RG3 be ready to play? And even when he plays, will he be able to stay healthy? Andrew Luck I can predict a bright future, but RG3 I'm not so sure. I appreciate his boldness and lack of fear as he runs, but he needs to learn to protect himself better and perhaps stay in the pocket more as running quarterbacks always get hurt. If RG3 is healthy the whole season than this is a great team, but that's a big if.

Never count out the New York Giants in this NFC East. Yes last season was a bit of a disappointment, but don't forget that just two years ago they won the Super Bowl. The Giants always seem to find a way to bounce back after a disappointing season and with Eli Manning as their quarterback they are always a team to watch out for.

Is this the year that Tony Chocko and the Dallas Cowboys finally make it over the hump? Or are they going to once again get so close and almost play really good, but then drop it in the end? Romo just got a huge contract extension for some odd reason and he does have good weapons to throw to, led by Dez Bryant, so I wouldn't count them out. However, history of this team also tells me not to bet on them either.

The wild card in this division this year is the Philadelphia Eagles. Last year they came up last and they didn't necessarily change up their roster that much, but what they did is they switched coaches, letting Andy Reid go and picking up Chip Kelly from Oregon. Great college coaches don't always turn out to be great NFL coaches, just look at Nick Saban as an example, but I personally believe in Chip Kelly. I think the Eagles have great talent on their roster that he can work with and turn into a real force in this division again.

NFC North:

This could be the most competitive division this year, but my money for the division will once again be on the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers lost receiver Greg Jennings, but he shouldn't miss a beat as he still has Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Jermichael Finley. Also there's a possibility that the Packers might actually have a running game this year with rookie running back Eddie Lacy joining the crew. And of course as long as Aaron Rodgers is still with the Packers, they will be right up there at the top.

Last year Adrian Peterson almost single handedly took the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs on one of the best years in a long time for a running back, considering that some didn't even know if he would play at all. Well, with him back again, the Vikings should have no problem being back again, but in order for them to win the division or make a playoff run, Christian Ponder needs to step up to the plate and provide the Vikings with a passing game. If he does so, this will be a scary team this year.

Last year was a big disappointment for the Detroit Lions, but this is a team with a lot of talent on their team and shouldn't be counted out. Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson will do their job of course and if other receivers around Megatron can step up, opposing defenses will have a lot of trouble stopping this offense. Added this year in the running game is Reggie Bush and him teamed up with Mikel Leshoure should be able to provide good balance to this offense. The problem with the Lions is they need to figure out this thing called defense. Teaming up Ziggy with Suh and Fairley should make for a great defensive line, but a defense needs a bit more than that to be successful.

Finally we have the Chicago Bears. The Bears were on a good track last season until the sputtered and died at the end, barely missing the playoffs. That led to the odd decision to can Lovie Smith. What was even more puzzling was the decision to hire Marc Trestman as their new head coach. Trestman has NFL coaching experience in the past as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for various teams, but was most recently working as head coach of a Canadian Football League team upon hire and I don't know if this was a good decision. The Bears do have talent on their team, but in a tough division and a tough conference, the lack of a good coach could hurt them.

NFC South:

The NFC South is the most confusing division this year in trying to predict where teams end up, but I will start with defending division champs Atlanta Falcons. Last year the Falcons ended up with an impressive 13-3, but in my opinion they were the most overrated team in the NFL. They made it to 13-3 on the league's easiest schedule and struggled to win tons of games that they should've won by a large margin. This season they will be graced with a much harder schedule and I think they will struggle through it. They do have one of the best receiving duos in the league, but those thinking that Stephen Jackson will be their savior at running back might be disappointed. As a long time Rams fan and a huge Jackson fan myself, I can say that the man's best running days are behind him.

Saying last year was a rough season for the New Orleans Saints is definitely an understatement. With Sean Payton back in command and Drew Brees running the show on offense, I think this could be a bounce back year for them. As always, the offense will be on fire, but the big problem last year for them was defense and I don't know if they fixed that problem this offseason. If they can somehow figure out how to play defense, then I say they win the division, but that might be a pretty big if.

A sleeper team in this division I would say is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last season the Bucs started out great with a 6-4 record, but then fell flat and ended the season 1-5. However, they have tons of talent on their team. They found a gem last year in Doug Martin at running back and have Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, and Kevin Ogletree at receiver. Josh Freeman compiled a great stat sheet last year and if he can learn to better discern between his team and the opposing teams and not throw so many interceptions, this offense will be on fire. Also lets not forget that the Jets decided they no longer needed the league's best cornerback in Darelle Revis and shipped him off to the Bucs, so this Tampa defense could also be a force to be reckoned with. Don't be shocked if the Bucs wind up on top of the NFC South when all is said and done.

Finally we have the Carolina Panthers. With Cam Newton as head of this team, they have potential to breakout and be a great team, but the problem is that they have been stuck in the middle of the pack since they drafted him and apparently they are fine with mediocrity because they really didn't do anything this offseason to improve their team and thus in a competitive NFC, I really don't see them doing a whole lot. I expect them to once again land around .500 or just below.

NFC West:

It was only three years ago where the NFC West was the worst division in football as the Seattle Seahawks won the division at only 7-9. Now the tides have turned and the division is one of the best. It will be a hard battle between the Seahawks and Niners for the division title, but I am giving the edge to the Seattle Seahawks. I actually think the Seahawks are the best team in the NFC, but they may not end up with the best record as they do have a fairly challenging schedule. So they will be challenged, but all that talent on offense as well as the league's best defense will carry them through. Losing Percy Harvin to injury did hurt them, though.

I wasn't pleased with how Jon Harbaugh handled the Alex Smith situation last season, but it worked out in their favor as the San Francisco 49ers made it to the Super Bowl and now the future of the 49ers is in the hands of Colin Kaepernick. I think this makes for a very bright future, but it will also make for a very fun rivalry between them and Russell Wilson's Seahawks for years to come. The current problem this year for them which ultimately may hinder their progress a bit is that the injury bug hasn't been very nice to them, specifically in their receiving corps as both as Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham will start the year on the PUP list. As division champs last year, the Niners get an even harder schedule than then the Seahawks and in Kaepernick's first full year as starter, I could see him going through a bit of growing pains. But I still think they will be playoff bound.

Meanwhile in the NFC West, while the Seahawks and Niners battle it out for the top, the other two teams aren't just going to lie down dead. In fact, they might provide an annoying challenge to them. Starting off, my own team, the  St. Louis Rams. In his first season as head coach, Jeff Fisher did a great job of leading this team to a 7-8-1 record and with all the attention the Niners and Seahawks were deservedly getting, the Rams took control in divisional games, ending with a 4-1-1 record. The Rams also did a great jobbing of building their team in the offseason. They scored big by grabbing Jake Long from the Dolphins. They also grabbed tight end Jared Cook to team up with Lance Kendricks and drafted speedy receiver Tavon Austin, potentially giving the Rams something they haven't had since Tory Holt left -- a true number one receiver. The defense also improved by adding Alec Ogletree to a unit that was already built up pretty good by Fisher. Two big questions for the Rams lie at two of the most important positions. First off, it's step up or shut up time for Sam Bradford. He needs to take his game to the next level or else the Rams need to start bringing in people that could potentially replace him. Second is running back. Stephen Jackson served this team very well, but he has started to decline and it was time to move on. The problem is the Rams didn't really replace him and thus hope that either Daryl Richardson or Isaiah Peed steps it up to fill the gap as both are coming into their second year. Richardson was the late round pick but actually showed potential to possibly be the man while Peed was the second round pick who didn't really do anything. Whether or not the Rams make a surprise run and sneak into the playoffs is up for debate, but they are at least headed in the right direction.

Now after ranting on about my team, it's time to finish up with a cursed franchise in the Arizona Cardinals. A few years back, Kurt Warner pulled off some big time magic by making this team great and even leading them to a super bowl. However, before Warner it seemed that no matter who was on the team or who was coaching the team, the Cardinals would lose. And now after he's left, the Cardinals seem to have gone back to that curse. They have great talent, they just don't win games. However, Carson Palmer is now the quarterback and his story is similar to Warner's. Palmer was a great quarterback whose career was suddenly slowed down and almost ended. After a failed stint in his next stop, he is here with the Cardinals. This is exactly what happened to Kurt Warner and he led this team to great heights. Can Palmer do the same? He has the pieces around him to do so. Also, new head coach Bruce Arians pulled off some big time magic last season with the Colts, so who knows. But I'm not betting on it right now.

Monday, August 26, 2013

2013 NFL Season Preview: AFC

Recently I posted my 2013 NFL season predictions and when I do those I go game by game, week by week instead of pulling random records out of the air based on how I think things are going to happen. In doing so, I often surprise myself with the actual records I come up with, but now that that is all done, it's time to follow that up with the actual explanations behind those picks. I will begin with the AFC. In the past decade, the AFC has been the more dominant conference, but recently that has changed and in looking forward, it seems almost certain that the AFC will be the weaker conference again this year. With the NFC this year, you can make a case for every team to make the playoffs. With the AFC, it's hard to determine which six teams will make the playoffs. So let us begin!

AFC East:

With all that has happened to the New England Patriots this offseason, it would be an easy prediction to say that they will struggle and drop the division. Wes Welker is in Denver. Aaron Hernandez is in prison. Gronk's injury status is still in question. They still have Tom Brady, but who the heck is he going to throw the ball to? The hope is for Amendola to be the next Wes Welker and I actually think that he will have a huge year, but I have no idea about anyone else. However, in the end I think the Patriots will still pull off the division title mainly because I don't quite trust the Dolphins and that is their only competition.

Like I just mentioned, the Miami Dolphins are the only competition for the Patriots. They do have a decent defense that added Dion Jordan in the draft. Then they made the biggest offseason acquisition by grabbing Mike Wallace to team alongside Brian Hartline. One big question comes with who is playing runningback. Also, can Ryan Tannehill step up his game in his second season. This team could challenge the Patriots, but I don't see them overcoming them.

The Buffalo Bills have been stuck in the basement of this division for a long time now and I don't see that changing this season, especially with how they handled the draft. EJ Manuel in the first round? And now with Kevin Kolb's career apparently in question, he'll have to be the man. And if he's not... the Bills have Matt Leinart now? New coach Doug Marrone will have to pull some serious magic out his hat to make this work.

And finally the New York Jets. Last year I thought the Jets would be awful  and they somehow managed six wins. Now it seems like they are depleted as ever and neither Sanchez nor Geno Smith is looking good at all in the preseason. The Jets could be headed for the top of the draft next season. Or they could pull out a handful of wins since they do have the Browns, Raiders, Bills (x2), Titans, and Panthers on their schedule. They could also sneak a win from the Dolphins and Patriots without surprising me.

AFC North:

Normally the defending Super bowl champs would be considered as the favorite to win the division, but that is not the case this year for the Baltimore Ravens. It seems everyone jumped ship. The Ravens did a decent job of replacing people, but the enormous contract they were pretty much forced to give Joe Flacco didn't give them much breathing room. Flacco has proven that he's a winner in the playoffs, but outside the playoffs he is nowhere near the likes of Brady and Manning and he may have a hard time carrying a depleted Ravens team back to the playoffs.

Some say that the Cincinnati Bengals are the team to beat in this division. Honestly, I'm not ready to crown just yet. Sure they've made the playoffs two years in a row and they do have a good young team, but all they've proven the last two years is that they can sneak into the playoffs but when they get there they just lay over and play dead. If they as a team take their game to the next level, then I can see them winning the division, but if they don't, it could be a rough ride as they face a really hard schedule this year as four of their first five games are against the Bears, Steelers, Packers, and Patriots. Around that comes road games against the Browns, Lions, and Bills, which all should be winnable, but yet they are on the road. We are going to learn very quickly if this Bengals team is for real or not.

My personal favorite to win the division this year is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yes their situation is very much like the Patriots in that talent in the skilled positions is a bit sparse, but also like the Patriots they have a great coach and quarterback and as long as Mike Tomlin and Big Ben are a part of this organization, you can never count this team out. And if the Bengals and Ravens struggle a bit like I think they may, this will be the Steelers division to lose.

The Cleveland Browns could be the sleeper team this year. Unfortunately for the Browns this is the case every year and mostly they just stay asleep. But they do have a pretty good defense put together and with Trent Richardson just waiting to break out as a stud, their offense could surprise, especially because they quietly put together a decent receiving corps. I don't really trust Brandon Weeden, but if he steps up, they could do some damage.

AFC South:

Houston Texans are one of the surefire teams in the AFC. I'd say it's between them and the Broncos for homefield advantage in the AFC playoffs. The Texans started last season looking like the team to beat in the NFL, but kinda sputtered and died towards the end of the season. However, they still have a killer team that they improved in the draft by selecting receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the first round to play alongside Andre Johnson. If Arian Foster can get to full speed, this team will roll.

Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts were probably the best story in football last year and I think that Andrew Luck has a really bright career ahead of him. However, I'm not so sure that the Colts will match their record from last year as teams from the AFC West and NFC West that they will be playing will most likely give them greater challenges than what they faced on their schedule last year.

In Jake Locker we trust? No, I didn't think so either. But if the Tennessee Titans are going to provide even some bit of challenge this season, they need him to step up his game. The positive thing is that CJ2K is on the roster and if he turns back the clock a few years, he could make this team dangerous. However, I just think there are too many holes in this roster and ultimately they will sputter and fail.

I don't know quite what the Jacksonville Jaguars are thinking with their team. They had a pretty bad team last year and for some reason they still think that Blaine Gabbert is the answer at quarterback when he has already proven that he is not. But they didn't even draft a 2nd or 3rd round quarterback when there were plenty available at that time. They have Blackmon as a good receiver, but he is a proven trouble maker and will miss the first month of the season. They also have MJD, but that is about it. Sometimes I think that this team just enjoys losing.

AFC West:

The other team that is a surefire pick for the playoffs is the Denver Broncos. I already would've considered them a contender before they signed Welker, but with him that offense looks unstoppable. Peyton Manning, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker? Yeah, that sounds scary. And adding to the mix is Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman, and Knowshon Moreno at running back. They just need to make their way through Von Miller's six game suspension and they are set!

Is it possible that the league's worst team from last year, the Kansas City Chiefs, could be fighting for a playoff spot this year? You bet! Despite the awful record, the Chiefs did have multiple pro bowlers on their roster which means the team was talented. Add in Andy Reid as head coach and Alex Smith as quarterback and I think this team actually has a lot of promise.

The San Diego Chargers don't look like they have much on paper but Phillip Rivers is still a good quarterback and they have a lot of players around them that have potential. The key here will be new head coach Mike McCoy. I honestly believe that he is a guy that can make the best out of this team. Also the Chargers do have a somewhat favorable schedule that could help them become a surprise team.

The Oakland Raiders are a confusing franchise and their lack of patience in recent years with head coaches I think killed any potential they had to be good. And this year their preseason quarterback battle is Matt Flynn vs Terrell Pryor. It's pretty sad when those are your only two options. Add to the fact that their only talented player they have on their roster is one that can't stay healthy. It's going to be a long season for Raider fans.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Review

Books to movies has always been something that has happened ever since movies started to happen, but ever since Harry Potter and Twilight became huge sensations, Hollywood has been trying its hardest to find more teenage/young-adult book series' that can become huge hits and more often than not they have failed. While The Hunger Games was a massive hit, Percy Jackson, I Am Number Four, Beautiful Creatures, The Host, and now The Mortal Instruments all have failed. In terms of The Mortal Instruments, the marketing and advertising is at full blame. But while the studio who released it seemed to have given up on it long before it came out, I decided to give it a shot and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

First off I should mention that I have not read the books, but I've heard mixed things from those who have. Some liked it and some didn't, which is about normal. Personally I expect book adaptions to stray from the book so as long as they entertain me and don't butcher the books, making a sequel impossible (like with Eragon), I don't mind changes. But like I said, I haven't read the books so no comparison will happen. 

The Mortal Instruments is labeled as fantasy, but to me it felt like fantasy combined with supernatural. We had supernatural elements like vampires, werewolves, and demons added to fantasy elements like magic, witches, and warlocks. We also have new terms like shadowhunters, which are half-angel warriors who protect the world from demons. On top of this, we are in New York City, but all these fantasy/supernatural elements are in a city right inside New York City that is hidden from the common eye. And before you start comparing this to Twilight, stop it. Yes there are vampires, werewolves, and teen romance, but that's where the comparisons end. And it didn't really feel like Harry Potter either. In fact, it reminded me more of the TV show Supernatural than anything, with added fantasy twists to it.

Our story line centers around a girl named Clary who starts seeing weird symbols and people that her friends can't see. Shortly after she is horrified when she sees one of these people only she can see murder a person, who later she learns was a demon and the man was a shadowhunter. Following this event, her mother disappears after their apartment gets ransacked and Clary learns that she is in fact a descendant of these shadowhunters and her mom has just been getting her memory blocked and so she joins these shadowhunters and thus enters this dangerous hidden world. 

I thought this story was brilliant. It was very suspenseful and very entertaining. The world itself was visually amazing as well. The demons were insane and awesome and so were the shadowhunters, werewolves, and vampires. As far as the cast goes, I thought the movie was well cast. No, the acting wasn't always superb, but it was good enough  for most of the movie. Lilly Collins was our main star and she was great. Her eyebrows still bother me, but outside that Phil Collins' daughter is quite amazing. Her character went through the most progression out of anyone and I was impressed with that. Outside Lilly, the rest of the cast is fairly unrecognizable. The biggest name for me was Kevin Durand from the TV series Lost who is excellent at playing the idiot in whatever he is in. Other main characters are played by Jamie Campbell Bower, who showed up in both Harry Potter and Twilight, Kevin Zegers, who was the kid from Airbud, and a few others that no one has heard of, but they all did a decent job.

Yes, there were flaws. I don't mind romance in movies at all, in fact I expect it and even love triangles can be done well despite the fact that Twilight has put a sour view on them, but the romance in this is just not done well and the movie would've been better without it. Specifically there is one scene with Clary and Jace that is done so bad it is painful to watch. Also they had this idea that Bach was a shadowhunter and learned to discover demons by playing certain piano chords and that to me was just dumb. Just be classic and do the holy water thing or something like that. There were also a few other minor things, but overall the rest of the movie was good enough that it made up for these parts.

In conclusion, if you like fantasy and supernatural themed books and movies, I would suggest giving this one a shot because it deserved to be a huge summer blockbuster and deserved to have the whole series turned into movies and now it has failed so bad that the second one, which they have already started to make plans for, probably will never happen. This means that in order for me to get more Mortal Instruments like I want, I will be forced to turn to the books. As far as the movie goes, I give it an 8 out of 10.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Blue Jasmine Review

Woody Allen is probably one of the best, or at least most accomplished directors in movie history as he's been directing and starring in movies since the late 60's. His directorial debut came in 1966 with "What's Up, Tiger Lily?" and has since then has just about directed a movie per year, starring in a lot of them. At nearly age 80 now, he is still going strong and even had one of his most successful movies two years ago with "Midnight in Paris". This year's movie of his is called Blue Jasmine and has been in limited release for several weeks now and just now got put into wide release. In fact, at 1200 theaters, it is one of his widest releases ever and with that it showed up this weekend in several of my local theaters, so I decided to give it a shot. Woody Allen is often hit and miss, but despite the great reviews, this one is more of a miss for me.

Blue Jasmine is a character drama about a crazy woman named Jasmine that is a real mental case and because of that has more or less screwed herself over. After a string of unfortunate events, which we find out in more depth as the movie goes on, she goes to live with her sister in San Francisco to try straighten her life out. Just like our title character, this movie is a real mental case and I don't mean that in an artistically done way at all. The movie is all over the place. Like literally. It doesn't really go in chronological order and bounces back and forth from past to present to future. Now doing things flashback style like this is something I am not opposed to. My favorite TV series Lost does it this way and I think that is a brilliant show. However, this time around is really confusing because it transitions real smoothly from present to past and back. In fact, it does it so smoothly that a lot of the times I almost missed the transition and thus throughout the movie I get confused as to whether we are in the past, present, or future. One second we are with Jasmine in San Francisco and the other second we are with Jasmine in New York. And on top of all that, I never really got too invested into the story which is just about the relationship problems of two sisters and thus I found myself really bored rather quickly.

Despite the confusing, disconnected, uninteresting story, I really have to applaud the cast in the movie, especially Cate Blanchett who plays our title character Jasmine. By goodness she does an amazing job of being this crazy, psychotic woman. She currently has a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding her after this performance and I am all in for that. And actually as I was watching this movie, her performance reminded me a lot of Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates in the new TV series Bates Motel. Vera does an amazing job of playing Norman Bates' crazy mother in the very good Psycho prequel series that is only one season in so far. Cate is definitely on the same level. But Cate isn't the only brilliant one. Jasmine's sister Ginger is played by Sally Hawkins who does a great job of being pretty much the exact opposite of Jasmine. As both go through multiple guys, all those guys do a pretty good job and the biggest name is Alec Baldwin, but my favorite performance out of all of them is Bobby Cannavale, who plays one of Ginger's guys.

Overall, despite the fantastic acting that almost makes up for the poor story, I left the theater feeling unsatisfied. The movie wasn't anything fantastic or original and although I didn't fall asleep in it, I almost did a few different times because of how confusing and boring it is. If you want to give the movie a shot, I wouldn't say it would be the worst decision you could make, but there's also plenty of better options and I would advise you to pick something else and wait till this movie is a bit cheaper. Cate Blanchett's performance is definitely two thumbs way, way up, but I would give the movie itself a 6 out of 10.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

2013 NFL Predictions: Preseason

Predicting the NFL season is like predicting the weather. You can look at patterns and trends and based on that try to predict exactly what's going to happen, but in the long run you aren't going to get everything right because it is so unpredictable at times. So despite this, why do I do season predictions? Well, the answer is simple. It's fun. Even if I end up being wrong, I just enjoy putting thought and energy into the NFL in trying to determine what is going to happen and of course I enjoy the discussion that ensues after doing so. If you don't know my system, I copy down every team's schedules and then predict everything game by game. In doing so I sometimes surprise myself just as much as anyone. In addition to what I have for you in this post, I will be doing a season preview where I discuss my thoughts on each team, division by division, so stay tuned for that. But for now here is the numbers and predictions for what I have come up with in what should be a fantastic season!

And now after looking over this, don't just look at the numbers I came up with, read my explanations with my AFC PREVIEW and my NFC PREVIEW linked to you right in this sentence.

Regular Season Predictions


AFC East
z-New England Patriots - 9-7
y-Miami Dolphins - 8-8
New York Jets - 7-9
Buffalo Bills - 6-10

AFC North
z-Pittsburgh Steelers - 10-6
Baltimore Ravens - 7-9
Cleveland Browns - 7-9
Cincinnati Bengals - 6-10

AFC South
z-Houston Texans - 10-6
Indianapolis Colts - 7-9
Tennessee Titans - 6-10
Jacksonville Jaguars - 6-10

AFC West
*-Denver Broncos - 12-4
y-Kansas City Chiefs - 10-6
San Diego Chargers - 7-9
Oakland Raiders - 4-12


NFC East
z-New York Giants - 10-6
Philadelphia Eagles - 8-8
Dallas Cowboys - 8-8
Washington Redskins - 7-9

NFC North
*-Green Bay Packers - 11-5
y-Minnesota Vikings - 9-7
Detroit Lions - 8-8
Chicago Bears - 6-10

NFC South
z-Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 10-6
New Orleans Saints - 8-8
Carolina Panthers - 8-8
Atlanta Falcons - 7-9

NFC West
z-Seattle Seahawks - 10-6
y-San Francisco 49ers - 9-7
St. Louis Rams - 8-8
Arizona Cardinals - 7-9

x-Clinched Playoffs
y-Clinched Wild Card
z-Clinched Division
*-Clinched Division and Homefield Advantage

Playoff Predictions

Wild Card Round
3- Pittsburgh Steelers - W
6- Miami Dolphins - L

4- New England Patriots - W
5- Kansas City Chiefs - L

3- Seattle Seahawks - W
6- San Francisco 49ers - L

4- Tampa Bay Buccaneers - L
5- Minnesota Vikings - W

Divisional Round
1- Denver Broncos - W
4- New England Patriots - L

2- Houston Texans - W
3- Pittsburgh Steelers - L

1- Green Bay Packers - W
5- Minnesota Vikings - L

2- New York Giants - L
3- Seattle Seahawks - W

Championship Round
1- Denver Broncos - W
2- Houston Texans - L

1- Green Bay Packers - L
3- Seattle Seahawks - W

Super Bowl XLVIII
1- Denver Broncos - W
3- Seattle Seahawks - L


Predicted Draft Order (Based on Predicted Standings)

1- Oakland Raiders
2- Jacksonville Jaguars
3- Cincinnati Bengals
4- Buffalo Bills
5- Tennessee Titans
6- Chicago Bears
7- New York Jets
8- Indianapolis colts
9- Cleveland Browns
10- San Diego Chargers
11- Arizona Cardinals
12- Baltimore Ravens
13- Atlanta Falcons
14- Washington Redskins
15- St. Louis Rams
16- New Orleans Saints
17- Detroit Lions
18- Carolina Panthers
19- Dallas Cowboys
20- Philadelphia Eagles
21- Miami Dolphins
22- San Francisco 49ers
23- Kansas City Chiefs
24- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
25- New England Patriots
26- Minnesota Vikings
27- Pittsburgh Steelers
28- New York Giants
29- Houston Texans
30- Green Bay Packers
31- Seattle Seahawks
32- Denver Broncos

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lee Daniels' The Butler Review

Originally titled "The Butler," a legal dispute over the last couple months made it so the makers of this movie had to add in the director to the title, and thus you see that the official title is "Lee Daniels' The Butler." But please don't expect me to type that every time. I'm just going to refer to it as "The Butler." As the summer is ending and the box office starts to slow down, award season is about to begin. The Butler gives that season an early kick-off before it gets into full swing in the next few months. Historical dramas are usually good Oscar bait and although the mixed reviews for this will hold it back a little in terms of awards, I still thought it was an excellent movie.

Perhaps The Butler is closer to historical fiction, but it's still a great look at the civil rights movement. The movie is about a butler named Cecil Gaines who serves as a butler in the White House for eight different presidents spanning from the 1950's to the 1980's. Now this movie is based on a true story, but the real butler's name is Eugene Allen, so that's why I am going to play it safe and say that certain elements may be a bit fictionalized because I really don't know how accurate to this family's story it is.

That aside, the Civil Rights movement was a tough part of history and it's hard to portray that whole period in one movie, but I'd say The Butler does a pretty good job and tells the story from an interesting angle. While Cecil is working in the White House, his son Louis graduates High School and moves down south, becoming fully involved in the Civil Rights movement and the movie gets quite intense as we move forward through the 60's, touching on various aspects like the restaurant sit-ins, the freedom riders, the KKK, the martyrdom of Martin Luther King Jr., and the black panthers. Cecil and his wife Gloria become really nervous as all they are seeing is that their son is constantly putting his life on the line and getting thrown in jail multiple times and as concerned parents this really upsets them. On top of this, their other son Charlie decides to go fight for his country in Vietnam and through all this you really feel for all the people that had to go stuff like this. Love or hate Barak Obama, but the fact we now have a black president means that we as a country have come a long way and there are a lot of people we should be considering heroes from the 60's that got us to the point where we are now.

The cast in this movie is rather incredible as their are tons of supporting actors and actresses that are huge name actors. Robin Williams plays President Eisenhower. James Marsden is President Kennedy. Liev Schreiber plays President Johnson. John Cusack plays President Nixon. Alan Rickman plays President Reagan. Also scattered throughout the movie is Mariah Carey, Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Redgrave, Terrance Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lenny Kravitz, and Jane Fonda amongst others. However, despite all those big names, their are four stars in this movie that really make it work and those are the four people playing the Gaines family. Forest Whitaker plays Cecil Gaines. I always liked Whitaker and he does possibly his best role yet in playing Cecil Gaines. Playing his wife Gloria is the beloved Oprah Winfrey. Yes she started her career as an actress in The Color Purple before gaining huge popularity with her show and now this is her first role back as an actress in quite some time and by golly that lady is talented. She can definitely still act. Now I know it's still way too early to make Oscar predictions and in what is looking like a crowded market this year it will be tough to get nominations, but I think Forest Whitaker and Oprah definitely deserve nominations for this. Also, I do have to mention the two sons played by the lesser known actors in David Oyelowo and Elijah Kelley. While Whitaker and Oprah did an excellent job, without their roles as the two sons, specifically Oyelowo as the son Louis, this movie would not have worked as both of them did great.

In conclusion, if you like historical dramas like Lincoln, Amazing Grace, The King's Speech, and Luther, I would definitely recommend that you give this movie a shot. It may not be the best one ever made and may not get a ton of respect from the Oscars, but it does a great job at doing what it was made to do and that would be to give us as the audience a greater appreciation for the people that were involved in the civil rights movement. It's beautiful and inspiring. Definitely worth your money. I give Lee Daniels' The Butler a 9 out of 10.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Paranoia Review

 August is the month that summer movies slow down and although there are a lot of movies that come out, it is usually more of a dumping ground and it is easy for a movie to get lost or ignored. It is looking like that for Paranoia, but I thought it actually looked super interesting so I gave it a shot and found it rather entertaining. I actually went into the movie without having read any reviews for it. When I came home I was literally dumbfounded at how low the reviews were. Rottentomatoes had it at 4% fresh and since it has gone down to 2%. Sometimes I think critics are afraid to give a good review when they know that the movie is going to make nothing in the box office. This is a movie that I would recommend you ignore everything the critics are saying and give it a shot. It won't be  your favorite movie of the year, but you may walk out entertained.

Paranoia is an espionage thriller starring Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford, and Liam Hemsworth. Oldman and Ford play two corporate billionaires that are bitter rivals and have been. Hemsworth plays a young man named Adam Cassidy that gets caught in between the two of them. In the beginning of the movie, he pitches an idea to Wyatt (Oldman) who turns him down. Frustrated, he goes and takes his friend to an expensive bar and blows the rest of the money that Wyatt had allotted him in one night. Not being too happy with this, Wyatt brings him back in and forces him to spy on Goddard (Ford). Adam accepts because he is offered a ton of money by Wyatt and is threatened with prison if he rejects. This gets Adam quickly trapped in a very sticky situation and thus we have our movie.

Yes, if I'm being honest, the plot of the movie is nothing special. It's fairly predictable and also nothing new or unique, but it's an entertaining thriller that is carried by a super good cast. Harrison Ford is one of those actors that just keeps on acting and always seems to do a great job. It's interesting looking at him in this and then reflecting back on Star Wars. He's definitely aged and looks especially old in this with his buzzed hair. And as always, he does an amazing job. Even in times where the story isn't strong, Ford still does a great job. Everyone else does a good job, too. Acting opposite Ford is Gary Oldman and he also seems to do a great job in whatever he's in and the two of them together are just entertaining to watch. The two of them could probably be put in any movie together and still entertain me. Outside the two spectacular older leads, younger audiences, both male and female, are given some eye candy to look at in this. On my side of things, Amanda Pead was gorgeous. On the girls side, I'm sure girls will love looking at Liam Hemsworth as the makers of this movie seemed to take every chance they can get to shoot him without his shirt on. Finally, I do have to give a Lost shout-out to Josh Holloway in this movie. I loved him as Sawyer in Lost and it is always great to see him around. He's a super talented actor and I wish that he was cast more often.

Yes, the movie is mostly cliche and doesn't have the greatest plot, but it is good enough for you to give it a shot. One of the main themes it does bring up is that of privacy. One line said in the movie by Harrison Ford was that "privacy is a myth" and the movie plays off of that a lot. While this idea can be alarming to a lot of people, in our modern age of technology, whether we like it or not, this is actually a true statement. Thus it is always a good idea to make sure you are super careful. I'm not going to dive into that in depth, but if you want to fire off your opinions on the subject, feel free to use and abuse the comments section below. I give Paranoia a 7 out of 10.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Internship Review

Before you read this review, I would suggest to you to go grab a Snickers. Snickers are the perfect blend of caramel, nuts, and nougat covered in chocolaty goodness. Snickers promises satisfaction and thus when you are hungry, it is the perfect treat. Also, as you read my upcoming review, I want you to be in the right mindset because hopefully you will read this review and enjoy it, thus prompting you to read more and share this blog with all of your friends. You aren't you when you are hungry and I don't want you to risk the chance of thinking this blog is bad just because you were hungry and thus unreasonable. So why wait? Grab a snickers!

Advertising. It's a tricky business and one that I don't plan on going into. Mainly advertisements bother me and I avoid them like the plague when possible. I'd much rather watch a TV show online because I don't have to worry about commercials and I'd hate to be the one trying to come up with advertisements. But nonetheless they are important and in a day where people are really good at avoiding advertisements, people creating those advertisements have to be even trickier and one way they have been successful is by product placement. A company will pay a movie a huge sum of money to include their product or company logo in the movie. This can get very distracting at times, but it is also very helpful for the company. How many people do you think went to IHOP after watching Man of Steel because they battled in the IHOP. Nowadays when I watch movies I expect product placement to be present and I watch out for it. If it is not done well, it is distracting and the movie loses kudos in my book. But if it is done well, the movie gains kudos. Why do I mention this? Well, the current movie in review, The Internship, is the product placement king and it's proud of it. Because of that I actually avoided the movie and thought it was going to be awful. When it came to my local dollar theater, I decided to give it a shot. Turns out that was a very well spent dollar.

Yes, The Internship is one huge advertisement for Google. I don't know how much money Google spent to get this done, but it doesn't really matter because they are close to taking over the world anyways. However, this is not just an advertisement for Google. There is tons of product placements from all kinds of companies, schools, and even movies and music if that counts as product placement. I originally skipped over this movie because I thought all this would be a huge distraction. Turns out it is not a distraction at all. In fact the movie proudly stuffs in as much product placement as possible and all of that actually makes the movie quite hilarious. There was even a segment where they were playing quiditch for a while as part of one of their challenges. I don't know what strings had to be pulled to make that happen, but it was quite awesome.

The Internship stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as two friends who just have no luck in the job department. After their latest job falls through, Vince Vaughn's character gets this brilliant idea for them to try to make it as an intern for Google. I don't really know why someone would ever think of this randomly, but remembering that this is one big advertisement for Google, it had to happen somehow, so as you watch the movie you just role with it. When they get the internship roles, they are put into a team that has to work together in several different tasks, with the winning team getting full time jobs at Google. Predictable plot? Sure. But this wasn't meant as anything deep and unpredictable, so that didn't really bother me. The movie was a comedy and as long as comedies are actually funny and intelligent, I'm not too bothered by a predictable plot. And I found myself laughing the entire movie, so it definitely worked out.

What really made this movie was the cast. I'm not always a fan of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, but in this one both of them were great. The movie was very light-hearted and both of them just looked like they were having tons of fun. And when your main actors look like they were having fun with the movie, it is easy for me as the viewer to have fun with it as well. But it wasn't just them, the leaders at Google did a great job. Will Ferrell was in the movie for a short segment and he was super funny. The girl Owen Wilson's character goes after was really pretty and did a good job in connecting with Owen Wilson. And finally, the team that Wilson and Vaughn were on had great chemistry. They believable butted heads when they needed to and believable got along great as a team when they needed to. I found myself rooting for them to succeed and really invested, which is always great. The movie also did a great job of being emotional and dramatic when it needed to be, which is also a plus because the best comedies in my opinion are ones that are more than just a comedy.

On a personal preference there were one too many sexual references for my liking and a whole scene in a strip club that just went on and on and if I were to watch this movie again in my own house, I would just skip that whole chapter because it is pretty useless. That aside, I went into this movie expecting nothing and walked out entertained and pleased. And that is why I go see movies that I don't think I will like because sometimes I am surprised. Now being that I saw this movie came out over two months ago, the chances of finding this at your local theater might be a bit slim, but when this movie comes to RedBox, Netlflix, or Amazon Prime, I would definitely recommend you give it a shot. Speaking of which, did you know that Amazon Prime is actually significantly cheaper than Netflix and has just as good of a selection? If you are a student, you can get it for just $40 a year, which averages out to less than $4 a month, which is half the price as Netflix. If you are not a student, the $80 a year is still a cheaper average than Netflix. Also with Amazon Prime, you get free two day shipping on lots of items found on, so sign up today! And by the way, my official grade of The Internship is an 8 out of 10.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Review

It's been over three years since we were graced with Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, the movie that was supposed to be the next Harry Potter. What happened turned out to be a disaster as it suffered the fate of Eragon a few years earlier. Eragon wasn't a bad movie if you've never read the book,  but if you did read and love the book then you realized that the movie was an abomination. Thus the second movie, Eldest, was never made. Same with Percy Jackson. Now I never actually read the Percy Jackson books so I didn't actually hate the movie. It was decently enjoyable, but I heard nothing but abomination out of the mouths of fans of the Percy Jackson books. It didn't do that well in the Box Office, so I assumed the second one was not going to happen. Well, three years later it has happened. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is now in theaters. Given that I somewhat enjoyed the first one, I decided to give the second one a shot. Oh my boy. It was not the most pleasant movie going experience I've had.

The story of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is one that I don't blame. In fact it made me want to actually read the books because I noticed that this is a series that had the potential to be great movies. I don't know how much time has lapsed since the first movie, but Percy is at the camp for Half Bloods (half human, half god) when the tree girl who is protecting the camp gets poisoned and thus the camp is put in danger. To save the tree and the camp, Percy must travel to the Sea of Monsters, located in the Bermuda Triangle, to obtain the golden fleece that will heal the tree girl. 

The huge problem with this movie for me was the flow of it. Getting through the movie was like running through a deep, muddy lake. It felt disconnected and slow. There wasn't a ton of anticipation and I can't really point to one character that did a stand out job. I mean, no one did a bad job, but it just felt like something was missing like they weren't fully invested in what they were doing or they just didn't have very good chemistry as a group. There also wasn't a ton of anticipation or emotion in this. What happened ended up being super predictable and when they were faced with major foes, they overcame them with very little effort. All this combined made it so it was really hard to get through and I will admit that there were several times where I was just so bored that I had a hard time staying awake.

Was there anything good in this movie? Well yes. Nathan Fillion was in the movie for like five or so minutes and his part was great! He gave a not so subtle nod to firefly in one of his lines and honestly that line was the best part of the movie. Also the score was decent. No, I'm not talking about the way out of place use of Fall Out Boy's "My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark" towards the beginning, but the rest of the music is good, especially the song at the end credits. And the movie did give me the desire to eventually pick up the books and read them. But outside that, this really is a movie that I would recommend skipping. It's not worth your time. I give it a 5 out of 10. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Wolverine Review + X-Men Analysis

WARNING: I typically have the exact opposite opinion of people when it comes to X-Men movies, so I suppose you have to take this review with a grain of salt. Also, in talking about The Wolverine, I promise that I won't spoil the movie at all. However, I may dish out spoilers for previous X-Men movies, so look out for that.

Before I jump into The Wolverine, I want to talk about the other X-Men movies real quick so you know where I am coming from. First off, I have never read the comics, so I don't know much of the official lore to compare to. Second, I do remember watching the X-Men cartoons when I was growing up, but I was much more into other Superhero cartoons such as Spider-Man and Batman Beyond. Onto the movies. In preparation for The Wolverine (and admittedly to watch a couple of them for the first time), I had an X-Men marathon, so all of them are fresh on my mind.

Starting with the first one, I really appreciate the first X-Men movie because it pioneered the current wave of Superhero movies. Back in 2000, X-Men earned over $150 million in the US and nearly $300 million worldwide. Because Hollywood likes to replicate success, a lot more Superhero movies came about. As a movie, though, I didn't really care for it. It had a really good cast for the most part (I didn't really care for Halle Berry as Storm or James Marsden as Cyclops -- Liev Schreiber's Sabretooth was also a lot better than Tyler Mane's), but despite it's 104 minute showtime, it felt really short and was very thin and boring as far as the story goes. X2 was significantly better than X-Men as it had a really good story, but it seemed really long this time and still wasn't anything special. X-Men: The Last Stand I actually thought was the best of the three. It had the best story of the three, several really interesting plot twists, and tons of emotion. It also flowed really well. Despite being the same length as the first and not much shorter than the second, it didn't drag on like X2 or speed through things like X-Men. I didn't care about Cyclops in this trilogy. I thought he was really annoying and poorly cast, so I didn't care that he died. I didn't like how they killed Xavier, but as some seemed to never catch, he didn't actually die. You learn that in the end credits scene. The final scene also showed Magneto getting his powers back slowly, so that twist was fine for me. The whole Jean Grey story line in the third one was great and super emotional as Wolverine was forced to kill her to save everyone else. I loved the fight between Iceman and Pyro at the end. The Juggernaut was lame, but a lot of the other new mutants were pretty cool.

Now to two origin movies. Most people hate X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but it is actually my favorite of the X-Men movies. The main reason for that is that I don't care too much for the trilogy as I just noted, but also because Hugh Jackman's Wolverine is my favorite character. Origins Wolverine is admittedly inconsistent with the trilogy and also inconsistent with the comic book lore from what I hear, but being that I didn't care much for the trilogy and never read the comics, that didn't offend me. What I did get was a super emotional movie where you really felt for Wolverine, especially when his girl was dying and he got his memory erased with the bullet. You would think that never dying would be an awesome thing, but as we see in Origins and throughout the trilogy later on, it is a curse for him. Origins also has a great cast all around with a fantastic and emotional final battle and a great feud throughout with his brother (or half brother) Victor, aka Sabretooth, who is a lot better in Origins than in X-Men like I previously mentioned. I loved the insane Deadpool character and am looking forward to his potential return as was inferred in the end credits scene. Also, quickly on X-Men: First Class. I did like it as a character story that established the origins of several characters, but it wasn't that exciting and I was bored through a lot of it.

And now I will start my review of The Wolverine.

Yes, as I mentioned, Wolverine is my favorite character of the new X-Men movies and I loved Origins Wolverine, so I was really excited for this one. After watching all the previous X-Men movies, this movie really didn't feel like the others. Instead of feeling like part of the X-Men franchise, it felt more like an X-Men spin-off with the character Wolverine, which is definitely an aspect of the movie I enjoyed. We get to take a break from the X-Men world and just enjoy a movie about Wolverine. That said, I would say that you do need to watch the X-Men trilogy before seeing it to completely get the full emotion of the movie because it does take place after X-Men: Last Stand and feeds off of the finale in that movie.

After what happened in Last Stand, Wolverine is going through a lot emotionally and we begin this movie with him off on his own once again, just hiding from everything. He has nightmares every night that torment him and thus he can't sleep. In one of these nightmares we see in the beginning, the experience is about him being in Japan during World War II when the bombs are dropped. In them he saves the life of one Yashiba. This nightmare/flashback is important because shortly after we see that, one Japanese lady named Yukio shows up informing him that Yashiba is about to die and wants to see Wolverine before he dies, so Wolverine is convinced to take the trip and this is where most of our story takes place. It's not necessarily the most creative or emotional story, but it is a super fun movie with lots of great action sequences.

Hugh Jackman is fantastic as always. It's a bit weird to think that it's been 13 years since he first showed up in X-Men. He would've been 32 in that movie, which makes him 45 years old right now. The great thing about him being Wolverine is that he has aged super well. It's almost as if he has the same non-aging ability as the character he plays because in watching the first X-Men movie he doesn't look 13 years older in this one. Being set in Japan, most of our cast outside Jackman is Japanese and the Japanese characters are just fantastic. There are two leading Japanese females played by Tao Okamoto and Rila Fukushima and both are very pretty and charming in their own way. There are four main male characters outside Wolverine played by Hiroyuki Sanada, Brian Tee, and Will Yun Lee with Haruhiko Yamanouchi and Ken Yamamura playing Old Yashiba and Young Yashiba respectively. The overall chemistry between all the Japanese cast is fantastic and is what makes this movie. Our main villian, Viper, is played by Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova and she is brilliant. Also showing up is Famke Janssen, reprising her role of Jean Grey. Wait, Jean Grey you ask? Yes, Wolverine is still in love with her despite what happened in Last Stand and every time he falls asleep she shows up in his dreams and either taunts him or gives him advise and that aspect of the movie is just brilliant. Jean Grey has been killed off twice now and even with that it is still good to see her show up.

Overall, most people from what I am hearing will like this movie a lot more than Origins and it will be the Wolverine movie they are waiting for. Personally, I liked both movies a lot but if I am forced to choose, I will give the edge to Origins just because of how emotional and moving it is. The Wolverine is nothing super emotional and sometimes predictable, but there are a lot of awesome action scenes and great performances from the entire cast, so it ends up being a super fun movie. If you like Wolverine as a character like I do, you should really enjoy this one. Being that I essentially spent a super long time reviewing all the X-Men movies in this really long blog post, I'll go ahead and give a grade to all of them. X-Men gets a 6 out of 10. X2 gets a 7 out of 10. X-Men: The Last Stand gets an 8 out of 10. X-Men Origins: Wolverine gets a 9 out of 10. X-Men: First Class gets a 7 out of 10. And finally, I will give The Wolverine an 8 out of 10.

P.S.- Don't go anywhere once the credits roll. There is an important clip during the credits that sets up X-Men: Days of Future Past out next year. It's pretty sweet and answers a few questions that were asked about the ending of X-Men: The Last Stand.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Movie Preview: August 2013

Summer 2013 has been on fire. Both May and June set monthly records and July almost set a monthly record thanks to a massive total from Despicable Me 2 and several more movies that got decent totals. July also had five action movies (The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim, Red 2, R.I.P.D., and The Wolverine) that all under-performed and had one or two more of those done better than July would've had the record. August is always the summer month where business dies down, but this month does have a lot of movies on the slate that have potential. This should make for a decent month and good ending to the summer, but there is nothing spectacular on the schedule which means when all is said and done lots of flopping could happen and the 2007 August record should remain in tact.

August 2nd - 4th - 

This first weekend of August will probably be owner of the two biggest movies of the month. The first of which is 2 Guns. 2 Guns is an R-rated action comedy starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. Practically the entire plot is shown in the trailer, which is a bummer. Also, action movies haven't had a great track record over this past month. In addition to that there was a slew of R-rated action movies in the beginning of the year all having big names that all fell flat. Having Mark Wahlberg is a good draw, but him alone does not make this a guaranteed hit. What almost does is the presence of Denzel Washington. Denzel has a great track record and him combined with Wahlberg in what looks like a fun movie for action movie fans should make this a hit similar to that of Flight ($24 million / $93 million) or Safe House ($40 million/$126 million), which were decent hits that Denzel had last year.

The other movie this weekend that actually opened up on Wednesday, the last day of July, is yet another animated movie in The Smurfs 2. Earlier in the year there was a dearth of animated movies, but recently there have been several. Monsters University did great business in June and so did Despicable Me 2 in July. Turbo also came out in July and got swallowed up and with family audiences having had all these options, it makes chances for The Smurfs 2 a little dim. The other factor is that despite The Smurfs being a surprise hit two summers ago, it is generally seen as a kids only movie that adults won't appreciate and The Smurfs 2 is much of the same which means parents might wait before rushing out to take their kids to this one. That being said, it should open to Turbo numbers at least and should do huge numbers overseas where the first movie made over $400 million. The Smurfs 3 is already scheduled for 2015.

August 9th - 11th - 

This second weekend is where things start getting chaotic this month. There are 15 new releases in the last four weekends of August. This means that there are going to be several that get lost. Those that do break out are going to have to be special. This second weekend has four new releases. The one that is most likely to break out is Elysium. Before it's rating came out this past week, I assumed that this was going to be a PG-13 post apocalyptic sci-fi movie like Oblivion and After Earth earlier this year. Oblivion opened to nearly $40 million and would up just under $90 million. After Earth dropped down from that with just under $30 million and $60 million overall. Both movies did solid business overseas and thus became successes. A third movie that is very similar to two previous movies in the same year might mean audiences will be burned out and thus will need solid reviews to do good business. However, being that the movie ended up rated R instead of PG-13, we have to instead switch gears and look at director Neill Blomkamp's other movie District 9, which was an R-rated alien invasion movie that was a surprise hit back in August of 2009. District 9 pulled this off by getting very strong word of mouth. It currently owns a spot on IMDb's top 250 list with an 8.0 rating and has a 90% rating on Rottentomatoes. This led to four Oscar nominations that year. To pull of similar success ($40 million / $115 million), Elysium will need similar reviews. If the reviews end up being poor or mediocre, the limited audience with the R rated combined with several more R-rated movies in August will certainly cause Elysium to get completely lost.

Speaking of R-rated movies this weekend that have a chance of breaking out, raunchy comedy We're the Millers hits theaters this second weekend, getting a boost by opening up on Wednesday. Raunchy comedies are always hit or miss. We're the Millers does star Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, who did team up two years ago for another raunchy comedy Horrible Bosses, which wound up above $100 million. If this one ends up being liked, it has a pretty wide open playing field in August. It's about a fake family formed in order to move a huge shipment of weed into the US from Mexico. It advertises heavily that Jennifer Aniston is the stripper in order to suck in audiences and that is certain to work with some males at least.

Also opening up on Wednesday is the not highly anticipated Percy Jackson sequel, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. The first Percy Jackson movie was highly anticipated as in early 2010 it tried to duplicate the success of Harry Potter by bringing the popular Percy Jackson books to the big screen. Its major problem was that most fans of the books walked out of the movie absolutely abhorred by what they saw, some calling it the worst book to movie adaption ever. Despite the poor reviews, they decided to go forward with the sequel anyways, three and a half years later. Sequels to poorly reviewed movies tend to fail, no matter how good they are. Being that the first Percy Jackson only made around $80 million, the outlook isn't good for Sea of Monsters.

Finally this week comes Disney's animated spin-off of Cars, called Planes. As noted above with The Smurfs 2, family audiences have been plenty busy already this summer and if they do end up showing up in large masses to Smurfs 2, just like they did Monsters University and Despicable Me 2, this is the movie they will probably skip, especially since Percy Jackson is also family oriented and opens on the same weekend. The idea Disney had with this seems obvious. Cars made tons of money off of toy sales, so why not try doing a spin-off and make more money off of toy sales with Planes? And in case some get confused, despite being a Cars spin-off, Pixar has nothing to do with this. It is purely Disney's idea. They also seem pretty adamant on its success as a sequel to Planes is already scheduled for next Summer.

August 16th - 18th - 

Finished looking at one busy week and onto looking at a second busy week. The third weekend of August also has four new movies. None of these four movies look too strong and so it will be a complete grab bag as to who ends up at top. The movie that seems like it has the most potential is Lee Daniels' The Butler. Yes, that is the full title. If you haven't been aware of this movie, it was previously titled The Butler, but got into some legal troubles with that title name, so the comprise was to throw Lee Daniels' name at the beginning. This movie is a historical drama about a butler that served under several presidents in the white house and has quite the loaded cast. Included in this cast is Liev Schreiber, Robin Williams, James Marsden, John Cusack, Alan Rickman, Terrance Howard, Forest Whitaker, Jane Fonda, Lenny Kravitz, Cuba Gooding Jr., Mariah Carey, and Oprah Winfrey. And that is only the most recognizable names. There is pretty much an actor in there for everyone.

Movie number two of the week also has a loaded cast and that is Paranoia. The cast doesn't have as many names as Lee Daniels' The Butler, but it does have Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford leading the way with Liam Hemsworth, Amber Heard, Josh Holloway (from Lost), and Richard Dreyfuss on board. The movie is a thriller with Liam Hemsworth's character being caught up in becoming a pawn stuck in between two kings as the advertising puts it. It's only PG-13, which broadens the audience, but whether it can attract crowds is another story.

Up next is another sequel in Kick-A-- 2. Yes, that is edited. I don't like swearing, even if it is the title of the movie. The first movie in this opened up in another dead month, that being April 2010. It opened up to $19 million and finished just under $50 million. The movie has a pretty good following after getting good reviews and that could help the sequel out, but this sequel will probably end up around the first one, if not slightly below. The drama around this movie comes from new addition Jim Carrey. After doing the movie, Carrey made a statement in which he said he doesn't condone the type of violence that goes on in the movie, which is peculiar because he knew what he was getting into and bashing it after the fact seems odd. He says that the shooting at the Elementary School recently is what caused this change towards the movie, which is understandable. It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, this has on the movie.

Last... and probably least is the biopic Jobs. This is a biopic of recently passed Steve Jobs. The movie was originally scheduled for April, but it was put on hold for one reason or another. The prospects on this movie don't look good for a few different reasons. First off, when a clip of the movie was first released, one of the real life figures stated that that wasn't how things happened. Added to that is it's initial showing at Sundance was taken very well. It stars Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs and that is an odd choice. Although Kutcher looks the part in the movie, it is far from what he normally does and one might think that they could've picked someone better suited to play Steve Jobs. All that adds to a scenario where this movie most likely gets quite lost in this August clutter.

August 23rd - 25th - 

The fourth and not quite final weekend of August only has three new releases. Only... The first of which is Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. This is yet another attempt to create a lucrative movie franchise from a book series following the major success of Twilight and The Hunger Games. There is three different routes this movie could end up taking. The first route is the Hunger Games route. The Hunger Games was a huge hit back in March of 2012 that ended up with a final tally of over $400 million. While this is obviously the goal, the likelihood of that is very slim. It is more likely to take either the I Am Number Four route or the Beautiful Creatures route. I Am Number four took in $20 million in it's opening weekend and ended up with $55 million total back in February of 2011. Beautiful Creatures on the other hand opened up earlier this year to only $7 million and wound up with only $20 million. Personally I feel that it will take the I Am Number Four route and even get a bit higher, but we will see.

Second up is The World's End. This is the second end of the world comedy to come out this summer. This is the End opened up in June and became a surprise hit and is currently at just under $100 million. The World's End has already opened up in England with great reviews over there, but that is largely due to the fact that is stars English actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The chances of it being a hit in the US is pretty slim. The last two times Pegg and Frost teamed up with director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) the result was less than $30 million in the US, so that should probably be expected in this case, too.

Third and final movie of the week is horror film You're Next. Normally I would say to not expect too much out of a horror film because they are a dime a dozen and all are pretty similar, but right now I am going to go against that logic because it's been one of the best years summers for horror movies. Back in June, The Purge surprised by opening north of $30 million. That was followed by The Conjuring this past month which one-upped that by opening north of $40 million. The Purge tanked like normal horror movies and ended up with only $60 million, but The Conjuring in just two weeks of play is already above $90 million. Based on those two movies, I will say that it is very possible that You're Next ends up taking the weekend over Mortal Instruments and The World's End. In fact, that might end up being a simple task.

August 30th - September 2nd-

The final weekend of August is the 4-day Labor Day weekend. Judging by history, I will say that this will be the weakest weekend of the month. Labor Day is not known as a movie day as the highest grossing movie ever on the 4-day weekend was only $30 million and that belongs to the 2007 Halloween remake. The only movie that has a chance at coming close to that is One Direction: This is Us. Back in 2011, Justin Bieber had his concert movie come to the big screen and that turned out to be a pretty decent hit, earning $29 million in opening weekend with a final tally of $73 million. Since then Glee and Katy Perry both tried concert movies of their own and both failed. Glee's concert movie ended up with only $12 million while Katy Perry's concert movie last summer ended up with $25 million. Given the extreme popularity of One Direction, it's likely that their concert movie ends up closer to Justin Bieber's than Glee's or Katy Perry's. One Direction recently released a new singled entitled Best Song Ever in anticipation if their movie and that rounded up 20 million viewers in just two days, so you can bet that teenage girls all over the country will swarm out to watch their band on the big screen.

Outside One Direction storming theaters, the other two movies are both crime dramas. The first of these is Getaway. Getaway is only PG-13 and so it has the slight edge over the other that I will get to in a second, but it's still likely to follow the Labor Day trend of low grossing movies. Getaway is about a man who's wife gets kidnapped and he has to follow orders from a mysterious man to keep her alive. Ethan Hawke stars in this one and along with him is Selena Gomez as a girl that gets caught up in the mess.

The other crime drama this weekend is Closed Circuit. As I just mentioned, Closed Circuit is rated R and thus might have the slight disadvantage, but yet it will be a close race between the two crime dramas. Closed Circuit stars Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall as two former lovers who both end up as defense attorneys in an international terrorist trial. What they learn in the acting at these positions puts them in a very bad situation.

The final movie I will mention is a movie that thinks it's coming out this weekend and that is Satanic. I say that because there is almost no information on this movie. It doesn't have a poster or a trailer yet, but Weinstein has still kept it on the schedule, so what actually happens with this is a mystery right now.