Thursday, November 13, 2014

Donate to the Jimmy V Foundation

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Sunday night, I watched “Survive & Advance” from ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series on Netflix. Now, when I was about 11-12 years old, I only knew a few things about the 1983 NC State University basketball team. I knew that they had won the NCAA Championship as pretty serious underdogs… but I had no idea the scope. I knew that Utah Jazz legend Thurl “Big T” Bailey played for them, but primarily because I lived in Utah & used to memorize info from basketball cards (then-Timberwolves point guard and later head coach Sidney Lowe was on that team too)… and their head coach was a guy named Jim Valvano a.k.a. Jimmy V who was a broadcaster for ESPN & one of the most charismatic and funny guys that you could ever hope to see on TV… a lot like Dick Vitale but without all the crazy random gibberish. Anyway, about that time, Jimmy V had been diagnosed with terminal cancer… and it wasn’t going to be long… but despite these odds, he always had a positive attitude and just took every opportunity he could on air to let everybody know that he loves them… and it pretty much culminated in a now-legendary speech that he gave at the ESPY awards in 1993 shortly before he died… and to this day, that f**king speech makes me cry like a baby… as I’m sure it does most with a soul. This movie isn’t about that that… this movie is about this team ten years earlier… led by a brash Italian-New Yorker coach… starring basically role players… and because of injuries… they literally had to win nine games in a row… against some of the toughest opponents that college basketball has EVER offered… and in seven of those games, they would be losing in the final minute. It’s really a great movie about teamwork, believing in yourself, making your dreams come true, the unconquerable human spirit, and honestly it’s one of those few real life sports stories that… if they made a movie about it… you’d call BULLSH*T at just how it all went down. The speeches that Jimmy V gives throughout… the comradery… watching these grown men (the players & assistant coaches) meet up after 30 years and just share the stories… and then just break down reminiscing about the whole thing… it’s really a great flick… and not just if you’re a sports fan either. I highly recommend that you check it out… and then after you check it out, call up your loved ones and tell them that you love them… because you never know how this crazy sh*t called life works out… and even if you tell them all the time, they still like to hear it.

Monday night, I watched the newest “Hercules” movie starring Dwayne “THE ROCK” Johnson and a fairly decent ensemble cast featuring John Hurt, Rufus Sewell, Ian McShane & Joseph Fiennes among others… and directed by Brett Ratner (“Rush Hour” trilogy, “X-Men: Last Stand” & “The Family Man”). Everybody knows about the character Hercules, right? Half-man, half-God of ancient Greece… had to endure the twelve labors set forth upon him by the goddess queen Hera… mighty warrior… played by Kevin Sorbo in the 90’s… yeah, everybody knows about all that. Well, this movie kind of takes the “Troy” approach and takes the more realistic approach to how a person named Hercules might have been back in ancient Greece. By that, I mean… no Gods, no magic, no super incredible creatures… but rather all the legends built around this… well, BEHEMOTH of a man are basically to strike fear in opponents through word of mouth & the secret aid of a band of mercenaries that he leads. Interesting take… but the story basically takes place after his “twelve labors” and the King of Thrace hires him & his band of mercenaries to help train his army of farmers & blacksmiths to fight off a powerful marauding horde. That being said, it was an okay movie… and here’s more of a breakdown with a few spoilers ahead…
What I Liked:
·         The Rock is Hercules – Let’s face it, as soon as it was announced that Dwayne Johnson was going to play Hercules, the response was “It’s about time!” He’s a charismatic behemoth of a man who can actually act a bit… and even his band of mercenaries were pretty much what you expect with cynical knife-tossing guy (Sewell), possibly-insane prophetic sage (McShane), hot Amazon chick (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) & crazy wild card animal man (Aksel Hennie). They played that “hooker with a heart of gold” thing pretty well where they were mercenaries… but only because they had to be… and in the end, they do good. Spoiler alert: Hercules doesn’t go around destroying villages Conan-style. By the way, YES I would totally watch a “Hercules vs. Conan the Barbarian” crossover pitting The Rock vs. Jason Momoa… but you already f**king knew that… didn’t you DC Comics??? Spoiler alert: Keep an eye out for some kind of Black Adam vs. Aquaman crossover if this one doesn’t work out… let the record show that I’ve already watched two sh*tty Alien vs. Predator movies & Freddy vs. Jason IN THEATRES!!! As a creepy f**k once said in a Batman movie… “I’m a man of my woooord…”
·         Keepin’ It Real – I like the “Troy” angle basing it in reality as opposed to guys throwing lightning bolts from the sky & all that crazy “Clash of the Titans” type sh*t. In realistic storytelling, it’s really good to keep the listener engaged & keeping their belief that something like this could actually happen… as opposed to a complete separation from that reality and then they know that there’s really no rules or limitations… and then their mind will start to wander to all the fanciful possibilities that can come to be in this world… which is okay if you’re doing a kid’s flick like Harry Potter or some kind of obscure mind-f**k movie. However, for most good engaging movies, if you ground it in the viewer/listener’s already-established realm of reality, then there’s consequences for their actions, constant danger of injury or death, adult themes & situations, by the way… this isn’t really a kid’s movie is what I’m saying… but when you’re playing in that world, they’ll give in to your story more willingly. Don’t believe me? Which story seems more realistic & gripping? “Braveheart” or “The Ten Commandments”? That being said… there are a few moments that drift back into cinematic BS (catching arrows, tearing down columns, etc.) but for the most part, they keep it pretty real…
What I Didn’t Like:
·         Spoiler Alert: The Sudden & Inevitable Betrayal – I’ll admit, this movie did a pretty good job of hiding that the elderly King of Thrace (Hurt) was using Herc’s troupe to beat down an uprising in his kingdom… until you actually realize that this king is hiring five mercenaries to lead his armies. Why? The head of his guard, though also an older man, is right there! The reason that I let this possible Shymalan-ish twist subside for as long as I did… was because the first battle, you had these completely random savage dudes popping out of the ground to fight. What the f**k? Are you telling me these bearded bald guys popping out o the ground and yelling gibberish in a burning village are disgruntled townsfolk? Okay, so there really is a threat… then in the next battle, it’s just average Greek dudes. Okay? Whatever, let’s fight… GASP!!! I’ve been used!!! I can’t believe that somebody would just pay me gold to fight for whichever side that… oh yeah, I’m a f**king mercenary. Wait, there’s a child involved? VENGEANCE!!! Sorry… getting a little ahead of my next point…
·         Hercules’ Tragic Backstory – Okay… I was calling bullsh*t on this one from the first implied flash-flashback. Basically the story goes that the reason that Hercules is a mercenary now instead of a King or General or something… is that back in Athens, he had a wife & three kids… until one night he had a little to drink & woke up with his family slaughtered and no recollection as to what happened… so he certainly must’ve done it right? So from that moment on, he was an outcast & had to do what he does to survive. Okay… let’s break it down. You wake up… and your family is slaughtered… yet there’s no blood on you? Maybe a wine stain? Also, your knuckles aren’t sore and your weapons aren’t bloodied? Clues #1-3 that you were set up. Now, does he go to jail for allegedly murdering his family or anything like that? The King (Fiennes) exiles him or something… or I think that’s where they pulled in the twelve labors things, I forget, they’re very vague on what really happened other than he’s a mercenary now. It’s implied later that he has dreams or episodes later on that the crazy sage tells him are visions… but did you have them before this whole incident, then you’re probably just emotionally distraught & your mind is playing tricks on you. Stay off the sauce! In the end, spoiler alert, it’s revealed that the King (who by the way, you know is a bad guy from the beginning because it’s Joseph f**king Fiennes) drugged Hercules and set the wolves to his family & framed him so that Hercules would never become King due to his epic strength & charisma. He couldn’t just kill him… he had to destroy his image first… you know, like “Batman Returns” (or really a lot of the Batman movies if you think about it). Okay… so added clue from before, you awake to find your family TORN ASSUNDER AS IF BY F**KING WOLVES and you just feel a little tipsy with clothes dry as a bone. First thought: “VENGEANCE!!!” The King shows up with guards to the capture Hercules: “IT WASN’T ME! IT WAS THE ONE-ARMED MAN!” “What one-armed man?” “This one!” Rips off the arm of the closest guard and uses it like a nunchaka-whip-blade device to dispatch the rest of the guard, saving the King for last. “You killed my wife… my children… I’m going to enjoy bedding yours!” “What?” EPIC PLOT TWIST! Hercules then kills the King, becomes King himself, f**ks the Queen, his daughters, their chamber mistresses, random Amazonians, warrior princesses & beer wynches… and basically spend the rest of his days crushing his enemies, seeing them driven before him, & hearing the lamentations of their women… you know, the best stuff in life, right? Sigh… this may be why they don’t let me make big-budget movies… I’d get bored & just f**k them up half way through.
The Overall Feeling – Now, this is the weird thing… the movie just didn’t seem like anything spectacular and/or memorable. I mean… it’s a decent action flick… and I can’t really point out any particular horrible things that completely destroyed the movie for me… yet I can’t really find anything that’s overly incredible about it either. Would I watch it again? Maybe… if a few other people wanted to watch it, sure I’d watch it again. By myself? Eh… so many other movies that I haven’t seen yet but hear good things about, you know? It’s just kind of an average movie… but hey, if you’re into movies like my epic “Before Time was Time” movie list… then go ahead & check this out. You shouldn’t be disappointed.
Anyway, aside from that, it’s been a busy work week and occasionally Izzy & I meet up for her to do homework while I watch “Hotel Impossible” on Netflix… so pretty chill after a long day of work. Until next time, I’ll just leave you with the epic battle to come… have a great day everybody!!!

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