Month: July 2021

Sports – 2021 NFL Predictions

Category : Sports

The 2021 NFL season is almost upon us, with Free Agency and the Draft complete, Training Camps beginning, and the Regular Season right around the corner.  It’s time for Olie’s Too-Early-To-Tell Season Predictions!  Here’s to another great year!


AFC Division Winners





AFC Wild Cards


NFC Division Winners





NFC Wild Cards

Super Bowl


Movie Review – Unstoppable

Category : Movie Review

Director: Tony Scott

Starring: Chris Pine, Denzel Washington

Year: 2010

Unstoppable was Tony Scott’s final film, and although his career had its highs & lows, I think his filmography as a whole is pretty impressive, and features so many films that are iconic, if also a few that are complete duds.  The Hunger, Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II, Days of Thunder, True Romance, Crimson Tide, The Fan, Enemy of the State, Spy Game, Man on Fire, Deja Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123; action, intensity, intrigue, speed, sex, danger, and a ton of fun, which isn’t a bad legacy to leave behind.  Unstoppable, being the last, luckily boasts one of the best casts, riddled with talent, which is the only reason this film survives my complete ridicule, because, otherwise, it’s basically a movie that you hope is a joke so that everyone involved in its creation doesn’t have to feel embarrassed for the rest of their lives.

Based on a true story, this is a tale of daring courage in the face of possible disaster, where two men step up to save many, many more lives, at the extreme risk of their own.  Starting work at the train yard like any ordinary day, veteran Frank and rookie Will take a shift running the rails, making deliveries, switches, pickups; it’s not a glamorous life, being an engineer and a conductor, but, for Pennsylvania blue collar men, it’s an honorable living.  Little did they know that they would be called upon to do so much more, when a half-mile long train of cars is accidentally left running on full power without a driver, heading for nearby towns at break-neck speeds.  Frank and Will begin to chase it down, but aren’t sure they can stop it in time, before it crashes into a populous town and becomes the disaster of the century.

First, I will say that the acting in this movie is top notch.  Pine is so good, just a wonderful all-around talent, who really can do anything; if any single person in history has had the coveted X-factor it’s this guy.  And then there’s Denzel, who’s so famous we only need to refer to him by his first name, so magnificent at his craft that he can get us to watch literally damn near anything, even when we know it’s crap.  The rest of the cast is good too: Rosario Dawson, Kevin Corrigan, TJ Miller, Ethan Suplee.  It’s not the acting that’s the problem here, and it’s not Scott’s direction, which is spot on, neither is it the music or the mood or the entertainment value.  It’s the true story and how little it lends itself to a film with this much activity and build up.

It’s a train that goes a little too far, but then they stop it …and that’s the whole movie.  The real story is even sillier; the train got away, they couldn’t stop it for a little bit, but then they slowed it down, someone ran up beside it, hopped in the driver’s seat, and turned it off.  That’s as much real drama as the film can honestly hold; the rest of the time it’s just bluffing its way through 90 minutes because, well, it’s gotta do something with its time.  I enjoyed myself a little, for a time, I liked watching these people in a stressful situation and these actors flex their muscles in a story that called for them to carry the entire thing on their shoulders.  But, at the end, all I could think was “THAT’S IT?!”, and when I looked up the true story I felt even worse, like, who in their right mind would think that this news article was worth making an action film about?  Scott is pretty daring, but this was a risky bet, and ends up a poor movie, which is simply too bad.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆


Movie Review – Congo

Category : Movie Review

Director: Frank Marshall

Starring: Dylan Walsh, Laura Linney, Ernie Hudson

Tim CurryGrant Heslov, Joe Don Baker, Bruce Campbell

Delroy Lindo, John Hawkes, Joe Pantoliano, James Karen

Year: 1995

I didn’t hate Congo this time around, and that’s about the highest praise it deserves.  This Crichton book turned Marshall movie should be so much better than it is; strong novel, nice cast, cool concept, fun adventure.  But compare it to the other great films of its year and it’s embarrassing: Braveheart, Dead Man Walking, Mr. Holland’s Opus, The Usual Suspects, 12 Monkeys, Apollo 13, Rob Roy, Casino, Nixon, Sense and Sensibility, Crimson Tide, Se7en, The American President, Toy Story, Pocahontas, Babe.  I guess my point is that everyone involved should have been …better? …and that this film shouldn’t suck.  Watching it again, this time around I was at least entertained, and I thought there were parts that somehow worked, despite how shitty the majority was.

A communications billionaire, Mr. Travis, sends his son into the interior jungles of Africa to retrieve rare diamonds that may be in a volcano there, and may power lasers that can craft the world’s newest technologies.  When his son goes missing and a strange video emerges, Travis sends in his right hand woman, Karen Ross, to assess the situation, find the diamonds, and get the hell out of Africa.  She, in turn, piggybacks on an expedition that’s headed there anyway, a mission to return a female gorilla to her home.  But this ape is special, she can speak using sign language, and, oddly enough, her presence might be the only thing that keeps the team alive, as other gorilla’s emerge who are not as friendly, and a mystery rises surrounding an ancient civilization, a dangerous mine, and those who protect it.

Crichton is fun, we all know his works, and this kind of jump-the-shark story is right up his alley.  He somehow makes those far-fetched ideas fly though, his books are cool, but the movie versions aren’t always great, excepting Jurassic Park, of course.  Don’t ever watch Timeline; phenomenal book, absolutely horrendous film.  But I digress.  Congo is exciting, it’s a nice arc, it would make for a good read, but it sure doesn’t make for a good watch, not done this cheaply, anyway.  This movie should have been better; the cast, the author, the director, the action, the fun.  But it’s mostly a crappy job by all, bad execution after bad execution until the whole thing feels like a joke.  There are moments to be enjoyed; Ernie Hudson for sure, all the big names that pop up, the safari, the mystery, the intensity of the adventure.  But, overall, there’s a mood of amateurism that’s near impossible to shake, and that’s what you’ll remember after the credits roll.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆


Movie Review – 2067

Category : Movie Review

Director: Seth Larney

Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ryan Kwanten, Aaron Glenane

Year: 2020

Did 2067 enact the forcible-arm-bracelet-in-a-time-travel-movie idea first, beating out Tomorrow War?  If it did, I guess it doesn’t matter, because neither are good films, both made a ton of mistakes, one you’ve simply heard of because it stars Chris Pratt and was on Netflix, while the other faded into obscurity as soon as it was spoken into existence.  2067 isn’t good, but it does have some good concepts, only executed with the skill of a 4-year-old with a butter knife and a cardboard box.  It’s a failure on most levels, which is quite disappointing, because there are many times it feels like you’ve almost watched something smart, only to be left dumber.

In the future, not too far away, the world’s environmental problems with become a crisis; storms will rise, climate will change, plant life with die, and humans will be left without breathable air.  We’ll survive somehow, off nuclear power and artificial oxygen, but our lives will hardly be worth living, more a scratching by than an actual fulfilling existence.  But a chance to change that arises; a brilliant scientist has developed a time machine, sort of, and it seems that there is a message being sent back from 400 years into the future, which states that they need his son, Ethen Whyte, to come forward through time, potentially giving humanity one last opportunity to save themselves.

I didn’t really appreciate the looping plot until the very end, when all barriers were dropped and we were allowed to understand the complexities of the story, which was somehow too late.  I wouldn’t have wanted them to give away all the goods early, but somehow we find out that this movie is kinda cool far too late in the game, maybe because the actual execution up until that moment was incredibly subpar.  The acting in this film is abysmal, and I love KSMcP, he’s a great young actor, he simply screamed, wailed, and cried too much, and every one else around him just sucked, and hard.  The music of the movie was also horrible, surprisingly so, and helped make the entire thing feel cheap, amateur, and almost an afterthought.  It’s a clever plot, could have worked, should have been given to someone else to direct, and maybe deserved more money thrown it’s way; as it stands, I can’t recommend how it turned out, I can only dream that it had turned out better.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆


Sports – NFL Rookies 2021 Top 20

Category : Sports

QB Trevor Lawrence – Jacksonville Jaguars

QB Zach Wilson – New York Jets

QB Trey Lance – San Francisco 49ers

TE Kyle Pitts – Atlanta Falcons

WR Ja’Marr Chase – Cincinnati Bengals

WR Jaylen Waddle – Miami Dolphins

OL Penei Sewell – Detroit Lions

CB Jaycee Horn – Carolina Panthers

CB Patrick Surtain – Denver Broncos

WR DeVonta Smith – Philadelphia Eagles

QB Justin Fields – Chicago Bears

LB Micah Parsons – Dallas Cowboys

OL Rashawn Slater – Los Angeles Chargers

OL Alijah Vera-Tucker – New York Jets

QB Mac Jones – New England Patriots

LB Zaven Collins – Arizona Cardinals

OT Alex Leatherwood – Las Vegas Raiders

EDGE – Jaelen Phillips – Miami Dolphins

LB Jamin Davis – Washington Football Team

WR Kadarius Toney – New York Giants


Book Review – The Giver

Category : Book Review

Author: Lois Lowry

Year: 1993

I can’t believe I’ve reviewed The Giver movie but not The Giver book; a shame.  But it’s never too late, and as many times as I’ve read this book, it changes with every read, so there’s no bad time to write down a take on this ever-changing novel.  Lois Lowry is best known for The Giver and Number the Stars, both really important reads for young minds, but they are no less impactful to me now as an adult, since the meanings change each time, based on your own experiences.

A boy named Jonas lives in a perfect society; no hunger, no pain, no want, no worry, everything is in perfect balance, and that’s the way it’s always been.  As his 12th year approaches, and with it a selection of the job he will have as an adult, he becomes apprehensive, but he’s sure that the committee & the elders know what’s best.  When Jonas is skipped over at the selection ceremony, he’s positive he did something wrong, but it’s the opposite; he’s been selected as the next Receiver of Memory, a highly-respected role he knows almost nothing about, and will be trained for by the former Receiver, an old, sad, wise man who will from now on be known as the Giver.

What a book, and what a story, one that morphs over time, as you age and look at the world differently.  This dystopian future is a curiosity, a mix of excellent and terrible, with rules & order that keep everyone safe, but without the vibrancies that make life worth living.  Jonas is learning to adapt to the changes he experiences as the Receiver, when he learns that Earth wasn’t always the way he knows it, with climate control and Sameness.  It’s a wonderful thing to talk about aloud, to ponder over the possibilities, and to change your opinion of as your own experience change you.  This time, I read it out loud to my daughter, and what an incredible time we had, delving deep and pulling apart the metaphors like they were made for us to dissect.  A wonderful, exciting, fascinated book; one of the very best.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Movie Review – Tenet

Category : Movie Review

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki

Kenneth Branagh, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Himesh Patel, Clemence Poesy

Year: 2020

I’m going to keep this Tenet review short on purpose, because I think it could get really out of hand really quickly.  I love that Nolan makes bold choices, takes bold chances, and doesn’t play it safe; we love his movies, even the ones that aren’t perfect, for those exact reasons.  He’s thoughtful, interesting, loves to craft entertainment, and forces audiences to think, all of which I really appreciate.  Tenet might not be The Prestige, Inception, or Interstellar, it might actually be copies of pieces of those films layered on top of one another, forced to resemble something great but not truly being great on its own, BUT that doesn’t mean that this film doesn’t have solid chunks to offer of us, if only we can search through the rubble to find them.

The protagonist of our story is a special government operative, an elite soldier in the fight against global chaos, and he’s willing to continuously put his life in jeopardy to complete his goals.  His latest rescue mission almost turns deadly, and unearths an extremely strange phenomenon; items in our world that seem to be moving backward through time.  Given the code word ‘tenet’ to use at his disposal, our hero sets off on a journey through time, forward and backward, on his way to discover the truth about weaponizing the trajectory of both objects and people through special gateways called ‘turnstiles’ that reverse your time direction.  It’s almost impossible to comprehend, but the world needs him to learn fast, because there are future forces at work that want us all dead.

Tenet definitely feels like Inception, but with other Nolan films thrown in for good measure.  It’s definitely a cool idea given the Nolan treatment, until it comes out feeling like something we’ve seen before based on a concept that is incredible innovative.  I liked the technology, I liked the layered story arcs, I liked the action, and I liked the acting, for the most part; Tenet is a cool film, solid entertainment, and truly a mind-melter.  But that doesn’t make it perfect; there are definitely issues abounding.  One is the dialogue, which is sometimes muffled, sometimes nonsensical, sometimes throwaway, and often not very high-caliber.  I could have used less talking, less description, more ambiguity, and some editing down into something more streamlined.  The “twists” were easy to see coming, even if you weren’t trying to guess them, and some the scenes were very predictable, bolstered by their inventiveness, sure, but sometimes dragged down by their clunky delivery.  In the movie’s defense, I found myself curious, captivated, and wanting to see it a second time to completely understand it, which I guess is good enough for a quality rating, though I wouldn’t say that Tenet is one of Nolan’s absolute best.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


Movie Review – Black Widow

Category : Movie Review

Director: Cate Shortland

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, David Harbour

Year: 2021

I’m back at the movies!  Since watching Onward in March of 2020, I haven’t set foot inside a theatre, something I used to do once or twice a week, every week, over the past how ever many years I’ve been serious about film and have become a film critic.  The Pandemic has been …too complicated to put into words, but now I’m back doing this thing that I used to do, and I will say that it feels great.  I should be returning sporadically over the next couple months, and solidly by fall/winter, so I have that to look forward to, and I’ll take it.  Black Widow was a hell of a way to get restarted; not only was it a solid distraction from real life and a nice addition to the MCU as a franchise, but it was also a supremely enjoyable stand-alone feature, with the strength to strike a pose on its own two feet, slightly separated from all the bluster & battle of the others in the series.  It’s basically just a good picture seen at the right time; thank you, movie gods.

Following the events of Civil War, Team Cap is on the run from American authorities, as the Sokovia Accords have kicked in and the Avengers are now under government control.  Among those going underground is Black Widow, who changed sides, helped Cap, and is now in hiding.  But as soon as she settles in, Natasha is contacted by her sister Yelena, who has recently been freed from the Black Widows, a secret organization of assassins run by the evil Dreykov.  Natasha must reunite with her sister, rescue her father, find her mother, and take down Dreykov, before the mind-controlled Black Widows change the geopolitical fate of our world.

Marvel is back with a bang, after a bunch of TV shows but no movies for an extended period.  But Black Widow returns us to the theatrics in a big way, and let’s us know that the MCU is alive and well.  We are beginning a new Phase, with new heroes taking on the classic mantles, but before we get there Natasha has a backstory to tell, and it’s a doozy.  I enjoyed how this film is both a stand-alone piece and a piece of the puzzle; you can watch it as a super fan or just a casual viewer and enjoy it the same.  That takes talent, to weave that type of dichotomy, so kudos to Shortland, who, when I watched Somersault all those years ago, I didn’t expect to see again, and definitely wouldn’t have predicted to be the director of a Marvel blockbuster some day in the future.

So many things worked, so few went wrong, which is impressive on its own, the simple fact that this movie was made and made well.  We get a little bit of an origin story for Black Widow, but that’s also not what the plot is about, it’s focused on the here & now, in a way that feels refreshingly forward-thinking.  We get a kick-ass, female-led cast and some great side characters too; Johansson is solid as always as Natasha, but it’s Pugh who steals the show, with her perfect talent and her chameleon ability.  Although, Harbour steals his share of the lime light too, with uncanny comedy and a demeanor that I’ll always remember him for donning so awesomely.  The rest of the cast is fine (Rachel Weisz, Ray Winstone, William Hurt, Olga Kurylenko), and the villains are OK, but the real magic is within the family, and the action they find themselves a part of.  We are in good hands if this is the direction the Universe is headed, with major stars giving way to young talent and amazing stories that keep growing with prestige.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆



Sports – Super Bowl 56 Odds

Category : Sports

The 2021 NFL season has already begun in earnest, at least to super fans, with the opening of Free Agency and the completion of the NFL Draft.  Now it’s on to Rookie camps, Mini-Camps, OTAs, all the prep work for a long & grueling season.  Soon we’ll have the start of Training Camps, and in September the Regular Season begins.  The end of the year, culminating in the 56th Super Bowl, might seem a long way off, but February will come quickly, and, in Las Vegas at least, odds-makers are preparing to call the game.  Here are the current Super Bowl favorites according to Bovada:


1. Kansas City Chiefs

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3. Buffalo Bills

4. Los Angeles Rams

5. San Francisco 49ers

6. Baltimore Ravens

7. Cleveland Browns

8. Green Bay Packers

9. Denver Broncos

10. Indianapolis Colts

11. New England Patriots

12. Seattle Seahawks

13. Tennessee Titans

14. Dallas Cowboys

15. Los Angeles Chargers

16. New Orleans Saints

17. Miami Dolphins

18. Arizona Cardinals

19. Minnesota Vikings

20. Pittsburgh Steelers

21. Washington Football Team

22. Chicago Bears

23. Las Vegas Raiders

24. Carolina Panthers

25. New York Giants

26. Philadelphia Eagles

27. Atlanta Falcons

28. Cincinnati Bengals

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

30. New York Jets

31. Detroit Lions

32. Houston Texans


Movie Review – 500 Days of Summer

Category : Movie Review

Director: Marc Webb

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel

Year: 2009

Like Scott Pilgrim, another cult favorite, I think I missed the boat, grew up, and lost the ability to connect with the juvenile nature of the characters in 500 Days of Summer, since I am no longer a juvenile myself.  That shouldn’t be needed to love a film, for a film to be great, that perfection connection at the perfect time, but it happens; I’d say that’s why I will always hold a special place in my heart for Kevin Smith movies, not because they are perfect, not because they would hold up wonderfully, but because I lived them at a very specific moment in my growing up.  500 Days just isn’t that to me, and so I judge it instead of absorb it, which, I think, makes all the difference.

Tom has known Summer for 500 days, most of which he has been desperately in love.  He’s a passionate young man and he believes in soulmates, he just hasn’t found his, until now.  The story of their love affair is broken down over the course of this year and a half, but told in broken order, giving us many pieces of the puzzle until the riddle of their relationship is finally solved.  Summer says she doesn’t want labeled loves, but what does that mean for Tom, who desperately wants a girlfriend?  They may be perfect for one another, but does that necessarily mean “happily ever after”?  We’ll see after 500 days of …wait for it …Summer.

Also, I don’t like Zooey Deschanel, I think her name is stupid and that she stinks.  No, I’m kidding, but I honestly don’t get her appeal.  I don’t find her engaging, endearing, enthralling; I just find her kind of annoying.  For her to be the focal point here is hard for me, as much as I love JGL; he rocks my world.  But putting that aside, because that’s just personal taste, 500 Days didn’t hold me tight like I imagined it would, probably because I missed it 12 years ago, when I would have been 25, when I might have appreciated the story more because I would have related to it more.  As it was, I thought the characters were foolish & young, and I didn’t love them.  I also didn’t love the direction, I thought it was gimmicky, and Webb simply isn’t that talented a filmmaker.  By the end, I was starting to get the feel, the point it was making about love, but I couldn’t fall in love myself, with this film that so many others seem to think is so lovely.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆