Posts Tagged 'v'

Review: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES (and more!)



I stab you with this 3D sword!!!

An exercise in creative futility, this Pirates movie, though slightly more cohesive than the bloated At World’s End (which, along with Avatar and Spider-Man 3, is right up there with the most expensive movies ever made), it isn’t any better, which is what everybody was expecting demanding if they insisted on moving forward with this franchise. Almost everyone involved with this series admitted that At World’s End went a bit off the deep end (literally and figuratively, as it turns out!), but they don’t seem to realize that all we wanted was a stronger, more focused story, as existed in the original movie. We didn’t get that, yet the studio wants people to pay even more money than they did for tickets in 2007 to see this one in 3D. That said, I’d rather watch the 2 hour, 50 minute At World’s End than see this again any day, because though it’s long and completely over the top, it isn’t boring. We often say that most sequels don’t need to be made, but this should be held up as the very definition of that thesis.

If it’s possible to mail in a $200 million summer megablockbuster, they’ve managed it here. And by the way, am I the only one who finds it hilarious that they consider $200 million “scaled down”? For almost everyone involved (the studio, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the writers, Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Kevin McNally (who plays Gibbs) and even composer Hans Zimmer and other key crew members carrying over from the first 3 movies), there appears to be no real reason this got made other than to stuff bank accounts. There sure as hell wasn’t a great story waiting to be told. They simply did it under the bullshit guise of “Well, the audience wants more, so we’re just giving them what they want.” Even after just seeing part 4, I can barely recall what it was about, and that doesn’t really bother me. We’re never given any logical reason why ANYONE involved actually wants to find the Fountain of Youth, and the payoff once they do make use of it is completely unsatisfying, despite the fact that every main character (and an army of Spanish dudes) is hunting for it. There is nothing remarkable about this movie at all, yet I will now attempt to make several pertinent remarks about it.


“Which way to the bank?”

WHAT I LIKED

-I liked the really quick Judi Dench cameo. But pay attention. Read these three sentences and that’s how fast it is.

-Though Hans Zimmer mostly used cues from the first 3 movies, one of the cool new things he did do was bring Rodrigo y Gabriela in to do some acoustic work with the new themes and for reprisals of some of the old motifs. Though I got the soundtrack, and they did a lot more work on the soundtrack album than what actually appears in the film. Or I just didn’t notice them as much in the film, because NOTHING really stood out. I’m trying to get into more Spanish guitar/acoustic acts and love when they’re used in movies. I also have a couple Rodrigo y Gabriela albums, so it was cool to see them involved here. Despite using a lot of the same old themes, as always Zimmer does manage to bring something new and unique to the table. In general though, I don’t see why Zimmer felt the need to come back and do this. That will be the running theme of this review: Why did you participate in this?

For today’s Recommended Listening, here’s a sample from the soundtrack that features Rodrigo y Gabriela. The track is called “South of Heaven’s Chanting Mermaids”:  

Penelope Cruz was better than I thought she’d be. I didn’t know if she had the charisma required to play opposite Johnny Depp in a big summer movie, but those doubts were quickly alleviated. I thought she was pretty good, but even though we’re told she and Depp had a romance that ended poorly, we’re never given any of the specific details of where or when that fling took place, or precisely why it ended poorly. Or maybe we did get that information and I’ve already forgotten it because it didn’t make any sense. That’s entirely possible.


O, HAI Penelope.
U iz lookin’ good!

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

-I love Ian McShane, and I love the idea of him playing Blackbeard, “the pirate all other pirates fear.” It’s a great setup for a proper villain. Unfortunately, there’s no such payoff in this movie. Here, Blackbeard is all talk and no real villainy. He’s not intimidating, and unless I’m mistaken, he never kills anyone by his own hand. The only time he does anything that’s supposed to be truly terrifying, it ends up being truly stupid. He sets this guy out on a small boat in front of his big ship, then uses the ship’s two massive flamethrowers (obviously) and lights the smaller ship ablaze. And this is supposed to be scary and prove how evil he is. Meanwhile, all I could think of was the fact that all the guy on the smaller boat had to do was JUMP INTO THE WATER to survive, but hey, let’s not nitpick! So yeah, Ian McShane is utterly wasted here, and it’s a damn shame. I’m actually offended, now that I think about it. Does Disney have a viewer complaint line?

-They excluded Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, which is good (and probably saved the production $30 million), but the problem is they replaced them with another young couple, except this time the girl is a mermaid. She’s cute and all, but for the dude, it seems like they purposefully tried to cast someone who looks a bit too much like Bloom. And the carbon copy Sam Claflin is the result of this casting search. Well, bravo Pirates casting directors, you found an Orlando Bloom clone. Unfortunately, you still don’t have a script that allows him to do anything worth a damn. I’m not blaming the actors for being boring. I have no idea from watching this if either of these two are good actors, but the exposure will surely get them other chances to prove their worth, and that’s fine with me.


This is about as interesting as this love subplot gets.
He whispers sweet nothings whilst she’s stuck in a puddle.

-If you were excited about the prospect of zombies in the Pirates franchise, get rid of those expectations. These are the most pointless zombies (there are really only 2 of them) in movie history. Seriously. In fact, almost all of the supernatural and fantasy elements of this movie are handled poorly. The mermaids are okay, but I definitely feel they could’ve been handled better. The big scene where they’re introduced is really goofy. Also, the visual effects shots of the mermaids underwater aren’t that impressive. I did like when the first one (played by a model of course) appears. A group of guys is put into a raft as bait, and they sing songs to try and attract the mermaids, and with one cut, all of a sudden one of them is just THERE, leaning on the back of the boat, innocently staring at them. That was cool. Everything else the mermaids do? Ne jabba no badda.

-The stunts and effects sequences are far below what we’ve seen in the previous movies. Gore Verbinski is a much more capable director than Rob Marshall in this regard. The action set pieces in the first 3 movies are clever, visually interesting and exciting. That is rarely the case here. In fact, it’s never the case. And the producers and writers need realize that these bloodless sword fights are incredibly tedious. There are 2 or 3 sword fight scenes here, and I just wanted a remote so I could fast forward through them. If you’re not gonna be lobbing off limbs or impaling people with swords, the fight choreography better be spectacular. That’s pretty obvious to me, but apparently not to the writers, producers, director and stunt guys on these movies. But what do I know? These guys seem to believe that even though the audience knows nobody’s going to get killed in a sword fight in these movies, we should still be invested in these scenes. That’s fucking ignorant. At least in Dead Man’s Chest, the big swordfight took place on the roof of a house and then on a giant spinning wheel, so it was at least cool to look at.

Of course, Disney (and the now completely creatively bankrupt Jerry Bruckheimer) has said they want more Pirates movies, but hopefully the critical reaction and mediocre fan reaction will dissuade that from happening anytime soon. Even Johnny Depp came out and said that while he still loves playing the character, he wants them to “hold off for a bit” before trying to make a fifth one. Hopefully, by “hold off for a bit” he means about 50 years. Funnily enough, if reports are accurate, a script for a fifth movie has already been turned in. Just file that on the shelf for a few decades, mmkay?

On Stranger Tides is not good enough to recommend, and not bad enough to scream, “Stay away!!!” I am not surprised by this (based on the trailers), and thankfully, I don’t really care, either. You can make up your own mind on seeing it in theaters. As always, all I ask is that you not see it in 3D.

To finish, here’s a recent quote from Mr. Depp:

“Really, ultimately and truly, these films are made for the people that go in and pay their hard-earned money to see these things,” Depp said. “And if the people get tired or something, that’s when it stops.”

Consider me exhausted. Can it stop now?

Check out some other like-minded reviews:

A.O. Scott is more critical, but also more concise. [NY TIMES]

Quint over at Aint It Cool feels pretty much exactly the way I do. [AICN]

Eric D. Snider sums it up nicely and amusingly. [EricDSnider.com]

————–

Basically, this movie isn’t worth 100% of my effort to do an in-depth review, but I simply had to share the following with you, because it doesn’t make sense unless I describe it within the context of seeing this movie.

-I didn’t like 5-10 people in the packed audience I saw it with. To my right was a group of 6 or so 18-22 year olds who had to verbally describe everything we were seeing during the trailers. Hey douchebags, there isn’t a prize for the person who can identify which movie is being advertised first. This ain’t Family Feud. Second, if you’re gonna scream the title out, scream out the right fucking title. It’s not called Cowboys VS. Aliens, dumbass, it’s Cowboys & Aliens. And thank you so much for pointing out for your stupidass friend which one was “the guy from James Bond” and which one was Harrison Ford. And thank you for pointing out that that’s Hugh Jackman in the Real Steel trailer. DER YA THINK SO!!??!! And no, jackass, it does NOT look “good.”

Also, though this theater is usually pretty good about this stuff, there was a projection issue for the second straight time I’ve been there (when I saw Bridesmaids last weekend, I could swear there was no surround sound the whole time). So, thanks to the theater staff for not noticing the two medium-sized blotches on the screen that were constantly out of focus, something that could only have been caused by a smudge or fingerprint on the glass in front of the projector. Projection issues drive me INSANE, but as the trailers progressed, for some dumb reason I hoped once the movie started they’d go away. They didn’t. Unfortunately, the only thing I hate more than projection issues is getting up and leaving the theater during a movie that I’m seeing for the first time. I was able to sit through all 2:17 of Stranger Tides and tolerate it, but I wanted to murder someone on the way out. Maybe I could’ve killed one or both of those two twats who sat in the row in front of me texting without remorse for the first 20 minutes of the movie. By the way, the sheer arrogance of that in today’s day and age is beyond my comprehension. I think we’re getting to the point now where almost everyone understands that you shouldn’t be texting during a movie. I rarely see it happen anymore, and we’re the better for it. That just makes it all the worse when someone does do it. Fuckin twats (I should use the c-word, but I’ll refrain). If it’s so goddamn important and the movie isn’t worthy of your attention, GO THE FUCK INTO THE LOBBY AND TEXT WHAT’S LEFT OF YOUR TINY FUCKING BRAINS OUT! And when you’re done, before you come back into the theater, go into the restroom and FUCK YOURSELF!!!

I’m also appalled that I was apparently the only one in the audience who noticed the focus problems, or cared enough to even consider telling someone.

Before we go, there were a couple of other recent thingamajigs that grabbed my attention. And I need to react to the end of The Event.

-Sony and Marvel just released the first poster and new text logo for 2012’s Spidey reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man. I like the font from the other movies better, but this’ll do just fine. I’m liking what I’ve heard about what they’re doing with this new incarnation of Spider-Man. They’ve scaled it down a bit (which is easy when your last movie cost $275 million BEFORE marketing costs were factored in), and from the set photos and descriptions, it sounds like they’re trying to do a lot more of the action this time around without relying on CGI the way Sam Raimi‘s films often did. They’re even doing some of the webslinging stuff for real, which will be really cool to see. I’m not passionate about it, but among all the comic book stories we’ve seen brought to the big screen in the past decade or so, Peter Parker is definitely one of the best characters of the bunch.

But wait! There’s more!

Oh, NOW it’s gonna be rated R? Like it should have been in the first fucking place? And what’s in that extra 18 minutes? More absurd, meaningless, illogical, inconsequential bloodless video game action? Did the writing get any better? No thanks, Zack Snyder.


RAAR! Standard serious-face cast photo.

-More frustration on the TV front. The Event finally wrapped up its first season, and was of course promptly cancelled by NBC after a MASSIVE cliffhanger ending. FUCK. YOU. VERY MUCH. This is now two alien invasion series I’ve followed in one year that have ended with a cliffhanger and been cancelled, the first being ABC’s V. ABC’s V? Giggity. Anyway, The Event was better than V in almost every regard, mostly because it was structured like a season of 24 (one of that show’s longtime writers and producers, Evan Katz, was a big creative force on The Event). What they failed to realize was that one of the best things about 24 was that you knew the main plot of each season would be resolved in the 24th episode. There were characters and through lines that carried over to subsequent seasons, but we knew where we stood after each season. I believe that should have been the case here as well, but as it drew closer to its end, I began to realize there was no way they’d wrap up this increasingly large mythology in one season. And now I’m fucked. Again. This time, there was some encouraging news, as I’ve read that the series may be picked up by a cable network for a second season. I guess NBC would rather create the 258th incarnation of Law & Order instead.

Worse yet, despite there being several big “events” during the course of the season, we’re led to believe in the final episode that the actual capital-E Event is yet to come. In case I’ve lost you, this means The Event was cancelled before we find out what the fucking Event actually is. See why I’m so frustrated? There was nothing great about the show per se, but it was definitely solid all around. A solid B+. It was shot beautifully, the effects were very good by TV standards, and the writing was decent (even if most of the ideas for twists and turns were ripped straight from things we’d seen a dozen times on 24), but it was the cast that really did it for me. I absolutely loved Blair Underwood in particular as President Martinez. It’s time for this guy to get some bigger roles and fast. The show featured a couple of my favorite character actors in prominent roles in Bill Smitrovich (playing Vice President Jarvis) and the always great Zeljko Ivanek as Blake Sterling, the DNI (that’s Director of National Intelligence, noob). I also liked Laura Innes as the alien leader Sofia, even if she was basically a Xerox of almost every 24 villain we’ve seen. Also solid was Ian Anthony Dale as Agent Lee, the superhot Taylor Cole as Vicky Roberts, Lisa Vidal as the First Lady. I was most surprised by Jason Ritter, who was much better than I expected him to be as the series’ protagonist, Sean Walker.

The show featured a lot of the things that made 24 suspenseful, with a lot of X-Files sensibilities mixed in, to make it a cool, genre-bending sci-fi action drama. I would very much like to see it continue, if for no other reason than the fans of the show deserve some fucking closure. I thought this was just gonna be a one-season show originally, but that tells you what I know.

I liked this show a lot, but I don’t know if I can recommend it to people who didn’t give it a chance, because until we find out what its fate is going to end up being, you’re going to wind up disappointed and wanting more at the end. I don’t want anyone else to experience what I did when I watched that finale on Monday. Sigh, at least I know Game of Thrones has already been picked up for a second season and Entourage is definitely entering its final season. Thank you, HBO, for having your shit together.

I leave you with this…

I’m wondering, why do women hate socks and shoes? I’m being serious. I know this is stupid, but when I notice trends (fashion trends especially), I can’t help but openly muse about them. My theory: as soon as winter is over, and for as long as they can tolerate the open air, females prefer exposing their feet whenever they leave the house. Women of all sizes, colors and ages. Ladies, I want to know why you despise socks and shoes so much. By my unscientific measurements, I’d say between the months of April and October, 8 in 10 women (that’s 80% for you math noobs) wear some form of flip flops or sandals when out in public. It seems to me the only time women wear anything else during moderate-to-warm weather is when they’re going to work, going to the gym, or going out at night, but even then, most women wear open-toed shoes or other, fancier forms of flip flops and sandals. Just from random daily observation, I’d say the rate of men who follow the same pattern is probably half that. Guys seem to prefer socks and sneakers, even in warm weather. This has to be a psychological thing. Can SOMEONE, male or female (preferably female), explain this to me? Check this out in your own travels. Women hate socks. I’m telling you. And again, I realize it’s stupid, but one doesn’t control the things that preoccupy the mind.

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The Worst Sports Losses of My Life (And More!)

I write this because sadly, I believe the reign of consistent, multiple, championship-caliber Boston sports teams is coming to an end. From 2000-2010, we were lucky enough to see our teams win 6 championships in 3 different sports, reach the finals of 2 more and have at least 3 of the 4 major sports teams in playoff contention almost every year. I don’t have the research in front of me, but I’d be willing to bet that’s the best decade-long run any city in America has ever enjoyed. In short, we’ve been kind of a big deal. Though there were several missed opportunities along the way, Boston sports fans like me have had little to complain about in the big picture, and need to thank the sports gods that we were alive and young when all of this unfolded. I certainly don’t expect anything like it to happen again in whatever time I have left on this earth. I for one haven’t taken this for granted for a moment. We all know the highlights; the Patriots won Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX, the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 & 2007, and the Celtics won the NBA title (over the Lakers!) in 2008, but this post is about the terrible lows we also had to endure. Because I just can’t get over the fact that this decade could have been (and I’d argue should have been) even better.

These are the worst losses that I personally have experienced, that I was able to watch live. This is not meant to be a definitive list of the worst losses in Boston sports history, although I think at least 3 of these would make that list as well. I didn’t become a big pro sports fan until the late 90’s, so I can’t recount the glory days of Red Sox failure, nor can I recall the joys of the 80’s Celtics.

I’m going to rank these from least epically painful to most epically painful. Anybody who hates Boston sports will be able to take great pleasure in recalling these games, but I think as our teams begin to look to the future, it’s cathartic to reflect on the worst of times as well as the best of times. Let’s face it, prior to 2001 and 2004, we were the preeminent experts in sports misery.

First, a little history about my ‘career’ as a sports fan, because everything on my list happened in the last 10 years, which may seem odd to anyone who’s been a sports fan their whole life. I grew up mostly in a single-parent home with my mom, my brother and sister. I always loved playing sports and being athletic, but other than the one organized sport I played (soccer, for almost 10 years), I didn’t understand or care about college or pro sports. I was never taught early on that I should be a fan of Boston teams, and it never occurred to me since I rarely went to any games. Even though I was a kid during some of the most important moments in the history of the Red Sox and the Celtics, I was largely unaware of any of those events because it wasn’t a big deal in my house. If my dad had been around and taught me about pro sports in my formative years, I wonder how different things would be now. Then again, as best as I can tell, my dad wasn’t then or now a huge sports fan, so it may not have been very different at all.

I sometimes wonder what would have become of me if I grew up a jock instead of a geek. I tend to think my personality would’ve gotten in the way of being a jock regardless, but given what I think of most jocks now, I’m just fine with not having gone that route. Though it’s funny now, because I do remember specific moments in high school where that door was open to me. The only thing I’m really curious about is how it would have altered my lifestyle, my career plans, etc. Hell, I might be normal, and be married with kids by now. Yeah, maybe not. Anyone who’s known me long enough knows ‘normal’ isn’t in my DNA. In the end, it was Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg who had the biggest influence on me as a kid, not Larry Bird, Roger Clemens (thank god!) or Jim Rice.

I didn’t really become a fan of professional sports until I was 14 or 15, and even then, the first team I was a fan of was not a Boston team. It was the Orlando Magic. The first pro sport I got into was the NBA, and as I began watching and learning about pro basketball, Shaquille O’Neal quickly became my favorite player. Naturally, that meant I was rooting for the Magic whenever they were on TV. Then, the Magic got Penny Hardaway in one of the most significant draft day trades ever, and that dynamic, entertaining as hell one-two punch was all I cared about for a few years. I didn’t get into the NFL until 2000 (I was just never interested in football as a kid), and oddly enough, I hated baseball until I watched one of the games listed below.

With that said, let’s get into it:

#4 – Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees, ALCS Game 7 (October 16, 2003) – Also known as “the game that made me a Red Sox fan.” Like I said, prior to this, I’d always ignorantly hated baseball. I would throw out all the clichéd reasons people that hate baseball still do now – it was boring, nothing ever happened, it was too long, etc. etc. At the same time, I always knew about the Red Sox’s tormented history, 1918, and all that. I was also keenly aware that Red Sox-Yankees was one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports. I hadn’t been following the Sox in 2003, but as they made this memorable playoff run, I became interested in what would happen to them. Was this the year? I thought that would be cool, but I still didn’t really care a whole lot. Actually, I remember to this day being in line outside waiting to get into Avalon Boston (may she rest in peace) on Lansdowne Street behind Fenway on Saturday, October 4 when Trot Nixon hit an 11th inning walk-off homerun in Game 3 of the ALDS against the A’s. I was standing there in line talking to my buddies when Fenway suddenly exploded into joy. It was quite an experience fucking awesome just being in the vicinity. As happy fans filed out of the park, I went about my business into the club to drink and dance to some electronic music, like I’d done so many nights before. I’d wager to say the night was even better because of the mood in the city that night. I’m willing to bet that brief moment primed me for what was to come.

As the Red Sox advanced to the ALCS, I still wasn’t motivated enough to watch, but I did keep track of the results. On the night of Game 7, I didn’t have anything else going on, so, with a chance for the Sox to advance to the World Series, I decided I’d give it a go and watch what transpired at Yankee Stadium. I didn’t know shit about the intricacies of baseball, but a Game 7 is a Game 7. We all know what happened during the game. We all remember Grady Little “allowing” Pedro Martinez to pitch into the 8th, and just how swell that turned out. It was during the game, watching Yankees fans, that I began to understand why this rivalry was such a big deal, and I slowly felt myself getting into it, and more importantly, I began hating those arrogant fucks in New York. Their presumptuousness irritated me. They expected to win and advance to the World Series, and you could read that through the TV. It seemed offensive to them that they even had to go through with the ALCS. To me, it seemed like Yankees fans expected once the regular season ended, their team should just be given the AL’s spot in the World Series. It pissed me off.

When Tim Wakefield threw that sad knuckleball to Aaron Boone, who then took it upon himself to instantly end the Red Sox season and send the Yankees to the World Series once again, something ignited inside me, like a phoenix. I realized I had just experienced one of those classic miserable Red Sox moments live. I instantly got it. The only way I can describe it is to say that there’d been a diehard Red Sox fan lying dormant inside me my whole life, and that one homerun, and seeing the Yankees celebrate, and seeing the Red Sox players’ shocked dismay in the dugout all mixed together, released that fan, woke it from its 23-year coma. I’ve been following baseball, and despising the Yankees, ever since.

Going into 2004, I certainly had no expectation the Sox would end the curse. In fact, I quite relished the opportunity to live through more of that Sox misery, except this time I’d get to experience it with friends instead of alone in my bedroom. I assumed, like everyone else, that it would be a long time to come before the Sox won the World Series, and like I’d heard so many Sox fans say before, I just hoped it would happen once during my lifetime. Would I have become a Red Sox fan if I hadn’t watched this particular game live? I suspect so, only it would have happened one year later instead. But I’m glad I became a fan after the worst of times than after the best of times in ’04. I’m glad I got to experience that pain once before the incomparable joy of October, 2004. Still, at the time, it was extremely painful. At the time, the only satisfaction I was able to get was seeing those same Yankees lose to Josh Beckett and the Marlins.

I still can’t watch Boone on ESPN’s baseball coverage today without thinking at least once…Aaron Fuck’n Boone.

I’m sorry, guys:

#3 – New England Patriots vs. New York Jets, AFC Divisional Round (January 16, 2011) – This one is still fresh in most of our minds, and it hurts because of what an incredible season the Pats had just finished going into this game. A 14-2 regular season that had seen some of the most interesting roster moves in the Belichick-Brady era. It was Belichick’s best coaching performance (done without an offensive OR defensive coordinator), and Brady, who would become the first-ever unanimous NFL MVP, had put up the most spectacularly efficient stats of his career (his 36:4 TD:INT ratio (9:1) was by far the best in NFL history). They did it with a young team (featuring a fantastic draft class playing key roles, most notably Devin McCourty, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and the punter with the comic book name, Zoltan Mesko), with breakout players nobody else wanted (BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead) who could only have done what they did on this team. And of course, there was Brady’s epic hair.

In probably the most anticipated game of the season to that point, they’d beaten the hated Jets 45-3 at home on Monday Night Football in what I repeatedly called the single most satisfying football game I’ve ever watched, embarrassing Rex Ryan and shutting up some of their mouthy, douchebag players like Bart Scott, LaDanian Tomlinson and Antonio Cromartie. There was that awesome win in the snow in Chicago, another Monday Night blowout in Miami, a win against the Colts, and a sweep of the NFC North (including a W over Randy Moss and the Vikings that saw Brett Favre carted off the field after being smashed in the jaw). It was an amazing regular season, and the Patriots had set themselves up perfectly for the playoffs, getting the number 1 seed and a bye. This was a likable, ego-free team that Pats fans were immensely proud of, one that deserved win a championship.

Then the Jets came in and fucked up our hopes and dreams. It was a miserable game, one that you never felt good about as it unfolded. Even though it was close throughout, I never felt like the Pats were going to pull it together. They weren’t successful in doing anything they’d done so well the entire season. They couldn’t complete a long pass (because without Moss, they had no legit deep threats), and they could barely complete anything short, which had become their bread and butter. Tom Brady threw his first INT in 8 WEEKS (great timing) on the opening drive. There was the Patrick Chung fake punt. It was just a fucking disaster; a pathetic end to a brilliant season. Having the friggin Jets knock us out of the playoffs AT HOME like this was, how shall I put it lightly…difficult to accept. It was yet another early playoff loss (they’d been obliterated at home by the Ravens just one year earlier), and had every Patriots fan scratching their heads in bewilderment or pulling their hair out in disgust.

The reason this was so painful is because I hate wasted opportunities, and this was about as great an opportunity as we are ever gonna see for another Super Bowl. Again, this was a team that Patriots fans adored. Seeing this group of players go all the way would probably have been even more satisfying than any of the previous 3 Super Bowl wins. They’d beaten almost every team in the playoffs already during the regular season (including the Jets, Bears, Steelers and Packers). I personally was very excited to see this team play in the Super Bowl at Jerry JonesCowboys Stadium football Death Star in Dallas.

The Patriots were better than that fucking Jets team, yet they got outcoached and outplayed when it mattered most. I hate that, and like I said at the time, it made me reevaluate how passionate I should get about sports going forward, because I felt like I’d just wasted 3 months of my life being emotionally invested in this team. If THIS group can’t even win their first playoff game (at home!) – if a near-perfect regular season means NOTHING – why am I getting so excited for these games? If they’d gone 10-6, it wouldn’t have bothered me so much. But they were 14-2, an elite team, and still were barely able to put up a fight. It was goddamn depressing. I didn’t watch SportsCenter or look at ESPN.com (or any other sports site) for a week after this game, and to be honest, I’m still not fully over it. The only consolation Pats fans got was seeing THIS the next week as the Jets lost to the Steelers. Meanwhile, the Patriots have not won a playoff game since they were 18-0 in early 2008. More on THAT a bit later. Yes, it’s coming.


Oddly enough, he’d have made the same face had they won the Super Bowl.


Go literally have sex with your own mother, Bart Scott.

#2 – Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Finals Game 7 (June 17, 2010) – As incredible as watching the Celtics beat the Lakers in the 2008 Finals was, seeing those same Celtics LOSE to the Lakers in the Finals 2 years later was doubly worse. On top of that, anytime you lose a Game 7, it’s that much more difficult to accept. This new incarnation of the Celtics’ “Big Three” understood fell well that the perception is that in order to truly be remembered amongst the Celtics greats, you had to deliver multiple championships. It now appears as though one is all we’ll get from the Pierce-Garnett-Allen tandem. I’m not among those who insist on that standard of excellence, but it sure as hell would’ve been nice, wouldn’t it? And it was certainly possible. If Kevin Garnett hadn’t suffered that season-ending knee injury in February of ’09, we may have been talking about a Celtics three-peat heading into this series last summer. And if Kendrick Perkins hadn’t blown out his knee in Game 6, most of us have no doubt that the Celtics would have again defeated the Lakers to bring home Banner 18. It’s sad that shitty luck with injuries may be what prevented this group of Celtics from winning multiple championships, but I would argue that’s exactly the case. The primary reason the Lakers won this Game 7 is because they butchered us on the boards with their size in Gasol and Bynum, something that would almost certainly have been negated with a healthy Perkins on the court.

The sad fact is even without Perkins, the Celtics should have won this game. Rasheed Wallace finally showed up, playing probably his best game in a Celtic uniform, and the Celtics were up by as many as 13 points in the third quarter (goddammit!!!). However, foul trouble, a lack of scoring and a lack of rebounding became their undoing, and we all had to watch Kobe Bryant dance around the court as time ran out. We had to watch that stupid llama Pau Gasol pumping his fists and screaming like an idiot, and we had to see purple and gold confetti falling from the ceiling as the dejected, exhausted Celtics walked off the court. It just sucked.

In particular, I hated seeing Kobe’s pride in that title, because he knew how it important it was to beat the Celtics in the Finals, especially after being embarrassed just two years earlier losing a closeout game by 39 in Boston. The title also put the Lakers just one behind Boston in all-time championships, 16 to 17. I was dreading the idea of seeing them potentially tie the Celtics this season, but thankfully, the Dallas Mavericks put a quick end to that possibility, and likely ended the Lakers’ chances at a title for the foreseeable future, with Phil Jackson likely retiring, Kobe only getting older, and big roster moves seemingly on the horizon.

The final vomit-inducing moment occurred with the horror of having to see Bill Russell on the podium during the postgame ceremonies, being forced to hand the Finals MVP trophy to Kobe in L.A. (which happened only because that trophy was recently named after Russell), surrounded by the rest of the team, with those a-hole fans having a circle jerk in the stands. This is the very definition of being kicked while you’re down. I’m surprised they didn’t bring Larry Bird out at gunpoint and have him kiss Magic Johnson‘s shoes, and then have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar curb stomp Kevin McHale American History X style on the street outside Staples Center. Was that too much?

If ALL of that wasn’t enough, Ron Artest got a championship ring. And that’s just wrong.


My reaction to this image is simple:

Surely, it doesn’t get worse than a Game 7 Finals loss to the Lakers, does it? Unfortunately, yes it does. Brace yourselves, New England sports fans. You know what’s coming.

#1 – New England Patriots vs. New York Giants, SUPER BOWL XLII (February 3, 2008)


YES!!! Oh, wait…

This wasn’t even close. It’s the worst sports loss of my life, and probably in the lives of everyone in New England who’s ever been a football fan. I hate even writing ‘Super Bowl XLII’. I typically refer to this game as “the events of February 3, 2008”. For my sake, and the sake of every other Boston sports fan reading this, little needs to be said in the way of a setup. We all remember the 2007 season. Spygate. Blowout wins early, nail-biting wins late. 50 touchdowns. 16-0. Just about everyone in the media openly despising our team.

Losing in the Super Bowl is already crushing enough. But this was a chance to go 19-0, to secure the perfect season- something most people rightly thought was impossible in today’s NFL. It was a chance to put the 1972 Dolphins’ record (and Mercury Morris‘ mouth) into obscurity once and for all. That’s something EVERY NFL fan should’ve been rooting for, by the way. It was gonna be one final EFF YOU to all the haters (fans, media people and players on opposing teams) who’d been bitching about the Patriots’ “running up the score” and about Spygate since the beginning of the season.

I don’t need to rehash why the Pats lost this game. We all know why. But here’s why it was especially devastating to me. The fact that I wasn’t living in New England made it a lot worse. At least back home, I’d have people around me who were sympathetic. You guys don’t know how lucky you were to have that support network in place. Here, I’d been arguing with Steelers fans, Cowboys fans, Redskins fans, and Eagles fans all season long, sometimes teasing them because their teams were inferior (the Patriots beat all of those teams that year), other times being openly boastful about how great the Patriots were. I know maybe 3 other Patriots fans down here, and none of them were as serious about this game as I was. I had to work that following Monday, and I seriously wanted to call out. You wanna talk about a walk of shame? That’s me walking into Best Buy on February 4th. And good GOD did I hear about it. All day long for days on end. Pointing, laughing, taunting, sarcasm. I got it all, and I took it as best I could. It was adult bullying. I was the toilet water absorbing everyone’s defecation. In other words, I got shit on. And this lasted probably a week. Had I still been in New England, this would not have been an issue. Were I the religious type, I’d have asked for your prayers.

Add on to this the fact that we lost to a New York team, and above THAT it was a New York team we’d already beaten in the regular season, and the volcano of pain is now fully erupting. Again we also have Bill Belichick and Tom Brady winning Coach of the Year and MVP (as they did in 2010). Unfortunately, it seems when that happens, it’s a bad omen for the Pats’ Super Bowl chances. The simple fact is the Brady-Belichick Patriots should have FIVE Super Bowl wins right now, not 3. Instead, this era is fizzling out with disappointing playoff loss after disappointing playoff loss, and the time we have left with this historic coach-quarterback combo continues to get shorter and shorter as the gap between our last Super Bowl win (now at 6 years) gets longer and longer. Again, opportunities for greatness wasted. It drives me nuts. This one season made the Patriots one of the most hated teams in the NFL, and I don’t necessarily mind that, but if that’s gonna be the case, I’d have been much more comfortable with it with a 19-0 perfect season to hold over the haters’ heads.

And of course, just in case ending the 2007 season on this apocalyptic note wasn’t torture enhanced interrogation technique enough, the Patriots opened 2008 by losing Tom Brady for the entire season to a fucking kneeplosion, thanks to the Chiefs’ Bernard Pollard. Then, despite a breakout season by Brady’s backup Matt Cassel, they became the first 11-5 team to miss the playoffs. Life was grand.

I won’t torture you or myself with video from this atrocity, but…


One of the 18.5 BILLION times Brady was hit as he threw during the game.
Great time for the previously superb Patriots o-line to EPIC FAIL.


Catch the fuckin ball!!!
The game would’ve been OVER!!!
You FUCK!!!


Literally the only significant thing David Tyree ever did on an NFL field.

Conveniently lost in the media’s jizzing over this catch is the horrible officiating that allowed Eli Manning to even throw the pass, as his offensive line held the SHIT out of the Pats’ d-line prior to him getting the pass off. FUCK YOU!


The superstitious fans like to point out that he hadn’t worn a goddamn red hoodie the entire season prior to this game. What the F were you thinking, brah?


Well, at least he dressed well after the game. That’s a relief.


Then there were the oh-so-clever t-shirt designs.

There you have it. The worst of the worst in my 15 or so years of watching sports. I’m hopeful these rankings stand forever, as I hope to never see anything like them again. If sports truly were religion (I know college football fans here in the South would argue it is), there would be two numbers representing Heaven and Hell on the spectrum of my Boston Sports Fan lifetime: “18-1” is on one end representing Hell, and “2004” is on the other, representing Heaven. I suspect I’m not alone in that belief system.

I had originally titled this post “The Five Worst Sports Losses of My Life”, but I couldn’t come up with a fifth one that came even close to resonating as powerfully as these four. One of the other options that came to mind was last year’s Bruins collapse against the Flyers (where Philly became one of only 5 teams in the history of American pro sports to come back from an 0-3 hole to win a playoff series), but I’m not a true hockey fan, and though it pissed me off, I was more embarrassed as a Boston sports fan than I was emotionally devastated. Also, if you recall, the New York Yankees swept a 5-game series AT Fenway from August 18-21, 2006 in a horrific turn of events that is sometimes referred to as the Boston Massacre. THAT fuckin sucked, but because it wasn’t in the playoffs (though it pretty much killed the Red Sox’ hopes of making the playoffs that year), that too was more embarrassing than anything else.

Let this serve as a reminder to both haters and supporters of Boston sports; though we had a magical decade of championship glory, for every moment of jubilation and success there were equally powerful moments of heartbreaking failure that few other cities can match.

As promised…here’s MORE!

-I thought my Thor review turned out pretty well last week, but then I read A.O. Scott‘s blistering review in the New York Times. I didn’t hate the movie like he did, but nothing inspires hilarity better than when a well-spoken critic truly despises a big Hollywood movie. This stuff is so much more interesting to read than glowing praise. Here’s a quick sample, “Mr. Branagh has not failed to make an interesting, lively, emotionally satisfying superhero movie, because there is no evidence that he (or the gaggle of credited screenwriters, or Paramount, the sponsoring studio) ever intended to make any such thing.” I implore you check out the whole review [HERE].

-AMUSING: The Chicago-area house that was the setting for much of Home Alone is on sale! For $2.4 million, you can own (and live in!) a piece of movie history. [THR]

-On the trailer reel to Bridesmaids was the newest clip for the second of this year’s casual sex/fuckbuddy comedies, the Justin Timberlake/Mila Kunis flick that’s aptly titled Friends with Benefits. But this isn’t about that trailer or that movie. I’m concerned about Justin Timberlake’s VOICE. If you didn’t know it, would you have guessed that Timberlake turned 30 this January? Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy. I’m a fan of his music (where’s the next album, brah?) and I think he’s improving as an actor. That said, the dude still sounds like he’s 19 or 20. And that’s not even an exaggeration. If you listen to him now, and then listen to him in the NSYNC heyday, there’s maybe a 15% difference, if that. This guy has dated some of the hottest women in Hollywood, but apparently still hasn’t hit puberty. He’s starting to play adults now (he’ll also be seen in Bad Teacher this summer playing a grade school teacher opposite Cameron Diaz), and I’m having a very hard time taking him seriously in those adult roles. Fear not! I have a solution. Where most Hollywood stars get plastic surgery to maintain their looks, I propose Justin Timberlake undergo voice surgery or a voice transplant. Surely, this technology exists, some kind of voice-deepening procedure. They can install a miniature subwoofer in his throat to give him some bass. Right? SOMETHING has to be done. If I’m gonna be forced to watch him play adults in high-profile movies, I, as a paying audience member, insist that the man sound like an adult. And get rid of the curly hair, dude. You look 10 years younger with that shit.

-ABC has just cancelled V. For the most part, the show was average at best, but it was good enough that I DVR’d and watched every episode. I was introduced to some new actors, and was glad to see the underrated Scott Wolf featured prominently (seriously, get this guy some more work!). I also enjoyed V because I prefer good serialized TV to good episodic TV. I had originally thought the show was set up to be just one season, but then it ended on a cliffhanger, and of course that final episode was the first truly great episode of the series thus far (it had solid acting, solid action, unexpected character deaths and solid drama). What a fuckin bummer. Now I feel like I wasted 22 hours, now that I’m not gonna find out what was intended to happen next. Fuck you, ABC. And fuck Dancing with the Stars while you’re at it.

-I’ve been flip-flopping on whether or not to do a reaction post to the news of Osama bin Laden‘s death (and the myriad issues branching out as a result of it), but I found interesting the news that mere days after the raid, Disney applied for a trademark to the term “Seal Team 6.” Huh? DISNEY!? The same studio that openly doesn’t make R-rated movies anymore? The most bland, least creatively brave studio in Hollywood is gonna make a movie about this? I can understand that this story will eventually become a movie (there will likely be several movies made about it), but what does fucking Disney intend to do with it? Make a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced PG-13 action-fantasy about it? Is that gonna be the subtitle of Pirates 5? Pirates of the Caribbean: Seal Team 6? In which Jack Sparrow ventures into Pakistan seeking out terrorists so he can collect the $25 million reward the U.S. government had on bin Laden’s head? And since when can a company trademark the official name of a military special ops unit? This is baffling to me. Regardless, I’m sure it’ll be absolutely thrilling watching Osama bin Laden take a double tap to the head in 3D one day.

Mike Huckabee just announced he will NOT be running for President again in 2012. And the world rejoiced!!! I don’t have anything personal against the guy (other than the fact that it’s unfathomable to imagine a “President Huckabee”), but one can make the argument that it was his run in 2008 that handed John McCain the Republican nomination, and thus Barack Obama the presidency. In the GOP primaries, Huckabee’s nagging presence split the vote between him and Mitt Romney (their best candidate then and probably now) in several key states, so given the choice between Huckabee and McCain, the weak-minded Republicans instead were basically forced to nominate the safe choice in McCain. And look how that turned out. I’m so not ready to start talking about the 2012 election, but this was good news if you’re not a fan of Mr. Obama’s policies. [POLITICO]

-Finally, I wanted to give a quick shoutout to Bill Simmons‘ new column, which focuses on Phil Jackson as his storied coaching career appears to draw to a close. As I’ve said before, I don’t always love Simmons’ stuff (I could do without his constant reality TV show references, and his opinions on movies are painfully ignorant), but he’s passionate about the NBA, and his NBA-centric columns are always great as a result. I learned some stuff about Jackson that I didn’t know, and he even manages to make a good case against the “he only won so many titles because he had Jordan and Kobe” argument. I own Jackson’s fantastic book The Last Season (which I read on my 2-day bus trip across the country from L.A. to Myrtle Beach) and I’ve always found him interesting beyond the fact that he’s a great coach. [ESPN]

Today’s Recommended Listening is some Massive Attack for yo’ ass. This track, “Paradise Circus” can currently be heard on those new Lincoln car commercials that star my boy John Slattery. Love it. 


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