Movie Review: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

War for the Planet of the Apes in the final installment of the new Planet of the Apes trilogy. Caesar and his fellow apes are at war with the humans to ultimately determine which species will survive to rule the planet. While the apes simply want to live in peace among the woods, the humans will not let them be. This is because of the simian virus which is plaguing the human race and reducing them back to their primate form. Because of this, only one species will survive while the other is wiped out, and Caesar is forced into war to defend the apes and save their species.

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Based on the trailers and the name of the movie, I came into a little concerned that there was going to be too much fighting and battle and action all throughout the movie. That seems like the easy way out for action movies these days. However, that was not the case at all in this movie. It very much focused on the internal struggles that one deals with when having to make difficult choices. The first sign of this was Caesar staying behind to fight the soldiers while the rest of the apes traveled toward shelter. Then again we see it with Maurice wanting to bring the little girl along with them because she was alone. Caesar constantly has flashbacks to Koba, who was very much revenge driven in the previous movie. Caesar struggles with these flashbacks because he does not want to be like Koba and kill for revenge, but his own family was also murdered by the human soldiers and hate consumes him.

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This movie did a great job of balancing both the physical and emotional warfare that was happening throughout the film. You could really get the sense that the leaders of both sides did not want to be fighting against the other, but also felt like they had no choice. I also enjoyed that the plot had several twists and turns in addition to a great ending that wasn’t obvious throughout the entire movie. You really weren’t sure what was going to happen until the very end, but yet I think the ending of this trilogy was still very satisfying. I enjoyed this movie very much as well as the trilogy as a whole. Caesar became one of my more favorite movie characters in recent years.

IMDB: 8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 93% critic 86% audience
My Final Rating: 9/10

Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments down below.

-Jeff

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2017 NBA Offseason/Free Agency Update

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There was not a lot of drama in the NBA this season, since the Golden State Warriors disposed of the Cleveland Cavaliers to the win the NBA title and fulfilling exactly what everyone thought was going to happen. However, the offseason has been a different story. With the league scrambling to figure out how to stop the Golden State juggernaut, several interesting trades were made and notable free agents signed. Below is my recap of the top NBA free agency signings.

 

Jimmy Butler traded to Minnesota Timberwolves for Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, and Lauri Markannen

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This is a great trade for a young Timberwolves team that is quickly on the rise. Butler will provide some veteran leadership and contribute on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball while reuniting with coach Tom Thibodeau.

 

Chris Paul traded to Houston Rockets for 7 players, 2018 1st round pick, cash

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This was a monster trade and caught a lot of people off guard. After telling the Clippers he would opt out of his deal and become a free agent, many people still thought he would resign with LA for the supermax. The Rockets were the 3rd best team in the NBA last year and are adding one of the premier point guards in the league. However, questions will come regarding how Harden and Paul, who both need the ball in their hands all the time, will co-exist together on the court. The Clippers are certainly pleased with the deal.

 

Ricky Rubio traded to Utah Jazz for a 2018 first round pick, Jeff Teague signs 3 year deal with Minnesota

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Rubio has been in trade rumors for awhile, so it’s no surprise that he finally got dealt. Being traded to the Jazz indicates that Utah does not expect to resign free agent point guard George Hill, who had a great season last year. Meanwhile, Minnesota quickly filled its point guard hole by signing Jeff Teague to a three year $57 million deal. Expect the Timberwolves to be a competitive force in the West next year.

 

Andre Iguodala resigns with Golden State Warriors for 3 years $48 million

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It’s easy to overlook bench players on the Warriors superteam, but Golden State is way too smart to do that. That is why they made a determined effort to bring the 2015 NBA Finals MVP back to the bay area. Iguodala will rejoin a Warriors bench unit that has also brought back Shaun Livingston and David West.

 

Paul Millsap signs with the Denver Nuggets for 3 years $90 million

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With Millsap claiming that the Hawks never even made him an offer, it is clear that Atlanta has finally pulled the plug and gone into rebuild mode. While Millsap will end the deal at 35 years old, he has still proven that he can be a consistent contributor over the last few years. Pairing him up with Denver’s current star big man Nikola Jokic could make Denver a fun team to watch in upcoming years.

 

Kyle Lowry resigns with the Toronto Raptors for 3 years $100 million

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Despite rumors that Lowry was interested in jumping to the Western Conference, it made the most sense for both sides to keep him in Toronto. One of the best backcourts in the league will be kept in tact, and with resigning of Serge Ibaka the Raptors will be right in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference once again.

 

Blake Griffin resigns with the Los Angeles Clippers for 5 years $173 million

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Despite losing Chris Paul and JJ Redick, the Clippers were clearly not looking to blow up the team just yet. LA went all out to sign Griffin to a max deal, after rumors of the Celtics, Nuggets, Suns, and Thunder were all in play after he opted out of the final year of his current contract. For such an injury prone player, this was a huge risk and a ton of money. However, the 28 year old will be a multiple time All-Star if he can just stay healthy.

 

Stephen Curry resigns with Golden State for 5 years $201 million

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After being the biggest bargain in the NBA (by far) for the last several years, Stephen Curry finally gets what he deserves. He signed the first “supermax” contract and richest deal in NBA history, which will earn him an average of $40 million per year after being paid just $12 million last season. It appears that Kevin Durant, who is also an unrestricted free agent, will resign with the Warriors for less money and enable the superteam to be competitive for at least a few more years.

 

Paul George traded to the Thunder for Domontas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo

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Perhaps the most stunning move of the offseason so far has been the Paul George trade. Cleveland, Boston, and the LA Lakers were all rumored destinations for George before he surprisingly ended up on the Thunder. Rumors surfaced after that the Pacers GM was determined to trade PG13 to the Western Conference even if it wasn’t the best offer. George and Westbrook will be an electric duo in OKC. However, they will have to convince him to stay beyond next season since that is when his current contract expires.

 

Gordon Hayward signs 4 year $128 million deal with the Boston Celtics

Utah Jazz v Dallas Mavericks

After some drama late Tuesday evening, the last big free agent finally made his decision. Gordon Hayward will reunite with his college coach Brad Stevens and team up with Isaiah Thomas on the Boston Celtics. This is a great fit for a Celtics team that needs more scoring from their forwards. However, Boston must make some decisions with their roster in order to clear enough space for Hayward. Amir Johnson is already gone to Philly, and Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart, and Jae Crowder could all be gone before the season starts. In the end, this move does make the Celtics a better team even if they lose a few key pieces, and should at least make things interesting in the Eastern Conference.

 

Let me know your thoughts on free agency in the comments down below.

-Jeff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2017 NBA Draft Recap

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The 2017 NBA Draft has come and gone as the next set of young talent is ready to enter the NBA for the upcoming season. There were some obvious picks, some surprises, some trades, and lots of speculation about what the draft results mean for free agency on July 1st. A NBA record 14 freshmen were selected in the first round, and the Spurs pick of Derrick White was the latest a senior has ever been drafted. Here is my recap of the things I found the most important.

The consensus #1 pick in the draft was made official as the Philadelphia 76ers selected Washington PG Markelle Fultz to join a squad of young studs that Philly has been piling up over the years. Many people think the time has finally arrived for the 76ers to be competitive again, as Fultz will join last year’s #1 pick Ben Simmons, star big man Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, and Robert Covington in what could be an exciting young core if all remain healthy. No one questions Fultz’s athletic talent and abilities on the court, but the one criticism has been that he played for a terrible Washington team that lost 23 games last year. Fultz will have the opportunity to change the loser perception if he can lead Philly back to the promised land.

The second pick in the draft was no surprise either, as the Los Angeles Lakers selected UCLA PG Lonzo Ball. The selection comes just days after the Lakers traded away former lottery pick point guard D’Angelo Russell, indicating that they will put their trust in Ball for the foreseeable future. Lonzo Ball led the nation in assists per game last year, but has drawn criticism for his shooting mechanics. Nevertheless, he should be an exciting player to watch on a young Lakers team next year that has it’s sights on winning again.

After giving away the #1 overall pick to Philadelphia in a controversial trade, the Boston Celtics selected Duke forward Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick. Danny Ainge said after the draft that they would have taken Tatum #1, thus the reasoning for trading the pick. While Tatum is dynamic scorer that can play and defend multiple positions on the court, it remains to be seen if the Celtics will ultimately keep him or package him in a trade for one of the many superstars that Boston is trying to acquire. Not everyone thought Tatum should’ve been the #3 pick either. Many people had Kansas star Josh Jackson, who was taken by Phoenix at #4, as the third best player in the draft. Time will tell whether Tatum or Jackson should have been selected first.

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The biggest trade of the night was Chicago Bulls trading Jimmy Butler and their first round pick to move up to #7 and take Lauri Markannen out of Arizona. Butler will reunite with his former head coach Tom Thibodeau and join a talented young team that includes star big man Karl Anthony-Towns and former #1 pick Andrew Wiggins. This was a great move for Minnesota, and a questionable move for the Bulls who definitely could have gotten more for Jimmy Butler as they look to rebuild their team.

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Despite being known as a dysfunctional franchise, I thought the Sacramento Kings quietly had the best draft last night. After taking De’Aaron Fox at #5, they traded down and picked up both Duke star Harry Giles and North Carolina veteran Justin Jackson. Fox should contribute right away, and if Giles stays healthy and reaches his potential he could be the next Kevin Garnett. The Kings also added sharpshooter Frank Mason III out of Kansas in the second round to wrap up a pretty impressive draft overall.

Let me know your thoughts on this year’s draft in the comments down below.

-Jeff

 

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TV Review: The Leftovers Season 3 (2017)

The third season of The Leftovers wraps up one of the most intriguing, mysterious, and bizarre television shows that has ever been produced. The season begins three years after Season 2 and just a few weeks before the symbolic seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure, in which two percent of the world’s population mysteriously disappeared and were never found. We start off with the same cast of characters back in Jardin, Texas, but end up all the way in Australia by the last episode. Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux), Nora Durst (Carrie Coon), and others experience life-altering events throughout this final season, and producer Damon Lindelof does another masterful job at giving us a window into the minds of these characters. This series has always been about how human being cope with loss, and with the circumstances more extreme than ever this season, Lindelof does not disappoint.

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Season 3 of The Leftovers dives deeper than ever before into the minds of each character and how they are processing the tragedy that occurred almost seven years earlier. One of the things I found most interesting throughout this season was the numerous religious references. With the sudden departure being compared to the rapture by many people in earlier seasons, the theme of religion has already been hinted at throughout the series. However, in Season 3 the characters address it head on and gave the audience the opportunity to understand each character’s fundamental belief system. Matt Jameson (Christopher Eccelston) is convinced that Kevin, who has died and come back more than once, is Jesus and starts writing a book about him (the new version of the Bible). Kevin’s dad is convinced the apocalypse will happen on the seventh anniversary of the departure via flood. Both the number 7 and the flood are references to the Old Testament. When Kevin’s dad tells Kevin he has to die in order to stop the apocalypse, it is reminiscent to God sacrificing his son Jesus for the world.

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As is the case with many great TV shows, the series needs to have a great finale. After the second to last episode in Season 3, the series finale of The Leftovers could have gone in a number of different directions and had very high expectations to live up to. I thought the description for this episode was perfect and very fitting: “Nothing is answered. Everything is answered. Then it ends.” We do in fact get some answers during the final episode. It takes place many years later where Kevin and Nora reunite in Australia. Nora reveals that she was able to travel to this place to see her kids again, but that they were with a different mom and she felt like she didn’t belong there. She mentions we only lost a few of them (the departed), but that they lost all of us. I thought this was fascinating to think about because it makes us think about what really happens in the afterlife. What if instead of Heaven, people just go to another existence and it’s not really that great after all? What if there’s still pain and suffering, and people experience sadness for the ones they left?

leftovers last episode

Overall, I thought this was a phenomenal season and an incredible series. No other TV show that I’ve ever watched dives into so many deep and fascinating ideas, and really makes you think about your fundamental belief systems. This is not a light show to just sit down and binge on a Sunday afternoon, but if you’re looking for something that’s really going to make you think and that can spur great discussion, there’s no better option than The Leftovers.

My Rating: 9.7/10

Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments down below.

-Jeff

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TV Review: Bloodline (2015-2017)

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*NOTE: THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THIS BLOG*

Bloodline is about a close knit family, one of whom is a “black sheep”, named the Rayburns and takes place down in Florida.┬áThere are the parents, Robert and Sally (Sissy Spacek), who own the Rayburn family inn which is a popular vacation spot in the keys of Florida. Then there are the four adult siblings: John (Kyle Chandler), Danny (Ben Mendelsohn), Meg, and Kevin. After a horrific boating accident that killed their sister Sarah when they were all young, Danny is blamed by his father for her death since he was out on the boat. He was beaten by his father to the point where he needed to go to the hospital, but Sally told her other children to lie about what happened and say Danny got hurt in a car accident. Danny was never able to forgive his family for this, and became an outcast over the years, until he returned home years later threatening to reveal the truth about that day.

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I thought this series was very interesting because they do a compelling job of exploring an age old question: How far would you go for family? The Rayburns had no problem covering up the events surrounding their sister’s death and Danny’s beating. However, things start to get more complicated when Danny begins running a drug operation through the inn. The other siblings are forced to cover this up as well so the inn remains out of trouble. The biggest problem, however, occurs at the end of season 1 when John gets in a fight with Danny after he threatens his family and ends up killing him. Once again, the siblings do their best to cover this up, but things slowly fall apart as the lies keep piling on and the family begins to get exposed.

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I think it can be tough to know what we would do if put in the situation of someone like John Rayburn. He is forced to choose between his brother and his family. He does what he thinks is right, but it continues to haunt him for the rest of his life. Even after all of the investigations are over and he comes out cleanly, he continues to have dreams and thoughts about Danny in his head. I think it goes to show that, no matter how much of an outcast and how bad someone might seem, there’s always going to be the family connection. It’s why this series is called Bloodline. Despite their differences and the bad things that every one of them has done, the Rayburns always tried their best to stand up for and support each other, even when crimes were committed and lives were at stake. What would you do if a family member committed a crime that you knew about? It’s a fascinating struggle between the moral and relational parts of our brain, and shows that a strong family bond can be among the most powerful of influences.

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I was a little disappointed with how the series ended because I thought there were still more questions to be answered, but overall I really enjoyed the drama throughout the whole series. I thought every episode was gripping and it is one of the few shows where I did a lot of binge watching to find out what happened next. I would highly recommend watching Bloodline and give it an 8.5/10.

Let me know your thoughts on the show in the comments down below.

-Jeff

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2017 NBA Finals Preview and Prediction

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#2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #1 Golden State Warriors (-240)

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What seemed like a predetermined outcome before the season has finally arrived. The Cavaliers will face the Warriors in the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year, with each team having won one of the previous two championships. There are plenty of story lines to watch for in these Finals. Cleveland will try to defend it’s title while Golden State seeks revenge after blowing a 3-1 lead last year. Kevin Durant is looking for his first championship in his first year with the Warriors, while Steph Curry is looking to avoid another disappointing Finals performance. Lebron is looking to even up his Finals record at 4-4 as he continues to chase the ghost of Jordan. With injuries and suspensions hovering around the last two Finals matchups, the rubber match may finally deliver the clean and hard fought matchup that NBA fans have been waiting for.

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The Cavaliers are heading into the Finals as underdogs, so if they’re going to have a chance, their trio of All Stars will have to step up big time. The Warriors will no doubt give a lot of attention to Lebron while on defense, so Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love will have to consistently hit shots off of the open looks they will get as a result of Lebron double teams. Lebron will have to hit some jump shots as well, since players like Durant, Draymond Green, and Javale McGee will be there to protect the rim and keep Lebron from consistently driving to the hole. The key for the Warriors will be to play aggressive defense but not get into foul trouble early. The Cavs second unit will need to step up as well. Players like Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, and JR Smith can provide a much needed spark off the bench and will have to keep pace with a very good Warriors bench if they want to be competitive for the entire game.

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For the Warriors, the game plan is pretty simple: Get the ball to your best players and let them go to work. With a multitude of options, the Warriors are deadly on the offensive side of the ball. After leading the NBA in points during the regular season, they’ve put up even more in the playoffs and are outscoring teams by an NBA record 16 points per game en route to the first 12-0 start in NBA postseason history. Kevin Durant, one of the elite scorers in the game, has made the Warriors better on defense as well. Sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have the ability to heat up from 3 at any point, and versatile big man Draymond Green can defend all positions on the floor. Then you add in bench players like Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and Javale McGee, and you have a Warriors team that simply looks unstoppable.

PREDICTION: GOLDEN STATE DEFEATS CLEVELAND IN 6 GAMES

FINALS MVP: KEVIN DURANT

Let me know your thoughts and predictions in the comments down below.

Thanks,

Jeff

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Thank you Isaiah Thomas for one of the most Legendary Seasons in Celtics’ History

 

Nobody in the world could have predicted the type of season that Boston Celtics’ point guard Isaiah Thomas had this year…except for Thomas himself. The 60th and final pick of the 2011 NBA draft has been doubted his entire life, and that’s exactly what has made him into an All Star and the best player on the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Even as Thomas was well on his way to a historic season this year, the doubters were always there in full force. Everyone kept saying he reached his ceiling, and that there was no way he would be able to keep up the pace he was playing at. Again and again, IT proved the doubters wrong and it led to one of the most legendary seasons in the history of the storied franchise that is the Boston Celtics.

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Isaiah Thomas averaged 28.9 points per game, 5.9 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and a 26.6 PER during the regular season. However, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Thomas was unbelievably clutch throughout the entire season, average 9.8 points per game in the fourth quarter to lead the Eastern Conference, including a 29 point fourth quarter explosion against Miami in December to break Larry Bird’s franchise record for points in a quarter. Thomas also set a career high in that same game with 52 points, which was the fourth highest total by a Celtic in franchise history. However, Thomas took it to another level in January. He averaged 32.9 PPG, the third highest monthly total in franchise history behind Paul Pierce and Larry Bird, and 6.9 assists en route to being named Easter Conference player of the month. That same months, the Celtics went 10-4 to take over first place in their division and Thomas was named to his second straight All-Star game.

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However, IT4 wasn’t done yet. In February, Thomas broke John Havlicek’s franchise record of 40 straight 20 point games, finishing with 43 consecutive 20 point games before the streak was snapped against Atlanta on February 27th. In March, Thomas became just the third player in Celtics history to hit 200 threes in a season, and the sixth player in franchise history to score 2000 points in a season. The Boston Celtics finished the regular season as the #1 seed in the East for the first time since 2008, largely due to the play of Isaiah Thomas. That wasn’t enough to satisfy IT however. Criticisms of his recent playoff performances and the Celtics not being able to get out of the first round in the last two years provided plenty of motivation.

Despite learning of the tragic news of his sister’s death right before the playoffs, Thomas led the Celtics to a 4-2 series win over the Bulls in the first round. He then attended his sister’s funeral after Game 6 and came back to put up 33 points and 9 assists in Game 1 against the Wizards. He topped that with a mind-blowing 53 points, second highest in Celtics postseason history, in a Game 2 overtime win. The Celtics would go on to win the series in 7 games to reach their first Eastern Conference Finals since 2012. In Game 2, Thomas injured his hip which ended his season, but it will go down as one of the greatest in Celtics history.

From all of Celtics nation, thank you Isaiah Thomas for an incredible and inspirational season of basketball.

-Jeff

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