Posted in Sport

A memorable night in Houston for the New England Patriots.

Records tumbled at the NRG Stadium as Tom Brady inspired the Patriots to the most unlikely of victories.

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Image Credit: AFP via. https://publimetro.pe/deportes/noticia-super-bowl-2017-patriots-contra-falcons-titulo-nfl-56075

Atlanta Falcons were 25 points to the good halfway through the third quarter of the 2017 Superbowl.

Never before had they ever won the Vin Lombardi Trophy, with their only previous appearance at the NFL mega-event coming way back in 1994.

Their opponents couldn’t have been more of a polar opposite. The New England Patriots had won the Superbowl four times previously, with this being their record ninth appearance at the spectacle.

Patriots quarterback Brady and head coach Bill Belichick both brought a lot of invaluable experience of this enormous event to the playing field. They had both been involved in each of New England’s Superbowl victories, but this time they looked helpless, as the Falcons overpowered them for almost an hour in Houston.

However, a costly fumble from Atlanta’s Matt Ryan proved to be the catalyst that sparked a quite remarkable comeback. Within a blink of an eye the game had gone from 28-3 to 28-28 (thanks to a 19-0 fourth quarter for New England) and as a result, the Superbowl went into overtime for the first time in its 50-year history.

Brady was now finding his range, and he consistently got the Patriots’ offence deeper into Atlanta territory. It was to be New England’s running back James White who eventually rushed in for the match-winning touchdown – making it 34-28 on the scoreboard. Victory sent the team, coaches and fans into raptures after most had been staring into the barrel of defeat not so long before.

The records had tumbled; no team had ever come back from such a deficit to win the Superbowl before. Brady became the first quarterback to win five Superbowls and the first ever NFL player to be awarded the Superbowl MVP award on four occasions. His passing yards of 416 were the highest ever recorded in the spectacle’s history and Belichick also became the most successful coach at the event, with five victories to his name.

I doubt any of those previous wins had felt sweeter than this one.

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Tom Brady celebrates with the Vin Lombardi Trophy. (Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES/MIKE EHRMANN via. http://time.com/4660642/super-bowl-2017-patriots-beat-falcons-new-england-atlanta/

Brady had missed the first four games of the regular season whilst he served out the Deflategate suspension the NFL had imposed on him for his role in the infamous scandal, so this victory was the fairy-tale ending to a season that started like a nightmare for the 40-year-old.

Above all, victory in Houston further cemented the claim that the New England Patriots have had the best quarterback, the best coach and the best roster out of any of the NFL Franchises since the turn of the century.

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Posted in Tennis

The Swiss and Spanish renaissance: A year to remember for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

They won all four Grand Slam titles between them and will end the year as world number one and two. What a 12 months it has been for the 36-year-old Swiss and 31-year-old Spaniard.

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Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES via. http://www.eurosport.com/tennis/roger-federer-and-rafael-nadal-win-first-doubles-match-together-at-laver-cup_sto6343942/story.shtml

Just when it seemed like two legends of tennis had been chewed up and spat through the exit doors by the impressive, younger stars at the end of 2016, both came rallying back to dominate the 2017 season.

Of course, I’m talking about Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Both subsequently came into this year following injury lay-offs. Federer had been out of action since Wimbledon 2016 with a knee injury, whilst Nadal ended his tour in October of that year after problems with his wrist.

As a result, Nadal was seeded ninth and Federer 17th going into January’s Australian Open.

However, the Swiss beat two of the top 10 seeds in Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori in the early rounds, before defeating Mischa Zverev (Andy Murray’s victor in the fourth round) to become the oldest player to make it to a Grand Slam semi-final since Jimmy Connors in 1991.

Federer battled past fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka in five sets to become the oldest singles male player to make a final since 1974, where he would meet old nemesis Nadal.

The Spaniard himself had beaten Zverev’s impressive younger brother Alexander and Gael Monfis before coming out of his five-hour, semi-final grudge match against Gregor Dimitrov victorious.

This was Nadal’s first Grand Slam final since 2014, whilst Federer had not been in a major final since the 2015 US Open.

The subsequent match at the Rod Lever Arena was almost a reincarnation of that exhilarating Wimbledon final of 2008, but this time it was Federer – who was playing in his 100th match at the Australian Open – who came out on top in five sets.

Federer’s win was his first Gram Slam title for five years, but it was also his first Grand Slam win over his old rival since 2007 and the first that wasn’t at Wimbledon.

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Federer made a winning start in Melbourne. (Image Credit: THOMAS PETER/REUTERS via. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/29/sports/tennis/roger-federer-rafael-nadal-australian-open.html)

That win in Melbourne was a historic one for the illustrious Swiss. He became the first man to win five or more times at THREE of the four Grand Slam events and the second-oldest man behind Ken Rosewell to win a major singles tournament.

Titles at Indian Wells, Miami and Halle swiftly followed, but Federer had his eyes on one prize that was close to his heart and had evaded him for half a decade: Wimbledon.

From round one all the way to the final, the Swiss maestro dominated his opponents, and after defeating Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 in the final, he managed to win his eighth Wimbledon title without dropping a single set.

Federer became the record holder for most Gentlemen’s singles Wimbledon titles, surpassing both Pete Sampras and William Renshaw who had won it seven times.

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No one has won more Gentlemen’s Singles at Wimbledon than Federer. (Image Credit: REUTERS via. http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/tennis/wimbledon-2017-roger-federer-creates-history-with-eighth-wimbledon-title-marin-cilic-final-4753235/)

He won more trophies in Shanghai and in his native Switzerland at Basel to cap off his best season statistically since 2007.

As for Rafael Nadal, defeat at the Australian Open only spurred him on for the rest of the year.

In April he won his first title of the year at Monte-Carlo, before winning both the Madrid and Barcelona Open back-to-back in his native Spain.

Much like Federer, Nadal had an eye on the one prize he had won so many times- the French Open title.

Roland Garros was like a second home to the 31-year old, and once again he was at his very best in Paris.

He comfortably made it to the final where he would face Wawrinka, but even he was powerless to stop Nadal from winning ‘La Decima’ (“the tenth” in Spanish) and become the first tennis player to ever win 10 titles at the same Grand Slam.

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La Decima. (Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES via. http://www.sportingnews.com/other-sports/news/french-open-2017-rafael-nadal-win-stan-wawrinka-grand-slam-roland-garros/12uzn2xx4stqb14pqjtttcrqu0)

Nadal dropped no sets and only 35 games at Roland Garros this year, the second-lowest return in Grand Slam history.

The final Grand Slam of the year – The US Open – was again dominated by the old guards. After overcoming a difficult test in Juan Martin Del Potro in the semi-finals, Nadal comfortably beat Kevin Anderson in straight sets for his 16th career Grand Slam title.

His final victory of the year came at the Chinese Open in Beijing in October.

In December, the ATP Rankings saw Nadal and Federer ranked as world number one and two respectively, sending a message to the ATP Tour that despite their age they are both far from finished. At 31, Nadal is the oldest man to ever end the year top of the tree.

Despite his and Federer’s successes, 2017 wasn’t so rosy for Novak Djockovic and Sir Andy Murray.  These were two of the leading members of this new, younger, ambitious group trying to push Federer and Nadal out, but now it looks like they will all need to go back to the drawing board.

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Not such a good year for these two. (Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES via. http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/novak-djokovic-elbow-injury-boosts-andy-murray-pursuit-world-number-one-spot-1583836)

Djokovic and Murray have both had injury problems this year, with the former splitting with coach Marian Vajda in April.

Beforehand the Serbian had lost to a player outside the top 100 for the first time at a Grand Slam in his career in Australia.

He appointed Andre Agassi as his new coach in the summer but an elbow injury at Wimbledon saw him retire during his quarter-final match with Berdych and ultimately ruled out for the rest of the season.

Murray went into 2017 as world number one following his best season to date the year before. However, an early exit at the Australian Open was just the first of many shock defeats that the Scot endured during the season.

He lost in the first round at Queen’s Club before also exiting Wimbledon at the quarter-final stage.

A hip injury saw him miss the remainder of the season and drop as low as world number 16 in November, his lowest ranking since 2008. He also split with Ivan Lendl for a second time in the autumn, as he now prepares for the new season which starts next month.

All of these developments set up an exciting 2018 for Men’s tennis. With Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka all set to return from injury and both Nadal and Federer in their best form for years, we could see fireworks in the months ahead.

One could even argue that there has never been a greater anticipation for an upcoming ATP Tour since it was established back in 1990.

Posted in Film

Forget the recent Star Wars movies, Blade Runner 2049 should be the model for all future Sci-Fi blockbusters.

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Image Credit: SONY/EMPIRE via. https://www.empireonline.com/movies/blade-runner-2049/new-blade-runner-2049-poster-online/

Ask anyone to name things they associate with Sci-Fi and I bet the most popular answers would be along the lines of aliens, planets and spaceships.

It’s a genre that is very hit or miss. Star Wars is undoubtedly the king of Sci-Fi cinema, closely followed by Star Trek. But perhaps that could be about to change.

Submerged by praise from critics far and wide, Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 may have beamed both the film series and the genre back into the limelight.

Villeneuve is slowly becoming more of a household name in modern cinema. Past works Sicario and Arrival were both warmly met with positive reviews from critics and moviegoers, but his latest phenomenon may have topped the lot.

Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner is a classic in the Sci-Fi category, and when it was revealed that this much awaited sequel was finally happening some 35 years after its predecessor, people feared it would ruin what many loved about the original.

Yet Villeneuve has taken Scott’s film to the next level, blasting the genre into a new sense of direction as a result. Anyone planning to make a Sci-Fi movie in the future should use Blade Runner 2049 as a model.

Yes it’s true; the movie didn’t perform at the box office. It only managed to take in $240 million worldwide. And yes, the Star Wars franchise continues to thrive and earn billions with each movie Disney produce. But aren’t those films just the same old thing? A young Man/Woman discovers they can use the force to stop an evil presence from destroying the entire galaxy?

Look, I’m not trying to attack Star Wars before anyone jumps to conclusions. The series (if you forget Episodes I, II and III) is fantastic and it’s great that people still get excited about lightsabers, storm troopers and space battles some 40 years after the original hit cinemas far and wide.

Blade Runner 2049 is very different to Star Wars however. It is like a painting hand-drawn by an artist on the top of his game. The length of the movie allows us to drift into this futuristic, almost apocalyptic world without the explosions that come with the most Sci-Fi films. It’s not set on different planets across the galaxy. It is all based in America, although you would be forgiven for mistakenly thinking California was Jupiter and Vegas was Mars. That’s all thanks to Roger A. Deakins for his amazing cinematography.

There is no dark or light either. Instead the characters have questions they want answered as the movie goes on. These are serious questions we ask ourselves today. Why do we exist? Why is the world the way it is? What does it truly mean to be human? What is real and what is programmed into us? It is a movie that aims to make you wonder about humanity and test your morality.

You don’t need aliens, spaceships, mega fights or a big baddie to make a good Sci-Fi movie anymore. Sci-Fi for some is too unrealistic, but Blade Runner 2049 to an extent brings us back down to earth. The whole idea of ‘Replicants’ isn’t too far from what scientists are actually trying to create in laboratories across the world.

This is by no means a film designed for children. It is a complex movie. It’s one that will get you thinking throughout. That isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and if you want something you can just sit down and watch without a care in the world, then Star Wars or Star Trek will duly oblige.

Then again Blade Runner 2049 is as simple as it is complex. At the end of the day the plot is a cop searching for a missing child, which is pretty much the storyline for most TV drama these days.

It just goes to show that Sci-Fi, like most things, comes in all different shapes and sizes. We may never get another Blade Runner film in the future, but lets hope that another film takes its place and isn’t set in a galaxy far far away.

Posted in Rugby

Semesa Rokoduguni and Denny Solomona will have no better opportunity to prove themselves in an England shirt.

Head coach Eddie Jones faces a potential selection headache ahead of England’s first autumn Test against Argentina on November 11th.

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Semesa Rokoduguni. (Image Credit PA/EXPRESS via. http://www.express.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/735533/England-Semesa-Rokoduguni-dropped-Argentina-Jonny-May-starts

The Red Rose have usually got a plethora of talent in the wing position at their disposal, but that has been hijacked by injuries with Jack Nowell, Eliot Daly and Jonny May all ruled out for the Pumas clash.

Marland Yarde – who controversially joined Sale from Premiership rivals Harlequins earlier in the week – has been left out of the squad altogether until his situation has been fully resolved.

All of this means Bath’s Semesa Rokoduguni has been rewarded with the recall he’s most certainly deserved, after making a superb start to the season at the Rec.

The Fiji-born winger has scored seven tries in seven Premiership games this season, which is the same amount as rival May. It isn’t just his attacking nature that has got critics talking either. His defensive work has improved considerably. He is now making tackles he once wasn’t, and isn’t dropping as many high balls.

This is something that Jones has taken a liking too, and now he could give Rokoduguni another bite at the cherry after making his debut against New Zealand two years ago.

But no one can rule out Sale’s Denny Solomana either.

The 23-year old has scored six tries in seven matches for his club and he will want to desperately make amends after getting sent home from England’s summer training camp back in August for a drinking incident.

Solomana, who switched from rugby league to rugby union last year, scored the winning try in that unforgettable match against Argentina in June, and won many admirers for his performances in South America.

For both of them, there is no better opportunity to fully prove themselves to Jones, their teammates and England fans that they deserve to wear the Red Rose jersey.

The stage is set: Twickenham stadium with 80,000 fans singing and chanting Jerusalem. There is no better place in world rugby for an England player to prove their worth, especially with a World Cup less than two years away.

With making the squad for Japan 2019 the long-term target for most of these players, the likes of Rokoduguni and Solomana have a much more immediate task to complete. They will both be as determined as ever to cement a place in the England team going into 2018.

Posted in Football

Real Madrid look ordinary and have no plan B.

Real Madrid’s 3-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur last night capped off a miserable week for the Spanish giants.

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A frustrated Cristiano Ronaldo during Real Madrid’s 3-1 defeat to Tottenham at Wembley last night. (Image Credit: EDDIE KEOGH/REUTERS via. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-02/cristiano-ronaldo-looks-upset-in-real-madrids-loss-to-tottenham/9110742

Fans and pundits alike were expecting a response from Zinedine Zidane’s side following Sunday’s embarrassing 2-1 loss to Girona.

Instead everyone got the opposite, as a Delle Ali brace and Christian Eriksen strike condemned the reigning European champions to their heaviest defeat in the Champions League since their 4-1 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in 2013.

This is only the second time during the Zidane era that Los Blancos have lost two matches in a row, yet it’s already looking a sorry sight for them. They currently sit third in La Liga, eight points behind leaders Barcelona.

Defeat at Wembley was the club’s first in a Champions League group stage match since October 2012, and although they only need one more point to guarantee themselves a place in the last 16, many would have expected them to win this group (which is also contested by Dortmund and Apoel Nicosia).

So what exactly has gone wrong for Real Madrid this season? Injuries have played a part with Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane and Gareth Bale among those sidelined. But there are other superstars currently on the pitch that just aren’t playing to the high standard we have come accustom too.

The often-influential Cristiano Ronaldo has this season looked a shadow of the player that has been competing with Lionel Messi for the Ballon d’Or in recent times. Sergio Ramos and Marcelo have not been as colossal at the back as one comes to expect, whilst Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have failed to unlock defences or stretch the play with their usually exceptional passing.

Because of this, Real Madrid have looked ordinary so far this campaign and have no Plan B to fall back on.

Zidane relies on his best players to perform week in, week out because there is no squad depth. Looking at their bench last night, you’d be forgiven asking who exactly some of those players were. Many of Real’s substitutes often play in the youth side, and aren’t yet ready to challenge for a first team place.

For that reason, players like Karim Benzema haven’t got to look over their shoulder or worry about being dropped, as there is no one waiting in the wings to take their place.

The sale of Alvaro Morata to Chelsea and letting James Rodriguez go to Bayern Munich on loan have both looked more and more costly. Had they remained at Madrid, they would have at least provided competition for places and perhaps got better performances out of others.

As a consequence, Zidane now faces the toughest period of his tenure to date. His rotation policy that worked so well last season has backfired on him this campaign. He now needs to work out how he can get his players back on top form, scoring goals and beating every team that comes in their way.

Real Madrid return to La Liga action on Sunday evening when they host Las Palmas, where anything less than a win could spiral the current situation at the Bernabeu from disastrous to catastrophic.

Posted in BHAFC

BHAFC: What will new signing Izzy Brown bring to Brighton’s attacking threat?

The 20-year old joins on a season-long loan from Chelsea. 

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Izzy Brown pictured with an Albion shirt. (Image Credit: brightonandhovealbion.com)

Brighton and Hove Albion completed the signing of young Chelsea forward Izzy Brown on a season-long loan this afternoon.

The 20-year old impressed whilst on loan at both Rotherham United and Huddersfield Town last season.

Brown has no doubt proved his worth in the Championship, and now has the chance to shine in the Premier League with the Seagulls.

But what exactly does the youngster bring to Chris Hughton’s team?

Technically, Brown is very good with the ball at his feet. He enjoys to dribble past players and can be very difficult to stop once he is in full flow.

He’s the dynamic player some Brighton fans have been crying out for. He always wants to go forward with the ball- similarly to Anthony Knockaert.

The two of them could form a formidable partnership once the Frenchman recovers from the ankle injury he sustained in the win over Fortuna Düsseldorf earlier this month.

As well as his dribbling ability, Brown also has a habit of scoring big goals. His five for Huddersfield last season proved crucial as they won promotion to the top flight. Hopefully he will get a few more this campaign, as Brighton look to avoid relegation in their first season back in England’s top division since 1983.

With an ever-ageing squad, Brown brings some young, youthful energy which the front line so desperately needs.

With Sam Baldock out injured, Tomer Hemed (30) and Glenn Murray (33) are the only fit out-and-out strikers currently at the Amex. Both are quite similar players- they are physical and very good in the air.

Brown will bring some much needed pace and technical ability that will bring a different attacking threat. Defenders will not have such an easy time with the England Under-21 international on the pitch.

The 20-year old is set to feature in the Seagulls’ third pre-season match of the summer against Southend United tonight.

Brown joins Pascal groß, Mat Ryan and Markus Suttner through the Amex doors this summer, but there could still be more business to be done before the window slams shut.

 

Posted in Film

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) Review.

The third entry in the rebooted Apes series is a phenomenal showcase of CGI and dark story-telling.  

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Andy Serkis reprises his role as Caesar. (Image Credit: IMDB via. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3450958/mediaviewer/rm3971885568)

*****

The rebooted Apes prequel series has been without doubt one of the most surprising successes of modern cinema.

2011’s Rise of and 2014’s Dawn of  were both met with critical acclaim, as both films raked in over £1 billion at the box office.

Now we have War for the Planet of the Apes, the darkest and bleakest of the three movies, but arguably the best.

The film picks up where the last ends. The army that was said to be coming at the end of Dawn is now here, and the opening scene is all-out warfare between the humans and the apes.

Caesar (another champion performance from Andy Serkis) is once again the ape at the helm of the colony, but when he suffers a horrendous loss at the hands of the Colonel (an excellent Woody Harrelson), he sets off on a revenge path with a thirst for blood.

This movie, directed once again by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield), is a fantastic blend of western and Vietnamese war-epic. But unlike the title may suggest, this isn’t just an action movie.

Many themes are thrown into the mix. Morality and slavery are two of the biggest factors that are examined in great depth. Michael Giacchino’s score perfectly builds the tension levels during the action scenes, but also makes the mood delightful sombre in heart-warming ones.

Once again, the CGI is mesmerising, but beautifully you forget to notice it after the opening 15 minutes. Serkis – the king of motion capture – stands out for his performance as the notorious leader of the apes.

15 years on from his debut as Gollum in Lord of the Rings, the 53-year old has become a legend of this breath-taking method of film-making. The emotion he captures and portrays is exhilarating, and this is a major reason in why audiences have grown a bond with Caesar throughout these movies.

Some characters return such as Maurice the orangutan, but we are also introduced to new apes, including Bad Ape. Together they go on a journey that tests every emotion they have, and it is scintillating stuff.

The biggest reason for the success of these movies is the decision to make them ape-centric. The original Planet of the Apes (1968) was looked at from a human perspective, whereas this trilogy casts the humans as the enemies. It’s clever, as it makes you wonder whether anyone is exactly in the wrong when you consider what it is both sides are fighting for.

A masterpiece.

12A, 140 mins 

 

 

 

Posted in Golf

Open champion Jordan Spieth’s mental strength is the most powerful weapon in his arsenal.

The 146th Open was one that saw records tumble left, right and centre. 

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Jordan Spieth has won his third Major at just 23 years of age. (Image Credit: ANDY BUCHANAN/ GOLFWORLD via. http://www.golfdigest.com/story/british-open-2017-is-jordan-spieth-a-lock-to-win-not-so-fast-say-computers).

Great sporting champions have many traits.

They have the raw skill and talent but also that burning desire to win. They are resilient and never give up, even if they are staring defeat in the face.

Jordan Spieth is no different.

The 23-year old from Texas won The Open on Sunday after beating Matt Kuchar by three shots in an enthralling final day at Royal Birkdale.

Spieth has shown throughout the week the many different weapons he possesses in his arsenal, but none are more powerful than his mental strength.

There is no doubt that the collapse he suffered at the 2016 Masters would have played on his mind ahead of his final round and one would have hoped that those wounds would not reopen this time around.

Unfortunately, the American could not have made a more nervous start. Three bogeys inside his first four holes set in motion the straight shootout for the Claret Jug between himself and Kuchar.

Spieth did ride out his luck at times on the front nine. On numerous occasions, Kuchar had the opportunity to capatalise on Spieth’s wayward drive shots, but missed crucial putts.

However by the halfway point of the round, Spieth had lost his three shot lead and both players were level on scores.

Then came the 13th hole and something we will never likely see again in a professional tournament.

Spieth’s tee shot went 120 yards wide of the fairway, and after consulting the match officials for no less than 20 minutes, the Texan took a penalty drop and hit a three iron just short of the green.

To the amazement of the Merseyside crowd, commentators, pundits and viewers watching from around the world, the American went on to only score a bogey on a hole that looked to be championship-ending.

He did however surrender the lead to Kuchar, who parred the hole.

Where many would capitulate mentally, Spieth seemed to gain confidence.

The 23-year old went on a mesmerising run, which saw him birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie holes 14-17. The scars from the 2016 Masters were fully healed.

Kuchar tried his best to keep up, but he couldn’t match the skill Spieth was oozing out of his body.

As he made the famous walk up the 18th green, the crowd applauded one of the greatest players in the sport today.

Spieth becomes the second player behind the legendary Jack Nicklaus to win three majors before the age of 24. He is also the youngest Open winner since 22-year-old Seve Ballesteros won the first of his three titles in 1979.

Only the PGA Championship is missing from the Texan’s trophy cabinet, and should he win that in three weeks time, he would complete the grand slam.

The 146th Open saw records tumble, with South African Branden Grace shot an eight-under-par 62 on day three- a major record for the lowest round score ever recorded.

It was also a historic tournament for Chinese golfer Li Haotong. His 63 was a final day highlight, and helped the 21-year old finish third overall. He is without doubt a name for the future.

But the spotlight rightly deserves to shine on Jordan Spieth. He has been the best player over the last four days and is a worthy Open Champion.

But he isn’t just a champion. He is a great one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Film

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) Review.

Even Tom Holland and Michael Keaton can’t save this from being the weakest Marvel movie since Thor: The Dark World. 

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Tom Holland stars at Peter Parker/Spider-Man. (Image Credit: CHUCK ZLOTNICK/IMDB via. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2250912/mediaviewer/rm1521101312

**

Spider-Man was a favourite of mine growing up. Everyone I knew wanted to be the famous web-slinger and have the ability to climb walls and shoot webbing out their wrists. Sometimes I think studios realise just how big a hero Spider-Man is to the world.

There is more pressure on making a Spidey film than say an Iron Man or X-Men film. Stan Lee’s teenage hero is the most relatable to many, which is one of the major reasons he is so adored. His alter-ego – Peter Parker – is a kid in high school, showing that you don’t have to be rich, or scientifically tested, or a god from another world in order to be a hero.

Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ (2002) and ‘Spider-Man 2′ (2004), which starred Tobey Maguire as our hero, are without doubt the best superhero movies of their time- before the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008 with Iron Man.

Since then though, no has managed to capture what made the teenage hero so great in the comics on the big screen. Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 was a disaster. Then came ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ (2011) and ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2′ (2014), which starred Andrew Garfield in the title role. These films were full of action, but they failed to really capture Peter Parker.

Marvel managed to strike a deal with Sony to bring Spidey to the MCU; much to the delight of fans. Tom Holland (In the Heart of the Sea) was cast in the role and made his debut appearance in ‘Captain America: Civil War’, which was met with applause and cheers.

Now we have ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming‘, the first of a planned trilogy starring Holland.

The concept of this movie is to see Peter Parker struggle at balancing his heroic antics with everyday school-life. Unfortunately, the heroic action doesn’t look authentic and the school-life scenes are like watching paint dry.

Holland puts in an accomplished performance, as does Micheal Keaton (Birdman) as Adrian Toomes aka. The Vulture. But they can’t save this film on their own, and are let down by the supporting cast.

Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and Michelle (former Disney star Zendaya) are hardly used, whilst Ned (Jacob Batalon) becomes increasingly like the friend that follows you around and never leaves you alone. The relationship between Holland and Batalon again seems staged and just wants to be more than it should be. The humour between the two failed to spark any kind of laughs.

On the bright side, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark was used sparingly throughout the film, which worked well. We have had so many collaborative movies recently in the Marvel Universe it’s seemed a lifetime ago since we had a standalone caper.

But there is one big issue that can’t be ignored. Director Jon Watts (Cop Car) has decided to take the movie and aim it at teenagers. It is a high-school movie and unless you are a die-hard Spider-Man fan, there is nothing to appeal to anyone over 25 years of age.

This adaptation is the best for 13 years since Raimi’s delicious sequel, but on the Marvel chain it slides down even below ‘Thor: The Dark World’.

 

Posted in Cricket

England v South Africa: Joe Root will never have an easier Test match as England captain.

England convincingly beat the Proteas by 211 runs thanks largely to the new skipper and Moeen Ali. 

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Joe Root is England’s 80th Test Captain. (Image Credit: AP/FIRST POST via. http://www.firstpost.com/sports/england-vs-south-africa-joe-root-stars-on-opening-day-with-an-unbeaten-184-3786397.html)

Ahead of the 2017 Test series against South Africa, the spotlight was firmly on new England captain Joe Root.

Five months since he was announced as Alastair Cook’s successor, the 26-year old has had plenty of time to prepare for the role and the challenges that come with it. His first opponents South Africa may not be the force they were a few years ago, but their record on these shores speaks volumes.

The Proteas’ last defeat at the ‘Home of Cricket’ came in 1960, and they haven’t lost a Test series in England since 1998.

So when England recorded an comprehensive 211-run victory with a day to spare on Sunday, it looked as if Root had got all of his decisions correct.

But one could easily forget how South Africa helped the new captain find his feet with some clumsy fielding and lacklustre batting.

Dropped catches, lazy bowling and wasteful with the bat, South Africa’s downfall was a painful message to Du Plessis to rescue them. Their second innings total of 119-all out was a sorrow viewing in particular.

But this Test could have gone a lot differently had it not been for Root himself. Had the England captain not taken England’s first innings by the scruff of the neck with that all-important 190, then the hosts may well have ended 100-runs short of a respectable score.

Once he was out on the crease, he was able to relax and play his game. Unlike Alastair Cook during the back-end of his captaincy, Root’s batting didn’t seem to have been affected by the added pressure of leading the team.

However, he had plenty more to think about during his second innings. Declarations and which bowling attack to use when South Africa chase would have been firmly on his mind as he stepped out of the pavilion to bat. He only scored five runs before being bowled by Keshav Maharaj but again as he grows into his new role, he will find it easier to not think too hard about those decisions and focus solely on scoring crucial runs for his country.

On a whole, it was a straightforward introduction to the captaincy for Joe Root, but I doubt he will ever get an easier Test match as England skipper. The conditions didn’t change all week, he never had a major partnership he desperately needed to break up, and all his players contributed either with the bat, the ball or in the field. A Captain’s dream.

South Africa will (hopefully) not be as poor in the field  or with the bat as the series heads to Trent Bridge. Du Plessis returns to the side, and brings with him his experience and leadership that the South Africans missed at Lord’s. He will no doubt come in and fire the tourists up for the second match, and Root should be prepared for a response from the Proteas.