by Kendra James
HBO’s Ballers is one of the most confusing yet simplistic shows to debut this summer. It doesn’t require more than 30 minutes of your attention a week, and if asked what it’s about you need only three words to explain: Entourage with football.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, John David Washington, Dule Hill, Omar Benson Miller, and Rob Corddry, the show was billed as a comedy about the lives of current and retired football players in Miami that would entertain while also highlighting some of the issues the NFL has faced (or tried to quietly sweep under the rug) over the past decade.
In reality, calling it a comedy would be an overstatement. It is better described as a show with an occasional guffaw. The pilot was directed by Peter Berg, who also directed the film and eventual pilot for Friday Night Lights before sticking around to executive produce that show’s entire run. That pedigree, and the fact that Ballers debuted before Berg shared a transphobic meme about Caitlin Jenner, had me inclined to at least give the pilot a chance.
The confusion in watching Ballers comes when you realise that you are still watching Ballers. By the time you’ve reached the finale you’re done trying to explain why you’re watching Ballers: an uneven show being kept afloat by nothing (really, nothing) more than the charm of the cast and the frustration of knowing that underneath the luxury porn and sex jokes there could be something there.
By Andrea Plaid
See, I think writing about this particular crush should be as easy as posting Johnson’s photo like this:
and saying the we love him ’cause of reasons.
By Arturo R. García
Not that remaking a cult classic like The Crow isn’t already a bad idea, but casting Bradley Cooper as the lead? That wouldn’t help, to say the least.
The fan attachment behind the film has endured because of both Brandon Lee’s performance as resurrected rocker Eric Draven and his accidental death during filming, which eerily echoed the demise of his father, martial-arts and film icon Bruce Lee.
And make no mistake: Lee owned this role, and not just because of action sequences that took full advantage of his martial-arts skills. In his final on-camera interview, Lee understood the challenge ahead of him, describing the Draven character as “a role that you have to take risks with. It gives you a wonderful opportunity to take those risks and stretch, because, you tell me how somebody who comes back from the dead is gonna behave.”
Familiarity seems to be behind both Cooper’s rumored casting – he starred in Limitless for Relativity Media, the company behind the upcoming reboot – and the retelling of Draven’s story. The character is the most enduring avatar of The Crow in pop-culture: he was brought back for the short-lived syndicated tv show Stairway To Heaven, where he was played by Mark Dacascos; and in 1999, Draven’s story was revisited by Image Comics.
But it’s important to remember, as Lee did, that Eric Draven is just one person. In both the comic-book world and a series of novels, many others were chosen for their own missions of vengeance. There’s other stories Relativity could have gone to for inspiration, and possibly garnered a new star for its’ stable, rather than relying on Cooper. But the actors chosen below work well either as Draven or some of the other characters featured over the years.