This article has been submitted by Trevor Smith.
Unless you were living under a rock for the last month, you know that a little film named “Iron Man” was released last weekend. The film’s not-so-subtle launch signaled the official start of the summer movie season, where action heroes and lionhearted champions dominate the screen, serving as shining examples of truth and justice for all of us. Some of them even include Nick Fury cameos as well as Mikey from Swingers (he’s all growns up and he’s all growns up) so that is certainly a plus.
More importantly, last weekend also signaled the opening of the Second Round of the Playoffs ’08 to slightly less fanfare and commotion than Tony Stark’s arrival received. For my money, the demigods that the L has on display right now trump any spectacle Hollywood can parade to the big screen. The NBA has plenty of their own $100 million men (including Rashard Lewis, somehow) that compete for your attention and adoration with brilliant, dramatic performances on a nightly basis. Sports are truly the greatest form of reality television: the drama is real, the spectacle is immense, and the passion is bona fide. The thrill-ride that is the NBA Playoffs gives fans genuine basketball excitement, so it is no surprise that it parallels the Summer Movie season impeccably. That in mind, let us consider which blockbuster films correlate to this season’s roundball contenders. Get your popcorn ready, put your Blackberry on vibrate, and behold movie magic.
Indiana Jones as played by Tim Duncan: Harrison Ford dons the Indy cap and whip one last time, as an aging and grizzled adventurer that has been thrust back into his old lifestyle of high-voltage action. This spring Duncan and his Spurs have shown a renewed vitality and liveliness not seen at any point this season. San Antonio may be a bit long in the tooth, but just like Indy they have enough gas in their proverbial tank to steal the season’s biggest purse. Up and comers may want to start shoveling dirt on both franchises graves, but they do so at their own peril. Duncan simply wills his team to victory, no matter what it takes.
Prince Caspian as played by LeBron James: The second installment of the Narnia franchise is much darker and grittier in its tone, much akin to the season suffered through by Cavs fans. In C.S. Lewis classic book, the young prince Caspian is destined as the rightful savior and ruler of all of Narnia. In his struggle for the throne against his corrupt uncle King Miraz, Caspian is aided by the Pevensie children from the previous film. These children have returned to the fantasy realm one year later and stronger. If this doesn’t describe the plight of King James and his band of merry idiots, I do not know what would. LeBron is preordained as the King of All He Sees; he is the embodiment of power and the league’s shining light for salvation from the grind-it-out ugliness of the Spurs oppressive regime. Plus his Nike spots use lions, and Aslan is badass.
Speed Racer as played by Chris Paul: Speed Racer is a young man with immense natural abilities and unbelievable instincts. His potential seems limitless, closely resembling Paul’s other worldly court vision and all-around talents. Speed’s goal is to win The Crucible, a cross-country car racing rally that took the life of his older brother, Rex Racer. Paul’s is to crash the Finals festivities. In this case, Duncan serves as his Racer X, and the rest of the Hornets function as the Mach 5, a terrific car that nonetheless needs Speed/Paul at the helm to harness its considerable potential.
The Incredible Hulk as played by Dwight Howard: This one is highly self-explanatory. Howard prefers to liken himself to Superman (Note: You are not allowed to pick your own nickname Dwight, that is a man law), but in this context the monster inside Dr. Bruce Banner is much more appropriate. Howard Hulk-Smashed his way through the Raptors, crushing them with 20-20s and swatting away Chris Bosh’s efforts with the wave of his hand. Plus there is the fact that Howard must have been exposed to a Gamma Bomb at a young age: it’s the only way he could end up with shoulders like that. D12 is always smiling, but don’t get him angry…you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
Kung Fu Panda as played by Deron Williams: Po is a Panda, who has been pinned as the embodiment of “The Chosen One,” a prophecy that has foretold of he who will save the day for all of Ancient China. Unfortunately, Po is also the laziest animal in all of China. This echoes of the concerns about Williams’ weight and passion for the game when he was drafted from Illinois; many critics questioned just how he would become an elite point guard given his body-type and questionable work ethic. In the film, Po is trained by Shifu (Jerry Sloan), a master who has trained some of the greatest warriors that the world has ever known (Stockton) that aid Po’s development. With great dedication and commitment, Po sheds his idleness and evolves into the great hero everyone had hoped for. This has already happened for Deron, who has now established himself a clutch performer and a challenger to CP3 for the title of Best Point Guard Alive.
Sex and the City as played by the Detroit Pistons: A group of self-centered, vindictive socialites (veteran players) that has been part of the public consciousness for a long time reunites on a larger stage (the Playoffs). What the group passes off as “frank discussion” actually translates more as whining about being treated unfairly and disrespected by others, a “no-one-believes-in-us” attitude that has become tiresome. The group’s members work best as a cohesive unit, and while Carrie (Billups) shoulders most of the spotlight, the unit’s strength lies in their collectiveness and communal talents, as they are a band without a true elite star player to speak of. And yes, comparing the Pistons to a group of self-absorbed, materialistic females is done tongue-in-cheek.
Get Smart as played by Sam Mitchell: Maxwell Smart is a hopeless secret agent that is so dense, so dim, that one cannot help but find his exploits laughable and ridiculous. He often interferes with his agency’s ability to successfully complete their missions, though he sometimes succeeds in defeating his foils, in spite of himself. Ladies and gentlemen, the Sam Mitchell Era!
Wall-E as played by Tracy McGrady: The newest Pixar vehicle, WALL-E is the story of the last robot on Earth that has been programmed to clean the now-uninhabitable planet. The future cleanup program of Earth fails with the exception of this one robot, who is left on the planet alone, doing his duty and meeting his obligation by his lonesome. McGrady’s Game 6 performance was our annual reminder that he gives his all every year, but the lack of help TMac has received throughout his career has been outrageous. WALL-E depicts the loneliness that must encase him when he is left as the solitary solider fighting for that allusive Playoff prosperity, spring after spring.
Pineapple Express as played by Josh Howard: Only because Harold and Kumar already came out.
Hancock as played by Carmelo Anthony: Later this summer, Will Smith will portray an alcoholic and lazy vagrant superhero who has no respect for authority or property. He also possesses superpowers and regularly engages in daring and successful acts that should endear him to everyone, yet his destructive tendencies leave him at best a polarizing figure. The Pride of BMore, Melo is also a down-and-out superhero. He is invulnerable, possesses superhuman scoring ability, and the power of super-sonic flight. But between the Stop Snitchin’ incident, the DUI, and those pot allegations, Anthony is in need of Jason Bateman’s PR rep character just as much as Hancock is. (For the record, I love Anthony’s game and authenticity, and hope that he can rectify these hiccups.)
The Dark Knight as played by Kobe Bryant: Dark, brooding, and misunderstood, Bruce Wayne stalks the night as a vigilant guardian whose methods typically extend beyond the constraints of official authority. He may be a loner and a sociopath with a hero complex, but he is also an iconic knight of courage that strikes terror into the hearts of his enemies. The Batman is a conflicted protagonist. His fans believe he is a symbol of justice, while his detractors hold him as a criminal; indeed, there are few heroes that are as polarizing. The Caped Crusader used his wealth and opportunity to train himself to the peak of physical ability and cognitive excellence. While he has had sidekicks and partners in the past, his nature is that of a lone wolf, with a singular focus for redemption and vengeance. Meanwhile, his alter-ego Bruce Wayne is viewed mainly as a spoiled, selfish playboy. His return this summer is being built as the most exciting and superb spectacle of the season. Does all of this sound at all familiar?
This article has been submitted by Trevor Smith.