Franchise Weekend – Creed II (2018)

Director: Steven Caple Jr

Writer: Sylvester Stallone, Juel Taylor (Screenplay) Cheo Hodari Coker, Sascha Penn (Story)

Starring: Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu

 

Plot: Under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, light heavyweight contender Adonis Creed faces off against Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago.

 

Runtime: 2 Hour 10 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Legacy Continues Strongly

 

Story: Creed II starts when Adonis (Jordan) finally captures the title, on top of the world he proposes to Bianca (Thompson) whose career is also going place and wants to enjoy the next chapter of his career as champion. Buddy Marcelle (Hornsby) a promoter has a different plan for Adonis, when he brings Viktor Drago (Munteanu) to America, the son of Ivan Drago (Lundgren) who killed Apollo in the ring.

Adonis must learn to rise up against his biggest challenge to date, learning to control his emotions as he takes on Viktor, who has his own personal fight to restore the family name, while Rocky (Stallone) is torn between helping and advising Adonis about whether to follow in his father’s footsteps.

 

Thoughts on Creed II

 

Characters – Adonis starts this film by winning the belt he didn’t win in the last film, he take the next step in his family life proposing to Bianca, having his first child being on top of the world. He loses it all and must learn to rebuild his reputation and defend his belt against the son of the man that killed his father. Now for this story Adonis has a nice arc, but he never feels like a champion. Rocky refuses to help Adonis in his match against Viktor, he is worried he will make the same mistakes as his father when his future is waiting for him. He has gotten over his cancer from the last film and must make his own difficult decision on whether to help Adonis to make up for his own mistakes with Apollo and rebuild his own bridges. Bianca has her music career taking off, ready to be involved  in the festival circuit, her hearing is only getting worse, so she wants to make the most of her chance, she doesn’t want to stand in Adonis’s way, but she also wants to make sure she doesn’t  have to raise their child alone. Ivan Drago has seen his reputation ruined after his loss to Rocky, kicked out of the country, he had to rebuild his life and with his son, he has made a fighting machine. Viktor is the son of Ivan, he is a machine in the ring just like his father, we get to have a lot more sympathy for him than we should because he is fighting his father’s battle, he lost his future and when his success comes the flocks that abandoned his father return.

PerformancesMichael B Jordan does have a lot more emotional moments to go through in this film which he does well, he however never makes us feel like he would be a champion. Sylvester Stallone continues to show this is turning into one of his go too roles for his best performances, while Tessa Thompson continues to show her talent to the world reprising the role which helped her break through. Dolph Lundgren gives one of his best performances in recent years and Florian Munteanu makes for a great fighting villain, who shows much better range than anyone was expecting.

StoryThe story picks up when Adonis has gotten himself into a number one contenders match, winning the title reach the peak of his early career and personal life, until the Drago’s arrive in an attempt to knock him off his perch and reclaim the fame that they once had. The story does feel like the weakest part of the film though, we seem to just skip Adonis reaching the title match, we never learn how good he is in the ring, because in the first film sure he surprised everyone, but he didn’t win, going 12 rounds and winning by points isn’t going to be enough to get a title shot. Most of Adonis’s side of the story is him needing to find himself as he goes to the next chapter of his life. The more interesting story comes from the Drago side of things because we get to see what happened to the once unstoppable fighter and how his life changed after that defeat, raising his son to follow in his footsteps, being shunned by his country and love, shows us just how different the two cultures are towards competitors. Rocky’s side story, while nice, it does feel tacked on just to give him something else to do in the film.

SportsThe boxing is good once again in this film, not quite as the same level, mostly because we get more fights which we don’t need to see too, we like to wait for that one big fight moment which stands out as the highlight of the film.

SettingsThe film uses the settings well, we don’t just stay in one city this time and the training regime is something new for the franchise.


Scene of the Movie –
The final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Adonis never gets made to feel like a champion or even a contender for a belt.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great addiction to the legacy, it does feel like we will be following Adonis’s legacy from now on which is what needed to be done for the franchise.

 

Overall: The legacy has past the torch.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – Creed (2015) Revisited

Director: Ryan Coogler

Writer: Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington (Screenplay) Sylvester Stallone (Characters)

Starring: Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Andre Ward, Tony Bellew

 

Plot: The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.


Tagline – Your legacy is more than a name

Runtime: 2 Hours 13 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brutally Brilliant

 

Story: Creed starts as we see how Adonis was raised in the foster system, before being adopted by Apollo Creed’s wife Mary Anne (Rashad) to raise her late husband’s son, given chances of an education, Adonis (Jordan) is drawn to fighting wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps. With Mary Anne reluctant to see Adonis fight, she sends him to Philadelphia to train away from the streets of LA.

Adonis meets Rocky (Stallone) who gets talked into training Adonis and helping him make decisions that will help his career in an even more cutthroat world that boxing has become, when Light Heavyweight champion ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan (Bellew) and his manager Tommy Holiday (McTavish) learn of Adonis true identity, they want to make a mega payday, which leads to Adonis in his first major fight, while Rocky will face his next fight in life.

 

Thoughts on Creed

 

Characters – Adonis Johnson is the son of Apollo Creed from an affair that saw him being raised in the foster system which taught him how to be tough. Eventually he is adopted by Apollo’s widow who gives him a chance, where he makes a career for himself, however the desire to fight keeps him heading to Mexico for fights before deciding he wants to follow in his father’s footsteps. He heads to Philadelphia to learn from his father’s biggest enemy Rocky Balboa, where he learns about his own destiny in the sport. Rocky Balboa is still running his restaurant, he has no lost everyone in his life, with his loved ones passing on and his son moved away, he reluctantly agrees to train Adonis which brings a new spark to his life, only for him to get news about his own future giving him a new fight to take on. Bianca is the neighbour that Adonis meets, she is a musician on the verge of her own big break, with her own problems, they two get close as she becomes part of his own inspiration. Mary Anne is the wife of Apollo, she raised Adonis as her own giving him the chances he had never received, she doesn’t want him to fight because she knows what it does to a boxer, she does however know she isn’t going to win and sends him to Rocky.  

PerformancesMichael B Jordan gives us one of the best boxing performances ever, we believe his own struggles and he gives us belief he is raising up the ranks. Sylvester Stallone bought new life to his character of Rocky here, with a performance that is easily his best in his modern cinema run, he makes everything about his character believable like we caught up with him. Tessa Thompson comes onto the scene with this performance that turned heads, she is great through the film. The rest of the cast are good with Tony Bellew being an actual boxer adding realism to the rival for the fighting world.

StoryThe story here follows Apollo Creed’s son take his first steps in the boxing world, given the unlikely chance for a big fight which is only mean to be a publicity stunt for the champion, much like Rocky’s first big fight. We see how Rocky has made the transition from fighter to trainer with us getting a chance to meet the biggest fictional fighter in his latter years, showing us how life can catch up with everyone. The story could easily be a soft reboot of Rocky and manages to show us how the reboot sequel is working very well at the moment, returning old favourites to help guide the next generation. The side stories going on show us how everybody has their own stories going on, instead of focusing just on one person moment in the sun, which feels refreshing for the genre.

SportsThe boxing in the film is easily the most realistic that you will see in any film, the hit feel as brutal as they are meant to.

SettingsWe return to Philadelphia for most of the film, this shows us how places have changed and others are still the same, it is like stepping into a time capsule at times.


Scene of the Movie –
The big fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would have liked an extra length of time at the press conference.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily the best in the Rocky franchise for a very long time, it has bought us the same story of becoming an overnight success with one chance to make it, with truly powerful performances from the cast.

 

Overall: Knockout Movie.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – # – Cars 3 (2017)

Director: Brian Fee

Writer: Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson, Mike Rich (Screenplay) Brian Fee, Ben Queen, Eyal Podell, Jonathon E Stewart (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talent) Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Chris Cooper, Nathan Fillion, Larry the Cable Guy, Armie Hammer

 

Plot: Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he’s still the best race car in the world.


Tagline – One last chance, One last dream

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Sequel

 

Story: Cars 3 starts as Lightning McQueen cruising his way to titles with two close competitors until hot shot rookie Jackson Storm with a brand-new model that increases speed and ability over Lightning and his older models which slowly go out of the sport, before he loses his spot on the grid.

Needing a make over, Lightning sees his team taken over by Sterling who could bring Lightning a new training program with trainer Cruz Ramirez, all to get back on the track and prove he hasn’t lost it.

 

Thoughts on Cars 3

 

Characters – Lightning McQueen is now one of the top drivers in the world, experienced on the field, that is until the next generation model comes through taking his spot on the track, now an aging star, his time might be up. He must prove he still has the skills to race against the younger cars, following the footsteps of many sport stars. Cruz is a trainer for Lightning new team, she helps young drivers prepare for racing without ever getting the chance to go on the road. She does have her own dreams and Lightning will help her learn these dreams. Jackson Storm is the hot shot new racer ready to become the star of the sport, he acts like he respects Lightning, only to be the cocky arrogant new driver. Sterling is the new owner and big fan of Lightning, he wants to give him a chance, the problem comes from needing to win and Lightning just won’t give his team that.

StoryThe story here sees Lightning McQueen reaching the end of his career, seeing the younger drivers taken his spot in the sport he loves. He must improve to compete, while learning valuable life lessons about stepping away from the spotlight on top on his own accord rather than being pushed out and forgotten. This story puts Lightning in a position that Doc Hudson had been and missed out on, his mentor manages to show him from his career the mistakes he made. This does always feel like an aging sports star sticking around longer than they should and ends up getting the same ideas that we see in the later Rocky movies. This does feel like the right sequel to the original with the time spent between the films.

Adventure/Comedy/Family/Sport The adventure side of this film does take Lightning back to his roots to learn his next step in the driving world, the comedy comes from the events that happen to Lightning along the way, they will give you laugh when needed without being used to often. It would be fair to say the whole family can enjoy this one and get enjoyment from different moments of the story. the sports side of the film is big because it shows us just how a star of the game can be left behind too quickly.

SettingsThe film returns to older settings which show Lightning needing to go soul searching through different worlds away from the glitz and glamour of the normal racing world.

AnimationPixar are the leading team in visual animation, nothing in this movies look can be questioned as it looks perfect in every single shot.


Scene of the Movie –
The make it or break it race.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is a very safe sequel.

Final ThoughtsThis is a safe and enjoyable sequel to the much-loved franchise, it gets the story correct for the time between this and the first film which helps by forgetting the second film.

 

Overall: Enjoyable respect filled sequel.

Rating

 

 

Martin Scorsese Weekend – Raging Bull (1980)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Paul Schrader, Mardik Martin (Screenplay) Jake LaMotta, Joseph Carter, Peter Savage (Book)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent, Nicholas Colasanto, Maria Gallo

 

Plot: An emotionally self-destructive boxer’s journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring destroys his life outside it.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Over Hyped Boxing Film

 

Story: Raging Bull starts in 1941 the Bronx, New York City where we meet boxer Jake La Motta (De Niro) and his promoter, sparing partner and brother Joey (Pesci). The two look to set up the next fighter even though the married Jake spots the 15-year-old Vickie (Moriarty) who has connections with the mob.

Through the 40’s Jake remains unbeaten and marries Vickie and on the verge of a potential title fight. With his career taking off, his personal life is starting to fall apart as he becomes paranoid about what Vickie is doing with his violent side coming through.

 

Thoughts on Raging Bull

 

Characters/PerformanceJake is a brilliant boxer, one of the best of his generation but his out the ring temper causes more problems in his life as he is insecure about his wife’s loyalty, his brother’s loyalty and the people in his life. Vickie is the long-suffering wife that must deal with the temper of Jake while trying to retain a personal life against his wishes. Joey is the brother of Jake who also trains and books his fights but the two are always at conflict with each other.

Performance wise, De Niro is great through this film and you can see why people rave of his performance but I feel and we know he is capable of even better now. Pesci does a good job in what must have been a break through role for him. With Moriarty in her debut hanging with the big names very well.

StoryThe story does follow the career of Jake La Motta from small time boxer to champion to what happens to him after his career in the ring is over, we follow his paranoia in his personal life which comes out in his aggression. If you are into your boxing history you will enjoy the story otherwise you might not connect as well.

Biography/SportsLooking at the career is interesting but I do feel other boxing films are painted a more interesting career, the boxing itself looks fantastic through the film.

SettingsThe settings show us the time we are seeing the events unfold in which is done well throughout.

Final ThoughtsThis is a boxing film that I have heard huge things about, but I didn’t find myself getting engaged with the story in the way I was expecting and found elements of this film kind of boring.

 

Overall: This is one of the most popular boxing films of all time but it won’t make the top of any of my lists.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – G – Grudge Match (2013)

Director: Peter Segal

Writer: Tim Kelleher, Rodney Rothman (Screenplay) Tim Kelleher (Story)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin, Kim Basinger, LL Cool J, Jon Bernthal

 

Plot: A pair of aging boxing rivals are coaxed out of retirement to fight one final bout, thirty years after their last match.


Tagline – Never give up the fight.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: More Heartfelt Than You Would Think

 

Story: Grudge Match starts as we see the history of two boxing legends Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp (Stallone) & Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen (De Niro) who has two fights and before The Kid got his rematch, Razor walked away from the sport. 30-years-later after an altercation between the two goes viral, Dante Slate Jr (Hart) arranges one more match between the two.

The two get back into training, Razor uses his old coach Lightning (Arkin) while The Kid turns to a new gym he helped fund run by Frankie Brite (Cool J) but it is his unknown son BJ (Bernthal) that knows how to train, the two go through the press campaign giving everyone buzz about the fight between two fighters past their prime and out of shape.

 

Thoughts on Grudge Match

 

Characters – Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp won the last fight between the two, he then walked away from the sport losing his fortune along the way becoming a factory worker. When the chance to make money by returning for one fight however reluctant he is, he must confront the problems which left him walking away from the ring to be ready for his in-ring return. Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen lost the last fight between the two, he wants rematch, but his reasoning behind him losing is the same as Razor leaving the ring. He has his own bar and jumps at the chance of a rematch. Dante Slate Jr is the fast taking promoter that has followed in his father’s footsteps. Lightning is the trainer for Razor he always has been, the old man cliché is all about him in this film. we have Sally who is the woman that got between the two men trying to rebuild her relationship with Razor.

PerformancesStallone and De Niro both have legendary careers where they both appeared in boxing movies, Rocky and Raging Bull respectable, this performance from the both doesn’t mock what they achieved, but does let them have fun at knowing they are older than when those films were part of their highlights. The supporting cast all get to play into their strengths, Hart with his quick talking, Arkin with his grumpy old man persona and Basinger doing the old flame figure.

StoryThe story follows to old rivals in the Boxing ring that get bought back together for the grudge match with the two having one a single match win each. The story shows how rivalries can last for decades and how they both have survived after leaving the world of boxing. We get to see the ‘old man’ in tech heavy world moments as this fight goes viral which works in places but not others. We see how the personal lives of everyone involved has been affected by the rivalry too.

Comedy/SportsThe comedy is solid in most places we get Hart doing his thing most and Arkin do the grumpy old man routine which gets the most laughs. The sports brings us in the boxing world with former rivals.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings in the two boxers home city of Pittsburgh which shows the sport will bring the city together.


Scene of the Movie –
The match itself.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain jokes miss.

Final ThoughtsThis is a comedy that was a lot better than I would expect, the jokes can hit and by the end you will enjoy this movie with two boxing legends finally ending their tie.

 

Overall: Fun sports comedy.

Rating