Posts Tagged ‘Rocky’

CTVNEWS.CA: THE CROUSE REVIEW LOOKS AT “CREED II” AND MORE!

A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the Michael B. Jordan boxing drama “Creed II,” the on-line romp of “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and the odd couple buddy film “Green Book.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

RICHARD’S CTV NEWSCHANNEL WEEKEND MOVIE REVIEWS FOR NOVEMBER 23.

Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Jennifer Burke to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the boxing drama “Creed II,” the on-line romp of “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and the odd couple buddy film “Green Book.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

 

CREED II: 4 STARS. “another puzzle piece in the feel-good ‘Rocky’ saga.”

Whoever said history never repeats didn’t work in Hollywood. Remakes and reboots have taken over theatres, recycling ideas and characters in what can sometimes feel like a continuous case of déjà vu. This week we have “Creed II” a sequel to a reboot, which is also a remake of sorts of a film made before star Michael B. Jordan was even born.

When we last saw Adonis Creed (Jordan) he was a young man who never knew his dad, former world champion boxer Apollo Creed. He did, however, inherit the old man’s love of boxing and much of his skill. Working with his dad’s old friend Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to get into ring-ready shape he, like his father before him, wins the respect of the boxing world.

In the new film he finds confronted by his father’s legacy in the form of Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of the man who killed Apollo in the ring decades ago.

The year was 1985. Apollo Creed came out of a five-year retirement to give Soviet Olympic boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) a good old-fashioned American pummelling. Instead, with Rocky in his corner, Apollo is beaten senseless by the 6 foot 5 inch steroid-enhanced Russian. Just as Rocky drops the towel to end the fight Drago delivers the coup de grâce, a fatal blow that kills Apollo in centre ring. Determined to avenge Apollo’s death Rocky squares off with Drago in the Soviet Union in a Christmas season match. Journeyman Rocky shocks the world by winning, beating the statuesque Eastern Bloc fighter by knockout.

Flash forward to “Creed II.” The sting of that Reagan-era loss still bothers Drago (Lundgren, who else?). Shaping his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) into a lean, mean fighting machine. Drago seeks to vicariously regain honour in the ring. “In Russia,”
Drago says, “no one will touch the Drago name. Everything changed that night.”

Father and son challenge Adonis, now the world heavyweight champion, to a match. “My son will break your biy,” Drago says, taunting Rocky. Despite Rocky’s warnings Adonis accepts the fight, looking for vengeance for a man he never knew. The showdown between the duelling sons brings into focus the shared legacy of the four men, Adonis, Viktor, Drago and Rocky.

“Creed II” isn’t really a movie about boxing. There are two brutal fight scenes but narratively this is about finding a sense of purpose, inside and outside of the ring. It’s about the why rather than the how. On that score it works. Director Steven Caple Jr. focuses on the characters allowing us to get to know them better, or in the case of Rocky and Drago, get reacquainted with them.

The film takes its time setting up the relationships before getting into the more traditional “Rocky” tropes, ie: unconventional but effective training methods and a rousing finale, complete with a riff on Bill Conti’s rousing “Rocky” theme song “Gonna Fly Now.”

This study of fathers and sons, of vengeance and reputation is really a look at brittle masculinity. These characters are all broken somehow, looking for something they are unlikely to find in the ring. “Why do you fight?” Rocky asks Adonis several times, sending him off on an introspective journey that leads him back to where his quest began, his father.

“Creed II” reverberates with the echoes of “Rocky” past but transcends being an exercise in déjà vu by amping up the emotional content to TKO levels. It is neither a rehash nor completely original work. It’s simply another puzzle piece in the feel good “Rocky” saga.

RICHARD’S WEEKEND MOVIE REVIEWS FROM CP24! FRIDAY NOVEMBER 27, 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 2.31.17 PMRichard’s CP24 reviews forhe “Rocky” reboot “Creed” and Pixar’s latest child-in-peril movie “The Good Dinosaur.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

RICHARD’S “CANADA AM” REVIEWS FOR NOVEMBER 27 WITH BEN MULRONEY.

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 2.33.53 PMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for the “Rocky” reboot “Creed,” Pixar’s latest child-in-peril movie “The Good Dinosaur,” Daniel Radcliffe as Igor minus-the-hump in “Victor Frankenstein” and Bryan Cranston as black-listed writer Dalton Trumbo in “Trumbo.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

CREED: 3 ½ STARS. “blend of boxing and underdogs is still a potent mix.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 1.29.24 PMHow do you breathe new life into a forty-year-old film series? If you’re Albert R. Broccoli you hire Daniel Craig, but if you’re Sylvester Stallone gracefully you pass the torch. “Creed” is the “Rocky 1.0,” the evolution of a story that began in 1976.

Stallone (who is now the same age as Burgess Meredith was in the first “Rocky”) plays Rocky Balboa, the Italian Stallion for the seventh time. He’s now retired from the ring and running a restaurant called Adrian’s. One day after closing a young man Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) shows up looking for a trainer. Rocky turns him down but the young man, a recent transplant to Philadelphia from Los Angeles, won’t take no for an answer. The young man is the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s old friend who died in the ring at the hands of Ivan Drago. Born after his father’s death, Adonis, or Donnie as he is known, never knew his dad but seems to have inherited the old man’s love of boxing and much of his skill as well but can Rocky whip him into shape for a title match?

“Creed” satisfies on two levels. One as a new, inspiring overcoming-the-odds story while simultaneously providing a nostalgic blast. It’s not a remake—although in a way it almost feels like a remake of the entire “Rocky” series—but attempts to bring the same kind fist-in-the-air triumphant feel as Stallone’s other boxing flicks.

Is it a knock-out?

With a story ripe with underdog theatrics, the signature “Rocky” swelling trumpet score and familiar characters and situations, “Creed” clicks in the part of your brain that grew up watching the “Rocky” movies on VHS. Like Otis Redding’s’s cover of “Satisfaction”, the movie feels vaguely familiar but it also has good beat and you can dance to it, so it gets a pass.

Jordan is a welcome addition to the family. He brings not only a physical presence to the role of the troubled but vulnerability too, even when he’s beating the snot out of someone in the ring. He punches above his weight in a performance that is the engine of the film.

“Creed” maybe named after Jordan’s character and ostensibly center on the young boxer, but let’s get real, this is a “Rocky” movie and Stallone is the star. He plays Balboa as a lion in winter, an old man who has trouble climbing (let alone sprinting) the 72 stone steps leading up to the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art made iconic in the first movie. It’s a poignant, engaging and moving performance that ranks as one of Stallone’s best.

For decades on “Creed” proves the blend of boxing and underdogs is still a potent mix, made better by rich performances and Stallone’s quietly affecting work.

How Ryan Coogler convinced Sylvester Stallone to revisit the Rocky franchise

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 6.46.09 AMBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

Like a lot of people director Ryan Coogler has a personal connection to the Rocky movies.

“Whenever I had a big test at school or a football game (my father would) say, ‘Take 10 minutes and watch this scene from Rocky. That’ll get you fired up. That’ll give you the juice to score five touchdowns. Or get an A on that test.’ I’d look over and think, ‘Are we watching this for me or for you?’”

It’s one thing to have the emotional connection; it’s another to convince Sylvester Stallone to make a seventh Rocky movie.

“I think the most important thing was that this movie was following a different character’s arc,” said Coogler.
“Rocky is there in a role that’s very important to the film but very much supports this other character’s journey to find themselves. That was important because no matter how good the idea was he wasn’t going to make another Rocky movie.”

The result is Creed, the evolution of a story that began in 1976, 10 years before Coogler was born. Michael B. Jordan is Adonis Creed, the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s old friend who died in the ring at the hands of Ivan Drago.

Born after his father’s death, Adonis never knew his dad but seems to have inherited the old man’s love of boxing and much of his skill, but can Rocky whip him into shape for a title match? Cue the underdog theatrics and signature swelling trumpet score.

“Creed is about a sense of identity,” said Coogler, “which is what I think the first Rocky was but the other themes are what make this fresh. What happens to someone dealing with an absentee father? What does love look like in the millennial generation when women are just as career oriented as men, or are expected to be? This idea of a generational handoff, baby boomers handing off responsibility and jobs to millennials; what does that look like?”

It looks like Rocky 1.0, a new story for a new generation.

“I was always honest with (Stallone) and let him know what the movies meant to me. I think he has an understanding that the movies kind of belong to everybody at this point.”

Michael B. Jordan’s love affair with Rocky

“The things that came to mind (while watching the Rocky films was) inspiration. Then this project came up and I had the chance to fall in love with the Rocky franchise all over again.”

GRUDGE MATCH: 2 ½ STARS. “Rocky or Raging Bull, who’ll win in the ring?”

GrudgeMatch-Poster-PhotosSchoolyard game: In a fight between Dracula and Frankenstein, who would win?

Both have advantages. Dracula is a shape shifter and Frank has brute strength.

I think of this game and the raging debates it inspired between me and my eight-year-old friends because a new movie asks a similar question: Rocky or Raging Bull, who would prevail in a boxing match?

Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro) and Henry “Razor” Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) are two retired Pittsburgh boxers with a history and a grudge. Thirty years ago they were at the top of their game, both with undefeated records, save for their fights against one another.

The grudge stems from Razor pulling the plug on their third fight, a championship bout that would have made them both superstars. Razor left the ring permanently, working in a steel mill. Kid, the more flamboyant of the pair, became a businessman, opening a car dealership and performing stand up comedy at his own restaurant, The Knocked Out Dinner and Theatre Club.

When the chance to finally step back into the ring, settle their grudge match and make “Kardashian sex tape” kind of money, it opens up thirty-year old wounds.

“Grudge Match” is a new story but with lots of elements that remind us of other movies. Rocky and Jake LaMotta… er, I mean, Razor and The Kid aren’t so much characters so much as they are brands, borrowed from better known movies to headline an old guy empowerment flick.

For every “If one of you gets knocked down, have you fallen and can’t get up?” gag, there is a scene of Stallone, age 67 or De Niro, age 70, punching someone or seducing a much younger woman.

The ghosts of movies past make appearances throughout. There’s a twist on the Rocky “beats the meat” scene in the original, and De Niro is essentially playing a cheerier version of La Motta.

But despite the echoes of classic movies that reverberate throughout, and obvious lines that make critics like me want to write snarky things—like Kevin Hart asking Stallone, “You know what this is?” and Sly replying, “A bad movie?” or a trainer played by L.L. Cool J telling De Niro, “A great performer knows when to get off the stage.”—“Grudge Match” grew on me.

The first hour feels stilted. Director Peter “Get Smart” Segal spends a bit too much time introducing old lovers (Kim Basinger) and illegitimate kids (former “Walking Dead” star Jon Bernthal) but once the exposition has been disposed of and the emotional foundation has been lain, “Grudge Match” becomes something akin to watching old friends on screen. The mushy stuff doesn’t work so well, but as the movie goes on you’ll find yourself rooting for the old guys to do some damage in the ring.

And they do. The big showdown, the Grudgement Day match is a pretty good fight scene (despite being presented by Geritol), except for the cheeseball montage of the fighter’s loved ones grimacing in the crowd, and despite a sentimental ending, closes the movie with a knockout (and NO that’s not a spoiler, just a turn of phrase).

I think “Grudge Match” will likely appeal to an older audience who can really get behind the idea of two old timers stepping up and reliving past glories. It’s occasionally funny—grandson Trey (Camden Gray) is a scene-stealer—and touching by times, just don’t go expecting any big surprises.

Lights, camera, upper cut James Earl Jones played Jack Johnson, the first African-American world heavyweight champion in The Great White Hope. In Focus by Richard Crouse IN FOCUS May 08, 2009

Great_White_Hope_TheI’m not a boxing fan but I once paid $25 to watch a pay-per-view Mike Tyson fight. It was the mid 1980s and Iron Mike was one of the most famous and controversial men on the planet; a beast who won 26 of his first 28 matches by knockout — 16 in the first round.

Wondering what all the fuss was about I paid my cover charge and watched as the undisputed champ strut into the ring, sized up his opponent and laid him out, unconscious on the floor in less than thirty seconds.

I know $25 for less than a minute of entertainment may sound pricey, but it was a riveting thirty seconds and even now, more than twenty years later, I can remember the look of devastating determination on his face as he massacred his challenger.

It’s an expression that runs across his (now tattooed) face several times in the fascinating new documentary Tyson. The film is a raw, revealing look at this troubled but fascinating man.

“It’s like a Greek tragedy,” he says of the movie, “only I’m the subject.”

Tyson is just the latest boxer to get the big screen treatment. Audiences can’t seem to get enough of stories about the “sweet science” and the individual struggles of these modern day gladiators.

Everybody knows Rocky, Cinderella Man and Raging Bull but digging a little deeper reveals splendid movies that aren’t as well known.

Somebody Up There Likes Me stars Paul Newman (stepping in for James Dean who died just before filming began) as real life middleweight champion of the world Rocky Graziano. The fighter is portrayed as a tough kid from New York’s “lower East Side where both sides of the tracks were wrong” whose violent and callous ways are changed by the redemptive power of the love of a good woman.

It sounds a like a mushy love story — and in fact, inspired Sylvester Stallone when he was writing the Adrian storyline in Rocky — but the fight scenes are brutal and authentic.

Also worth a rental is The Great White Hope based on Jack Johnson, (played by Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones) the first African-American world heavyweight champ, who ruled the ring from 1908 to 1915. Good fight scenes bolster this powerful look at the racial hostility that plagued Johnson’s career and it’s likely the only boxing movie written in the poetic style of free verse.

There are plenty of others; top of my list are Requiem for A Heavyweight and The Harder They Fall. Both are excellent, and both provide way more than thirty seconds of entertainment for your money.