Posts Tagged ‘Russell Hornsby’


A weekly feature from from! 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 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 and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the Emma Stone/Ryan Gosling big screen musical “La La Land,” Fences” with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis and “Why Him?” starring Bryan Cranston and James Franco.

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Richard sits in with Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the Christmas weekend movies, the Emma Stone/Ryan Gosling big screen musical “La La Land,” Fences” with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis and “Why Him?” starring Bryan Cranston and James Franco.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

FENCES: 4 STARS. “in ideas and performances ‘Fences’ hits a home run”

“Fences,” August Wilson’s rumination on race, masculinity, betrayal and dissatisfaction, won four Tony Awards, including best actor for James Earl Jones, when it first played on Broadway in 1983. The 2010 revival was also lauded, winning Tonys for Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, who now reunite in a big screen version of the popular play.

Set in 1950s Pittsburgh, Washington (who also directs) is Troy Maxson, a former Negro League baseball player now working as a garbage man. Each Friday he turns over his $76 weekly paycheck to wife Rose Maxson (Viola Davis) before his co-worker and best friend Jim Bono (Stephen Henderson) blow off some steam with a bottle of gin. Troy drunkenly tells wild stories about beating up the Devil and lectures about the virtues of self-reliance and responsibility to himself and his family. Always teetering on the edge of a blow-up, he’s a thin-skinned man in a world that is changing rapidly around him, who builds a literal and metaphorical fence between him and the outside world.

Troy has a combative relationship with Lyons (Russell Hornsby), his son from a previous marriage, and a strict, disciplinarian rapport with Cory (Jovan Adepo), his youngest who still lives at home. Tension builds as Cory decides he wants to take a football scholarship in favour of learning a trade.

It’s tempting to suggest that “Fences” doesn’t have a plot. Certainly it presents a slice of Troy and Rose’s life that isn’t necessarily driven by story in the strictest sense, but the through lines from scene to scene create a loose narrative that paints a vivid picture of a man whose resentments and bitterness will soon have a palpable effect on everyone around him.

As a director Washington doesn’t do much to open the story up. It takes place on a handful of sets and feels very much like a play, but when the words are this good there isn’t a need to spice it up with flashy production work. Washington focuses on the script and the performances, allowing the power of Wilson’s ideas carry the movie. “Fences” may be set in 1957 but the Troy’s sense of fighting against almost constant injustice feels as timely as it ever has.

Towering in the center of all this is Washington’s performance. His Troy is beaten down but not beaten. He’s hardened to the cruel realities of his life, that integration in baseball came just a few years too late for him to make a go of it, that hope is for dreamers too lazy to get a real job. He settles into the character with remarkable ease, erasing any residual memory of his big movie star turns in films like “American Gangster” or “Flight.” It is as though we’re seeing him for the first time, and yet, to many his story will feel all too familiar.

He finds his equal in Davis who brings a quiet dignity to the often put upon Rose. Her transformation from stay-at-home wife to independent woman as she realizes the eighteen years spent with Troy have not meant what she thought is as remarkable as it is subtle.

As Mr. Bono New York stage and screen actor Henderson rounds out the main cast in a performance brimming with wit and wisdom.

As a showcase for ideas and performances “Fences” hits a home run, offering fodder for Oscar talk and intellectual discourse. As a movie going experience, however, it feels a tad overlong. As much of a pleasure as it is to watch Washington, Davis and Henderson interact, the film loses steam as it enters the final third.