Movies

Movie review: "Creed II"

Brawling boxers battle the Thanksgiving bulge

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 11/20/18

Director Steven Caple Jr., whose chops have mostly been earned in the TV arena, takes over from Ryan Coogler’s stellar reboot of the “Rocky” legacy in “Creed” (2015) to create something almost unheard of.

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Movies

Movie review: "Creed II"

Brawling boxers battle the Thanksgiving bulge

Posted

Director Steven Caple Jr., whose chops have mostly been earned in the TV arena, takes over from Ryan Coogler’s stellar reboot of the “Rocky” legacy in “Creed” (2015) to create something almost unheard of.

He has successfully made a tearjerker for men.

Of course, it helps if the viewer is fairly steeped in the cinematic legacy following the rise of legendary Philly brawler Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), his various opponents and, of course, his family, friends and colleagues in the ring and out. Only then might one see just how good is this latest film.

Before seeing “Creed II,” though, I watched “Rocky IV” (free on Vudu), the film that has the most direct connections. In it, Rocky’s best friend and most formidable opponent Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) takes on the raging Russkie, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and is killed in the ring. A guilt-ridden Rocky decides to take on Drago himself and using his own strategies against him proves the victor.

“Rocky IV,” however, was a terrible movie. Made in 1985, it was filled with that era’s romance with MTV-style editing and hollow theatrics.

Caple, picking up the thematic thread from Coogler (who incidentally went on to direct the insanely popular “Black Panther” super-hero epic), hones in on a solid storyline, excellent production values and a cast that steps out of the cartoonish mold that hampered so many of the Stallone-directed pictures.

The hook for this movie is that Ivan Drago hit the skids back in Mother Russia after his defeat more than 30 years ago. The Russian government dropped its support, his wife (Brigitte Neilsen) left him, and he was left to raise their son alone.

Now, his boy, Viktor Drago (Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu), has grown up to become a hunking monster of an up-and-coming boxer, who, at his dad’s urging, is itching for a crack at Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), the son of Apollo Creed, the current Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Of course, it’s a publicity stunt. Of course it’s a grudge match for the Russian kid’s old man. Of course, Rocky knows what is in store for his boy.

But, oddly enough, it all works. Predictable as it might be, it all works.

So, there you have it. All eyes are fixed on the inevitable matchup between the sons of these pugilistic powerhouses and what happens when the announcer finally intones, “Let’s get ready to rumble!”

Along the way, something unexpected happens. You actually start caring for these characters, especially Adonis and his beautiful deaf-musician girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson), and Adonis’ mom (Phylicia Rashad), and even crusty old Slavic bum, Ivan Drago. And, then, especially for such a testosterone-heavy picture, you might even see some guy in the audience quickly wipe a tear from his eye.

Truly amazing.

Tempo grade: A-

“Creed II” is rated PG-13 for sports action violence, language, and a scene of sensuality

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

Ralph Breaks the Internet

MPAA rating: PG for some action and rude humor

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

In this digitally-animated kids movie directed by Phil Johnston and Rich Moore, video-game character Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) and best friend Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) leave the comforts of Litwak's arcade in an attempt to save her game, Sugar Rush.

Taking place six years after saving the arcade from Turbo's vengeance, the Sugar Rush arcade cabinet has broken, forcing Ralph and Vanellope to travel to the Internet via the newly-installed Wi-Fi router in Litwak's Arcade to retrieve the piece capable of saving the game.

Their quest takes them to the vast, uncharted world of the internet where they rely on the citizens of the web — the Netizens — to help navigate their way.

Lending a virtual hand are Yesss (Taraji P. Henson), the head algorithm and the heart and soul of the trend-making site "BuzzzTube," and Shank (Gal Gadot), a tough-as-nails driver from a gritty online auto-racing game called Slaughter Race, a place Vanellope wholeheartedly embraces — so much so that Ralph worries he may lose the only friend he's ever had.

Additional voice talent includes Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, and Ed O’Neill.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Robin Hood

MPAA rating: PG-13 for extended sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive references

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

In this gritty telling from Director Otto Bathurst, Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) a war-hardened Crusader and his Moorish commander (Jamie Foxx) mount an audacious revolt against the corrupt English crown in a thrilling action-adventure packed with gritty battlefield exploits, mind-blowing fight choreography, and a timeless romance. The Sheriff of Nottingham is played by Ben Mendelsohn and Maid Marian by Eve Hewson; co-stars include Jamie Dornan, F. Murray Abraham, and Tim Minchin as Friar Tuck.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

What They Had

MPAA rating: R for language including a brief sexual reference

Taos Community Auditorium

From first-time writer-director Elizabeth Chomko, this film centers on a family in crisis.

After her ailing mother wanders off during a blizzard, Bridget (Hilary Swank) returns to her childhood home in Chicago, accompanied by her rebellious daughter (Taissa Farmiga).

Forced to referee between her father's (Robert Forster) stubborn insistence that his wife (Blythe Danner) remains at home and her equally determined brother's (Michael Shannon) efforts to place her in a "memory care" facility, Bridget struggles to make sense of a lifetime of family conflict. With her mother's decline becoming increasingly obvious, long-simmering resentments bubble to the surface.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Nov. 25) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Nov. 26-28) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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