Creed 2 Finds its Opponent

Get your bets ready, everyone. Creed 2 has cast German-Romanian boxer Florian Munteanu to square off with Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Johnson in the upcoming sequel to 2015’s Rocky reboot. Munteanu will play the son of Ivan Drago, meaning that Adonis will be facing the son of the man who killed his father in the ring in Rocky IV.

The film is set to start shooting in Philadelphia this March with Steven Caple directing and will feature the return of Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson.

I personally think this is a great move for the film, as I was initially hearing reports that Drago himself would be the opponent which sounded overtly gimmicky and unrealistic. By bringing his son into it, Adonis can have another truly great emotional arc in this pseudo-revenge fight. As long as it is done right.

Creed 2 begins its fight at the cinema on November 21st.

Are you excited for Creed 2? Is Drago’s son the right opponent? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Batman Day] Batman: The Movie (1966)

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Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Cast: Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin
Screenplay: Lorenzo Semple Jr.
105 mins. Approved.
I first saw the original Batman: The Movie (yeah, before Michael Keaton) about ten years ago. It was in the height of serious Batman Christian Bale’s reign as the caped crusader, and so I didn’t look upon the film too fondly. This year, I took the initiative to look back on Batman: The Movie in honor of Batman Day. Did my thoughts on the film change?
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In the film, the dynamic duo themselves, Batman (Adam West, TV’s Family Guy, Meet the Robinsons) and Robin (Burt Ward, Moving Target, Beach Babes from Beyond) are tasked with defeating four supervillains in their devious plan to use a weapon capable of dehydrating people to hold the world ransom. Batman finds himself emotionally involved when The Catwoman (Lee Meriwether, TV’s Barnaby Jones, The Ultimate Gift) disguises herself as a helpless damsel in distress to lure him in. As The Penguin (Burgess Meredith, Rocky, Grumpier Old Men) sets his plot in motion, the caped crusader finds himself fending off sharks and ridding Gotham of bombs. Can Batman defeat the foes? Or will he find himself in deeply dehydrating water?
Camp for the sake of camp. The 1960s saw Batman as a silly and over-the-top representation of truth, justice, and the American way. The 1960s were also a pretty confusing and sometimes scary time period. The world didn’t need villains. We already had them. What the world needed was an escape from the real. And, with Batman: The Movie, they got it.
The first season of the Batman television series has finished, and the producers decided to hit upon a movie’s budget to increase their usuable bat gadgets, a pretty genius idea all said and done. It’s what helps make the later seasons of the show stay exciting and fresh.
Adam West and Burt Ward play off each other really well, and it is their chemistry that drives the film. Both actors play the material as seriously as possible, and it makes the fun moments of cheese work so much better than playing them for comedy. And the screenplay itself, from screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. (Papillon, Flash Gordon) knows exactly what it needs to be.
From the rogues gallery, I particularly liked The Joker (Cesar Romero, The Little Princess, The Thin Man) and Meredith’s The Penguin. They have the most fun in role and absolutely steal their scenes.
Now, the film has some definite lagging issues in Act 2. By and large the best parts of the film are the Shark fight on the Bat Copter and the Bomb Chase sequence. The ending of the film falls flat too and isn’t all that memorable.
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From the film’s winning score to some truly unique visuals, Batman: The Movie is an interesting time capsule of a time we may never see again (though an upcoming DC animated film looks to see the return of the 60s Caped Crusader). It’s a lot of fun and has the potential to be a great passing of the torch for young viewers just getting into Batman and Robin.
3.5/5
-Kyle A. Goethe

[Freedom Films] Rocky (1976)

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Director: John G. Avildsen

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith

Screenplay: Sylvester Stallone

119 mins. Rated PG.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Picture
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Director
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Film Editing
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sylvester Stallone)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Actress in a Leading Role (Talia Shire)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Burgess Meredith)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Burt Young)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Sound
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Music, Original Song “Gonna Fly Now”

iMDB Top 250: #213 (as of 1/18/2016)

 

Today, on Independence Day, we look back on American Films about America. We will be taking some time to look at Rocky, the 1976 Best Picture winner, in this limited series of reviews during major American holidays. Rocky is the first sports film to win Best Picture. It also holds the distinction of being the Best Picture with the most sequels, six as of this year’s upcoming spin-off Creed. In 1975, Sylvester Stallone (The Expendables, Grudge Match) had less than $200 in his bank and not enough money to feed his dog. He believed in his screenplay and vision so much so that when the script was purchased, he gambled his career on the bet that he could perform. When casting Apollo Creed, Carl Weathers (Predator, The Comebacks) was hired when he made a crack about Stallone’s inability to act. Ironically, Weathers didn’t receive an acting nomination but Stallone did.

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Rocky Balboa (Stallone), also known as The Italian Stallion, is a southpaw boxer who hasn’t had luck in life. He boxes when he can, but in order to make ends meet, he has to hustle for a loan shark. He can’t seem to get closer to the woman he cares for, Adrian (Talia Shire, The Godfather: Part II, Palo Alto), and his closest friend is a drunk named Paulie (Burt Young, Once Upon a Time in America, Rob the Mob), who happens to be Adrian’s brother. But when Apollo Creed, the heavyweight champion of the world, needs a gimmick for his upcoming New Year’s Day fight, he calls upon the little guy, The Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa himself. Now, with the help of aging manager Mickey (Burgess Meredith, Grumpier Old Men, Santa Claus), Rocky is going to try and take on the biggest boxer in the business and seize his chance at being a somebody in this film from director John G. Avildsen (The Karate Kid, 8 Seconds).

Rocky is a great sports film, one of the greatest ever. Director Avildsen gives his greatest work as a filmmaker here, ably controlling several variable factors to make a compelling character piece. I think what makes it such a strong and moving film is the likable underdog in Rocky, written and played well by Stallone, and the focus on creating interesting characters first and foremost and keeping the focus on them over the actual sports moments. It’s just like how the best war films are about great characters experiencing war. Stallone and Avildsen worked well together to fix issues as they came up, with Stallone writing scenes like the one where Rocky points out the mistake on his shorts the night before the fight or him calling out the oversized robe. These scenes were added due to production errors but because of the partnerships, you’d never notice. Well, I guess now you would.

We also get great work from Shire, Young, and especially Meredith, who gives a performance that only seems cliché because of how many films copied it later. I even really loved Weathers as Creed even if he didn’t get the nomination.

The terrific score from Bill Conti is the stuff of legend, a piece of musical brilliance imitated but rarely met. The Academy Award Nominee song “Gonna Fly Now”, also known as the Rocky Theme, stands with it as a franchise signature.

Rocky suffers from some uneven cinematography not counting the fight scenes, which are top notch.

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So is Rocky the best film in the series? Yeah, I suppose so, but I do enjoy watching it in conjunction with the sequel, Rocky II. In fact, I love the Rocky series in general, with the notable exception of Paulie dating a robot in Rocky IV (still a great film, but I mean…c’mon…). Rocky is, from a technical sense, a great film with an ending that challenges the conventions of most other similar films. See this one, and love it.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

[Oscar Madness] [Happy 10th Birthday!] Transamerica (2005)

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Director: Duncan Tucker

Cast: Felicity Huffman, Kevin Zegers, Graham Greene, Fionnula Flanagan, Burt Young, Carrie Preston, Elizabeth Pena

Screenplay: Duncan Tucker

103 mins. Rated R for sexual content, nudity, language and drug use.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Felicity Huffman)
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song (“Travelin’ Thru” by Dolly Parton)

It’s been ten years since Felicity Huffman’s career-making and Oscar-nominated performance in Transamerica. Today, we take a look back.

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Bree (Huffman, TV’s Desperate Housewives, Cake) is a transitioning woman who is about to go through a major life-altering surgery when she discovers that she fathered a son years previously. Her son Toby (Kevin Zegers, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, The Colony) has been making money prostituting himself to the masses or anyone with clean cash. Bree goes to bail out Toby and then takes him on a cross-country trip back home with her, stopping along the way to see her father (Burt Young, Rocky, Rob the Mob) and mother (Fionnula Flanagan, The Others, Song of the Sea).

Huffman’s performance is definitely note-worthy. There were many many times when I didn’t see Huffman performing in this movie. I saw Bree, a woman going through an awakening, albeit an emotionally painful one, and not wanting to reveal herself to her son while trying to keep a part of him in her life.

Zegers brings a strong piece of work here as well. Toby is going through his own awakening. He hasn’t had a father in his life and doesn’t know how a man is “supposed” to act.

I also enjoyed the supporting plays from Flanagan and Young as Bree’s parents. They are old-fashioned folk who just plain don’t understand Bree’s transition and, especially Flanagan, doesn’t want to.

First-time big-time director Duncan Tucker can handle a camera, but he doesn’t particularly know how to impress with it. This film belongs to the performers, most notably Huffman.

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Transamerica suffers from an uninspired style and too much meandering on the way to a plot, but aided by some terrific performances, it has the worth to be remembered, if only it were more so.

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Cuban Fury (2014)

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Director: James Griffith

Cast: Nick Frost, Rashida Jones, Chris O’Dowd, Olivia Colman

Screenplay: Jon Brown

98 mins. Rated R for language and sexual references.

 

Nick Frost has spent a lot of time with Simon Pegg onscreen. We as viewers haven’t seen much around starring work for him to know if he is able to carry him own film. Until now. Cuban Fury is about Bruce (Frost, Shaun of the Dead, The Boxtrolls), an ex-salsa dancer who lost his thunder when he was a teen. Now an adult, Bruce is nuts over his new coworker Julia (Rashida Jones, TV’s Parks and Recreation, Celeste & Jesse Forever), who has another suitor in the form of all-around asshole Drew (Chris O’Dowd, TV’s Moone Boy, Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel). Bruce finds that he has one major thing in common with Julia that could give him an edge: salsa dancing. Unfortunately for Bruce, he hasn’t practiced salsa in decades. Cue the inspirational Rocky score.

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This film is cute. It isn’t laughably perfect like Hot Fuzz or The World’s End, but it is cute. I would like to tell you that it contains top notch writing like the previous collaborations with Pegg, but it doesn’t. Nick Frost gives a nice but not special performance as Bruce, while Jones and O’Dowd add a few laughs but mostly stay out of Bruce’s main plot. I just didn’t believe the chemistry from any of these characters. I didn’t believe that any of them loved or hated anyone of the others. I didn’t believe that Nick Frost could salsa dance. I didn’t believe that Julia would even go on one date with Drew. I didn’t believe that Ian McShane could teach salsa.

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I thought the film was somewhat likable but mostly forgettable, which doesn’t bode well for Nick Frost considering his Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy with Pegg and fellow collaborator Edgar Wright has come to a close. I hope the next attempt will be more outlandish and comedic, for I see very little room for Frost to fail alone again.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

So what did you think of James Griffith’s Cuban Fury? Did you dance or drop at first viewing? Let me know!

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