Tag Archives: Michael B. Jordan

Emotionally Powerful ‘Creed’ Is One of Year’s Best

Creed_posterIt’s OK, Michael B. Jordan. All is forgiven for “Fantastic Four.”

“Creed” is the seventh installment in the “Rocky” franchise and the first since 2006’s “Rocky Balboa.” The film follows Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son (Jordan) as he attempts to come out of the shadow his father left behind. In order to be taken seriously as a boxer, he reaches out to the retired Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to train him. Ryan Coogler directs and co-writes.

Michael B. Jordan was put on mainstream Hollywood’s radar after 2012’s found footage superhero film “Chronicle,” however it was the following year’s “Fruitvale Station” (directed and written by Coogler as well) that made everyone start to see him as a possible star. “Creed” finds both Jordan and Coogler at the top of their game, and shows why Stallone and the studio made the right choice putting their faith in two under-30 guys to continue a historic franchise.

I liked how “Creed” isn’t a full-blown “Rocky” sequel, nor does it try to be. As a person who doesn’t know much about the series outside the major cliffnotes, it was important that I could relate to and understand what was happening throughout the film. I’m sure I missed a callback here or inside joke there, but I knew the characters and motivations without the film spoon feeding them to me.

The film is shot masterfully, with numerous long takes. There is even a fight in the middle of the film that is one single take, and it’s amazing. Being one take adds immense tension to the scene, as there aren’t cuts to give us a chance to breath and relax. Coogler and his team deserve massive props for pulling this off, because people get cut and bloody but there aren’t chances for makeup teams to have applied it. Movie magic, I suppose.

The film uses hip hop for much of the backdrop, which gives the film a unique and “modern” feel compared to the other “Rocky” films, however still has some nice instrumental moments, including the famous theme (even if it initially feels a bit cheesy for its cliché timing).

The film flows at a nice pace for most of the time, although it does slow a little when Creed is preparing for the big final fight. The film also decides to add a dramatic twist to the story, which definitely feels a little forced and formulaic however does give Stallone the opportunity to deliver a nice speech (possibly his “For Your Consideration” moment for the Academy?).

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t getting a little choked up during the climax, which features both powerful bits of dialogue as well as an engaging fight. “Creed” works as both a standalone and a revival to a franchise that many thought had its best days behind it. It is one of the year’s best films and a star-confirming vehicle for Michael B. Jordan, and also shows that maybe Stallone still has more to offer than cheesy “Expendable” action flicks.

Critics Rating: 8/10



‘Fantastic Bore’ Is Frustratingly Awful

Fantastic_Four_2015_posterI am at a loss for words on how uneventful this movie is, so no time for a clever opening. Let’s just get right into this evisceration.

“Fantastic Four” is the latest attempt to reboot the Marvel Comics team of the same name, and stars Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell as Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, the Invisible Woman and The Thing, respectively. [Normally this is where I would insert a brief plot summary, but truly this film is so massively uneventful that I couldn’t give you a storyline if I tried]. Josh Trank, who directed “Chronicle,” directs and co-writes here.

Right from its conception, this film was a mess. It was no secret that Sony made it simply to hold onto the rights, and then there are plenty of stories of Trank showing up on set stoned and drunk, or not showing up at all (for legal reasons, I should say “allegedly”). Then they had to do extensive reshoots, which are painfully obvious due to haircuts/wigs and awkward dialogue dubs. In all honesty, look up all the behind-the-scenes drama involving the director and producers; it is 100x more entertaining than the movie they ended up creating.

On top of those red flags, ear-piercing alarms should have been sounding when it was announced the film wouldn’t allow reviews to be posted until the day before release (which is as sure a sign that a movie is terrible as dark clouds mean it’s going to rain), and lead actor Miles Teller saying that none of the stars had seen the finished film, and that “rarely are films of this size critically well received”. That’s…comforting.

Boy, halfway done with this review and all I’ve done is give reasons why we all thought it would fail. Where are my manners? Who knows? Maybe all the reshoots and on-set tension created something truly special, and we were worrying for nothing! (We weren’t, though, this movie is awful)

I truly, honestly, sincerely have no idea where to begin. I am genuinely at a loss for words, and that isn’t a great thing to be considering my God-given talent (and livelihood) is putting pen to paper. I guess we can start with how badly they botched the amazing cast. I am a huge Miles Teller fan; I’ve had a man-crush on him ever since “21 & Over.” But here? Oh boy, did Trank and Co. try their very hardest to make him awful. The entire cast, in fact; they’re all talented young actors who together have no chemistry. I hate to compare this to the 2005 film because I think reboots should be judged on their own accord, but say what you will about the old F4 films, at least the four members seemed like they were friends.

Next is the “plot.” If you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen the film. I remember watching the trailers and every time I would think, “this looks like it’s spliced from just three scenes, what’s the plot?” And I was right to question; there is no plot. What shred of a narrative there is revolves around the group building an interdimensional transportation device (because simply going to space nowadays is too mainstream), getting their powers, and then everything kind of rushes an oh-my-god awful ending.

Seriously, though, the ending to this movie is just…I don’t even know. To steal a quote from Michael Scott: “It’s simply beyond words. It’s incalculable”. The first third of the film is innocent enough, showing a young Teller trying to crack all the science, and then there’s a few (I stress, A FEW) interesting and fun moments. Then they get their powers by traveling to “Planet Zero” (named after how much interest I had left in the film by this point) and Trank treats it like a horror film, which for a second I liked. The idea of finding your one friend burning alive and another trapped in a pile of rocks is enough to break a psyche. But then they skip ahead a year (because who wants to watch them struggle and learn to control their new powers, right?) and everything gets worse. You get bored and the film goes nowhere.

Then the climax happens, and oh my God. I didn’t think it was possible to have negative amount of suspense or emotional attachment to a film, but give “Fantastic Four” credit because it did just that. When Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) arrives to be the villain (after all, with a name like that, he had a limited pool of career choices), you don’t care. There is one fun tracking shot of him walking down a hallway and he makes everyone he passes’ head explode, but then he engages in a horrible CGI battle with the Four. And you just. don’t. care.

Look, I could go on for days about why this movie is awful, but my head may just explode like one of those poor people Dr. Doom strolls past. The film plays out as one big (boring) trailer for future films, which, based on critical and fanboy reception, I doubt we’ll ever see, and it’s adorable the filmmakers thought they ever would. “The Incredibles” remains the only truly good Fantastic Four film, and this makes the 2005 film and its sequel look like “The Dark Knight.”

I thought critic Ben Mankiewicz’s description of the film perfectly sums everything up: “it feels like the first episode of a TV series that you are certain to not watch the second episode of.” Amen, brother. “Fantastic Four” is not fun, it’s not exciting and it’s certainly not good. Just go plop yourself down in front of the dryer for an hour 45; you’ll get more entertainment and odds are more character development than this film could ever offer.

Critics Rating: 2/10