Saturday, November 28, 2015


When they first started talking about doing a Rocky spinoff awhile back, I was nervous. The sixth movie in the franchise had wrapped things up nicely. I figured, why keep it going? Why not end it on a good note? But then more details came out about the plot, the cast, and who was directing it. I was like okay, maybe this could work. Then I saw the first trailer and was completely on board. I had to see this opening weekend. So what's the final verdict? Well I didn't think anything could top Beasts of No Nation as the best movie I've seen this year, but Creed has done it. What an amazing movie!

Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) is the son of boxing legend Apollo Creed. He grew up knowing who his father was, but never met him since Apollo died before he was born.  He's also a boxer but wants to make a name for himself separate from his father. Needing a trainer, Adonis heads to Philadelphia and enlists the help of Apollo's good friend and former rival Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). 

The movie is directed by Ryan Coogler, who also directed Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvalle Station (a great movie that I highly recommend if you haven't seen it already). He does an amazing job providing a fresh take on the franchise and making it fit into this universe without being disrespectful. There's several nods to the original movies but it never feels like they're saying, "Hey look at this! Remember this? Wink wink." The way most of these types of movies do. Also, the cinematography is gorgeous and the editing is well done. There's this one fight scene that he filmed in one long take that just blew me away. All of the fight scenes were so well done that I completely forgot I was watching a movie and not an actual boxing match. And I'll say this about Ryan Coogler, he sure knows how to get great performances out of his actors. 

Speaking of that, boy do Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone deserve recognition come award season for their powerful performances. They work so well together. And it's nice to see Rocky isn't reduced to a cameo in this movie but has his own storyline. This is just as much his movie as it is Adonis's. It was so heartbreaking to watch that I couldn't help but tear up. I swear if Stallone doesn't at least get a Best Supporting Actor nomination then the Academy can go fuck themselves. 

Tessa Thompson is also in this playing Adonis's girlfriend Bianca. Did the movie really need a love interest? No. But it's not really a big part of the story and I liked the character so I didn't mind. 

The musical score by Ludwig Goransson fits wonderfully. Definitely another one I'll be adding to my iPod. And yes, you do briefly get to hear the original Rocky theme . I won't say what scene it's in but they couldn't have placed it better. Everyone in the audience got so excited. 

This was one of the best theater experiences I've had in a long time. People were so into it. The entire audience, myself included, were on the edge of their seats cheering and clapping. It was so much fun. 

Everyone should just stop what they're doing right now and go see Creed. I can't recommend this movie enough. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and walk out of the theater with a big smile on your face. I can't wait to see where they take the franchise from here. 

My Rating: 10/10

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Mockingjay part 2 (IMAX)

I can't believe it's all over. Not only does Mockingjay part 2 signify the end of The Hunger Games franchise, which I've been a huge fan of since the beginning, but most likely the last good YA franchise we'll ever see. Seriously, what else is there? Divergent? Ugh! Anyway, while Mockingjay was my least favorite of the books I really enjoyed part 1 of the movie adaptation. I think part 2 is just as good. Maybe even a little better. 

The movie takes place just days (maybe even minutes) after the events of part 1. Panem is now in full scale war, with each of the districts united against the Capitol. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and company make their way into the Capitol in an attempt to assassinate President Snow (Donald Sutherland, who has always played the role with such calmness that it's downright frightening). Of course, this won't be easy. Snow has laid out many deadly traps (called pods) throughout the city. In order to free Panem, Katniss risks losing everyone she loves. 

Director Francis Lawrence has once again done an excellent job bringing the book to life. I haven't read the book since right around the time the first movie came out but it seems like a pretty faithful adaptation. There were a few slight changes that I thought worked, although there were a few that didn't. My only complaints as far as the direction goes is that at times the movie felt rushed (despite its 2 hour 16 minute runtime). Also, there were some shots in the sewer scene that were so dark I couldn't tell who was who. But overall the direction was good with plenty of action that more than makes up for the slow set up of part 1. Not that I had a problem with that but I know some people did. 

Jennifer Lawrence continues to be one of my favorite actresses. She was the perfect choice for Katniss. This movie is so depressing and she really nails those scenes where she has to get super emotional. It broke my heart watching her. 

The one who I'd say has improved the most is Josh Hutcherson. In the first movie I just couldn't buy him as Peeta. But over time he has gotten better and now I love his interpretation of the character. 

I do have some other issues with the movie but those are really the same issues I had with the book. I would love to go into more details but then I would be spoiling too much. 

If you have a theater with an IMAX screen near you I highly recommend you see the movie in that format. It looks amazing and well worth the extra money. 

Bottom line, Mockingjay part 2 is a really good movie and a fitting conclusion to the series. While Catching Fire is still my favorite out of all of them, it's still worth seeing. A big thank you to Gary Ross and Francis Lawrence for bringing these wonderful characters to life. 

My Rating: 9/10

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Peanuts Movie (3D)

Like many people, I grew up watching The Peanuts. To this day I still watch the classic movies like The Great Pumpkin and Merry Christmas Charlie Brown whenever they're on TV. When I first heard they were making this, I was so afraid they would modernize it and ruin the charm. I'm happy to report that that's not the case here. The Peanuts Movie is amazing, cute, and really feels like one of the old movies. 

This time around, Charlie Brown tries his best to impress and win the heart of the Little Red Haired Girl. Of course, this isn't easy for him. Meanwhile, Snoopy writes a book about The Flying Ace- an epic story where he tries to rescue the love of his life, Fifi, from The Red Baron. 

And that's really it as far as the plot goes. It's pretty simple. Maybe a little too simple. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I just would've liked to have seen them do more with the story. 

The animation here is absolutely gorgeous. That was another thing I was worried about. I thought they would ruin the look of the characters with 3D animation but they didn't. Technically it's 3D but it still looks like 2D animation. 

The story was written by Charles Schulz's son and grandson- Craig and Bryan. They do an excellent job honoring their father's/grandfather's memory by creating a story that feels like something he would have written. It's very sweet with a great message. I'm not afraid to admit that I cried a little watching this. 

I'm really happy they decided to make The Peanuts Movie. It brings these wonderful characters back and introduces them to this generation. It's something both kids and adults can enjoy. 

My Rating: 9.5/10

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Spectre (IMAX)

Let me start off this review by saying that I'm a huge fan of Daniel Craig as Bond and of the last movie Skyfall. Hell, Skyfall was in my top ten favorite movies of that year. So I was very excited for Spectre, despite the not so great reviews. I'm sorry to say that as I was leaving the theater, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. Some of the movie was very good. But some of it was terrible. 

The movie takes place not long after the events of Skyfall. By the way, I wouldn't say you have to see Skyfall in order to see this. You might be a little confused at times but here they do a decent job of recapping things. This time around, Bond uncovers a cryptic message that leads him to discover the sinister organization known as Spectre. Meanwhile M (Ralph Fiennes) is struggling to keep MI-6 going despite political forces wanting to shut it down. 

The first maybe two thirds of the movie were actually pretty good. If you go into this expecting another Skyfall then you'll be disappointed. It's more of a funny, dumb (but still bad ass) action type of Bond but I was completely okay with that. However, the last third was such a mess. At least it was laughably bad though so I had a good time making fun of it. 

What really pissed me off was what they did with Christoph Waltz as Oberhausen. As usual, he does an amazing job. But I feel like he was wasted here. He was the perfect choice to play a Bond villain and when it's revealed what his motives are I was like, Are you kidding me?? That's it?

And don't even get me started on th theme song by Sam Smith. I have nothing against him but that song fucking sucked. It pales in comparison to the powerful song Adele did for Skyfall. I still get chills whenever I hear it. 

I would normally say wait til this comes to Netflix but the movies looks gorgeous on an IMAX screen and worth paying the extra money for. 

I really can only recommend this movie if you're a fan of James Bond and are curious to see how this plays out. This was Daniel Craig's last time as Bond. It's kind of sad that this is how it ends. 

My Rating: 6/10