Movie Review: “Creed”

Starring
Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Tony Bellew, Graham McTavish
Director
Ryan Coogler

After garnering critical acclaim for his directorial debut “Fruitvale Station,” the last thing anyone expected from Ryan Coogler’s much-anticipated follow-up was a spin-off/sequel to a movie franchise that’s last meaningful installment was released 30 years ago. Coogler is just the latest in an ongoing trend of indie directors (Colin Trevorrow, Josh Trank, etc.) who have been plucked by the studios to revive major Hollywood properties despite their lack of experience, though you wouldn’t know it from watching “Creed.” Reuniting with his “Fruitvale Station” star Michael B. Jordan, Coogler has created an energizing addition to the “Rocky” series that doesn’t just succeed as a respectful passing of the torch, but as one of the best “Rocky” movies ever made.

Jordan stars as Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of former boxing champion Apollo Creed, who was taken in at a young age by Apollo’s widow, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad), after bouncing around the foster care system as a kid. Born after Apollo was tragically killed in the ring, Adonis grew up never knowing his father (which is why he goes by his mother’s maiden name), but has chosen to follow in his footsteps. When he gives up a promising job at an investment firm to focus on his boxing career, Adonis leaves Los Angeles for Philadelphia in the hopes of convincing local legend Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to train him. Though Rocky declines the offer at first, he eventually agrees to take the young Adonis – a self-taught fighter with raw talent, but who’s lacking the refinement of proper training – under his wing. Adonis is adamant about forging his own path without the help of his father’s legacy, but when his secret is revealed and he’s offered a fight against the reigning world champion, he must prove to himself (and his detractors) that he’s worthy of the Creed name.

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Movie Review: Fantastic Four

Starring
Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Tobey Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson
Director
Josh Trank

“Fantastic Four” is perhaps this summer’s most frustrating movie. Films that are consistently terrible are generally not frustrating, because they rarely show any potential beyond what they are. But that’s not the case with co-writer/director Josh Trank’s “Fantastic Four,” a movie full of potential that it’s not allowed to deliver upon.

Years after director Tim Story’s bland take on the superhero team, the filmmaker behind 2012’s “Chronicle” gives us a grounded vision of the Marvel heroes. The players – Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Susan Storm (Kate Mara), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) – remain the same, except they’re much younger and, at the start of the film, aren’t very close, with the exception of Ben and Reed.

Ever since Reed was a little kid, he showed signs of genius, but that genius was always misunderstood. The only person who truly gets him is Ben, who supports his dream of teleportation. One day, Reed’s teleporting device is noticed by Susan and Johnny’s father, Dr. Storm (Reg E. Cathey), at a science fair, which lands him a spot at the Baxter Building, a place for brilliant minds. Dr. Storm has been trying to crack interdimensional travel for years, and he uncovers the final piece of the puzzle in Reed. With the help of Susan, Johnny and the brilliant by cold Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), Reed gets the job done, but unfortunately, the government doesn’t want to send a bunch of kids to another dimension. While drunk one night, the young scientists (along with Ben) suit up and transport themselves to that other dimension, which leads to disastrous results.

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