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Saturday, November 28, 2015


Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) never knew his famous father, world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, who died before he was born. Still, there’s no denying that boxing is in his blood, so Adonis heads to Philadelphia, the site of Apollo Creed’s legendary match with a tough upstart named Rocky Balboa. Once in the City of Brotherly Love, Adonis tracks Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) down and asks him to be his trainer. Despite his insistence that he is out of the fight game for good, Rocky sees in Adonis the strength and determination he had known in Apollo—the fierce rival who became his closest friend. Agreeing to take him on, Rocky trains the young fighter, even as the former champ is battling an opponent more deadly than any he faced in the ring. With Rocky in his corner, it isn’t long before Adonis gets his own shot at the title...but can he develop not only the drive but also the heart of a true fighter, in time to get into the ring?

Director: Ryan Coogler

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Ritchie Coster

Release Date: Nov 25, 2015

Rated PG-13 Violence, Some Sensuality and Language

Runtime: 2 hr. 13 min.

Genres: Drama


Ryan Coogler’s Creed is one of the rare sports films that works for an actual sports fan.  It’s structure is very similar to the past Rocky movies and there isn’t much surprise about what goes down during it’s somewhat extended runtime.  Still it works on various levels because of some excellent direction and strong performances from Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone.  Coogler pulls off an effective redux of the original Rocky story that’s engaging enough to keep everyone engaged throughout.  It’s clear that Coogler is a big fan of the original film and it come through the screen.  Michael B. Jordan is focused and believable as the upcoming boxing trying to make a name for himself.  The real surprise though is Stallone who delivers one of his best performances in years.  It’s been so long since Stallone has fallen into a parody of himself that it’s easy to forget that he was a capable actor at one point.  Stallone’s work is heartfelt and reflective.  He and Jordan share some solid chemistry together making it easy to care about their journey.  Creed isn’t a perfect film though.  The structure is very well worn and characters seem to appear and disappear regularly with Phylicia Rashad left acting alone reacting to a TV.  Its far from a fatal flaw but it does feel like a missed opportunity to expand on certain relationships and characters.  As a boxing fan, nothing takes me out of a film quicker than staged fights that instantly feel inauthentic.  It’s a difficult thing to pull off because of the nature of the sport but Creed does an excellent job of pulling off the illusion for the most part, there’s rarely that much chatting between rounds from the fighters.  As a whole though, Creed finds the essence of the original film which isn’t a small feat considering this is 7th entry in the long running franchise.  


Friday, November 27, 2015

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of Victor Frankenstein & Creed

Dearest Blog: Thanks to my employer's generous early dismissal yesterday, I got an early start on the holiday weekend at Marquee Cinemas. 
Hollywood owed me an apology for those two stinkers last weekend, and I'm pleased to report they couldn't better have made up for it than with Victor Frankenstein and Creed. Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers. 
First on my agenda: Victor Frankenstein, a new twist on an oft-told tale. Victor Frankenstein is much more a story of man than monster, a sort of "origins" movie, told from the perspective of Frankenstein's young associate, Igor. Daniel Radcliffe effectively continues to distance himself from his Harry Potter days, running the physical and emotional gamut as Igor. He is fantastic! James McAvoy brings the crazy to his entertaining portrayal the (in)famous Victor Frankenstein, perpetual frantic motion and spit. (Seriously, had this been filmed in California, they'd no longer have a drought problem.) 
The movie boasts lovely costumes and set design, a healthy dose of humor, some groovy effects, the expectedly-high gross-out factor...annnnnd...for as much as we see of him, the Monster looks terrific. 
Victor Frankenstein runs a quick 109 minutes and is rated PG13 for "macabre images, violence, and a sequence of destruction." As with any re-imagining of a classic, Victor Frankenstein won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I kinda loved it. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Victor Frankenstein gets seven. 
Next on the docket, the latest installment in the Rocky saga: Creed. An aging Rocky Balboa reluctantly signs on to train the young son of his friend and former rival Apollo Creed. 
It's a holiday weekend in the US and I'm sure everyone's busy with family and friends and shopping, but as a self-decreed Internet authority, I must insist you MAKE TIME TO GET OUT AND SEE THIS MOVIE. 
Michael B. Jordan is amazing as the young Creed--so good you'll have no choice but to forgive that last Fantastic Four movie!--and Sylvester Stallone is as reliable as you'd expect as the reluctant mentor. 
I'm sure he could play Rocky in his sleep by now, yet he's no less effective, sympathetic, or heartbreaking for it. Creed moves at a good clip, despite a runtime that's a tad longer than it needs to be. 
The boxing action is well executed--and thus a bit much for the non-enthusiast--and the story is extremely well crafted. If the movie is a tad hokey at times, it's so much more genuine and emotional and inspirational, with just enough of the right kind of humor at the right times. 
The Liverpudlian baddie is so broadly drawn I half-expected his walkup music to be Love Me Do, but that's a tiny quibble with what's overall a really-extra-super-great movie. (Also his handler is Dwalin from the Hobbit, so...POINTS!) Creed clocks in at 133 minutes and is rated PG13 for "violence, language, and some sensuality." 
Creed will leave you feeling like Judd Nelson at the end of The Breakfast Club. It is everything I love about movies. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Creed gets eight. Until next time...

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Every Christmas Eve for the last decade, best friends Isaac (Seth Rogen), Ethan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and Chris (Anthony Mackie) have reunited for a wild night on the town in New York City. But since the guys are getting older and have to face new responsibilities, their tradition is about to come to an end. As a result, they plan one last epic night together, which includes finding their way to a legendary party called the Nutcracka Ball. Lizzy Caplan, Miley Cyrus, Mindy Kaling, Jillian Bell, and Michael Shannon co-star. Directed by Jonathan Levine. ~ Jennifer Lackman, Rovi

Director: Jonathan Levine     

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie, Lizzy Caplan, Michael Shannon.

Release Date: Nov 20, 2015    

Rated R for

Runtime: 1 hr. 41 min.    

Genres: Buddy Film, Holiday Film, Comedy    


The Night Before is a solid stoner comedy that never really hits its marks consistently enough to elevate it above better comedies of its ilk.  Jonathan Levine moves his film along at a brisk pace which helps when we run into one of the many dead spots in the film.  When it hits its mark it’s really funny with Seth Rogen and Michael Shannon delivering the best bits.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie are decent but they don’t quite have the comedic timing that Rogen pulls off so well.  The film is pepper with plenty of comedy stalwarts and each takes advantage of their time on screen.  It has all the hallmarks of what should be a classic comedy but it just never gets there for some reason.  



In the conclusion of the global-phenomenon, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) stakes her claim as the leader of District 13 and commands the revolution against the brutal dictatorship of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol. Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, and Julianne Moore all return to reprise their roles one last time, with Francis Lawrence continuing his directorial duties. ~ Daniel Gelb, Rovi

Director: Francis Lawrence    

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Dormer, Julianne Moore, Wes Chatham, Elden Henson.

Release Date: Nov 20, 2015    

Rated PG-13 for Intense sequences of violence and action, and for some thematic material    

Runtime: 2 hr. 16 min.    

Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Family, Sci-Fi/Fantasy    


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is unfortunately a laborious slog to the finish line of the franchise.  It’s never a particularly bad movie Francis Lawrence’s direction is solid throughout as are most of the performances from the films cast.  Jennifer Lawrence is fairly comfortable in Katniss skin and she does a solid job of showing us all sides of the character’s constant perturbness.  Donald Sutherland does get plenty of credit for perfecting the art of eyebrow acting.  The biggest issue at play here is the film’s story just isn’t that interesting.  The story plays out exactly as expected throughout with very little surprise and it never really builds to a crescendo to finish off the story.  It’s probably a result of unnecessarily stretching the story out to 2 films when it could have been handled ably in 1 film.  As it stands the final film delivers some solid action sequences and throws some character deaths at you to keep you awake during the 2 hours plus runtime but none of it carries all that much weight when it’s all said and done.

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