Film Review: Creed II

Director Steven Caple Jr.’s sequel Creed II hits all the expected notes, but does it well enough to get viewers onside. The film is immensely entertaining.

A few years after his breakout fight, Adonis Creed’s star is on the ascent. As he rises in the boxing world, he receives a new challenge. His intended opponent is Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago…

A sequel to the 2015 hit Creed, this film sees Ryan Coogler pass the directing baton to Steven Caple Jr. (Coogler stays on as executive producer). Creed II picks up a couple of years after its predecessor. Protagonist Adonis Creed’s underdog becomes a champion, only for a new challenger to emerge. Creed II treads a familiar beat; the film will be reminiscent for fans of the Rocky franchise. The protagonist goes on enough of an emotional journey to engage with viewers. Likewise, there is development from Rocky Balboa, fitting nicely into the mentor mode adopted in the previous film. 

With the reappearance of Ivan Drago, the film loops back to Rocky IV. Whilst not a remake of the 1985 film, Creed II follows a very similar narrative path. In a sense, it is both a remake and a sequel. The use of footage from the 1985 film further emphasises this. Although the film concentrates on Adonis’ journey, there is enough about the Drago family to give this opponent motive and backstory. 

Caple Jr. does not shy away from the brutality of the boxing with some gory depictions. There are some nice shots; Adonis’ reflection in the trophy cabinet springs to mind. Music is used well, combining aspects of the Rocky theme with more contemporary tracks. Michael B. Jordan is convincing again as Adonis Creed. He offers both charisma and a heathy degree of authenticity. Tessa Thompson and Sylvester Stallone provide good support. Dolph Lindgren is also a welcome presence. The return of a few characters from the original franchise is a nice touch. 

Creed II is predictable in places, but this hardly matters when it is such an enjoyable watch.

Previews: Creed II Clip, Uglydolls, More!

Lots of film-related goodness in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including a new Creed II clip, Uglydolls, Missing Link, and more…

Creed II Clip

Here is a brand new Creed II clip. A sequel to 2016’s Creed, the film sees the return of Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, and Tessa Thompson. They are joined by a face from the original franchise; Dolph Lundgren reprises his role as Ivan Drago. Directed by Steven Caple Jr., Creed II will hit UK screens on 30th November 2018.

Uglydolls Trailer

Here is the first trailer for animated adventure Uglydolls. Based on the toy brand, the film is about the residents of Uglyville, who confront what it means to be different. The film features original songs by Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monáe, and Blake Shelton. Uglydolls is set for release on 16th August 2019.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Poster

Above is the latest poster for the upcoming Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the film focuses on a different Spider-Man universe. With an all-star voice cast (including Mahershala Ali, Hailee Steinfeld, and Nicolas Cage), Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is out in UK cinemas on 12th December, with previews on 8th and 9th December 2018.

Missing Link Trailer

Missing Link is the latest film from animation studio Laika. The film is about an explorer who  discovers the world’s most legendary creature. Featuring the voices of Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, and Zoe Saldana, Missing Link is set for release on 5th April 2019.

Aquaman Poster

Here is one of the latest posters from the upcoming DC film Aquaman. Nicole Kidman stars as Queen Atlanna in the film. She is joined by Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, and Willem Dafoe. Directed by James Wan, Aquaman will hit UK screens on 14th December 2018.

White Boy Rick Trailer

White Boy Rick is based on the true story. Set in 1980s Detroit, during the height of the war on drugs, the film is about a father and his teenage son, who becomes a police informant. The film stars Matthew McConaughey, Richie Merritt, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Brian Tyree Henry. White Boy Rick is being released in UK cinemas on 7th December 2018.

Previews: Creed II Trailer, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, More!

Some hotly-anticipated films in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the brand new Creed II trailer, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, First Man, and more…

Creed II Trailer

The new Creed II trailer was released today. The sequel to the very successful Creed, the film sees Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, and Tessa Thompson returning. They are joined by Dolph Lundgren, who reprises his role as the iconic Ivan Drago. Steven Caple Jr. takes over director duties from Ryan Coogler, who stays on as an executive producer. Creed II will hit UK cinemas on 30th November 2018.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix Poster

We are finally getting a look at the upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The film reunites the X-Men: Days of Future Past cast, including Sophie Turner, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Jennifer Lawrence. The cast also includes the new addition of Jessica Chastain. The film is the directorial debut of Simon Kinberg, writer of the previous two X-Men films. X-Men: Dark Phoenix will be be released in cinemas next year.

First Man Featurette

Above is a featurette on Damien Chapelle’s latest, First Man. Chazelle reunites with his La La Land lead actor Ryan Gosling in this story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon. The film also stars Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, and Kyle Chandler. Written by Josh Singer, First Man launches on to UK screens on 12th October 2018.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of the Grindelwald Trailer

Above is the final trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of the Grindelwald. The film is a sequel to 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Johnny Depp, and Ezra Miller return, and are joined by Jude Law. Based on a screenplay by J.K. Rowling, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of the Grindelwald will be released in UK cinemas on 16th November 2018.

Previews: 10 Cloverfield Lane Trailer, Sing Street and more!

Plenty of film previews this week, including the 10 Cloverfield Lane trailer, Sing Street, The Secret Life of Pets and more…

10 Cloverfield Lane Trailer

This is a bit of a surprise. From the 10 Cloverfield Lane trailer, it is unclear whether the film is a sequel, prequel or sidequel to Cloverfield. Produced by J.J. Abrams, the film features Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman seemingly as survivalists living in a basement. I’m sure more will be revealed soon. 10 Cloverfield Lane hits UK screens on 8th April 2016.

Sing Street Trailer

Set in 1980s Dublin, Sing Street is about a boy who is forced to transfer from a private school to a inner-city state school. Starring Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Aiden Gillen, the film is set to have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Sing Street will be released in UK cinemas on 22nd April 2016.

The Secret Life of Pets Trailer

This trailer exhibits why no one should ever have a pet snake. The Secret Life of Pets is about what domesticated animals get up to whilst their humans are at work. The film features the voices of Kevin Hart, Louis C.K. and Eric Stonestreet. I think it will be one of my favourite animated films of the year, if filmmakers get things right. The Secret Life of Pets is out on 24th June 2016 in the UK.

Money Monster Trailer

Julia Roberts and George Clooney team up again for real-time thriller Money Monster. Julia Roberts is the producer of host George Clooney’s financial show when they are taken hostage live on air. Directed by Jodie Foster, Monster Money is set for release in May 2016.

Hail, Cesar! Trailer

The more I see of the Coen brothers’ new comedy Hail, Cesar!, the more I am looking forward to it. The film stellar cast is enough of a draw, yet the film also looks as if it will be hilarious. Moreover, I have just noticed that Dolph Lundgren stars in this. Give the film all the Oscars next year! Hail, Cesar! sweeps onto UK screens on 4th March 2016.

The Expendables 3 Press Conference

The Expendables 3

Last week the cast of The Expendables 3 were in London to discuss making the film, on-set injuries, and the future of the franchise. Heading the cast, Sylvester Stallone was joined by Kellan Lutz, Antonio Banderas, Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes and producer Avi Lerner. Here are the highlights…

On injuries sustained…

Antonio Banderas: I think I got an injury the first take I did in the movie. I carried it all the way through the move, but I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want them to think I was getting older.

Sylvester Stallone: Jason [Statham] actually saw death in the bottom of the Black Sea. He’s very modest about it. He drove a five ton truck sixty feet down into black mud… because I cut the break line. That’s a little reveal, by the way.

Wesley Snipes: I broke a nail…

Stallone: …in someone’s eye.

On violence in The Expendables 3…

Stallone: The idea of PG-13; we wanted to hit a broader audience. And our predecessors, looking at the Bournes and James Bonds, they are pretty violent films. They are extremely graphic without pushing it. When we do the DVD, then you’ll see the next eighty frames and you’ll say ‘oh, there it is’. Also I thought the amount of violence, the amount of warfare in this movie, if it was graphic, after a while it would be too much. Even though I personally enjoy it, I think it would be pushing the envelope. Also it would diminish the humour.

On The Expendabelles…

Stallone: You don’t have to totally depend on actresses per se – you’re going to need a certain kind of physicality to pull that off… With The Expendabelles we have a situation here where we’re in unchartered waters. Are The Expendabelles part of a divorce with Barney, and say Sigourney Weaver as my wife and she inherited half the Expendables. So it’s all these things you are trying to concoct, so when we do it, it doesn’t languish there… it’s actually something that would hold its own.

Avi Lerner: We are right now finalising the script, we have lots of ideas about who is going to be the action movie stars. We are planning to do it the beginning of next year.

On favourite action sequences…

Kellan Lutz: You know honestly, being a part of this movie. To date, I’ve done only a few action movies.

Banderas: Anything that has to do with horses and sword-fighting.

Stallone: Overall, I would say dealing with Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV, that was brutal. He was so unbelievably powerful, it’s hard to describe. The idea of sustaining a fifteen-round fight and you know that it took six months, so it’s really on long stunt. That’s what I am really proud of; I know I can never come close to something like that today.

The Expendables 3 is out in cinemas now.

Trailer Round-Up

This week, we have new trailers for Oz The Great Powerful, Dredd and Hope Springs, as well as a clip from The Expendables 2 and the latest TV spot from The Dark Knight Rises.

Oz The Great and Powerful

Despite not being a hit on its initial release, The Wizard of Oz has gone on to become one of the best-loved fantasy films, and an influence on countless others. Given the success of the musical Wicked, it is unsurprising that a new film based on L. Frank Baum’s stories has been made. Oz The Great and Powerful concentrates on the young wizard, played by James Franco. The film, which also stars Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams, is due for release in March 2013.

Dredd

This is an interesting teaser. Based on the comic book character, Dredd seems to be playing up the stylistic violence with its slow-motion close ups. Starring Karl Urban, Dredd will inevitably be compared to Judge Dredd, the 1995 Sylvester Stallone starrer. Dredd is out in cinemas on 7th September 2012.

Hope Springs

Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones star in Hope Springs, a comedy drama about getting the magic back in a long-term marriage. The thing that strikes me first about the trailer is how Meryl Streep seems to be able to transform herself so easily. Streep looks every inch the dowdy housewife, a strong departure from her glamorous public persona. Also starring Steve Carell, Hope Springs is out on 14th September 2012.

The Expendables 2

Here’s a very short clip from The Expendables 2. I really hope this is indicative of the entire film, with its cheesy dialogue, its ambiguous ‘other’ antagonists, and a high body count. I also hope that Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger feature heavily, even though the latter two are more likely to appear in a cameo capacity. The Expendables 2 is out in cinemas on 16th August 2012.

The Dark Knight Rises

A week to go until The Dark Knight Rises is released and I cannot wait. Above is the latest TV spot for the film. With the plethora of clips and spots that have been released in the last few weeks to promote the film, I have tried to avoid watching all of them, lest too much be revealed. If you just can’t get enough TDKR watch them all here. The Dark Knight Rises is out on 20th July 2012.

Stuff To Look At

Some delights for the eyeballs with Frankenweenie, Monsters University, The Expendables 2 and Pitch Perfect.

Frankenweenie

With these images, you are really spoiling us, Disney. Not content with releasing the first image of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent at the beginning of the week, Disney have also furnished us with new images from Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. Obviously, I am choosing to share the image of Sparky, the hot piece dog at the centre of the film. Frankenweenie is due for release on 17th October 2012.

Monsters University

I have a terrible confession to make. I have never actually seen Monsters Inc. I know, shoot me down. Many centuries ago, in my brief stint as a ‘Cast Member’ for The Disney Store, we used to sell all kinds of Sully-emblazoned merchandise. Thus, I am aware of the characters and the general happenings of the film, even though I have never watched Monsters Inc. The follow up, prequel Monsters University, is due for release next summer so I have plenty of time to see the original.

The Expendables 2

Of the films out this summer, The Expendables 2 is one I am really looking forward to. With the inclusion of Jason Statham, Jet Li and others, The Expendables 2 is not really an eighties action star reunion. Nevertheless, the film does feature Norris, Stallone, Lundgren, Schwarzenegger and Willis. Not exactly a bad cast. The Expendables 2 is out in cinemas on 16th August and I cannot wait.

Pitch Perfect

What’s this? Another Glee-inspired film about a singing competition? Yes and no. Like Joyful Noise, it is unlikely that the success of Glee did not impact Pitch Perfect being green lit. However, the film seems to have more of an attitude than the television show, so hopefully amusement will trump saccharine sentiment. Pitch Perfect is out in UK cinemas on 19th October 2012.