Saturday, December 15, 2018

Creed 2

I thought the first Creed movie was pretty good so I've been looking forward to the sequel coming out this month. I'd like to start by saying my hat is off to Sylvester Stalone for slowly phasing out of the staring role and not making it all about him over the last couple of movies in the series. As Rocky's character has aged he has become more wise, likeable, and caring as a supporting character and I've enjoyed seeing him take on that role.

There were so many things I liked about Creed 2. It was a great movie with several complex side stories to keep your attention. Aside from the main character's obvious boxing career, there are the challenges with his mother, wife, young child, and even a rift he went through with Rocky.

Dolph Lundgren was great reprising his role as an older, bitter Ivan Drago who has channeled so much anger into training his son Victor.. Florian Munteamu was a beast of a specimen but only ended up speaking a few sentences during the film. As their story developed I surprisingly found myself empathizing with the villains when I realized that they were also both victims.

This movies features the usual fighting and workout montages you would expect in the Rocky franchise. I appreciated how the boxing choreography was cleaned up and more realistic than some of the earlier Rocky movies. In prior movies the camera angles frequently exposed many fake punches that missed their mark by 6 inches but I didn't notice that in this film. It also added a sense of credibility to see Michael Buffer as the ring announcer, Stitch Duran as the cutman, and HBO boxing analysts.

Aside from the action, this movie is not just a testosterone-fest. There is plenty of drama and several tender and touching moments and I was surprised how emotional I got in some parts. Michael B. Jordan is a great actor and gave a very convincing performance. I give Creed a solid 8.0 stars.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

I don't usually go to kid's movies but I recently went to see Nutcracker and the Four Realms with my family. It started a little slow but I won't complain since it could have been much slower if we went to an actual ballet. The movie is based on the Nutcracker but takes plenty of liberties by embellishing a story about a girl who's mother recently passed away and left her a key to a secret world. The score was well done but people who are expecting to see the Nutcracker might not appreciate all the changes.

The girl travels to a magical world and discovers that there are four realms or kingdoms and one of them is warring with the others. She makes friends with several characters as she attempts to save the kingdom. There are some plot twists towards the end which I'm proud to say I predicted. The movie stars Mckenzie Foy who I thought did a good job. She seemed more natural and believable than other young actors I've seen in other movies.

This movie was kind of like the Nutcracker meets Narnia, meets Wizard of Oz. The film also features Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and Keira Knightley who I was embarrassed to admit I did not even recognize under all the make up until it listed her name in the end credits.

I think I noticed an Easter egg in one scene that takes place in a circus tent. There is an organ with some figurines on it and I thought one of them was Ursulla the sea witch from Little Mermaid. I could have just imagined it or been confused since nobody else in my family noticed it. Anyway that has nothing to do with the plot but it caught my attention.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms had great visuals and special effects and was original in many ways yet it was also predictable. I would think most families and kids would like it. I give it just 6.0 stars.
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