BLACK PANTHER – REVIEW

BLACK PANTHER – REVIEW – Ryan Coogler’s new film is very good.

The new Marvel film Black Panther directed by Ryan Coogler is pretty good. There’s really no way to disentangle the movie from the phenomenon that it has become and, actually, why would you want to? It’s the first major black superhero movie – if you don’t count Blade, Blade II, Hancock, Blade III, Cat Woman and Meteor Man. The movie blew up at the box office and critical success and provided a generation of young kids with a role model and hero that looks like them for once.

And the film is very good. I’ve loved Chadwick Boseman since the criminally under-rated Get On Up. Here, he evinces a cool charisma as King T’Challa AKA Black Panther. Michael B. Jordan makes a convincing villain and Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright and Danai Gurira are each funny, smart and strong. The location of Wakanda is well realized, bringing Afrofuturism to the screen in a big way.

Does the film have problems? Yep. A few. The action wasn’t great. The casino fight seemed particularly difficult to follow. And the three tier showdown at the end, especially guy in one colored suit fights guy in identical suit of a different color smacked of formula. Although I like that the film isn’t about the death of the entire universe, the battle for a small hill between a handful of fighters seemed almost ridiculously small. Plus politically, although the film dipped its toe, surely the monarchy idea hampered its more progressive urges. In response to Killmonger’s dangerous revolutionary politics, T’Challa becomes a Bill Gates philanthropist, literally dropping in on the neighborhood and buying up real estate.

With the success of Wonder Woman and now Black Panther, studios hopefully will follow up with even more diversity. This can only be a good thing.

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CREED – REVIEW

CREED – REVIEW: Michael B. Jordan stars as Apollo Creed’s son who goes back in time to remake Rocky with Sylvester Stallone.

Michael B. Jordan is the beautifully name Narcissus Creed or Diaphanous Creed and Apollonius Creed. Shit, he’s called something. He’s had a troubled youth but with the help of his step mom he’s got a job in a good company and a future ahead of him. However, like father like son, Creed sneaks off to Mexico to get himself punched in the head on a regular basis. In order to finally pursue his dream, he makes his way to Philadelphia where, in the city of brotherly love, he meets up with his father’s former nemesis/friend Rocky Balboa, who reluctantly agrees to train him. As the media get wind of a great story, Creed is offered a shot at the title at Everton’s football ground in England (!?).

Ryan Coogler is to be applauded for having revamped Rocky in what is being called a legacy sequel – passing the movie franchise baton from one generation to the next (see also The Force Awakens). He films the fight scenes with the requisite dynamism and verve, though in giving us a jaw-dropping one shot punch up early on he rather shoots his bolt early. Ultimately, the Rocky franchise is one big family saga. Rewatching the whole bunch last Christmas, it’s amazing how well Stallone inhabits the character, even when the story around him is largely nonsense. The first Rocky is a wonderful character piece with a great sense of place which ought to compare favorably to Raging Bull. Jordan is a compelling son figure for the aging legend to mentor, though the relationship with Tessa Thompson’s singer ticks too many boxes and lands flat. A singer who is going deaf? Jesus Christ, I wonder if they had a whole list of tragic relationships. A painter who is going blind? No! A writer who is losing the plot? No! A ten pin bowler who is losing her fingers? etc.

As with Force Awakens, there are some beats which are so familiar as to fall into the realms of pastiche, and though I love Italian food normally, it would be better if these films relinquished some of their manufactured nostalgia to tell their own stories.

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DOMHNALL GLEESON NOT IN CREED

HOLLYWOOD – It was revealed today that Domhnall Gleeson was not in Creed and this is thought to be the reason that it was nominated for fewer Oscars than had been expected.

Domhnall Gleeson is not in Creed, it was revealed today and many are saying that this is the reason that Ryan Coogler’s boxing drama did not pick up as many Academy award nominations as expected. Michael B. Jordan plays the son of Apollo Creed who follows in his father’s footsteps and into the boxing ring, seeking tutelage from his father’s old opponent and friend Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone who picked up a supporting actor nomination). Sylvester Stallone spoke about the lack of Domhnall Gleeson in the film and how it might have hurt the award prospects:

We did actually have a role for Domhnall but then at the last minute the role got cut. He was going to play my grandson but the scene felt extraneous and there were a lot of scheduling problems and so in the end we cut it before we even went into production. What we didn’t know is that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts has this new rule that every film needs to have Domhnall Gleeson if it is to be a contender. Brooklyn, The Revenant, Ex Machina all passed the test but Creed regrettably didn’t. I think we should have shot the scene, but that’s with retrospect. I know that we’ve already hired Domhnall for the sequel Drago.

However, the Academy have denied that such a clause exists in the rules, stating that it is merely a coincidence that so many films have Domnhall in them this year.

Awards analyst Bertram Shrank told the Studio Exec:

It happens sometimes that one of these actors just seems to be everywhere all of a sudden. They’re cheap, they’re fresh and they have a great agent. Jessica Chastain did the same thing five years ago. And having Domhnall is no guarantee of Academy largess. Look at The Force Awakens which only managed to get technical nominations despite plenty of Domhnall Gleeson action.

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CREED NOTHING LIKE THE GAME, COMPLAIN FANS

HOLLYWOOD – The long awaited movie adaptation of the Assassin’s Creed video game Creed is now in theaters and fans are furious.

Directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone, Creed had all the promise of a surefire hit, but fan reaction has been harsh and the backlash looks set to continue. So what went wrong? Arch-fan and Creedian, Apollo X. Now told the Studio Exec EXCLUSIVELY about his disappointment.

We heard that they were making an adaptation of the game and we were excited but also nervous. It is a perfect game to adapt because of the narrative structure, the action and the epic scope, but we had been disappointed so many times.

So what went wrong Apollo?

The first danger sign came with the change in the title. From Assassin’s Creed to just Creed. We thought okay. This is like changing Star Wars to just Wars, but okay. Then Michael Fassbender who had been cast apparently dropped out and Michael B. Jordan who is a very talented actor came in.

Is it because he’s black?

No not at all. I had no problem with that but when I saw the movie they had just the whole concept of the game and indeed they seemed to have changed the actually genre in which the story works so well.

What do you mean?

Well, he kind of boxes all the time. He’s a boxer and there’s all this stuff about his father and this old guy (Stallone) who becomes his trainer and who knew his father. I mean’s it isn’t a bad movie at all. It just shouldn’t be called Creed because it has no connection to Assassin’s Creed at all.  If anything it reminded me of an old Rocky movie.

Isn’t it a Rocky movie though?

Sylvester Stallone kept answering to the name Rocky but I thought that was a meta-joke. You know post-modern. Look, if they want to make a Rocky movie that’s great, but why try to tie it in to Assassin’s Creed.

But isn’t the title a reference to Apollo Creed, the character’s father? I mean Michael B. Jordan’s character is called Adonis Creed.

Oh. Oh, I see. Okay. So it is a Rocky movie. Right. Wow. I got the wrong end of the…

Stick yeah. 

Shit. That’s embarrassing. Look forget I said anything.

No problem.

Wait, are you recording this?

Creed is currently in theaters.

 

 

MICHAEL FASSBENDER DROPS OUT OF CREED

HOLLYWOOD – Michael Fassbender has dropped out of Rocky spin off Creed [Click Here for the original story], due to artistic differences.

Michael Fassbender or the Counselor (as he prefers to be known) explained that his involvement in the boxing film – which follows the fortunes of Apollo Creed’s grandson – was actually a mistake.

I thought it was video game spin off Assassin’s Creed but I’d simply gone in the wrong door. Everyone was so nice and polite, but it was clear they weren’t expecting me and when I shot my first opponent with an arrow the director Ryan [Coogler] called me over and said there had been a communication breakdown.

Coogler said that Fassbender’s commitment to the part was uncanny and everyone has denied that this has anything whatsoever to do with race. ‘Michael is half German, half Irish, which is basically black,’ Ryan explained exclusively to the Studio Exec.

Michael Fassbender will be replaced by Fruitvale Station star Michael B. Jordan.

Creed will be released in 2015.