Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Movie Review: Denial (2016)

A courtroom drama centred on the Holocaust, Denial explores the difficulty of debunking ridiculous conspiracy theorists.

It's 1994, and in Atlanta, Georgia, American professor of Holocaust studies Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) writes a book condemning the lies of Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall), a British historian specializing in Nazi Germany, and a fan of Adolf Hitler. In London, Irving files a libel lawsuit against Lipstadt. To mount a defence she turns to celebrated lawyer Anthony Julius (Andrew Scott), who represented Princess Diana, and his partner Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson).

As part of their case preparations Deborah and Richard visit the remains of the Auschwitz concentration camp and meet with Holocaust researchers. Julius and Rampton clash with Deborah on whether she should testify or not, and on whether Holocaust survivors should be called as witnesses. In 2000 the libel case finally makes its way to court, creating a media circus, with Irving representing himself.

Based on a true story as published in Lipstadt's book and directed by Mick Jackson, Denial is a relatively low-key affair, despite tackling one of history's worst atrocities. Due to England's rather eccentric libel laws, the onus is on the defendant to prove their statements as factual, resulting in the bizarre necessity for Lipstadt and her team to justify calling Irving a liar because, well, the Holocaust indeed did happen. Towards this quest the film achieves and sustains a modest level of engagement, but never rises to any heights.

A couple of problems hold Denial back. The first is the mismatch in resources and talent invested in each side of the legal battle. Jackson is only interested in Lipstadt and her well-resourced team containing some of the top legal minds in Britain. On the opposite side of the aisle Irving is a frumpy, lonely presence with no support, and the film never delves into his thinking or preparations, essentially defanging the antagonist. Resources do not necessarily equate to success, but a heavyweight with a full entourage will rarely lose to an untrained lightweight.

Another obstacle for the film is the central character silenced in her own story. Most of the tension is derived from Lipstadt disagreeing with her legal team's lean and scholarly strategy to keep the focus on Irving's lies. The lawyers prevent her from testifying and resist her advocacy for Holocaust survivors to appear as witnesses. Begrudgingly Lipstadt has the good sense to recognize that she is a professor and her lawyers are the courtroom experts, but this also means that for most of the second half of the film Denial is about grey lawyers doing their thing. Wilkinson as the barrister Rampton shines in these scenes, but he is always a secondary character in the story.

Nevertheless, there is still plenty to admire. Jackson delivers a taut 110 minutes of drama, keeping the focus on the case across seven years from 1994 to 2000. The scenes at Auschwitz are suitably affecting. Weisz and Spall join Wilkinson in delivering sturdy performances, and the film manages to throw in a minor source of uncertainty near the climax, raising the question of whether a man who believes his own lies is actually lying or not.

Denial is a worthwhile story told with genuine heart, but a case of proving a buffoon is a buffoon can only carry so much weight.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Movie Review: Equity (2016)

A drama about greed, ambition and ethics set in the financial sector, Equity is a refreshing female perspective on a cut-throat world.

In New York City, Naomi Bishop (Anna Gunn) is a senior executive at an investment bank specializing in initial public offerings (IPOs). Her reputation takes a hit when her latest stock launch proves undervalued. Naomi is in a relationship with Michael Connor (James Purefoy), a senior broker at the same bank, who is always on the lookout for insider tips to feed to shady hedge fund managers.

Naomi's key assistant on the IPO files is Erin Manning (Sarah Megan Thomas) who is getting increasingly frustrated about a lack of recognition. Meanwhile, Naomi's former classmate Samantha Ryan (Alysia Reiner) works as a public attorney investigating insider trading. Naomi's next big file is the public launch of tech firm Cachet, but plenty of personal agendas will conspire against her.

Directed by Meera Menon with a script by Amy Fox, Equity is surprisingly effective for a relatively low-budget production with no big screen star names. Although the film often looks like a slick television pilot episode with basic production values and minimal location shooting, Menon builds up a decent head of steam in the story of backstabbing, egotism and avarice.

The film almost passes as a female version of Wall Street, and Fox even conjures up an equivalent to Gordon Gekko's Greed speech:

Naomi: But I really do like money. I like knowing that I have it. [...] I am so glad that it's finally acceptable for women to talk about ambition openly. But don't let money be a dirty word. We can like that too.

But the women have more to deal with than just dollars and deals. Erin is pregnant, and almost certain that her career, already stalled, will go into reverse. Naomi's future trajectory is also in doubt, as her boss - a man of course - prepares to retire and she is deemed unfit to succeed him because of one botched deal. And Samantha is grappling with the choice of being relatively poor but ethical or potentially rich but on the same side of the fence as all the corrupt bankers she investigates. Nevertheless, she does not hesitate to seduce a clueless target with her feminine charms to extract information.

Equity's main weakness is in focussing too intently on the business machinations, particularly in the second half. Once the Cachet IPO takes centre stage, Equity rides a singular rail, and the private lives of the women are relegated to the deep background. The result is a brisk 100 minutes, but the characters are short-changed, despite solid work from Anna Gunn (best known for Breaking Bad), Sarah Megan Thomas and Alysia Reiner (Orange Is The New Black). In addition to playing lead roles, Reiner and Thomas also co-produced and conceived the story with Fox.

As Naomi's latest IPO hurtles to its chaotic conclusion with Erin and Samantha contributing to the whirlwind, Equity makes its most effective point: male or female, in the world of high-stakes finance looking out for number one is always rule number one.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Movie Review: Before We Go (2014)

A whimsical romance, Before We Go is overly familiar and only mildly enjoyable.

It's past midnight at New York City's Grand Central Station. Nick (Chris Evans) is an aspiring trumpeter in town for an audition and debating whether to attend a party where his ex-girlfriend Hannah (Emma Fitzpatrick) will be present. Art consultant Brooke (Alice Eve) rushes through the station but misses her train home to Boston, while dropping and shattering her phone.

Brooke had her purse stolen earlier in the evening, and Nick himself is broke, but he anyway attempts to help her find a means of transportation. Their interactions are initially awkward as they are both wary of each other and hiding emotional traumas: Nick never got over Hannah, and Brooke's marriage is in trouble. As the night transitions into dawn with various misadventures, the two strangers start to become friends.

Directed by Evans in his debut behind the camera, Before We Go combines elements from many previous bittersweet romances including Brief Encounter, the Before Sunrise trilogy, and Lost In Translation. The film offers almost no original concepts. The two lover-to-be meet at a transportation hub, they are drawn together despite each struggling with emotional scars and self-doubt, and gradually they open up and become close as they share a few amusing, slightly wacky but ultimately harmless experiences over one long night.

The story of course is filled with unexplained coincidences, artificial meet-cute set-ups and forlorn stares into the distance as the personal problems of two souls lost in the night are magnified into crises. And while Nick and Brooke both carry appeal, the script (four writers are credited for a 95 minute movie) never resolves why a successful art expert would invest more than a second glance at a busker frittering his life away because of a failed relationship six years prior.

Despite the overwhelming staleness of the material, Evans and Eve make the most of what they have, and take turns trading scenes of sharing, at first laced with the frostiness of caution and later much more open and honest. Both actors do well in touching tender emotions without dipping into melodrama. Evans' directing is understated rather than flashy, and he makes good use of nighttime locations. A few clumsy edits make their way into the final cut.

Before We Go is an inoffensive story of an unlikely romance, but too obviously shallow and derivative to matter.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Movie Review: Airport 1975 (1974)

An in-flight disaster movie, Airport 1975 is cheap, cheesy, and the birth ground for countless classic cliches.

Columbia Air Lines Flight 409 is a red eye from Washington to Los Angeles on board a Boeing 747. The head flight attendant is Nancy Pryor (Karen Black), who has a troubled relationship with her non-committal boyfriend Captain Alan Murdock (Charlton Heston), the airline's Chief Flight Instructor.

Captain Stacy (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.) is in charge of the flight. The passengers include Mrs. Patroni (Susan Clark), who is the wife of the airline's Vice President for Operations Joe Patroni (George Kennedy), a couple of nuns (Helen Reddy and Martha Scott), a young girl being transferred for a kidney transplant (Linda Blair), a retired movie star (Gloria Swanson, playing herself), a trio of drinking buddies, and a heavy drinking older woman (Myrna Loy).

Meanwhile, businessman Scott Freeman (Dana Andrews) takes off in his small Beechcraft plane to fly to a meeting. Due to severe fog both flights are diverted to Salt Lake City. Freeman suffers a massive in-flight heart attack, and his out of control small plane strikes the cockpit of the 747. The flight deck crew are all incapacitated, and Nancy has to take over the controls. Over patchy radio communications, Murdock and Joe Patroni have to keep Nancy calm and find a way to help her.

Directed by Jack Smight, Airport 1975 is the first sequel to 1970's Airport. Featuring a large cast of mostly fading star names packed into the plane with really nothing to do, the film is most famous for giving life to most of the stereotypes later mercilessly exploited in 1980's Airplane!. The singing nun, the sick child, the drunk guys, the token black dudes, the fading movie diva: they are all here. As are the macho Charlton Heston and George Kennedy, barking away in loud voices at no one in particular and bumbling about trying to shout and shove their way to a solution.

The special effects are low quality, the characters are cardboard cutouts, the dialogue is laughably bad, and the female flight attendants are subjected to rampant sexism. And for a disaster movie the film is remarkably devoid of any sort of excitement, action or suspense. The mid-air collision literally takes place in the blink of an eye. What precedes the mishap is boring, and what follows mainly consists of Karen Black sitting in the Captain's chair, looking particularly cross-eyed as she follows mundane instructions over the radio.

Back in the passenger compartments the actors are up to nothing in particular, and even Linda Blair as the young transplant patient does not appear unduly concerned. Just when you need the devil to show up and add some head-spinning carnage and turbulence-induced vomit to a movie, he is nowhere to be found.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Movie Review: Allied (2016)

A World War Two spy drama and romance, Allied features a stellar Marion Cotillard performance but gets everything else wrong.

It's 1942, and Canadian Wing Commander Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) parachutes into Morocco and connects with Free French resistance agent Marianne Beauséjour (Cotillard) in Casablanca. They pretend to be husband and wife but fall in love for real as they mingle with Nazi officials and plot a dangerous assassination mission. After escaping with their lives they relocate to London and get married, and one year later their baby Anna is born during a German bombing raid.

One year further on, Max receives the shocking news from British intelligence services that Marianne is suspected of being a Nazi spy. He is ordered to feed her fake intelligence to irrefutably prove she is a traitor. But Max is determined to prove his wife's real identity on his own terms, and attempts a dangerous mission to France to connect with her former resistance comrades.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Steven Knight, Allied is the sort of movie that Hollywood used to excel at. Two top stars, a respected director, romance, drama, some action and a backdrop of a grand and just war. That Allied is comprehensively botched is a sad condemnation of a film industry now utterly geared towards identikit superhero blockbusters, endless sequels and small-scale independent films, with nothing in between.

An attempted mix of elements from Mr. And Mrs. Smith and Casablanca, Allied is not remotely close to capturing the magic of either film. With dollops of unnecessary CGI deployed in all the wrong places, Allied looks fake and glossy from the outset. The emphasis appears to be on spectacular custom-made outfits, and forgotten in the pursuit of glitz is the setting of a world at war. The grit, grime, tension and desperation of an existential global conflict is absent.

The film zooms in too close to Max and Marianne. At every opportunity Knight fails in creating any contextual tension. The guns are blazing and bodies are dropping in Casablanca before the objective is explained, and why the mission is even important is never broached. Back in London, again the film incompetently neglects to reveal both the dangers Marianne is facing or the strategic importance of the military intelligence being compromised. And a dumbfoundingly inconsequential lesbian relationship is thrown into the film for no apparent reason.

Elsewhere, basic history and fundamental principles of military discipline are ignored. The battle of Britain ended in 1941. Here German bombers are somehow still blitzing London in 1944. And on a couple of occasions Max is given the freedom of a military airfield to commandeer a fighter jet for unsanctioned missions. After a fairly major skirmish with the Germans in occupied Dieppe, how exactly Max escapes both the Nazis and a military inquisition back home is deemed unimportant.

Allied is left with Marion Cotillard rising above the dross to deliver a delightful performance as a spy, a lover, a wife, a mother  and maybe a spy again. Compared to the wooden Pitt, she emerges as the one source of delicate warmth. Allied is a mission gone bad, but at least one of the agents is indeed special.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Movie Review: 20th Century Women (2016)

A coming of age drama, 20th Century Women is a sincere slice of life, capturing a time and place in the interlaced lives of five people.

It's 1979, in Santa Barbara, California. Jamie Fields (Lucas Jade Zumann) is 15 years old, transitioning from boyhood to adulthood. His divorced and progressive mom Dorothea (Annette Bening) runs a rooming house, and is worried she may not be able to properly guide Jamie on her own. The only adult male presence in the house is William (Billy Crudup), a tenant and handyman helping with home renovations. Dorothea turns to another tenant Abbie (Greta Gerwig), and Jamie's long-term friend Julie (Elle Fanning), and asks them to be more involved in Jamie's life.

Abbie is a free spirited aspiring photographer dealing with the aftermath of treatment for cervical cancer while embarking on a relationship with William. Julie often platonically sleeps with Jamie, and wants to remain close friends with him although she is sexually active with others. Julie and Abbie do engage more with Jamie, introducing him to the punk music scene, feminism and female sexuality issues, and Dorothea starts to regret what she asked for.

Directed and written by Mike Mills based partially on his experiences during adolescence, 20th Century Women is an often fascinating look at growing up in a perfectly imperfect environment. Capturing the awkward era 10 years on from the end of the 1960s, with Dorothea's hippie generation well and truly disillusioned and dealing with the wreckage of  broken relationships and life's unmet expectations, the film plays out against a backdrop of President Jimmy Carter lamenting a trend towards selfish narcissism, the punk music movement tearing itself apart three years after birth, and the ideals of feminism clumsily starting to seep into mainstream pragmatism.

Mills clearly intended the film as a salute to his mother, and as brought to life by a sparkling Annette Bening, Dorothea is a fascinating woman. Always well-meaning and trying to combine natural parental anxieties with a genuinely liberal approach and a willingness to move along with the times, she acknowledges her shortcomings and turns to others for help, although the consequences are not what she expected.

And guidance for her son, if that's what it is, comes from two other women who help make the film a uniquely character-rich experience. Abbie is simultaneously sad and lively, Julie is brooding and precocious, and they both represent women who came of age in the 1970s. They are benefitting from a new world affording them independence, sexual liberation, and career opportunities, but anyway struggling with home, health and relationship issues while trying to decipher the much more chaotic societal signposts. Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning are both perfectly cast and with Bening create a triumphant triangle of talent around the willing Lucas Jade Zumann as Jamie.

Billy Crudup is not as fortunate, the character of William somewhat underwritten as Mills focuses on the female influences. And somewhat understandably, the film rather peters out in its final chapter.

With multiple narrators providing various perspectives, and with subtle use of humour, flashbacks, and brief flash forwards, 20th Century Women is an eloquent look back at how the future is shaped, warts and all.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Movie Review: Elle (2016)

A drama about rape and relationships past and present intertwined in a grotesque embrace, Elle features an intriguing central character and a hypnotic Isabelle Huppert performance.

In France, middle-aged Michèle (Huppert) is raped in her home by a masked assailant. She shakes off the attack, does not report it, and carries on while paying special attention to the men in her life.When she was a 10 year old girl, Michèle became infamous as the daughter of a mass murderer, who is now imprisoned for life but with an upcoming parole hearing. Now she deeply resents her mother Irène, who lives a carefree life and seeks sexual gratification with younger men.

Michèle co-runs a gaming software company with her friend Anna and is carrying on a passionless sexual affair with Anna's smug husband Robert. She has a troubled relationship with her son Vincent and his pregnant girlfriend Josie. She remains in touch with her ex-husband Richard, a once-famous writer, and also flirts with her married neighbour Patrick. When the rapist attempts to strike again, Michèle is more ready to fight back, and welcomes an unexpected new chapter in her life.

An adaptation of the book Oh... by Philippe Djian and directed by Paul Verhoeven, Elle thrives off the mysterious energy of its central character. Although full of violence, manipulation and repressed anger, the film is essentially a single character study, and while Michèle is surrounded by a large group of friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances, they are all here to serve her story. Verhoeven places his trust in his lead character and star actress to carry the film, and Elle delivers a mostly compelling drama.

Michèle's composed reaction to being raped in her own living room is initially remarkable, and ignites revelations about her background introduced by Verhoeven in tantalizing morsels and at a relaxed pace. Michèle can shrug off the rape because she has experienced something much worse and deployed all her emotional defences, and a result has a cold and calculating attitude towards herself and others, including her closest family members.

With the rape just another example of the brutality men are capable of, Michèle goes about methodically investigating the who and the why, not necessarily for any plotted revenge reasons but to better understand the beast that ruined her since childhood. The film links sexuality, religion, psychological dominance and violence, and Michèle charts her course carefully through examples past and present of these forces continuously colliding.

The sub-plots swirling around the central character are plentiful but short-changed. The preponderance of inter-linked characters may work well in book form and to enhance the perpetrator mystery, but on-screen the supporting cast remain flat and superficial. The quantity over quality contributes to a less than satisfying final third as Verhoeven rushes to find pat conclusions for everyone, with some sudden, highly unconvincing resolutions scattered into every corner.

But Elle is never less than watchable thanks to a superlative Isabelle Huppert performance. Finding the unlikely reaction to every provocation and conveying a rage against life's monstrous injustices through icy coldness, Huppert catapults Michèle above all atrocities, on her own terms.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Movie Review: Mamma Mia! (2008)

A musical set to the songs of Swedish group ABBA, Mamma Mia! is a frivolous exercise in threading a non-plot through more than 20 toe-tapping pop hits.

On a Greek island, 20 year old Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is about to be married to Sky (Dominic Cooper). Sophie's mom is the free spirited Donna (Meryl Streep), a former singer who now runs a bed and breakfast villa. Sophie never knew who her dad was, but secretly delves into Donna's diaries to uncover three candidate men: architect Sam (Pierce Brosnan), adventurer Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) and banker Harry (Colin Firth). Unbeknownst to Donna, she invites them all to the wedding.

Meanwhile, Donna invites her former co-performers and best friends Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters). When everyone arrives ahead of the wedding, the three men are astonished to meet each other, Sophie is surprised that she cannot immediately tell which of the men is her father, and Donna is shocked that three former lovers have appeared at her doorstep.

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd and based on the hit stage musical by Catherine Johnson, Mamma Mia! features Hollywood actors on vacation warbling ABBA songs, often quite badly. While Streep is as usual near perfect in throwing herself into a singing role, the rest of the cast are much less convincing, with Brosnan in particular almost painful.

Almost every well-known ABBA song is lined up and knocked down, including the title track, Money, Money, Money, Dancing Queen, Chiquitita, S.O.S., Take A Chance On MeThe Name Of The Game, The Winner Takes It AllVoulez-Vous and Does Your Mother Know. If nothing else, the film serves as a reminder of the group's superlative ability to conjure up singalong hits set to infectious melodies.

As a film Mamma Mia! fails on all cinematic counts. The non-singing scenes appear scripted on the spot and fail to create anything that resembles a plot. The choreography is amateurish, the acting almost embarrassing, the attempted jokes lame and the emotions utterly manufactured.

The only point of the movie appears to be to sing along to the music; otherwise Mamma Mia! is best left stranded on whichever secluded island will tolerate the noisy antics.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Movie Review: Trainwreck (2015)

A raunchy romantic comedy, Trainwreck asks whether wild girls also deserve an opportunity to find true love.

As young girls, sisters Amy and Kim Townsend witnessed their parents divorce and were lectured by their father Gordon (Colin Quinn) that monogamy is an unrealistic expectation. 23 years later, Amy (Amy Schumer) is a magazine writer in New York City, living the wild single life, drinking heavily, smoking weed, and sleeping with a succession of men behind the back of her superficial boyfriend Steven (John Cena). Meanwhile, Kim (Brie Larson) has settled down and is starting a family.

Amy receives an assignment from her editor Dianna (Tilda Swinton) to interview sports Dr. Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), who has devised better surgery procedures to mend the knees of world famous athletes. Despite being polar opposites, Amy and Aaron start to fall in love, threatening Amy's carefree attitude towards life. At the same time Gordon moves into a long term care facility, and his ailing health also forces Amy to reassess his influence and her priorities.

Written by Schumer and directed by Judd Apatow, Trainwreck is a modestly successful attempt to spice up the rom-com genre with a wayward woman at its centre. Having taken her father's advice to heart, Amy is the antithesis of women usually plonked into the middle of a romance. Amy is a foul-mouthed party girl, living life on her own terms, hurting others with her me-first behaviour and straight talk, and looking down upon anyone settling for settling down, starting with her sister.

With Schumer in top comedic form, the jokes arrive at a fast and furious pace, and about half of them hit the target. Amy is at her best offering wry commentary at her own expense or saying it like it is in front of an aghast audience. Much less successful are some cameos by the likes of Chris Evert, Marv Albert and Matthew Broderick, offering nothing but bloat. Basketball stars LeBron James and Amar'e Stoudemire also appear as themselves but fare better and actually contribute some laughs.

Trainwreck gets caught in possession with a central character who is likeable because she's crude and who literally refuses to actually sleep with anyone after sex. It's an emotional dead end if the objective is a happy ending, and for all the raw honesty infused into the character of Amy, fundamentally the film collapses specifically because the romance between Amy and Aaron is based on nothing other than script requirements.

A top-notch celebrated surgeon to the stars and a foul-mouthed trainwreck falling for each other simply does not convince, and neither of them demonstrates any capacity for genuine change to accommodate the other. Either Amy stays true to herself and alone, or softens her edges to be loved. Back on the rails, perhaps, but betraying herself and much less fun.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Movie Review: Creed (2015)

A boxing drama and a Rocky series spin-off/sequel, Creed succeeds in rejuvenating the franchise by elegantly calling on the past to inspire the future.

Adonis Creed is the son of former heavyweight boxing champion Apollo Creed, who famously gave Rocky Balboa his initial title shot. Adonis is the product of an illicit affair and was born after Apollo died. After stints in juvenile detention centres and foster homes, Adonis is adopted by Apollo's wife Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad) and receives a privileged Los Angeles upbringing. But boxing is in his blood, and in his early twenties Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) gives up his comfortable life and moves to Philadelphia, where he seeks out Rocky (Sylvester Stallone), now a restaurant owner.

Initially reluctant, Rocky eventually accepts to coach the son of his former rival and friend. Adonis also meets and starts a relationship with singer Bianca (Tessa Thompson). After one bout Creed's name recognition earns him a shot at "Pretty" Ricky Conlan (Anthony Bellew), the tough Liverpool-based light heavyweight champion. But the preparations for the bout are hampered when Rocky receives unwelcome news, and has a fight of his own to contend with.

Directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler, Creed is ostensibly the seventh entry in the Rocky franchise, but can more appropriately be considered the start of a new story. About forty years after the first film, the next generation steps to the fore, and Stallone (who co-produced) finally latches on to a worthwhile follow-up central character. At over 130 minutes the film is longer that it needed to be, but features enough character-driven highlights augmented by echoes of the past to sustain momentum.

The underlying themes are of course familiar. Adonis Creed is dealing with unresolved issues related to never knowing his father and wanting to be his own man, and he goes by the name Donnie Johnson to try and carve out his own legacy. But his raw boxing skills create an unmistakable bond to Apollo, and Adonis' journey is about resolving what and who he fights for. Michael B. Jordan's brooding performance contains more than enough humanity to make Creed's growth a worthwhile arc.

Part of growing up is positively influencing others, and the connection that develops between Creed and Rocky is a large part of the film's appeal. The relationship contains both surrogate father-son and coach-boxer elements, but goes farther, Creed finding the opportunities to demonstrate his rise and development outside the boxing ring.

Rocky is the grizzled inspiration, mentor and channel to the past, and Sylvester Stallone delivers some of his career best acting in the role he is most familiar and comfortable with. It is a pleasure to witness the Rocky character embracing twilight and gracefully accepting the weight of all the accumulated pain and joy of a life well lived.

In keeping with the better installments of the series, the actual boxing scenes are relatively few as the film builds to the final climactic showdown between Creed and thuggish champion Conlan. Not unexpectedly the boxing action is of the non-stop slugfest variety that barely resembles the real thing, but this is Hollywood.

The upstart son of a former champion will need to create his own legend in the ring. Creed is a good start, with doubtless many future rounds to follow.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...