Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Over the weekend, Izzy & I watched a summer blockbuster that got some scathing reviews… and that’s the fifth movie in one of the most iconic movie franchises in history, “Terminator: Genisys” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke (no relation in real life… but apparently mother-son in this movie) & Jai Courtney (homeless man’s Channing Tatum). Okay, so I’m going to assume that you’re all up to date with at least the first two Terminator movies… and the whole Judgment Day in 1997… Skynet being a computer system that essentially becomes self-aware and starts eliminating humans… and there’s this whole humans vs. robots war that rages on for a generation-plus… and then Skynet builds a time machine to send a robot (Arnie) to go back to 1985 to kill the mother (E. Clarke) of the human rebellion leader (J. Clarke) and avoid this whole war thing… but then the humans find out about it, assault the facility and then the humans send back a soldier named Kyle Reese (Courtney) to protect the mother. I’m also going to kindly remind you to forget many, many other plot points from previous movies in order to push this movie’s logic forward. Trust me, it’s just easier. So in this movie, it’s essentially a reboot of the first movie with sending Kyle back in time to protect the mother Sarah Connor… but apparently this has already been done a few times so by the time he goes back to 1985 there’s a reprogrammed Arnie robot sent back to protect her… and apparently a T-1000 liquid metal version from Terminator 2 sent back… and a whole lot of other sh*t going down… hell, even the leader of the future resistance John Connor gets sent back… but as long as you don’t think about it too hard, it can make sense. Okay… here’s a quick breakdown… and I want to start off with I actually recommend checking this movie out… but I’ll be brief.
The Good: The action is pretty good and the visual effects are decent… there’s plenty of throwbacks (or direct ripoffs) of past movies, and the essentially frame for frame remake of the original movie’s first 15 minutes or so is particularly entertaining to me as I’ve seen that movie literally thousands of times, so that was a treat. J.K. Simmons shows up too… and that’s a treat. Aside from Jai Courtney, the acting was even pretty good… though I kept expecting Kyle Reese to be revealed to be the robot as he had reactions similar to Arnie’s character. This is an action movie… so with good action gets good reaction from me.
The Bad: First & foremost, the previews for this movie REALLY f**ked them over!!! First, there was the preview that showed Arnie jumping out of a helicopter to kamikaze dive bomb another helicopter to completion… or in other words, THE CLIMAX OF THE F**KING MOVIE!!! Secondly… in the other previews… sigh… I don’t even want to say it as some people might really enjoy this twist & haven’t seen the preview. If so… please move along to the next paragraph… heck, maybe to the next movie where you see an ancient Sylvester Stallone & the other Michael Jordan (with a B.) Okay… so in the other previews, including those aired during the f**king Super Bowl months earlier… they reveal that the John Connor sent back in time… is actually a robot… and sent back to kill Sarah Connor and everybody else. Now, would this had been a better movie if that MAJOR TWIST wasn’t given away months before people even saw the movie? I’d like to think so… but alas, somebody in marketing really f**ked up this movie for most moviegoers before it even came out to the public. Would it have put this movie on the money-making level of “Furious 7” or “Jurassic World”? Probably not… In fact, I’d say I’m about 90% sure it wouldn’t have made much difference.
Overall: Unfortunately I think people were kinda f**ked out of the Terminator franchise a while back… but I still think that this movie was not nearly as bad as everybody made it out to be. You’ll probably find that most of the people talking sh*t on it… actually haven’t even seen it. They heard it was bad from the critics and/or other people who hadn’t seen it. This is one of those movies that scores like 22% on Rotten Tomatoes with the critics… but around 60% with people that watched the movie. Not great… not horrible… just kind of in the middle. However, I’m a fan of the series… so I enjoyed it… except Jai Courtney… and with him & the recent announcement that “Suicide Squad” is going to be PG-13 I’m looking less & less forward to it… but you know I’m still going to check it out.
Now for a special treat!!! Monday night, Izzy & I were invited to a special preview screening of another long-awaited (by some?) continuation of an iconic movie franchise… the Rocky Balboa franchise… and this movie is called “CREED” starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone… and this movie was NOT written and/or directed by Stallone… but rather by Ryan Coogler who did “Fruitvale Station” last year and was even on hand to introduce the movie at the theatre. Now… again, I’m going to basically assume that you’ve seen the other SIX Rocky movies as well… and really knowing anything past halfway through Rocky IV is really just going to be little snippets & one-off jokes in this movie… but I’m going to assume that you know all about the story of Rocky Balboa… who was a semipro boxer in 1976 who through a fluke incident involving a training injury, got the once in a lifetime to chance to square off against the reigning heavyweight champion Apollo Creed… and he trains hard with a former boxer named Mick and spoiler alert… goes the distance with the champ. That movie won Academy Awards… and then there was the sequel rematch with Apollo (Rocky II)… and then in the 3rd installment, Rocky’s trainer Mick (Burgess Meredith) dies during a match with a younger, hungrier opponent named Clubber Lang (Mr. T, and there’s an entire post about his character from years ago)… and now-retired Apollo Creed steps in as his trainer to help him win & regain his eye of the tiger. Then in the 4th installment, Creed comes out of retirement to fight a new Russian champion named Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) but is killed in the ring after Rocky doesn’t throw in the towel (by Apollo’s request but drama…) and then Rocky has to come out of retirement to blah blah blah… but you already know all of this… I don’t even know why I mention it.
Well, this movie is centered around what happened shortly before Apollo Creed’s fatal last fight. Apparently he had a son… with a woman who was not his wife (Phylicia Rashad). Well, this encounter gave birth to a young man named Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) who bounces around group homes after his mother’s death… but then is adopted by Apollo Creed’s wife Marianne when he’s about ten & rowdy… but then raised in the lap of luxury. Fast forward a few years… Adonis is boxing in Tijuana. WHY? Because he has the itch… he’s a fighter… and he doesn’t have a constructive way of utilizing that itch apparently. Well, this leads to drama with his mom who obviously doesn’t want him to fight… especially after he quit his newly promoted job at a financial firm (WHAT???) to essentially leave the mansion he was raised in… and go to Philadelphia to train to be a boxer. Why Philadelphia? Why not? Anyway, all these poor decisions aside, Adonis runs into (stalks) the former champion Rocky Balboa (Stallone) and through hard work & guilt convinces Rocky to help train him… throw in a love story with a neighbor girl (Tessa Thompson) and the story basically writes itself from there. Now, my telling of the story is pretty basic & sarcastic… but you get all of this from the trailer… and it’s the story of a man who has a lot of rage and needs a place to direct it… and it just so happens to tie into the Rocky cinematic universe. That being said…
I REALLY liked this movie! If you enjoy boxing movies (probably have to do a Movie List for these soon) then you’re probably going to also REALLY like and/or LOVE this movie. The story is basic… but the acting is pretty fantastic, the cinematography is beautiful, and there are these continuous shot fighting scenes that are some of the greatest that you will ever see. Seriously, there’s one in particular that’s a two-round prize fight… that’s a continuous shot… with dialogue and all the action of a boxing match to make it feel like you’re the referee standing in the ring with them & eavesdropping in the corners. It’s very impressive. Though there are some sapping subplots… they’re not done in the usual sappy way. There’s drama… that some might say is completely unnecessary… but you’ll say that about life as well. Life is drama some of the time… but it pushes the plot forward and has some meaning to it… so yeah, go check this movie out. Also… write this down…
Michael B. Jordan… is going to be the next Will Smith. He’ll basically be offered ever major role for a young African-American actor and they’ll be his to turn away. He’s got the skills, he’s got the charisma, soon he’ll have the paparazzi all over his ass… but he’ll also have the big paychecks. I know that his star has slipped a bit with the forced entry in superhero films that was “Fantastic 4” (don’t want to judge too harsh since I haven’t seen it yet but seriously, nobody asked for this movie, right?) but overall… I think he’s going to be huge. I was right about Megan Fox (to a point) and I’ve learned as a young child… to never doubt somebody named Michael Jordan.
So is this going to be the start of a new Rocky/Creed Trilogy? Well… I’ve had some thoughts about sequel of course… so here are some of my ideas for further movies in the Balboa Cinematic Universe… and I’m gonna warn you, some small spoiler alerts from the first Creed:
Creed vs. Lang – In this first Creed sequel, Adonis is moving up the ranks… and the champion that he faced in the first movie to the final bell (“Pretty” Ricky Conlan) is currently serving time for a weapons charge (seriously, it’s in the movie) and they have a series of fights to determine who will take over the championship belt during his sentence. I’m guessing probably a Final Four scenario involving the newcomer who pushed Conlan to the limit, Adonis… some iron-fisted Ukrainian stereotype (NOT Drago, this is lightweight) that he has to go against in the first match… and then he moves on to the winner of Token Black vs. Gunner Lang, one of the many out-of-wedlock children out of Detroit from mysteriously reclusive former champion Clubber Lang (Rocky III) and of course… Gunner is a sh*t talkin’ mastermind of the boxing game… I’m thinking somebody like Brandon Jackson or O’Shea Jackson if they bulked up… or Chadwick Boseman if he wanted to break out of being typecast as legendary sports/music figures in the mid-20th century and wants to be the 2nd coming of Mr. T. Anyway, we skip ahead to him KILLING (or crippling) challenger Token Black in the first match… and then it’s leading up to the showdown between Creed & Lang… and Gunner talks about how he’s going to kill him in the ring, take his woman & eat his child as the promotional press conference… wiping the seed of Creed from off the face of the Earth. Yup… Iron Mike ain’t got sh*t on Gunner Lang.
Oh yeah, for personal drama, he finds rich life comfortable now that he’s getting endorsement money ON TOP OF ALREADY BEING RICH FROM APOLLO’S CAREER so he gets a little soft… his girlfriend (not wife) is preggers with a child… Rocky is not doing well at all after the chemo, but he’s still around… until he passes on while training for the big match… but not before giving a few big speeches about family, fire in your belly, tiger’s blood in your veins & their eyes in your ocular sockets, all that stuff… and then the Final Match… well, I don’t want to spoil it…
Creed vs. Creed – So after Lang cripples Adonis in the final match, punches his woman in the stomach forcing a miscarriage & then bedding her like nobody’s business… No seriously, that’s what happens in my movie! Gunner Lang goes on to have a wonderful boxing career unlike his father and the title Creed vs. Creed is symbolic of Adonis’ long journey back to eating solid foods, communicating with apparatus and perhaps walking again. This is Oscar winning sh*t right here! What? Do you want him to win the final match against Lang, is the undisputed lightweight champion of the world, but then there’s YET ANOTHER BASTARD CREED CHILD who is only a few months older than Adonis… but raised in England (played by David Oyelowo BTW), is good friends with the still-incarcerated Ricky Conlan, but also has his promoter from the first movie… and his trainer is none other than the legendary Luther Mandela (played by Idris Elba). Essentially it’s what everybody really wants in a boxing match… Klitschko vs. Klitschko… except they’re both in their prime… and they’re actually very similar genetically… though one “started from the bottom now we here!” while the other… no, they’re both going to have the EXACT SAME backstory. Yeah, Apollo knocked up a woman in Liverpool or some sketchy off-shoot of London’s underground… he was raised in the system but was educated in school, eventually becoming a Rhodes Scholar AND athlete… but there was always this itch that only bashing a man’s skull could scratch… and so he started boxing… and then when Adonis made it big, he started looking into his own lineage… pictures of Apollo & his mama at Studio 54 or the English equivalent… boom, we have essentially the same vs. same… except Samson Creed (did I mention that’s his name & he was going to have dreadlocks a la Lennox Lewis? Cuz he is & that was pretty f**king important!) is actually taller, stronger & more adept to the sweet science… apparently his mom was an athlete too… and hell, they can’t say something like “My mama wouldn’t allow us to fight” like the Klitschkos because… for one, different mamas… for two…
Personal drama this movie – Marianne Creed passes away… Rocky Balboa passes away… Adonis’ dog Mercury passes away… his now wife is still around, but she makes a lot of trips out to Detroit on business in an effort to resurrect Motown Records and punctuate her sagging music career… leaving Adonis to train without Rocky’s direct influence… but then there’s a new trainer / promoter to help him out, Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) who’s the champion’s mouthpiece and can inspire whales to walk on land… but does he have a hidden agenda? Can Adonis regain the family that he’s lost? Why is he promoting cigarettes & Colt 45 now? How did Nick Naylor convince him to do it? All this will be revealed and more… and then… the final fight… which leads to…
Cult of Clubber – This is the harrowing tale of a fallen boxing superstar Gunner Lang returning to the backwoods of Michigan to join his reclusive father Clubber Lang, who for the past 30+ years left his champion boxing career to start a fundamentalist cult of people who believe that only the strongest humans will survive the End of Days or any scientific apocalypse scenario… so they’ve been breeding generations of Langs with VERY few men and gaggles of women. Gunner tried to leave this life behind for fear that his father would betray him… but in his advanced age, Clubber is realizing that his baby batter isn’t as potent as it used to be… and he must help to teach his son Gunner to take over the group and lead his family into the dark days. This movie looks into religious/cultural beliefs and norms vs. natural selection… and could potentially finally give Mr. T the Academy Award that he so desperately deserves from his long underappreciate career as a thespian… you know what? I’m totally in love with the idea of this movie. I’m starting the script TONIGHT!!! Spoiler alert: Adonis’ wife is part of the Cult of Clubber, that’s why she’s going to Detroit “on business”.
Creed vs. Drago – Back on the Adonis Creed tangent… I’m not even going to tell you how Creed vs. Creed ends… but I think this one writes itself… he has to bulk up to go Super Middleweight or something since anything coming out of Ivan Drago’s sack is going to be half bull anyway… and after the dwindling box office return of “Cult of Clubber” and its ultra-controversial material, I think this one is going straight to DVD like “Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift” only to be resurrected by…
Creed vs. Predator – Need I say more? Intergalactic boxing… in an environment similar to the Thunderdome! Two being enter, at most one being leaves.
Anyway, that’s my thrilling reviews of some major blockbusters that came out six months ago or will be coming out in a week or so… and some great ideas for future movies, Hollywood! You’re welcome! More fun stuff on the way! Have a great day everybody!