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Entries in Rocky (11)

Tuesday
Nov012016

Now Streaming (Prime): Rocky, Bond, and Brad as "Joe Black"

It's that time of the month again. Streaming! Here are the new titles on Amazon Prime. As is our practice we'll freeze frame some at random to see what comes up -- no cheating! Will you be watching any of these? Do you remember them?

Russian Coach: He's nothing, he's soft
Swedish Dolph Pretending to be Russian: He's not a man. He is like a piece of iron.

Rocky IV (1985)
Remember when America was totally obsessed with Dick-Measuring with Russia. Oh wait... we're back there again only with a really gross twist (sigh). Side note: Most but not all of the Rocky films are avaiable for streaming but the not all point kind of defeats the purpose doesn't it? See also: James Bond movies.

Speaking of...

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Wednesday
Dec022015

Can "Creed" Go 12 Rounds With Oscar?

In the past 48 hours I've screened The Revenant, Joy, and Creed. Since the first two are still under embargo we're not allowed to speak of them yet. I will say these non spoilers that The Revenant continues the tradition of Inaritu's love of miserable arguably suicidal men, and Joy continues in the tradition of David O. Russell sandbox like playgrounds for actors eager to play with their new parts. But...embargo!

As movie buffs well know, the original Rocky was a smash hit when it premiered in December 1976, becoming the biggest box office hit of that year, making a star of Sly Stallone, charting a #1 single ("Gonna Fly Now"), and earning an incredible 10 Oscar nominations. It eventually won Picture, Director, and Editing on the big night. And against unreal competition too: Network, Taxi Driver, Bound for Glory, and All The President's Men. The Rocky series spawned a few popular sequels but eventually exhausted its welcome as film franchises do. Creed, smartly plays like both a straight sequel (VII) and a spinoff or rebirth with Rocky Balboa passing the franchise torch to Apollo Creed's son Adonis (Michael B Jordan).

So let's talk Creed and Oscar and the ways it could well factor into the Oscar race after the jump...

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Monday
Nov232015

Review: "Creed"

Our newest team member Chris Feil saw the latest in a long dormant franchise early. Here's his review - Editor

Making good on his mainstream sensibilities post-Fruitvale Station, Ryan Coogler returns with Rocky reboot/sequel/spin-off Creed. Born after his legendary father Apollo's death after an affair, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) attempts to forge his own boxing path without the Creed namesake, recruiting his father's notorious opponent and comrade Rocky Balboa. Similarly, the film tries to have it both ways, attempting to be a sideways stand-alone film while borrowing heavily on the iconography of the original. It is a bit of a left turn for cinema's current trend of cut-and-paste nostalgia, giving Coogler's film a much needed edge for a tired genre, but cursing it with enormous shoes it falls short of filling.

If Fruitvale showed us anything about Ryan Coogler's potential, it was that he could both emotionally invest the audience with a charismatic subject and that he knew how to structure a film's most intense scenes for their maximum dramatic effect. These skills make him the perfect candidate for a mainstream actioner that pulls on the heartstrings, and Creed provides a solid larger platform for him to deliver those goods. Unfortunately still present is his diminished sense of confidence and clarity of vision in extended dialogue scenes, lending to an overall flabby structure. He knows what we want as audience and how to give it to us, but here he has a tricky time transitioning between story beats.

more...

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Wednesday
Jul012015

YNMS: "Steve Jobs" & "Creed"

Films celebrating their over achieving male protagonist are par for the course come fall movie season each year as Oscar competition heats up. But Steve Jobs and Adonis Creed both got trailers in the same 24 hours or so and I couldn't resist conjoining them since they both also star actors named "Michael". They make both an odd couple and perfect pair: Mind and Body. Michael Fassbender plays real life computer genius Steve Jobs for Oscar winner Danny Boyle; And Michael B Jordan, reuniting with his Fruitvale director Ryan Coogler, plays fictional Adonis Creed, the son of dead boxer Adonis, in an attempt to reboot the stalled Rocky series.

Yes No Maybe So on both trailers after the jump...

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Saturday
Apr252015

4 Movies That Introduced Artificial Intelligence (As An Afterthought)

Michael C here to celebrate some of cinema's lesser known machine life.

Artificial Intelligence is such a rich idea, if it is introduced into a film more often than not it is going to be the centerpiece of the story, as is the case with titles ranging from 2001 to Blade Runner to Her. Even when it is not the main attraction, like with the droids from Star Wars or the synthetics of the Alien movies, those films still have to take the care to craft a world in which these robots make sense.

That said, there are those rare films that introduce A.I. into the storyline seemingly at random. “Oh yeah, forgot to mention. There are sentient machines in this world.” To introduce such a big concept in such an offhand manner is always jarring, and can often be unintentionally hilarious. 

Jor-El Hologram in Man of Steel (2013)
By the time the Superman finds the last recording of his deceased father late in Man of Steel, the audience is primed for some variation on the scene from the original Superman where hologram Brando boots up to impart some prerecorded wisdom to his son. Instead we essentially get Russell Crowe’s Jor-El brought back from the dead. He can respond to new information and run around the ship opening doors for Lois Lane. Hologram Jor-el even has an emotional confrontation with Zod about things that happened after Zod murdered him. The idea that this is even possible is frankly way more interesting than the giant space jackhammer the audience is supposed to care about at that point during the climax.

Sico in Rocky IV (1985)
So the fourth film in the Rocky franchise is plugging away, hitting all the typical, roided out, 80’s sports movie beats, when out of the blue Rocky gives Uncle Paulie SICO, a fully intelligent robot butler, as a Christmas gift. Paulie and the bot proceed to develop a wacky odd couple relationship, at least until things go next level bonkers and Paulie reprograms the robot to be female (which for some reason dumb old Paulie is capable of doing). The Rocky films weren’t exactly bastions of realism by the fourth entry but it is difficult to put into words just how bizarre it is to have this A.I. subplot dropped into the middle of a boxing movie. It is the equivalent of the next Fast and the Furious sequel having an appearance by The Great Gazoo who floats next Ludacris during chase scenes dispensing wise cracks.

Alsatia Zevo in Toys (1992)
Unlike the total randomness of Rocky IV’s subplot, everything in Barry Levinson’s Toys should prepare the audience for the appearance of a humanoid robot. After all, Toys is little more than two hours of elaborate gizmos. Yet it is still so very weird when it’s revealed that (20 year old spoiler warning) Joan Cusack’s character was a robot the whole time, built by Robin Williams’ toy maker father as companion for his oddball son. Like the rest of Toys, the twist is designed to be sweet and charming but lands squarely on unsettling. It’s a combination of the way the twist doesn’t add up and the movie’s bizarre foreshadowing that Alsatia is not quite human (She enjoys mayonnaise sandwiches…just like a robot would?)

Box in Logan’s Run (1976)
Around the 2/3 mark of the dystopian thriller Logan’s Run, Michael York and Jenny Agutter are trying to escape through an ice tunnel to the mythical “sanctuary” when they encounter Box, a giant tin foil robot who speaks with the warm tones of Babe narrator Roscoe Lee Brown and who looks like he was designed for the original Star Trek show after it had blown the whole budget on tribbles. At first it seems like Box is going to be like all the other soulless computer programs in the movie, but he is different, describing himself as “More than machine or man. More than a fusion of the two.” Not only is Box a conscious being but it quickly becomes clear that he has been down in that ice cave alone waaaay too long and has lost his little robot mind. For five minutes our heroes listen to Box ramble like a street corner prophet, making grandiose nonsense declarations (“The deep grottos whisper my name. Box…BOX…BOOOOOX!”) going on and on about plankton, and finally attempt to murder them while cackling like a loon. Nothing in Logan’s Run is explained with too much depth but the Box interlude is especially nutty - nothing about it makes a lick of sense or even attempts to - but damned if it isn’t one of the most memorable scenes in the film, random or not.

 

Do you have any other "favorite" examples?