Just as the films that followed the Oscar-nominated “Rocky,” “Creed II” is a story of a heroically stout fighter, played by actor Michael B. Jordan, who’s pitted against the odds and overcomes obstacles both in and outside the ring. It’s a formula that’s worked throughout the 40-plus years since the birth of the series, which spawned “Creed” and its subsequent second film. But it’s one that continues to work.
Director Steven Caple Jr. proved he could command a highly anticipated film and evenly expound on the stories of iconic and emerging characters in a world filled with cinematic history. In the process, there was a shift in focus. Not only was Jordan’s character, Adonis “Donnie” Creed, tested on-screen but, with Caple Jr.’s direction, Jordan had one of the best acting performances of his career.
With eight films in the “Rocky”-verse, the arch of each installment into the long-lasting franchise has been done. The once struggling boxer loses in a title fight, in which he was expected to get demolished by a more polished and championed opponent, puts up a good fight, proves himself on the professional level and wins the title for himself. Then, after defending his belt, gets complacent, loses horrifically to an unexpected fighter, bottles up in emotion and fear, just to have a cool training montage where he regains the “eye of the tiger” and, once again, becomes champion.
“Creed II” harnesses the same direction but, with writer Cheo Hodari Coker at the helm, the film separates itself from previous films in the series.
The film begins with Donnie running through the current heavyweight division while boxer, Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of Ivan Drago, is making a name for himself in Russia. His emergence draws anticipation from boxing analysts and fans, who want to see the two fighters go head to head. Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) is reluctant to train Donnie, as he experienced the death of his father, a moment he grudgingly regrets to the day. Adonis’ frustrations force him to train in Rocky’s absence, which leads to a one-sided defeat by the hands of Viktor, who hospitalizes the former champion for several days following the fight.
Rather than solely focusing on Adonis avenging the death of his father, Apollo Creed, it’s a film centered on finding his own motivations as a fighter, fiancé and young father. Now that his life with Bianca (Tessa Thompson) has blossomed into the birth of his daughter, Adonis is seeking to find the balance between his life on both sides of the ropes.
Caple Jr. also highlights the life of Viktor, who isn’t pictured as an emotionless robot like the depiction of Ivan during his fighting career. Ivan was Rocky’s rival in the fourth installment of the “Rocky” franchise. Viktor shows signs of vulnerability just as he shows death-induced relentlessness and hatred. He and his father seek their own source of vengeance. With his father’s loss in 1985, Viktor was abandoned by his power-obsessed mother and his father was shamed by a country that once hailed him as its greatest hero. As a result, Ivan pushes his son in an effort to ensure they regain the lost prominence their names once held.
Caple Jr. brilliantly divides between the two character’s sources of pain that spark their motivation to destroy each other in the ring. “Creed II” also shows Adonis’ inner will, which is comparative to the one his trainer and mentor embodied during his bloodied, death-defying exchanges in his prime. Leading up to the two fighters’ final showdown, Caple Jr. shoots one of the best training montages in both films’ lore, channeling all the inspirational elements that suck in viewers.
Rather than train in state-of-the-art boxing facilities, Rocky takes him to a place he says fighters go to regain themselves; to regenerate the former confidence and bravo they lost because of defeat or a loss of self. Adonis goes from the speed bags and canvas floors to the dirt roads and dusk-filled air, bringing a breath of life to Jordan’s character and leading to a pursuit of self-redemption into one of the better fighting scenes in the series’ history. Though the scenes were purposefully absent of “Creed” director, Ryan Coogler, and his one-shot scene, Caple Jr. crafted beautiful point-of-view shots that immersed viewers into the fight, which ended in unexpected fashion.
This moment was the one that displayed Adonis’ inner fight. He fought not for defeat, but to rebuild. He refused to harp on the mistakes and actions his father made. By the end, Rocky himself acknowledged his shortcomings as a father and its long-lasting effects. During the last scene of the film, Rocky walks to an apartment to have a man and child answer the door. Rocky welcomed them both and the man at the door addressed him as the child’s grandfather. The final scene placed the film in full circle.
“Creed II” encompasses many layers, many of which blend seamlessly and, ultimately, fortifies a great installment to the Rocky-Creed franchise.
Freeform, owned by the Disney—ABC Television Group division of The Walt Disney Company, contributes to the Christmas season by hosting their “25 Days of Christmas” movie marathon. The lineup has varied over years, with several movies acting as regulars in the lineup and some that have exited the stage for the time being. FANGLE is here to help with what’s hot and what’s not this Christmas season.Continue reading On The 12th Day of Christmas, Freeform Gave to Me…→
Yang Miller hosted the annual Drop Your Shorts Short Film Festival on February 25, 2018 at the Athena Cinema. The cinema explains that the purpose of the event is to celebrate “the talent of local and regional filmmakers. It gives participants the chance to see their original work on the big screen.” Contestants were encouraged to submit a film under 12 minutes about any topic of their choosing. The audience then voted on their favorite film and the winning film “will be shown prior to a regular run feature for one month.”
The past few months have brought a widespread trend of featuring movies about popular serial killers. In November, “My Friend Dahmer” was released where Ross Lynch portrayed a young Jeffrey Dahmer. “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” is a biopic about Ted Bundy. Zac Efron is starring as Bundy and filming is taking place in Cincinnati, Ohio. An independent film “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” is set to release in 2019 in which Hillary Duff is to play Sharon Tate. Tate was brutally murdered by the Manson family in 1969 with next year marking the 50th anniversary of the horrific event. In addition, Charles Manson’s death in November further sparked his notoriety for the killings and the cult following that he spearheaded.
The Athena Cinema was one of the selected theaters to play My Friend Dahmer, the 2017 crime horror flick directed by Marc Meyers and starring Ross Lynch. My Friend Dahmer told the account of Jeffrey Dahmer’s early life.
Binge-watching Freeform’s 13 Nights of Halloween and listening to Monster Mash on repeat can get monotonous and old. We are here to help to keep Halloween weekend frighteningly retro. Here’s FANGLE’s top 10 recommendations for a scary good movie night at the witching hour.
Like many, I eagerly set out to binge-watch “Thirteen Reasons Why” on Netflix. I found myself just as frustrated with Clay for dodging watching the tapes for thirteen episodes, but ultimately found myself frusturated for other reasons. This is a short show and I really struggled to finish it and only recently came to understand why that is. *Warning there are some spoilers in this review.
Culture Staff Writers | Sydney Dawes, Leslie Termuhlen, Alexis McCurdy, Ashley Edgell, Raichel Jenkins, Korina Meister
My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea
Directed by: Dash Shaw
Reviewed by: Sydney Dawes
This animated feature follows Dash, a high school sophomore infamous for his purple prose on the school newspaper. He soon becomes jealous of his friend Assaf, who is getting special attention from the paper’s editor. Dash crafts a story in order to humiliate his friend; this results in punishment by the school’s principal. Dash stumbles upon documentation that states the school isn’t up to code and isn’t sound enough for the addition of the auditorium that is already near completion. Soon enough, the school collapses into the Pacific after a small earthquake. Dash must join forces with his classmates and school lunch lady in order to get out of Tides High alive.
I was initially concerned with “My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea” when a warning popped up before the film began, stating that those who have epileptic seizures shouldn’t watch the film because of its use of the animation’s intense use of color and sound. Everything about this film was odd: the animation, the story line and the characters themselves. For me, the film’s saving grace was Lorraine the Lunch Lady, who was voiced by Susan Sarandon and was basically a middle-aged ninja survivalist. The theme behind the plot – friendship — was sweet, but the main character, Dash, was absolutely annoying. The film’s humor was witty and sometimes hilarious, but overall, lacking.
My Life As A Zucchini
Directed by: Claude Barras
Reviewed by: Korina Meister
This movie was bittersweet and very endearing. It takes place in France, following the life of Zucchini, a young boy who was abused by his mother which placed him in a foster home. Though scared and alone at first, he begins to fall in love with the other kids in the home, and finds the affection he never had before. The movie exhibits that though some children have lived hard lives, they still retain their childlike innocence and ignorance. A simple movie littered with both funny and sad moments, “My Life as a Zucchini” tears at the heartstrings but ultimately brings a smile to your face.
Director: Michael O’Shea
Review by: Alexis McCurdy
Rating: 4/ 5
“Transfiguration” is a story about how a young teen, Milo, believes he is turning into a vampire. But just because there are vampires, does not mean that the actions of the main character were based off wild imaginations similar to those of “Twilight.” This film is not for the weak of heart. As Milo ventures through his life, tracking his monthly killing sprees in training to become a vampire, there are multiple times when his actions are both appalling and frustrating. Throughout the movie, audience members are sickened and disturbed at the graphic imagery presented. Although the reasoning behind this imagery is held until the end, some parts of the movie make you want to leave right that second. It is not ever made clear how Milo became a vampire, and whether his fascination is real or imagined. But in this void of clarity, the audience can begin to see his perspective when his imagination starts affecting his reality. Milo, living as an impoverished teen with his brother, Lewis, has lost both of his parents. There is some hint that Milo’s obsession with blood began with finding his mother dead, bleeding out and cold to the touch in her bedroom.
But, looking past the gruesome scenes, you can see a highly relevant message accompanied by beautiful videography. “Transfiguration” is a story about how we all carry our burdens and how we choose to filter and work through those burdens in our life. We, just like Milo, struggle to balance love, power, violence, school and grief under the same umbrella. It consumes our thought so much that we reevaluate the worth of everything in our life. Transfiguration does an amazing job of shedding light on a concept so dark and intricate, no one wants to talk about it.
Directed by: Ceyda Torun
Reviewed by: Raichel Jenkins
If you expected this cat documentary about the stray cats of Istanbul to be heartwarming and pleasantly simple, you were correct. This film features a set of seven stray cats and most importantly, how they’ve impacted the lives of their caretakers. Torun delves into humanity’s relationship with cats, different reactions to the stray cat epidemic in the city and heartwarming stories that could be anyone’s relative. This film garners a 4-star rating for the fact that it bridges cultural barriers between audiences with a very simple message, we all get lonely and cats help…either purposefully or by accident.
The Space Between
Directed by: Amy Jo Johnson
Reviewed by: Sydney Dawes
“The Space Between” focuses on the story of an infertile man, Mitch, who finds out his “miracle” infant daughter is not his own: the little girl is actually the result of a hookup Mitch’s wife had with an awkward college kid — Danny Baker. On Mitch’s angry search for the biological father, he meets a troubled teenage girl, Emily, struggling with self-harm and the pain that came when her mother committed suicide. As Mitch and Emily venture, Mitch’s wife and her close friends and family pile into a limo to stop Mitch from hurting Danny. Shenanigans persist during the journey, all ending in a glorious burlesque show.
Although this film was at times frustrating, it was also heartfelt, sincere and comical. “The Space Between” celebrates the crazy, stupid, beautiful thing that is life. This is a film best viewed with an open-mind: the first few minutes make you believe it’s going in a much different direction than it actually does. Overall, “The Space Between” triumphs as a comedy with deeper meanings: sacrifice, acceptance and love.
Alone Among the Taliban
Directed by: Mohsen Eslamzadeh
Reviewed by: Leslie Termuhlen
“Alone Among the Taliban” was a captivating documentary that was a long time in the making. Mohsen Eslamzadeh took an incredible risk to get access to the Taliban for this documentary, something that had not been done in over a decade. Eslamzadeh, an Iranian journalist, had to travel to Afghanistan and immediately switch over his currency and clothes to match that of the Afghan people in order to not stand out. Then, he made his way to Helmand in the southern part of Afghanistan.
At Helmand, Eslamzadeh talks to locals, who all have differing opinions of the Taliban and whether they are making Afghanistan safer or not. He also talks to prisoners in the Taliban jails about why they are there. He discusses the most harmful offense landing you in jail – disloyalty against the Taliban. Throughout the documentary, Eslamzadeh talks with several authorities within the Taliban, working his way up the chain of command to get more information and to get his questions answered.
“Alone Among the Taliban” captures the difference between developed cultures and developing cultures. The film has been controversial among media outlets since its debut. This is because it shows the group in ways that many haven’t seen it – as human beings, family members and friends. Check out this documentary for a first-person account of the way the Taliban lives.
Directed by: Damon Davis and Sabah Folayan
Reviewed by: Sydney Dawes
“Whose Streets?” is a documentary that focuses on the activism that followed the killing of Michael Brown, Jr. It also shows viewers the interactions between police officers and citizens during the Ferguson riots in 2014, producing a clear timeline of how events progressed and escalated. The documentary follows multiple organizations and modern civil rights leaders and how they address racism in their communities. It also follows the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death, including court proceedings that stated the police officer who shot and killed Brown was innocent of murder and working out of self-defense.
This was a painful documentary to watch. Not only did it highlight issues such as police brutality, but also it put light onto other issues that contribute to inequality: poverty, education and incarceration, to name a few. This documentary was rather unfiltered, and I loved it. This is not an event that should be sugar-coated in any way. Viewers can capture a glimpse into what really happened at Ferguson: most of the footage used to make the documentary came from the phones of protesters who were there.
Directed by: Kyla Simone Bruce and Amin Bakhshian
Reviewed by: Sydney Dawes
“Undocument” follows the stories of different people in the Middle East attempting to immigrate to other countries. This movie tackles the many challenges an immigrant can face during his or her journey — health troubles, pregnancy, poverty, legal matters — by giving heartbreaking, yet hopeful glimpses into the characters’ lives. During the film, audience members get to follow a pregnant woman in Afghanistan attempting to reunite with her husband in Iran. Next, viewers see life through the eyes of a young boy living with his mother and other immigrants in an uncomfortable apartment in Greece as they await passage into the UK. The story transitions into the worries of a Nigerian man, co-habitating with his girlfriend and her teenage daughter in London: his visa expired and he thinks his detainment is inevitable. Finally, the film ends with a story of a legal interpreter in London, ethically plagued by a case dealing with a detained mother and her child.
“Undocument” left me in tears. The emotions portrayed in the film were intense and vulnerable, and the topic of the film is very relevant to current events. “Undocument” does not leave its audience with feelings of hope and happiness; it’s not supposed to. Rather, it challenges audience members’ perceptions of humanity, equality, and how just a justice system really can be. It’s riveting’ it’s heartbreaking; it’s real.
In the Hills and Hollows
Directed by: Keely Kernan
Reviewed by: Ashley Edgell
“In the Hills and Hollows” explores the state of West Virginia that is now dominated by the coal industry. The documentary portrays the lives of real individuals who are living or have lived in West Virginia through the coal phenomenon. Throughout the motion picture, residents of West Virginia describe their horrific experiences with fracking and what it is doing to their home state. Some residents have even had to pack up and move because the living conditions in their area are so poor. Most people don’t realize how bad of a problem fracking is becoming, but the individuals in the film tell their horrific stories first hand.
I personally enjoyed watching this documentary and found it to be educational and packed with information. “In the Hills and Hollows” does an excellent job of explaining how the population of West Virginia has been affected by fracking. The use of real residents telling their story spoke volumes to me, and helped me to realize that I wouldn’t want those experiences happening to me or my family. Before watching this film, I knew that fracking is obviously harmful to the environment, but I had no idea of how bad the damage was in West Virginia. The use of images from the fracking sites allowed for a visual of the problem first-hand, which made the film even more intense. I would rate this film as a five because I found it very informational, and I believe that everyone should educate themselves on what is happening in West Virginia and other states across the country.
Culture Staff Writers | Korina Meister, Raichel Jenkins, Lauren Cartwright, Ben Vizy, Sarah Blankenship, Sydney Dawes, Rachel Sinistro
Director: Claire Carre
Review by: Korina Meister
Embers takes place in a dystopian future in which a neurological disease makes citizens forget almost everything about society. The film follows several people’s lives as they try to create connections and find meaning in life, even though they have forgotten nearly everything they knew.