Make Your Own Legacy

creed-finalposter

Creed has a secret weapon. Because a lot of movies have solid concepts, good scripts, interesting direction, recognizable IPs, talented young stars or some combination of those elements.

But those other movies don’t have Rocky. Not it’s pedigree as a series which, over the past decade, it has managed to snatch back from its more ridiculous tendencies (give or take a Broadway musical), but Rocky Balboa, the character created with loving care over the past 40 years by Sylvester Stalone.

Stalone is a revelation here, turning in a warm, funny and intense performance that’s closer to his turn in the original film than any of the sequels. A particularly touching scene shows him reading the paper at Adrian and Paulie’s graveside, resigned to a quiet and lonely life after the loss of his wife and brother in law and the alienation of his son.

But this is only half Rocky’s story. The movie belongs primarily to Adonis Johnson (later Creed), the son of Apollo Creed, conceived during an affair  and born after Apollo died. (In Rocky IV, in the ring at the hands of Ivan Drago, then Rocky gets revenge and ends the cold war. Remember the bit before about the series getting ridiculous? I was talking about that. But I do love Rocky IV, I’m getting off track) Adonis’s mother also died and he was bounced around foster care and the juvenile detention system before Creed’s widow Mary-Anne took him in, hoping to preserve a connection to her long dead husband. Hoping to prove he’s worthy of his father’s name and legacy, Adonis moves to Philly to train with Apollo’s best friend and competitor. There he learns to box, falls in love and connects with Rocky as the father he’s never had.

This movie lives in it’s really great performances. I already called out Stalone, who really was exceptional, but there’s also Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne, who does more by herself talking to a TV than most actors do with monologues, Tess Thompson as Bianca, a singer Adonis falls for and is an excellent successor to Adrian. And Michael B. Jordan is incredible.

Jordan’s performance is restrained and focused. Adonis has none of Apollo’s flamboyance, but he does share his father’s arrogance, and he’s a good mentee for Rocky, who understands the kid’s single focus and drive to prove himself.

The film is creatively and vibrantly shot, which was refreshing, since this movie could have easily been very lazy and still very enjoyable. (See Rocky Balboa…) My favorite sequence involved Adonis projecting Rocky and Apollo’s first fight onto a big screen and standing against it, blocking out the Stallion and fighting his father.

Like Rocky  I think that Creed is going to make a major movie star of it’s leading man, and it’s about time for Jordan, who is just. so. good.

Rankings!

  1. The Martian
  2. Straight Outta Compton
  3. Creed
  4. Crimson Peak
  5. Bridge of Spies
  6. Mockingjay Part 2
  7. The Man From UNCLE
  8. Spectre
  9. Ant-Man
  10. Mad Max: Fury Road
  11. Inside Out
  12. Trainwreck
  13. Tomorrowland
  14. Jurassic World
  15. Ricki And The Flash
  16. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  17. Minions
  18. Fantastic Four
  19. Terminator: Genisys
  20. Entourage
  21. Pitch Perfect 2

Trailers!

We were a little late because parking at a mall on Black Friday is a nightmare, but we caught of few of them!

Hateful Eight, still looks awesome. No change there.

Ride Along 2: Much like many comedies, I thoroughly look forward to watching this on HBO one day when I’m sick and don’t go to work.

Barber Shop 3: Is apparently happening? This one is going to deal with the fall of the middle class, which is like, pretty heavy for Barber Shop. But hey, nothing says, “serious comedic engagement with social issues” like Nicki Minaj reciting jokes about her ass being “a Black Amex” that pays her rent.

Central Intelligence: This movie stars The Rock and Kevin Hart and is not a remake of Twins (but that would probably be better). The tag line is “To save the world you need a little Hart and A Big Johnson” which is probably funnier than anything actually in the movie.

The Revenant: At Thanksgiving dinner my cousin described DiCaprio as going, “Full Bale” for this role. I didn’t have the heart to explain to the young one that the term is in fact, “Full Daniel Day Lewis” or perhaps, “Full Brando.” Because”Full Bale,” works too.

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Sailor Moon Super S: Hey! Plot! Episodes 158-161

Guys, you know all that plot that I was complaining about not having in this arc! It was like all in these four episodes. Hooray!

Super S

So, Chibi-Usa and Pegasus (AKA Helios AKA CATFISH!) are starting to be way more functional as a couple. I mean, looks, Chibi-Usa and Hotaru is OTP for me, but these two are very cute in these episodes. He explains that he’s the Prince of Elysion which is the dream world. His physical body is being held by Queen Nehelmina and I’m still not sure what her deal is exactly, but she’s definitely a nutjob. Meanwhile, everyone is running around being very embarassing to Chibi-Usa and trying to figure out who her boyfriend is when it is so very obvious that it’s Pegasus.

The overall theme of these episodes are growing up and maturity. Chibi-Usa wants to be an adult, and Usagi wishes she could be a kid again, so Palla-Palla sort of gives them their wish in the weirdest and creepiest body swap ever.

Everyone trying to figure out that Chibi-Usa is in love is very funny, and I particularly Mamo trying to get her to admit to it, and she’s just all, “DAAADDD, I’m glad you’re paying attention to me, but this is embarrassing.” She keeps it a secret though, which is nice.

Then the girls work at a coming of age ceremony and fight the Amazoness Quartet who think growing up is stupid. (With you there, ladies.) And then Nehelmina covers the earth in darkness and it make Mamo sick and Pegasus is all, “HEY MAYBE LEAVE THIS ALONE OK? THIS IS MY BATTLE,” and Chibi-Usa cries a lot.

We’re coming up on the end of Super S, and I’m ready to kind of be done with this arc. It’s not terribly strong and I’m ready for the final arc, mostly because I realized that when we get into that, I get to see Sailor Galaxia who I love! 

Sorry I was behind on this, but I was having an amazing time at Thanksgiving and catching up on X-Files, I hope everyone who celebrated had a great day, are still plenty full from feasting! Love you!

“He’s My Friend,” “So Was I”

GUYS!

The Captain America: Civil War came out, so let’s all squee with joy about it.

Bucky is good again…mostly.

Sam is still kicking ass and keeping Steve honest.

There appears to be brooding and guy love out the butt.

Oh right, and Black Panther!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And he looks like a badass. So excited to my T’Challa on!

Basically, it looks like it’s going to be everything that we love about the MCU, and the Captain America movies, and just everything.

And I am worried about Tony. I mean not overly, because I don’t think RDJ is going anywhere.

Anyway, I think we can all agree that this is going to be good.

Because OMG THREE WAY FIGHT BETWEEN CAP, IRON MAN AND WINTER SOLDIER!!!!!!

I can see the fanfic now.

(You know, where they have sex instead of fighting?)

(I wrote this post on the fly at work, can you tell?)

Guys, YAYYYY!!!!

The X-Files Movie: Fight The Future

XFiles

I’m going to get this out of the way.

The X-Files is not a good movie.

It’s entertaining, and as a two hour, larger budgeted episode of The X-Files it is very effective.

But it is not, by any stretch of the imagination a good movie.

The plot, such as it is, involves a virus that incubates aliens in people. Scully may have contracted the virus.

Why, by the way, is it always Scully with the weird alien diseases? Why doesn’t Mulder ever get some kind of strange medical condition from their interaction with the aliens? Does this have something to do with him being there at Samantha’s abduction?

Anyway, The Well Manicured man is kind of not into this so he decides to help Scully and Mulder, which puts him on the outs and The Cigarette Smoking Man back in with that shadowy conspiracy committee. Good for you Cigarette Smoking Man!

Also, Mulder and Scully are finally like, in trouble, for just doing whatever the hell they want. And poor, poor Skinner just wants to save their jobs. Because he is, basically a good person, who winds up in shitty, terrible situations, because he somehow wound up in charge of these two lunatics.

Oh! And Mulder and Scully spend a large chunk of the movie’s run time saying that they love each other. And they almost kiss once, but then Scully gets stung by a bee, that gives her the virus.

I actually made my brother laugh because he was watching with me, and as they were moving to kiss each other, I said, “Yayyyy!!!!” And then the bee stung her and I said, “NO! STUPID X-FILES!” Apparently this reaction is hilarious.

Fun bonus points! Blythe Danner and Martin Landau are in the movie. They’re both pretty great. This movie is just, you know, not great.

And from what I understand (Kumail Nanjiani talking about it on The X-Files Files, general consensus, my father.) the show gets crappy from here on out too. I’ve watched a couple of episodes of Season 6. They’re pretty good, but to be fair, “clean up from the movie,” and “guest starring Bryan Cranston” are pretty hard to screw up.

See you all when I get through Season 6!

 

Note:

I’ve started listening to The X-Files Files podcast! For two reasons, I don’t have a lot of people to talk about the show with, as it’s 20 years old. But, this was I can vicariously have discussions about it, and The Indoor Kids is on hiatus, and Silicon Valley and The Meltdown are also both not in season, and I was missing Kumail. I’m loving the show and am already about halfway through his season 2 coverage. I may do a little check in on the show when I write up these last four seasons. Either way, it’s going to extend my X-Files obsession for, as long as Kumail is talking about it.

Jessica Jones: Into The Darkness

Jessica Jones

I was going to analyze Jessica Jones episode by episode like I did with Daredevil, but I quickly found that I was less able to compartmentalize it the way I had that. So I’m just going to do my best to write up a the full thirteen episodes as the one giant story that they are.

I want to start by saying the Jessica Jones is not for the faint of heart. It’s intense in a way I can’t even begin to describe and deals in real grown up problems and themes.

It’s not as violent as Daredevil but it’s a hell of a lot darker.

The show is, like most Marvel projects, cast with flawless precision. From the top down, every actor is amazing. And we should start at the top. Krysten Ritter and David Tenant are superb. I had my doubts about Ritter but she is amazing, and her valley girl sarcasm is the perfect fit for Jessica.

And then there’s Tennant. Every ounce of whacky, gangly British charm (I know he’s actually Scottish) is on display with Kilgrave and twisted to be one of the most frightening villains I’ve ever seen.

And as for those around them? Carrie Ann Moss is exceptional as Jeryn Hogarth, a shark of an attorney (she is consistently referred to as “the best lawyer in New York City,” and I think that there are two little Avacadoes in Hell’s Kitchen, the best damn Avacadoes, one might argue, who have something to say about it.) Rachael Taylor as Trish “Don’t Call Her Patsy” Walker is exceptional, and the relationship between her and Jessica rivals every other Marvel team up. They were raised as sisters and love each other more than anything.

Mike Colter as Luke Cage, Eka Darville as Malcolm, and I could just keep going on.

The plot, which is twisty and perfect involves Jessica deciding to take Kilgrave down when he starts psychologically torturing her, trying to lure her back after he held her captive for months and made her kill people and also had sex with her a lot.

Also she has really hot sex with Luke Cage, like a lot. And it’s great.

Overall, Jessica Jones delivers. I don’t think it’s as good as Daredevil was but it’s incredibly difficult to hold the two up together. What it does demonstrate, in the same way the movies have, is Marvel’s ability to diversify. There’s nothing thrilling about Jessica Jones and that’s pretty wonderful.

Anyway, now I’m off to wash my brain out with some Doctor Who episodes where David Tennant isn’t terrifying.

There Are Worse Games To Play

Mockingjay Part 2

I knew going in that Mockingjay Part 2 was not going to pack the emotional wallop that Part 1 did. That half of the story just doesn’t have the same complexity.

But what this movie lacks in emotional complexity it makes up for in Natalie Dormer gunning mofos down with a machine gun. So it has that going for it.

That isn’t being entirely fair to this movie, which, like most of The Hunger Games lives very much in the general area of feels. The final sequence, which enacts the much maligned epilogue, had me balling. (I actually love  the end of Mockingjay, I think it’s remarkably realistic and emotionally resonant.)

The movie edits around Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death well, which, if I wasn’t looking so hard for it, might go completely unnoticed, and the overall performances are stellar, but that’s not a surprise for this movie.

If Jennifer Lawrence wins an Oscar this year, it will probably be for Joy, and that’s kind of a shame, because she deserve a lot more recognition for Katniss than she gets. This character would have chewed up and eaten just about any other actress, and Lawrence makes her, well, a person. I still want to punch Gale in his stupid handsome perfect Hemsworth face, and Josh Hutcherson is a perfect little golden retriever of a human being. Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks don’t get nearly enough to do, but what they do do is perfect.

I also just want to note that early in the film, as a bunch of characters stand around planning a battle, only two people at that table are white dudes, and most of them are women.

Way to go Hunger Games.

Rankings:

  1. The Martian
  2. Straight Outta Compton
  3. Crimson Peak
  4. Bridge of Spies
  5. Mockingjay Part 2
  6. The Man From UNCLE
  7. Spectre
  8. Ant-Man
  9. Mad Max: Fury Road
  10. Inside Out
  11. Trainwreck
  12. Tomorrowland
  13. Jurassic World
  14. Ricki And The Flash
  15. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  16. Minions
  17. Fantastic Four
  18. Terminator: Genisys
  19. Entourage
  20. Pitch Perfect 2

Trailers

Not many, but all good.

Alice Through The Looking Glass could be good? I don’t know, I was so disappointed in Alice In Wonderland, but God, that cast, you know?

Deadpool, it’s going to be perfect. It just looks so freaking good. Just so good.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I can’t. I just, I really can’t. We’re a month away, and my heart can barely take it anymore.

The X-Files: Season 5 Debrief:”For what purpose?”

The Truth Is Out There

Note: So, I didn’t watch Sailor Moon this week because I decided to watch The X-Files movie instead. So Obviously I couldn’t write up Sailor Moon. Here’s X-Files season 5 instead.

I really like season 5. I mean I don’t know how I’d feel about it if I were watching the show as it were on, but watching it in a big chunk like I have, I happen to think it’s pretty, pretty cool.

The reason I don’t know that I’d have liked it if I were watching the show is that this season has a very different feel from the rest of the series. The mythology episodes are still pretty on point and fit into the rest of the show. The aliens made a clone baby with Scully’s ovaries! The baby died. Her name was Emily and it was very emotional! The Smoking Man possibly raised Samantha Mulder as his own, but also it might not be Samantha, and also he might be her biological father, because he had an affair with Mulder’s mother, I think. Skinner’s not around much. Krychek is teaming up with a bunch of alien rebels who are trying to stop the colonization of Earth, by mass murdering abductees. Not Scully though. She lived. Obviously. There’s a new agent, Jeff Spender, who’s like twelve and his mom was a multiple abductee and he’s sort of uptight about it. “Resist Or Serve” is now a thing.

Oh right, and Mulder might not believe in aliens anymore.

Government conspiracies and supernatural monsters totally. But not really aliens.

Scully believes. Scully believes lots of things. I feel like it needs a post of it’s own, but I’ve never seen a character who’s Catholicism matches mine so perfectly. She’s a believer, but she has her doubts. She’s not lapsed but she’s not super observant either. Her faith is in conversation with herself and that’s not something that we see a lot in relation to Catholicism.

But where the show feels different not in the mythology episodes, but in the one offs, which rather than monster of the week filler, are experiments in storytelling in really cool ways.

My favorite is “Post Modern Prometheus.” The episode is entirely in black and white, shot like a campy old horror movie and is about a scientist who created a man, who has two faces and looks mysteriously like the kid from Mask, which causes him to be obsessed with Cher.

The episode ends with our agents taking him to a Cher concert and dancing to her version of “Walking in Memphis.”

So, that’s a thing. That aired on television, on one of the most popular television shows of all time, that’s best known for producing nightmare fuel.

I mean I guess some people’s nightmare fuel involves Cher covers. I don’t know.

But there’s also a McCarthy era flashback featuring Mulder’s father and the founding of the X-Files, a vampire tale that features Mulder and Scully’s dueling perspectives, a haunted doll that murders a small town in Maine, and a flashback to the founding of The Lone Gunmen. The experiments are fun and a big part of why I was able to book through this season in record time.

I’m gearing up for the movie now. And I’m excited and nervous about it. The visual of Mulder holding Scully in their burn out office, unsure how they’ll ever find the truth now, is a great jumping off point.

See you in a few days with the movie talk!