New Releases for Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Genre: Action/Drama/Sequel Directed by: Ryan Coogler Run time: 132 minutes Rating: PG-13 Format: Blu-Ray The Lowdown: For those people who wondered after 2006’s “Rocky Balboa” whether the world needed another Rocky Balboa film, Creed proves why there should be an exclamation point behind the answer, “Yes!”
For a character who has been hanging around for the past 39 years, Balboa, as played once again by Sylvester Stallone, has never seemed more human, and that’s one of the many fine points that writer-director Ryan Coogler nails in his thoughtful, relevant and thrilling continuation of the franchise.
Stallone seems wholly comfortable as Balboa, which is no surprise. But Michael B. Jordan, playing the illegitimate son of Balboa’s former foe/friend Apollo Creed, gives the film the heart it needs to justify this seventh return to the ring.
In a year dominated by nostalgia, when dinosaurs ran amok and terminators traveled in time, who would have guessed that the one film to deftly reward longtime fans would be a quiet character study about the pressures of living up to one’s legacy wrapped in an adrenaline-infused action
Coogler gets what touched people’s hearts about the “Rocky” franchise. He understands the need for the training montage, and why it was such a popular moment in the best movies of the franchise. But he doesn’t pander. He doesn’t resort to having Balboa and Creed enlist a legion of cheesesteak-loving residents in a Vangelis-inspired foot race to the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Instead, he turns the heart-tugging moment into a sentimental statement about the art of aging gracefully.
Creed is a fantastic culmination of an enduring franchise, anchored by a still-lovable lug whose onscreen life mirrors the trajectory of many of his stalwart fans. Through success and heartbreak, Balboa survived, and movies as we know them are better for it.
The Stuff You Care About: Hot chicks – Yes. Nudity – No. Gore – Boxing violence. Drug use – No. Bad Guys/Killers – There’s no Ivan Drago in this one. Buy/Rent – Buy it.
Intruders (Entertainment One, 90 minutes, Unrated, DVD): There must be a curse for films simply named “Intruders.” The last movie with that title starring Clive Owen was a convoluted mess. The latest film bearing the same title, Intruders, is an interesting-in-concept home invasion thriller about a young woman suffering from Agoraphobia who must fend off a group of thieves looking to steal from her family after her brother dies. The hook here is that, much like in the far superior “You’re Next,” the victim is not your everyday damsel in distress. Both her family and her estate harbor dark secrets that the would-be bandits are ill-equipped to deal with. It’s not a terrible thriller, but it lacks the propulsive narrative necessary to keep you fully engaged, despite a brief run time.
The Night Before (Sony, 101 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Santa be like, “No, no, no” instead of “Ho, ho, ho.” The problem with this high-concept holiday comedy is pretty simple: It’s not funny. Not in the least. I barely chuckled through the first 30 minutes, and that’s a really bad sign when Seth Rogen is on full display.
The Midnight Man (Cinedigm, 105 minutes, Unrated, DVD): D.C. Hamilton’s genre mash-up of horror and assassins-for-hire, The Midnight Man, suffers from an identity crisis. It wants to be slick and subversive, a rat-a-tat-tat roller coaster of bombastic style and Tarantino-esque dialogue, spotlighting a hired killer who can’t feel pain due to a genetic disorder that renders him impervious to torture. But too often, the high concept falls flat. Part of the problem lies with the script, which can’t decide on a consistent tone. The Midnight Man, whose real name is Grady, is played by Will Kemp as a likeable yet deadly rapscallion. His girl Friday, if she was thrust in the role of hostage, is Zan, a single-mom emergency paramedic played by Brinna Kelly, who co-wrote the script with Hamilton. Kelly can’t act on the same level as Kemp and Doug Jones and William Forsythe and the other genre greats who populate the cast, and that’s another big problem. The only person who really seems to embrace the look and feel that Hamilton hoped to achieve is Jones, who plays Vick, a diabolical and witty torturer who revels in the amount of pain he can
inflict. The Midnight Man is a fun genre film that leaves you wanting more, but you won’t be angry for the time lost watching it.
The Boy (Shout! Factory, 110 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): Writer-director Craig William Macneill does an admirable job showing the influences that might form the foundation of a dangerous sociopath in a 9-year-old boy. But his film, The Boy, while filled with visual imagery befitting the remote, desert locale of a roadside motel where the boy, Ted Henley, lives with his father, doesn’t provide enough necessary jolts to truly galvanize the viewer. Instead, I found myself thinking back to a film that tonally and thematically mirrors The Boy to greater effect – “Goodnight Mommy.”
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