Rant-View: Creed 2

review of Creed 2

I’m going to start reviewing stuff. The stuff might be new. The stuff may be old. It may be a movie stuff, or might  be a product stuff, or a TV stuff, or even a music stuff. I don’t know, I just work here…for free…on my couch. Also, there’s going to be spoilers, lots of them, so if you haven’t seen the movie, just skip to the bold part at the bottom where I tell you if I think you should watch it or not.

I’m reviewing Creed 2 today folks, and I didn’t love it. Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson were great, but they’re always great. Stallone was dope, but he’s always dope when he plays Rocky; he’s been doing it for forty years, it’s his thing. I’m also glad the Dolph Lundgren is still getting work, he seems nice. Besides, the dude is like a fictional character come to life. He’s an Olympic-caliber athlete, a scientist, a model, a martial artist, and an actor. He’s someone you’d read about in a book and claim that they’re too perfect to be real. Anyhow, the kid who played Drago was really good, especially when you consider that he was probably hired for his looks. Florian Menataue is his name, and acting better than he has any right to is his game. Also Phylicia Rashad reminds us that she can act her butt off and Wood Harris remembers the damned titans all over the place. Steve Caple Jr. directs the crap of this thing too; shooting some of the best boxing scenes since Play It To The Bone, which itself had the best cinematic pugilism since the original Rocky flicks.

Did I mention that Michael B. Jordan should be the biggest star in the world? That he’s what would happen if a West End thespian got splashed with the same ooze that created Daredevil and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and instead of being blind or a turtle became a real-life G.I. Joe? Did I say that already? That dude is an Academy Award acting range in the body of an actual superhero? Did I remind you yet that he made me root for him over The Black Panther in BP’s own movie? Howzabout Tessa Thompson? Did I remind you guys that she owned Thor: Ragnarök? Or that she has the screen presence of someone twice her age and experience? I guess I underplayed all that earlier, but not now! Nope, I’m telling you all about how great this cast is. How talented this crew is. I’m telling you because I have no idea how all of this awesome added up to a movie that I really didn’t like much at all. I don’t get it folks, it should’ve been a contender…yes, I went there.

Hacky critic jokes aside, let me explain simply why this movie didn’t work for me: the story was poorly written and movies are just picture stories. Like if you read a children’s book and the pictures are great, but there aren’t any words; it will be entertaining if you’re young enough, but once you can read you’re not going to like it. No matter how great a picture of a zebra on a beach vacation looks, no one is going to remember the story if the caption on the part where he only puts sunblock on his stripes because he doesn’t want them fading away just says “Zebra fear sun.” I mean…maybe they’ll remember it, but not for the right reasons. Like those dudes in Times Square who dress like children’s characters but have off-brand suits and names like “Michael Mouse””, “Ronald Quack”, and “Dara The Searcher”; you take the picture if you’re that into being in Times Square, but you cherish it for different reasons than you’re probably intended to. That also kind of applies to this movie I guess. You get your picture with Elmo, but it’s not really Elmo.

So yeah, that’s my extremely longwinded way of saying that I didn’t like the script. I’m trying to keep these things short and I like to ramble, so I will only discuss my biggest problems with this story. There’s a saying in professional wrestling that goes “The money is in the chase.”; that is to say that the most profitable stories are those of a face (hero wrestler) going after a championship, usually held by a heel (villain wrestler). This movie skips the whole damned chase. Creed wins the World Championship in the first ten minutes of the movie from the guy that logically should’ve been the main antagonist of this whole flick. Remember the guy that beat his ass in the gym in the first flick? The champion that didn’t defend his title against Creed? Yeah that dude gets kerplunked before the opening-credits finish rolling. This leaves us to watch Creed fall from grace, get mad at Rocky, have a kid basically just to mirror Rocky 2, and then beat Ivan Drago’s son in a fight so good that it almost made me forget that I didn’t like this movie. Funny thing is that this would be a fine story to tell over the course of four movies, but they shoe-horned it all into one flick. It was like a Cliff’s Notes version of Rocky 2 through Rocky 4. Why? They had to know that they’d make enough cash to warrant more of the series, so to me it felt more like the production saying to me “We can do ALL the Rockys at once!” before slamming a Mountain Dew and jumping out of a plane with a Spuds McKenzie dog strapped to its chest. I didn’t want a Rocky’s greatest hits movie, I wanted another Adonis Creed story that maybe  had some parallels to Rocky. When you pass the torch, the next person just keeps running, they don’t turn around and go back over the same path you just did.

Yeah folks, this movie plays kind of like a Rocky redux more than its own thing, but I would’ve been fine with that, albeit a bit disappointed, had they followed a structure that works for a franchise. We all know that they plan to milk at least 4-5 movies out of these characters, so why go straight for the fall from grace, skipping the true ascension, in one movie? If you’re waiting for an answer, I don’t have one. Also, I found the subplot about Ivan Drago being run out of Russia and baby Drago being resentful of that fact to be the most interesting thing about the movie. The two of them actually got to have the best emotional beats in my opinion. Speaking of emotional beats that missed it for me, I felt that the reveal of Adonis’ new baby being deaf wasn’t explored enough to be impactful, but was explored enough to take away screen time from the things I wanted to see. I can only hope that it was setting up some struggle for later films, and wasn’t just a throwaway device to make you feel bad for the Creeds. I felt similarly about Rocky going to meet his son. The moment was nice and hits home for any longtime fans of the character, but it felt tacked on.

Let’s cut all of this out folks and get to the part where I tell you if you should watch the movie or not: WATCH IT. You might be surprised that I’m saying that, but despite all my issues with it, I think the acting and directing make it worth a gander. Furthermore, I’m hoping that all of the capable people behind this franchise have a bigger plan for the movies and that this flick will be better when viewed through the lens of having seen the later installments. It’s also possible that I’m just a dumb stickler for this kind of thing and a less fickle viewer might find the movie very entertaining. So give it a shot folks…although I just spoiled it for you…unless you skipped the rest of the review and just read the bold part. Anyhow, watch it, don’t watch it. See if I care. Peace out nerds.

Rant: On Managing Expectations

Ok folks, here’s the deal: Big Ron “El Junto De Pan y Agua” Lastnameovich and I are both in the midst of adding to our families. So, there’s going to be some gaps in our release schedule, and we’re thinking of posting some stuff un-edited so that we can just record and post for y’all without having to break our asses and piss our wives off. We will be back to normal eventually, so don’t lose hope, but until then, I’m going to try to throw up some more blogs so you can get your Un-Titled fix. Maybe I will review something; maybe I will just rant; maybe I will tell you how to make my world famous omelet (The secret? Use eggs). Who knows, but if you’re Stockholm Syndromed enough to miss us, read on…

So I’m sitting here in an insomniac haze, four games of knock-off Scrabble against the computer deep, and I’m amazed at what’s going on down on my television. More specifically, I’m two and two against the computer and I’m having an allergy flair-up so bad that I know a good night’s sleep is a dream I can’t attain because I’m not sleeping and therefore not dreaming of dreaming…I could go on all night in that circle, but I won’t. Anyhow, I’m up watching television, trying to think of something to write for y’all, and I’ve just watched Kingsman: The Golden Circle and I’m in the midst of watching Deep Impact. I’ve not only been watching them , but I’ve been so enthralled by them that I couldn’t write for the last three hours and instead played four games of knock-off Scrabble so that I could pay more attention to my television. Funny thing is this: I’ve seen them both already…and didn’t like either one. Yet here I sit, high on Mark Strong singing John Denver and completely bro-crushing on Treat Williams (the rich man’s Tom Berenger if you ask me). How could this be? How could I so decidedly not enjoy either film on my original viewing and now be falling in love with both of them? Well the answer lies in one simple word: expectations.

 I loved the original Kingsman folks. I saw it a good ten times in it’s original run on cable, and I will still watch it anytime it’s on. I actually went into it thinking it would be crap and was so pleasantly surprised that I showed it to anyone who would watch with me. Expectations folks. So with that love in my heart I ran to the theater to see the sequel! I was profoundly let down. I won’t get into it because you don’t care, but I will say that it felt like it lacked the charm of the original and just didn’t do it for me. Deep Rising was last seen by a late twenties Craig who had heard that it was the coolest piece of slick action schlock in years from his buddies at the video store. Yes, I had buddies who worked at a West Coast Video, because I’m a movie geek who was born in the eighties. I also have a bunch of movie tattoos; everything about me is a cliché. Anyhow, I popped the sea monster classic into my DVD player with joy in my eyes and was barely paying attention by the time the final roar was heard from the jungle (legend says that it was actually a backdoor Skull Island prequel). To be honest, my recollection of both viewings wasn’t disdain, just not feeling like I had seen anything special. I went into both flicks expecting greatness, and walked out of both thinking I had just seen not much of anything.  It would seem that my hopes were just too damn high the first time I saw either of these flicks. It would seem that I was let down by not having my expectations met. Second viewing though? Wow.

I’m going to cut to the chase here folks. I’m going to give you some advice that I hope you all heed: Next time you’re let down by a movie that you thought was going to be awesome, the next time you walk out of a theater saying “ Man, I really thought that was going to be so great, I’m so let down.”; don’t give up on it. No folks, instead I want you to wait about a year, maybe even more. Wait however long you feel is necessary to forget the finer details of the movie and/or to put you in a different headspace than you were in the first time you watched it, and watch it again. Go into it thinking it’s going to be garbage; thinking it’s going to be worse than the first time you saw it; have zero faith in it being worth your while. Do this and there’s pretty fair odds that you will be pleasantly surprised by what you see. I bet that once you strip away all the preconceived notions about the film’s greatness and walk  in thinking that you’re going to watch crap, you’ll find yourself watching something that you at least enjoy a bit.  

As always, I’ve taken the longest possible route to get to where I’m going, but hey, it’s the journey that makes life, not the destination. Anyhow, what I’m saying is that expectations ruin movies. Even if you’re expecting something great and you get it, wouldn’t it be better if it was even better than you thought? So much better! You better believe me. Sorry, I got addicted to typing the word “better”, it was like some kind of The Ring shit; I was just sucked into it. So yeah, stop having such lofty expectations for everything and you’ll like it all so much more. Stop pouring over every frame from every trailer. Stop watching them altogether if you can. Personally, I only watch trailers for things I’ve never heard of and/or I’m undecided on. I see most movies having only read a logline and a cast and crew list. What else do you need? If you love Tom Hardy movies and you love superheroes, do you really need to see a trailer for Venom? Love action-comedies, Ryan Reynolds, and Samuel L. Jackson? Then what else would you need to see before watching The Hitman’s Bodyguard? Do you even need to know if other people liked it? Maybe ask a couple of friends who saw it, at most, but why ruin it by reading a review that may contain spoilers and/or skew your view before you’ve even seen a frame?

That’s not to say that reviews don’t have their place. We live in a social media culture where everyone (myself included) loves to share their opinions. I see reviews and social media posts as the logical extension of the walk to the car after a movie. That twenty minutes after you see a flick where you and your friends shoot the poop about what you just saw, that’s what reviews are to me. They’re another way to see what everyone else thought about what you just saw; another way to get insights you yourself may not have had. Reviews and movies are great compliments to one another, we’re just consuming them in the wrong order.

So yeah, the moral of the story is that if you walk into every movie with a neutral attitude and an open mind, you’re more likely to enjoy it for what it is. Furthermore, if you do find yourself let down by a flick, go back and watch it again without all the extra baggage you walked into it with the first time. Trust me, you’ll enjoy things a lot more. I’m not dumb though, I understand that it’s impossible to have expectations, and that just knowing the written description of what you’re going to see can lead to you walking into the theatre excited about what you’re going to see, but we’re not going to just start walking into theaters blind. We have to know something about what we are buying a ticket for, I just think that we shouldn’t know enough to influence us too much. I also know that sometimes you’re let down by a movie and then you watch it again hoping it will be better and you’re let down even harder. I’m looking at you Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. This stuff is going to happen, I’m just trying to limit it and help you enjoy things. Jeez, lay off me, you’re not my real dad. End Rant.

P.S. The entire 3rd act of Deep Rising is a straight up roller coaster of awesomeness and I’m sorry that I ever doubted it. I can see how on my first viewing I let my attention wain during the second act because it plays a little more like a horror movie and i don’t like horror, but in my re-watch I realized how dope of a setup the first act is, how well the second act works when you let it, and how great the final sprint is. In regards to Golden Circle, when I watched it without being surprised by the rather sad first twenty minutes, I was able to appreciate how fun it is. I can now say that I love both movies and they will be re-watched whenever I come across them.

The Un-Titled Movie Podcast With Ron & Craig #19: The Ref

the ref podcast

On this week’s episode we’re shooting the poop on 1994’s The Ref. Yes folks, we’re kicking off Christmas-Tober: The Return To The Re-Revenge with a Christmas classic that features prime A-Hole Era Denis Leary, 90s Final Form Judy Davis, and Kevin Spacey before we all realized he’s a dumpster person. What a movie!  Ron loves it! Craig…definitely watched it! Also, we’re both half-awake and sick for the entirety of this one, so be on the look out for coughing, Craig kind of falling asleep, and an overall horrible attitude from the both of us! Is this our final downfall? No, screw you for doubting us. Also nuts to each and every one of you who thinks that this isn’t a Christmas movie. 

Look, as you’ll hear during the episode, I’m not a fan of this flick. It seems like something I should like, but it doesn’t really speak to me because it’s too nihilistic and the arc doesn’t make much sense. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not a Christmas flick. I will address this in a more creative form when we do Die Hard, but for now I will just point this out: Most people have dumb views on what makes a “Christmas Movie”.  Every year I run into folks out there in the world who tell me what is and isn’t a Christmas movie, and basically they all seem to think that if there isn’t a talking snowman, a fat chimney sneaker, or a reindeer with a glow-snout; then it’s not Christmas. Well you’re wrong and your breath is probably bad. So what do I think makes a Christmas movie? I will give you a simple answer and an even more simple answer. I will do it in list form to save you the trouble of making sense of my horrid paragraph structure. 

Answer 1: If it takes place on or around Christmas, and Christmas itself has something to do with the plot, it’s a Christmas movie. It’s just that simple.

Answer 2: Whatever the hell you watch on Christmas, if you watch it every Christmas, is your Christmas movie. If whenever you think of it, you think of Christmas, it’s yours. That’s it, that’s all. 

So folks, it’s the holiday season, go out there and watch your favorite flicks, or shows, or whatever. Enjoy them all and know that at least one idiot respects your tradition. Be good to each other. 

The Un-Titled Movie Podcast With Ron & Craig #11: Willow!

nostalgia movie podcast willow

You ever wonder what would happen if Batman and The Leprechaun went on an adventure together? What if Opie Taylor directed the whole thing? We’ll find out on this week’s episode when we watch Willow! We swear it’s totally not Lord Of The Rings! It’s Willow!