Movie review: Stallone delivers knockout turn with Creed II
Sylvester Stallone claims that this is it for Rocky Balboa. He is done. No more.
If this is a ploy to get some sympathy votes come awards season, I would tell him to not bother.
Stallone - and I did not expect this going into Creed II - is brilliant.
The performance of a lifetime. The heart of the film.
For an actor who has become synonymous with the dafter side of Hollywood, he packs an emotional punch here.
This sequel could easily have been a disaster. An arguably unnecessary sequel without original director Ryan Coogler, the man who helmed 2015's Creed and reinvigorated a 39-year-old franchise, it was a risk.
While Stallone has screenplay credit, he knows when to step back.
In fact, Rocky is rarely in the foreground and often in the shadows, playing punch-drunk slurring trainer to Michael B. Jordan's Adonis Creed.
Where you might expect the big emotional speech, Stallone just gives a shrug, a grunt and shuffles away. And it hits you right in the feels - as the kids used to say.
But while Stallone steals the show, that is not to say that the rest of the cast sit back.
The big speeches are left to Jordan, Tessa Thompson as his baby mama and the secret weapon Phylicia Rashad as Adonis' stepmum.
And while nobody gives an angry mother stare like Rashad, Creed II is all about the dads.
You have Rocky and Adonis' co-dependent surrogate father-son bond, Adonis' own venture into fatherhood and of course, Dolph Lundgren and Florian Munteanu as the wounded beasts that manage to make you feel sympathy for the villains.
While the fight choreography is on point and the sound editing of punches makes it feel like you are the one who has been hit, the fights are somewhat let down by disappointingly flat green screen stadiums.
Yet, they are like obligatory checkpoints to pass through. You know how each will turn out.
It is the action outside of the ring that hits hardest.
MOVIE: Creed II
STARRING: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu
DIRECTOR: Steven Caple Jr
THE SKINNY: After winning the world title under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa (Stallone), Adonis Creed (Jordan) must face a dark shadow from his dad’s past – Viktor Drago (Munteanu), son of Ivan Drago (Lundgren), who killed Creed’s father in the ring.
Movie reviews: Mowgli, Widows
MOWGLI: LEGEND OF THE JUNGLE (PG13)
His face may not be instantly recognisable, but you definitely know his characters.
Gollum, King Kong, Supreme Leader Snoke and Caesar.
Andy Serkis has become synonymous with performance capture, and he is bringing this tech to the next level in his second directorial effort Mowgli, which premieres on Dec 7 on Netflix.
Rudyard Kipling's classic tale The Jungle Book has seen its fair share of film adaptations, the latest being Jon Favreau's 2016 live-action version.
Serkis' take is no song and dance. It is rather grim, and at times, too dark to be a family film.
For instance, the opening scene sees Mowgli's (a brilliant Rohan Chand) parents get ripped apart, albeit off screen, by the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch).
The boy's jungle pals, including panther Bagheera (Christian Bale) and bear Baloo (Serkis), are depicted as ruthless predators.
Familiar story and a stellar voice cast aside, the effects in Mowgli are truly amazing.
They help elevate otherwise uneven storytelling.
Let's hope Serkis focuses on injecting more heart in his next venture. - JOANNE SOH
From Oscar-winning Steve McQueen comes a heist thriller about three Chicago women in a do-or-die situation as they are forced to follow their dead husbands' villainous footsteps and pull off a sting to pay off a gangster.
This is a smarter breed of a crime movie, with plenty to say about politics, race and gender.
If that sounds too heavy, the heist itself is a high-octane lesson in intensity.
Viola Davis is outstanding as the self-appointed leader of the distaff gang, plotting a heist while still getting through the grieving process. Elizabeth Debicki and Daniel Kaluuya also stand out.
Debicki's journey from timid, abused and clueless wife to calculating and confident almost steals the show, while Kaluuya is chilling as the dead-eyed enforcer, disapproving of big brother Brian Tyree Henry's desire to go from gangland boss to local politician.
Widows is a gripping story. But be warned, it contains Liam Neeson's - who plays Davis' bank robber husband - kissing technique. It is not for the faint of heart. - JONATHAN ROBERTS
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