Review / Creed ★★★★☆

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When the Creed spin off was first announced, audiences were skeptical to if this was simply another money grabbing franchise, put together for a quick cash in. But just like prior release Rocky Balboa, Creed proved to be an excellent addition to the Rocky series. Focusing on the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, Adonis Creed(Michael B Jordan), as he is taken under the wings of a retired Rocky. Creed 2, no longer has the influential Ryan Coogler attached to the project, but ultimately, new director Steven Caple Jr. still delivers an excellent sequel.

Even though the fights bring the glamour to these movies, the Rocky franchise has always been more about the story and character development. Creed 2 manages to give both Creed, and his rival, the son of the lethal Ivan Drago, Viktor (Munteanu) , some real personality. Adonis is actually far more unlikable in this film, as opposed to Viktor. Adonis with his arrogance and resentment, comes across far more conflicted, which makes his progress throughout the movie far more enjoyable. Dealing with his engagement and child brings him a far tougher challenge than anything the ring has thrown at him.

Speaking of Viktor, he is far more captivating of an opponent, than the rival in the first film (boxer Tony Bellew’s Ricky Conlon). Conlon was simply a generic cocky, brash prize-fighter, seen many times over. Although Munteanu is not a professional boxer, unlike Bellew, his relationship with his once formidable, but now disgraced father Ivan (Lundgren) really gives Viktor an edge in terms of a personality. The final showdown is done is such a way, you really do end up rooting for both of them to win, as they are both dealing with such inner turmoil. The boxing is as well filmed as they always are in this franchise. You can really feel every killer hook or brutal knockdown.

Stallone is as endearing as always as the aging Italian Stallion, though he doesn’t have as big a role as the previous film,  his character is as warming as ever, and his arc does get wrapped up nicely. If the rumors are true, it would be a nice way to write out the legend. Tessa Thompson also shines again as Creed’s partner Bianca, she is nicely incorporated into Adonis’s facade both in and out the ring. It would have been easy for the film to simply wash over her hearing issues, but it’s used for some powerful scenes this time around.

The movie does suffer from following the usual Rocky formula, borrowing elements from both Rocky 3 & 4. The film is rather predictable to any one who is familiar with any of the previous entries, It’s also a shame that Rocky & Drago don’t really share much screen time together, bar their first meeting early in the movie. Apparently there were some post fight scenes as our old foes share a moment of respect, but it was cut. As soon as the final fight ends, it cuts right to the conclusion of the film. One other nagging moment is that the iconic training montage just seems to lack something to make it Rocky caliber, not just your everyday montage.

Those criticisms aside, Creed 2 is still a fascinating sequel. Adonis really changes as a person, and our antagonist is also as endearing as our hero. The fight scenes are incredibly powerful and wonderfully shot. In all honesty, there really is no need to make a third installment. Though if anything, a film following the Dragos journey to redemption would be just as intriguing to watch.

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Battle of the Sexes – An Ace For Fans

Starring Emma Stone & Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes is the dramatization of the real life events in 1973 which lead to the creation of the WTA, the Women’s Tennis Association.

Battle of the Sexes takes a look back at the monumental clash between former men’s Number 1, Bobby Riggs (Carell), in the twilight on his career. Up against one of the top women’s players at the time, Billie Jean King (Stone) in an open challenge to the Women’s tour.  Back in the early 70s, the Women’s game was highly disregarded in the male dominated game, with far less pay and recognition than their male counterparts. So the consequences of this clash would go far beyond the court.

Though the subject of the movie may be Tennis, the film takes a greater look into the inner conflicts and demons that our two protagonists are facing. King is struggling to deal with her sexuality, and the pressures of being away on tour from her husband. Whereas Riggs is trying to balance the end of a career with his increasing gambling addiction, which is causing immence strain in his relationship with his wife.

Battle of the Sexes is a slow burner, as the first hour focuses mainly off the court, with both Stone & Carell excelling in their performances. Though the role is far more serious than what he usually does, Carell still brings his trademark flair to the role of Riggs, bringing sympathy to a character who revels playing the pantomine villain in this show.  

The struggles faced especially by King, against a system which simply does not treat her colleagues as a serious threat and the credibility they deserve provides the movie with an antagonist we can all get behind, the USLTA commsioner Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman). Sarah Silverman also shines bright as the resourceful & sassy manager of the breakaway LTA organisation.

Battle of the Sexes is a must watch for any fan of Tennis, as the influences of this event still reverberates today. It may feel like it does drag on at times, and the actual showdown isn’t as hyped up as it could have been, it feels like the drama on the court could have been built up far more greater. The 2 actors are not known for the physical roles, so it probably was expected to reduce the on court scenes in a minimum. However it’s the players personal battles off court, that soar above their battles on court. 

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