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‘CREED II’ a Heartfelt but Inferior Second Round  

The Cold War didn’t officially end until the early-90s with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and in that 40-odd years of looming nuclear holocaust, many a film has used this intercontentional tension to deliver quality motion pictures – see Dr. Strangelove, The Hunt for Red October, and The Lives of Others. And – of course – Rocky IV. In light of Trump’s presidential-defining ties to Russian interference and a newly ignited political rivalry with Putin’s Russia, the idea of a Creed sequel that played off USA/Russian relations seemed not only narratively apt but also incredibly timely; a fine point of entry for any inevitable sequel and one that could have more on its mind than a couple of meatheads whacking at each other for two-ish hours. Instead the movie is just a couple of meatheads whacking at each other for two-ish hours. Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘CREED’

The Rocky series has a long and storied history that I will cautiously admit that I’m not too familiar with. I know Dolph Lundgren played a Russian adversary at the height of the Gorbachev-era Cold War. Sylvester Stallone’s wolf-like howl for Adrian after his first heavy-weight fight is as burned into my eardrums as Marlon Brando’s wailing “Stella!!!” in the sleepy French Quarter streets. The poster-worthy shot of Rocky’s fists pumped victorious above his head atop the Philadelphia Museum of Arts stairs (today known as the “Rocky Steps”) is as iconic to me as Sgt. Elias’ Hail Mary death throes in Platoon. I know the name Apollo Creed and have a vague recollection of his relative importance within the Rocky franchise but I couldn’t tell you much aside from the fact that he was played by Carl Weathers at the height of his beefiness and that he died in the ring. That is to say, I know the iconography of Rocky, but very little else. Read More