Friday, November 27, 2015

CREED - Earning a Legacy

2015 has already seen one decades-old franchise revival become a major success, and asking for more than that almost seems greedy. But this year's cinematic cup runneth over, and so yet another 1970's film series is finding new life and (potentially) new audiences. However, where Mad Max: Fury Road was another installment with a new actor but the same director telling the next disconnected mythic story of the Road Warrior, Creed comes from journeyman director Ryan Coogler but still follows Sylvester Stallone as the Italian Stallion as he trains a firey new fighter.

For the first time in franchise history, Stallone didn't write the screenplay (he also directed every other film after the original), but the infusion of both Coogler's passionate cinematic storytelling and the talents of Michael B. Jordan as the titular son of Apollo Creed infuse the nearly 40-year-old franchise with potent new life.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

SPECTRE - Of the Past

It's ironic that a film series as long-running and influential as the adventures of James Bond should be defined by how it reacts, but the Bond movies have always been cultural omnivores. Not only do the films play to the tastes of the time (the series has catapulted from spy fiction, "blaxploitation" cinema, and space opera to violent 80's action, digital warfare, outright farce, and grounded rebooting over the years), but has also been a series of reactions to the previous film of the series.

Used correctly, this can lead to a distillation of the character appropriate for post-USSR espionage (see: Goldeneye) or the 00 version of Batman Begins (Casino Royale). Unfortunately for SPECTRE, the 24th entry, the "wisdom" gained from looking outward and inward seems to have gone something like this:

"Hey, people loved Skyfall - let's do all those themes, beats, and stakes again!"

"Yeah, but audiences really like MARVEL movies - let's also rip off big chunks of that Captain America sequel that had a S.P.E.C.T.R.E.-esque organization hiding in plain sight."


...Yeah. It doesn't work out too well.