Creed, review

What does it say about a film-maker when his second film is an inventive take on a familiar story that wins the hearts of critics and audiences, and the first was a sociopolitical feature that told the tragic story of a young man who had his life stolen from him? Unsurprisingly, it says a lot. It says that this film-maker, Ryan Coogler, is an absolute force to be reckoned with. It says he has drive, talent and a flare for contemporary cinema. It says he knows the rule-book but he’s not afraid to toss it out of the window when needed. Creed, the Rocky hit for a new generation, exemplifies the skill of Coogler as a young director who has a bright future behind the camera and a fierce bravery. Sylvester Stallone put his faith in the man, allowing him to direct, write, and develop the story almost single-handedly and it seemingly paid off.

Creed follows Adonis Johnson a.k.a Adonis Creed; the illegitimate child of Apollo, he is ready to prove his worth as a serious boxer, and relocates to Philadelphia to seek out¬†Rocky¬†for personal training Stallone steps up once again as the beloved Rocky Balboa, training Creed and teaching him discipline and respect. Michael B. Jordan – a firm favourite of Coogler – plays the titular boxer, and he’s good. Really good. Jordan was cemented in the minds of most film aficionados following his role in Fruitvale Station. That was an independent biopic exploring the shocking actions of Californian police, this is a blockbuster epic that takes audiences directly into the ring. In both, the actor exceeds expectations and embodies his roles appropriately. As Creed, Jordan exhibits a streak of rebellion and cockiness alongside a quiet gentleness and fragility that only present themselves at the necessary moments. Had the casting been different, the film could have gone down a precarious road.

Creed Movie Film Trailers Reviews Movieholic Hub

Creed Movie Film Trailers Reviews Movieholic Hub

Coogler is a director with an aesthetic eye, he knows what looks good and what should be where and he’s sure to work with his crew to utilise every aspect of a feature to create a finished product. Lighting is used effectively in the final fight sequence, while the score is important throughout – transcending a change in time and neighbourhood from that of the earlier Rocky films meaning Creed now stands independently (and audience-goers are likely eagerly awaiting a sequel). The film escapes genre cliches and a feeling of unwanted nostalgia by bypassing the cornier elements of 1970’s cinema perhaps seen in earlier efforts to deliver something truly contemporary. That modernism is needed in order to impress a new wave of viewers, but there’s this sense of remembrance that ties the feature together and welcomes back returning fans.

This is solid film-making that simply does not disappoint. At only 29 years old, director Coogler is one to seriously watch as he goes from strength to strength in his career as he takes his time to tell a story through his level of artistic brilliance. See it, love it.

 

Advertisements

Actor Profile: Michael B. Jordan

From cult football drama Friday Night Lights, to political true-story Fruitvale Station, Michael B. Jordan, currently the hottest ticket in the film industry, never does the same thing twice. Diverse, bold, and exceptionally talented, Jordan is on his way to super-stardom (which should arrive some time after Creed does). Don’t wait around to see him first then, have a look-see at his back catalogue, which demonstrates the actors filmic smarts thus far.FRUITVALE

Despite the re-boot of Fantastic 4 not sitting so comfortably with audiences or critics, don’t let that cloud your judgement on Jordan himself, who won five awards for his performance in Ryan Coogler’s Frutivale Station – yes, five for one performance. At only 28 years old, Jordan has starred in ten feature films – eleven when boxing drama Creed makes its debut – and eighteen television series’, with acclaim for his roles as Vince in Peter Berg’s FNL, Oscar in Frutivale‘, and Steve Montgomery in hand-held sci-fi Chronicle.

Not just making waves amongst spectators, Jordan is becoming a firm favourite within the industry itself, teaming up with Ryan Coogler for the second time on Creed – a film which is produced by, and stars, Sylvester Stallone. Despite being in the early stages of his film career (in terms of playing leads), the actor has played roles in an array of acclaimed dramas, including the Idris Elba-led series The Wire.

Having just signed on to join Josh Boone’s Pretenders, expect plenty more in the way of distinct roles from Michael B. Jordan, an actor intent on making a name for himself – and a career – in this coveted industry.

Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station

With nothing planned this evening and Netflix at my disposal, I decided to sit down for a little movie night. Usually, I’d go for a film I have already seen and enjoyed with want for a quick decision. Tonight, I chose something different. Having heard of Fruitvale Station through the grapevine I chose to give it a go, knowing little about the film apart from it being based on a true-story that involved police brutality. At only one hour and twenty-five minutes long, I can safely announce that this film will never be forgotten. Not by me, nor by anyone who has taken the time to sit and experience Oscar Grant 111’s last hours.

12FRUIT-articleLarge

ariana neale and michael b. jordan in coogler’s feature

On New Years Eve 2008 Oscar Grant spent the day like he perhaps usually would; he dropped his daughter Tatiana to school, he spent the evening with his mother, girlfriend and family, and he celebrated the New Year with friends in San Fransisco, watching as the fireworks took flight. Returning home, Grant was involved in an altercation on the train. The train stops, police arrive, and Grant – and his friends – are all picked out and sat down. From that moment, whatever happened before becomes irrelevant. The police act on a basis that can only be described as racial prejudice, and Grant is shot in the back. On January 1st 2009, Oscar Grant lost his life. His daughter, Tatiana lost her daddy. His girlfriend Sophina Mesa, lost the father of her child. His mother, Wanda Johnson, lost her son. The police officer that committed homicide? Well, he was sentenced to two years in prison and received eleven months. Fruitvale Station is a kettle boiling steadily, quietly waiting to openly, boldly, bravely, confront the misjustice of the corrupt police officers, and the racial stigma in contemporary America. Many know it still exists, only few are brave enough to address it – Ryan Coogler does it here with empathy and authority.

Michael B. Jordan portrays Grant, and it’s impossible for any critic or audience member to comment on whether the actor has done him justice. That is for Grant’s family to decide, but I get the feeling that had they disagreed with the performance, Fruitvale Station wouldn’t of met its audience. Coogler’s film isn’t an exploitation piece, it a pivotal – and poignant – look at an unfathomable crime. A crime that was acted out by someone citizens of America, no matter what race, or social background, should be able to depend on – and more importantly, trust. The crime itself is just a small scene within the film, the feature is dominated by moments of Grant with his family, the love that they shared together. Coupled with this, are asides of a pensive man, looking back on his time in prison as he decides to once and for all turn away from his life of crime. Coogler doesn’t portray Grant as a perfect 22 year old guy – that would of been so easy. Instead, Grant is seen to be there for his family, desperately trying to attain financial stability. He has a temper, he’s done time, but he’s human. Grant isn’t made out to be a heroic figure, but someone trying to be there for those around him. A positive and upbeat character, a man who shouldn’t of had his life stolen from him so early.

michael b. jordan in fruitvale station

michael b. jordan in fruitvale station

Director Coogler is just 29 years old himself, and was a graduate student when Grant was shot and killed. Coogler knew instantly that he needed to tell the story of what happened at Fruitvale to the rest of the world, and that he successfully did. Going on to win two awards at Sundance, Coogler’s first directorial feature is as powerful and moving as anything from a helmer who’s been in the business for years. Ludwig Goransson composed the films score, which the musician himself describes as “Haunting.” – that, it is. Quiet and instrumental, the score plays an important role in reminding the audience of what is to come, which doesn’t lend to a feeling of impending doom, rather a sense of urgency that Grant see’s his family. Acts of prayer, intimate yet never intrusive, witty scenes of Jordan as Grant brushing his teeth with his daughter (portrayed here by young talent Ariana Neale) for the last time – these are so straightforward, yet they take on a new importance here. Octavia Spencer as Wanda is a treasure, she possesses the faith and hope of a mother. She is as natural as any parent, who all channel so much love to those around them. Spencer’s final moments in the film are so special, full of depth and respect – no overacting in sight here.

There is so much powerful emotion in Fruitvale Station. This emotion might come from the total obscenity of what took place on January 1st. It might also come from the careful and thoughtful manner in which Coogler and team went about adapting such an event for a mass audience. Beyond this, it could be based on the tragedy of the realization that America is still a divided nation. Whatever it is, it’s an accomplishment from the cast and crew who so tentatively put together this crucial feature.