Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Box Office: Creed, The Good Dinosaur, Victor Frankenstein, Legend

Here is an interesting article from reviewing some of the movies that came out over the past weekend. This follows this post about some of the movies from last week and THIS POST about some movies that have been released over the past few years that you might have missed! This all follows this post about guidelines to choosing good movies to watch yourself!

Belated Thanksgiving Box Office: Creed, The Good Dinosaur, Victor Frankenstein, Legend

By Debbie Schlussel

Well, the movies that opened in theaters for Thanksgiving are slightly better than in weeks past, which means we’re getting close to the end of the year “better” movies. I’ll post my belated movie reviews for the past two weekends soon. (I didn’t get those up in time because there were 13 movies I reviewed, and at 400+ words per review, it’s a lot of time, work, and energy.)
* “Creed” – Rated PG-13: Read my complete review of this movie, which is basically “Rocky 7,” in which real Rocky passes the torch to “Black Rocky.” I had very mixed feelings about this movie and the Black Lives Matter propagandist who made the movie. Again, read my full review column.
* “The Good Dinosaur” – Rated PG: Whether or not you have kids, you will enjoy this incredibly cute, touching, and endearing Disney Pixar movie. But, especially if you have young kids, you’ll enjoy this opportunity for wholesome entertainment for your family, which also teaches your kids the value of hard work and sticktuitiveness. On top of that, this is the first–and best–dinosaur Western I’ve ever seen. It’s very fun. There are some points that might be sad or scary for kids. The father dinosaur in the movie dies in a flood while trying to save his son, but that’s necessary to drive the plot along. And a character seems to die (or something like that) in almost ever Disney Pixar film. Plus, didn’t that happen in Bambi? Some of the dinosaurs (and a snake scene) are slightly scary, but I’ve seen far worse in movies for kids, and I didn’t find it to be too disturbing for kids.
The story: three dinosaurs are born to a couple of dinosaur farmers in the West (the movie’s scenery is reportedly based on Montana). Two of the dinosaurs, Libby and Buck, are normal-sized and they make their mark. But Arlo, the main character of the movie, is a runt and a klutz. Nothing ever seems to go right for him, and he desperately tries to impress his parents so he can make his mark.
Soon, crops go missing from the storage silo, and the dinosaurs set a trap. Arlo’s job is to watch the silo and catch the critter who is stealing from them. He catches a cave boy, but lets him go free. So, Arlo’s father requires Arlo to go with him to track the cave boy down a ravine. Suddenly, though, there is a rainstorm, and a flood, and while Arlo’s father rescues Arlo, the father dies in the flood.
Winter is coming, and Arlo must help his mother and siblings harvest enough crops so they have food during the cold months. But, again, the cave boy steals their food. Arlo chases after him into the ravine and mountains and then gets lost. He becomes friends with the cave boy (who is like his pet dog–yes, we humans are the pets in this alternative timeline of evolution and history), and together they brave the land as Arlo tries to find and make his way home. They encounter a snake, various other wild and dangerous animals, another species of dinosaurs–cowboys who protect them in exchange for help in rounding up cattle, and so on.
The movie is cute, cuddly, and very entertaining.
Watch the trailer . . .

* “Victor Frankenstein” – Rated PG-13: I can’t say anything positive about this movie, other than that the first five minutes of it were pretty good. Sadly, it all goes rapidly downhill from there, and the movie is at once disgusting, stupid, and a totally pointless bore. I struggled to stay awake, briefly lost that battle, and missed nothing. It’s so bad that, while I never leave a movie for a bathroom break lest I miss something good or some important plot twist or dialogue, I didn’t hesitate to do so for this–I think I did this only once before (if that) in my 11 years of reviewing movies. And, still, I missed nothing. Yes, I repeat, it’s that awful.
Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame is a hunchback clown who performs in a traveling circus. He crawls on all fours to walk, and when he’s not performing, he is kept prisoner in a cage and treated like an animal. One night, the female trapeze artist in the circus falls off of her swing and to the ground. Radcliffe can see in his mind that her windpipe is blocked and he comes to her rescue, instructing others what to do to save her. One of those others is a local doctor, Dr. Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy). Frankenstein tells Radcliffe that Radcliffe is a genius doctor and shouldn’t be in the circus. Frankenstein convinces Radcliffe to escape and helps him to do so. Once at Frankenstein’s mansion and laboratory, Frankenstein tells Radcliffe that he is not a hunchback but merely has a giant cyst on his back, which Frankenstein drains. Then, Frankenstein enables Radcliffe to stand upright with a brace, helps him to clean up, and teaches him how to behave like a civilized man. Frankenstein tells Radcliffe that he is now “Igor.”
Thereafter, Igor serves as Frankenstein’s aide and assistant, while Frankenstein attempts to create a creature from various body parts he’s picked up from various beings and assembled. Frankenstein uses electric shock to bring the creature to life, but the creature is dangerous and they must catch it and kill it. Frankenstein has various benefactors who fund his “research” into creating and bringing to life various creatures, and Igor, seeing how dangerous and unethical it is, begs him to stop. Frankenstein is working on bringing to life a “human” assembled from various body parts. Igor begs him profusely not to do it and tracks Frankenstein to a seaside, creepy resort, where the monster’s body has been assembled and displayed, ready to shock into life.
Believe me, I’m making this dark, creepy bore sound better than it is. It’s neither exciting, nor interesting, and not the least bit suspenseful. While it somewhat tracks the traditional story of Frankenstein, Igor, and Frankenstein’s monster, it manages to turn it into a snoozer.
Watch the trailer . . .

* “Legend” – Rated R: You couldn’t pay me enough to watch this incredibly violent, pointless bore that unintentionally borders on (and then crosses over the border to) comedic. Tom Hardy plays real-life identical twin brother gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray who operated in East London in the 1960s. The brothers were violent and they used the threat of violence to extort successful businesses, including bars and nightclubs, from their owners. They murdered people indiscriminately and otherwise engaged in acts of violence against those in their criminal gang and against the innocent. The movie is narrated by the voice of the actress (Emily Browning) who plays Reggie Kray’s wife, Francis.
When they were very young, the Krays were arrested for beating and trying to kill a police officer who tried to arrest them. Ronnie Kray was declared mentally insane and sentenced to an insane asylum. But when brother Reggie got out of prison, he and his henchman threatened the psychiatrist in charge of treating him with death unless he declared Ronnie Kray sane, which he did. Ronnie Kray is portrayed in the movie as the more crazy of the two brothers and the one who instigates violence at the drop of a hat. He is portrayed as the bigger problem of the two. Reggie Kray is portrayed as calm and merely interested in (illegal) business and blackmail. But, in real life, both brothers were hotheads who were extremely violent and murderous. There is a scene in which Reggie Kray stabs a man repeatedly to death. It’s horrible, pointless, and I couldn’t watch.
Ronnie Kray, the insane one, is also very openly gay. He and his brother blackmailed a conservative member of the English parliament by setting up a gay porn and orgy party, taking photos, and sending it to an English tabloid to publish.
The movie shows the partnership between the Krays and American mobster Meyer Lansky, with several scenes of Lansky’s “representatives” offering and shepherding the partnership in which the Krays manage Lansky’s London operations. And the movie also shows the relationship between Francis and Reggie and how it developed, with Francis’ mother constantly warning and begging her not to date the mobster, telling her it will only make her unhappy eventually and that it will end badly. Of course, as in a zillion other gangster movies with women who want to date organized crime figures, her mother was right. The audience knows it, and it’s eventually confirmed in the movie.
The only redeeming thing about this two-hour and ten-minute bore is that it doesn’t glamorize the life of mobsters. But that isn’t redemption enough to make anyone sit through this painful torture.
Watch the trailer . . .

“Creed”: New “Rocky” Flick Entertains, But Really a Black Lives Matter Movie

By Debbie Schlussel
I was pleasantly surprised by “Creed,” which is in theaters today for Thanksgiving. It’s essentially “Rocky 7” (with “Rocky 6” being “Rocky Balboa”–read my review), and it’s a much, much better movie than I expected. But, at the same time, I have some very strong reservations about who is behind it and what this is all about.
Overall, it’s a good, uplifting movie in the Rocky spirit, although I have mixed feelings about what is pretty much the subliminal, somewhat racist celebration of the transformation of everything White in America to Black (when the reverse definitely would have been called out as “racist”). This is the story of Rocky Balboa passing the baton to the new Black Rocky, played by Michael B. Jordan.
When I first heard about this movie, I denounced it on this site as ridiculous and yet another promise Sylvester Stallone made about the Rocky movies that he didn’t keep. As I noted then, Stallone promised us that 2006’s “Rocky Balboa” would be the last, last Rocky movie ever. That was after, years earlier, he promised us 1990’s “Rocky V” was the end. I view Stallone’s promises about the last, last, last, ever, ever, ever, final, final, final Rocky movie like I view illegal amnesty pimps’ false promises that their latest push for legalizing invading alien criminals will be the “last, last, last” time. It never is the last time. They’ll always do it again. There is too much in it for them not to keep doing it over and over. And so it goes with the Rocky movies. There’s too much money in it to stop . . . and Stallone has a model wife and several glammed-up daughters to keep dressed in high style and bling.
Note, however, that last time, Stallone apparently intended to keep his promise. This is the first Rocky movie that Stallone neither wrote nor directed. Those duties are filled, this time, by Black director Ryan Coogler, who approached a dubious and supposedly unwilling Stallone and eventually convinced him to get involved in this production.
Coogler is something of a race merchant, and as I also noted when I first wrote about this movie, the original script was even more politically correct and featured a vastly multicultural cast, with only a lesbian Muslim vegan terrorist missing. Coogler’s first hit movie was “Fruitvale Station,” a race-laden, completely fabricated, anti-police movie that sharply contrasts with the facts of the real story on which it is based. The movie glorified convicted criminal, all-around low-life, and drug dealer Oscar Grant, a Black man who was shot by a White police officer after Grant resisted arrest and the cop thought he’d grabbed his taser instead of his gun. And since Hollywood hates America and loves to ingratiate itself and pretend it’s “down wit da struggle,” liberal movie critics gushed over the fictional “Fruitvale” and it received much undue critical acclaim. So, as you watch Creed–if you decide to spend money on seeing it–you must recognize that its writer/director (who stands to earn gazillions from this) is part of the Black Lives Matter movement of fictional narratives glorifying criminals and attacking cops.
In this movie, Michael B. Jordan, who played Oscar Grant in “Fruitvale,” is Adonis Creed, the illegitimate son of boxer Apollo Creed, who died in “Rocky IV.” I know Hollywood doesn’t strictly adhere to real timelines. But Rocky IV came out on November 27, 1985, almost exactly 30 years ago. And, yet, in this movie, Adonis Creed, is about 22-years-old for the portion that takes place “today.” It would have made more sense, as I originally thought–and had written on this site–was going to be the plot of the movie, if Adonis Creed were Apollo Creed’s grandson. But, that aside, the movie is a slightly ghetto-ized version of the original Rocky story.
Creed is a parentless kid and troubled punk imprisoned in juvenile detention. Adonis doesn’t know he’s Apollo Creed’s son. He knows only that he never met his father, who was never in his life and left his mother, and that his mother is a drug addict who is nowhere to be found. He likes to fight and often gets in physical altercations there. But one day, Mrs. Cosby, er . . . Mrs. Creed (Phylicia Rashad) tracks the young Creed son to the juvie center where he’s housed and bails’ Adonis out. Mrs. Creed explains to the young Adonis “Johnson” in semi-evasive but understood terms that his father/her husband had an affair with Adonis’ mother and he is the child of that relationship. She brings Adonis home to live with her at the giant Creed estate, complete with gargantuan mansion and fancy automatic gate with a “C” on it.
Mrs. Creed raises Adonis as her own son and he grows up to do desk work at a bank. But, instead of taking a promotion, he quits to become a full-time boxer, after having some success in small fights in Mexico. But Adonis knows he needs something more to take him to the next level, and, soon, he pays a visit to Rocky at his “Adrian’s” Italian restaurant (where amnesty-supporting Stallone’s Rocky happily employs illegal aliens). This time around, not only is Adrian dead, but Paulie is, too. Rocky regularly goes to their adjacent grave sites to read them the newspaper and tell them what is going on in his life and the world.
Now, here’s what I liked about this movie. Despite the title and the Black Rocky who is at the center of the movie, this is a Rocky movie. Sylvester Stallone is the real star and he (and the usual Rocky nostalgia we all have) carries this thing, down to the playing of the Rocky theme, “Gonna Fly Now” and the traditional run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, this time with Adonis in tow. Without Stallone as “Rocky,” this wouldn’t be worth seeing. In Germany, movie posters for this, call it, “Creed: Rocky’s Legacy.” It’s Rocky’s training and camaraderie with Adonis Creed–Adonis calls him “Unc,” short for Uncle–that is the highlight of this movie. Rocky motivates Adonis and turns him into a star. And he allows Adonis to move in with him, despite some very rude, behind-Rocky’s-back, insults and derogatory comments about him by Adonis. The two become like family, as Rocky’s son moved away to Toronto long ago, in order to live his life away from Rocky’s shadow. Rocky also faces a serious crisis in his life–and Adonis plays the “magical Black friend” (Black L.A. Times columnist David Ehrenstein first iterated the concept and calls it the “Magic Negro”) role in motivating Rocky to be tough and strong in the fight of his life.

Me with Sly Stallone @ Detroit “Rocky Balboa” Premiere
I found this movie enjoyable and entertaining, though there is nothing new here. As I noted, it tracks the Rocky story with a little ghetto-ization. For example, Creed is a rude house guest and has sex with his girlfriend on Rocky’s couch. (Missing was any scene of Rocky throwing the couch out.) There’s nothing objectionable about the movie on its face. It’s just who’s behind it and the not-so-sub-rosa message about what is going on here: the deliberate darkening of formerly-White American pop culture icons as an in-your-face, lording-it-over-you statement about who is now in control and who is no longer welcome, except as the help.
This movie says all that without saying it. It’s not heavy-handed. But sometimes, the lack of heavy-handedness is the most effective on-screen messaging.
(Blacks may get mad at me for saying this, as many do if you say James Bond isn’t Black–he isn’t, and he’s not blond either, a la Daniel Craig. He’s a swarthy, dark-haired White guy. But, as dumb as the “Shaft” movies were, I’m sure there would be “Black Movie Characters’ Lives Matter” riots in the streets, if they made a movie in which Shaft is forced to retire and train a new, White Shaft before handing over the keys to da crib.)
By the way, if Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Hussein Obama Idi Amin Dada saw this, she’d probably declare that for the first time in her life she’s proud to be a Rocky fan.
If you are a “Rocky” fan, as I am, you will like this, aside from the race issues which aren’t spoken (but are quite evident). If skin complexion weren’t such a major (though unspoken) factor in this movie and driving motivation for the career of this movie’s creator, I would probably give this THREE REAGANS. But given that it is, I downgrade and give this one of my rare mixed movie ratings of . . .
Watch the trailer . . .