New in Theaters: Creed, The Good Dinosaur & More
With his second feature, Creed, what director/co-writer Ryan Coogler does to an old cinema warhorse is nearly as surprising as the rookie chops he brought to Fruitvale Station in 2013.
We catch up with Rocky living the life of a local legend in his native Philadelphia. He’s away from the fight game, quietly running a restaurant named for his dear departed Adrian, when an impressive young man shows up and starts asking some very pointed questions. His name is Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), though he’s intent on proving he is more than just Apollo’s son.
Coogler again shows sharp instincts, keeping Creed subtly rooted in the tradition of its characters while simultaneously taking the entire franchise in a new direction as vital as it is welcome.
Snippets of familiar music, landmarks, and training methods are included, but not overdone, reminding you that Rocky was a damn good movie, but never spending enough capital to let you forget that was yesterday.
The cliches are here, too, but miraculously, Coogler is able to make them all feel part of a larger plan, one that is cemented with moments of authentic emotion between the principal actors.
Respect where you come from, but build your own legacy.
The Good Dinosaur
Is there any name in filmmaking more reliable, any surer bet, than Pixar?
The animation giants’ second feature in less than a year takes us back to a magical time when dinosaurs were farmers and cowboys. That meteor? It missed Earth, you see, so this is what might have happened had we evolved right alongside those majestic beasts.
Though the story borrows heavily from The Lion King, first time director Peter Sohn combines hyper-realistic scenery with very cartoony characters in a way that’s surprising and lovely. Punctuated frequently with silly humor, the mostly serious tale does not shy away from darker edges and a real sense of peril, eventually delivering a genuinely emotional punch.
After producing arguably the best film of 2015, Pixar has the cajones to release a second feature this year. I guess when you’re the undisputed king of cartoons, that kind of swagger makes sense. And while The Good Dinosaur is no Inside Out (or Up or Toy Story, for that matter), it’s a worthy entry in their impressive canon.
Also opening this week in Columbus:
- BROOKLYN (PG-13)
- TRUMBO (R)
- #HORROR (NR)
- VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN (PG-13)
Reviews with help from George Wolf.
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