The Last Dance - Chicago Bulls Documentary Trailer

Earlier this year, we learned ESPN and Netflix were teaming up for a 10-part documentary series looking at the life, career, and legacy of Michael Jordan. However, a new trailer for the series paints the project at being about much more than just the legendary basketball player. Instead, the documentary, titled The Last Dance, will chronicle the 1997-1998 season of the Chicago Bulls as they marched towards the final championship this epic assembly of players would win together.

Watch The Last Dance trailer below. Read More »

Creed shoulders the legacy of six prior Rocky films but it blazes its own path, establishing a concise mission statement in its opening scene. Set in an LA juvenile correctional facility, in which young Black boys are lined up like adult prisoners, the Ryan Coogler-helmed sixth sequel introduces us to a young Adonis Johnson (Alex Henderson) as he beats down a fellow detainee. Adonis comes from a background of fame and celebrity — his father, Apollo Creed, died before he was born — but he’s been raised in a world of violence and invisibility, a world from which Apollo’s wife Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad) hopes to rescue him. When the widow first meets the orphaned child, his fist remains clenched, always on guard. But when she offers him a home, and the kind of love that had evaded him all his life, he relaxes his hand.

This is the world of Creed. It inherits both the violence of the ring — a more glamourous violence, albeit one whose effects are still deadly — and the violence of SoCal streets, to which Oakland native Coogler had at least some proximity (it’s worth noting that his father was a counselor at a juvenile hall). It’s a world where Adonis’ two lives must remain separate, the incompatible paradigms of a privileged son who has a fancy desk job and resides in a mansion, and a boy in search of some form of identity as he takes on cheap fights in Tijuana over the weekend. He wants to fight, certainly, but on some level he needs to, in order to reconcile being the nexus of two violent paths. The call to masculine showmanship is what got Apollo killed in Rocky IV, a toxic machismo Adonis would’ve inherited regardless (or rather, would’ve been raised with). Apollo’s absence, however, results in violence born of survival. Which one is Adonis truly a product of, he wonders?

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Sylvester Stallone Retiring Rocky Balboa

Creed II hit theaters last week, and even though it came in #2 on the box office charts behind a record-breaking haul for Ralph Breaks the Internet, the movie carved its own legacy by landing the biggest Thanksgiving opening weekend ever for a live-action movie. Now, if a new Instagram video from Sylvester Stallone holds strong, it sounds like Adonis Creed will really be setting out on his own from here on out.

Sylvester Stallone took to Instagram today with a video recorded during production on Creed II where he announces that the Rocky spin-off sequel will likely be his “last rodeo” as Rocky Balboa. So what does that mean for the future of the Creed franchise? Read More »

Creed II and Rocky IV

As a franchise, Rocky has almost always been defined by the hubris of its star and creator, Sylvester Stallone. The original film is not actually so much about boxing as it is about the boxer, a working class guy who has only one skill in the ring and desperately wants to achieve more for himself, and what Stallone gradually lost sight of in writing and directing the sequels is that it was that character struggle that made his film resonate with people. As reflected in the franchise’s gradual decent into farce, Stallone felt the key to keeping Rocky Balboa a relevant pop culture icon was to make the fights bigger and the characters in perpetual awe of Rocky’s greatness, and the films suffered for it, finally attempting to pull out of the dive with the attempted drama of Rocky V and only finally approaching the heights of the original after a sixteen year hiatus with Rocky Balboa, though even that retained some sillier elements that harken back to Stallone’s worst impulses.

This is why Creed felt like such a revelation upon its 2015 release. The decision to make Rocky the supporting character for the son of his greatest rival, Apollo Creed, was an inspired bit of torch-passing, allowing Stallone to remain in the spotlight as a new name took on the legacy of the Rocky series. And that’s what Creed is largely about, as Adonis Creed struggles with the legacy and identity left behind by a father he never knew, and while the boxing matches are among the best of the whole series, Creed feels most like a rebirth of the parts of Rocky that struck people so strongly that a franchise was able to form in the first place.

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creed ii spoiler review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Creed II.)

Step back into the ring with Creed II, a sequel to Ryan Coogler’s 2015 Rocky spin-off Creed. The main cast is back, but Coogler is not. The result? An exciting, entertaining sequel that never manages to match the strength of the first film. Much like Adonis Creed himself, the Creed franchise will need to forge its own legacy if it wants to continue.

Major spoilers follow.

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creed 2 drago

By Rocky IV, Sylvester Stallone had to go bigger and bigger to find worthy opponents for Rocky Balboa. After defeating Apollo Creed in a rematch in Rocky II, he discovered Mr. T to play the street tough Clubber Lang in Rocky III. For Rocky IV, Stallone cast Dolph Lundgren as the Russian contender Ivan Drago to tower over both himself and Apollo Creed.

33 years later, the Dragos return in Creed II. Now Ivan has a son, Viktor, a boxer who wants to challenge Adonis Creed for the title. The Dragos come to Philadelphia and Ivan even confronts Rocky decades after their Russia bout.

Lundgren spoke with /Film by phone last week to discuss the return of Ivan Drago in Creed II. The film shows a father/son story paralleled with Adonis and Rocky, but it turns out there was even more to the Drago story that didn’t even make the final cut. 

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rocky 3 idea

Rocky III saw Sylvester Stallone‘s persistent pugilist stepping into the ring to battle Mr. T, but according to Stallone, there was an even crazier idea for the film at first. In an old interview, Stallone revealed his original Rocky III idea had a half-blind Rocky Balboa duking it out in Roman Coliseum, with the Pope himself in the audience.

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Creed II featurette

Sylvester Stallone may have really thought he was saying goodbye to Rocky when he wrote, directed and starred in Rocky Balboa. Then Ryan Coogler came along with the idea for Creed. It seemed to energize Stallone again and as soon as Creed came out, he started teasing ideas for a sequel that would bring back Ivan Drago from Rocky IV.

At one point, Stallone was going to direct Creed II, but he ultimately turned directing duties over to Steven Caple Jr. Caple had one feature film to his credit. The Land was a Sundance hit that explored Cleveland with a new voice and vision. Stallone agreed Caple was the right choice to take Creed and Rocky further.

In the sequel, Adonis Creed is the new heavyweight champion of the world. Meanwhile, Ivan Drago’s son Viktor has been training in the Ukraine for just the right opportunity to challenge the son of the man his father killed in the ring. Naturally, Rocky has some issues with this.

Caple spoke with /Film by phone while on the road with Creed II, including a stop in Philadelphia for a press junket. We spoke about making a sequel both to Rocky IV and to Creed and how you please fans of both. Creed II opens Wednesday, November 21.

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creed ii trailer

It is perhaps fitting that a film all about characters struggling to escape the crushing weight of expectations would itself have to grapple with similar expectations. Such is the case with Creed II, a follow-up to the superlative 2015 film Creed, which remixed the original Rocky with panache and style that had been missing from the franchise for a long time. Creed II also remixes a number of elements from most of the overall Rocky franchise, while telling a story whose beats are easily familiar to anyone with a passing awareness of the boxing-movie genre, boosted largely by its cast.

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Most sequels still exist as standalone entries in the continuing adventures of their heroes. Sure, some Marvel movies and Star Wars build on the history of the franchise, and may reference events of recent sequels, but it’s very rare for a spin-off series to make a direct sequel to a decades-old entry from its base series. That’s just strange.

That’s what Creed II is, though. Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is the son of Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), and the first Creed was the story of Adonis carving his own path with the help of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). But Creed II is a direct sequel to the events of Rocky IV, with Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) returning with his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) to challenge Adonis.

Some fans of Creed may not have even been born when Rocky IV came out, and even die-hard Rocky fans might not remember every detail of the 1985 entry. And maybe you just don’t have time to give it a watch! So here is everything you need to remember from Rocky IV before you see Creed II.

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