Adonis Creed is forced to confront his past when an old friend gets out of prison.
Directed by Michael B. Jordan
Starring Michael B. Jordan, Jonathan Majors, and Tessa Thompson
Review by Jon Kissel
After eight movies, a franchise synonymous with Sylvester Stallone is fully taken over by Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed. Creed 3 puts Jordan in the director’s chair and jettisons Stallone’s Great White Hope Rocky for a film that has one white speaking role. Thoroughly Black and completely Jordan’s, Creed 3 has minimal connection to anything that came before it, rooting the film’s conflict within the past of a protagonist who no longer has to share any narrative momentum with Rocky. The result is one of the best films in the franchise and another major achievement on Jordan’s remarkable resume. Creed 3 demonstrates how rich this world can continue to be without the Italian Stallion, providing Jordan with a blockbuster outlet that should sustain him for as long as Rocky sustained Stallone.
If three is a trend, 2023 is turning into the year of the corporation movie. The upcoming Flamin’ Hot, about the pseudo-true story of how a janitor at Frito-Lay invented the Flaming Hot Cheeto, and the excellent Blackberry, about the tech company and their titular device, both praise the innovation of visionary employees and executives, though at least Blackberry isn’t a story with a happy ending. Ben Affleck’s Air is in the same vein, an underdog story about one of the world’s foremost apparel companies and the signing of their most famous client in Michael Jordan. Some amount of skepticism towards this kind of storytelling is necessary to make this project anything other than rank propaganda, and Affleck and writer Alex Convery, with uncredited script help from Matt Damon, supply the tiniest bit, allowing the viewer to exit the film in appreciation of a competent boardroom drama that’s ultimately about the rich getting richer.
Malcolm Gladwell broke down the David and Goliath story in such a way that completely undermined its common understanding. A shepherd wielding a sling in that time period may as well have been armed with a sniper rifle. For a job that requires pegging wolves on the move, a slow-moving big’un would’ve made for an easy target. Underdog arcs are so powerful that they get grafted onto stories that don’t deserve them, like in Randall Wallace’s Secretariat. A dominant racehorse can’t just stomp the competition and strut to the Triple Crown winner’s circle, so the film endeavors to make Secretariat the only thing standing between the bankruptcy of a horse farm for his upper class owners who were otherwise never given a chance. Wallace follows up Secretariat with Heaven Is For Real, a piece of claptrap about a kid who had a dream about a rainbow horse and got a book deal out of it, and it’s probably the more believable of the two.
An old-fashioned underdog story, Dream Horse loses nothing just because it’s familiar. Sports movies like this one can only go in a few different ways, and Euros Lyn’s 2021 adaptation of a 2016 documentary about an early 21st century horse follows a predictable, if accurate, three-act structure of success followed by failure followed by success. Dream Horse gets over on the many other films like it with effective casting of character actors, an emphasis on the omnipresent class angle in its Welsh setting, and a predictably strong lead performance from Toni Collette. Lyn puts it all together in a warm and charming package that’s easy to love and impossible to hate.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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