Tag Archives: Phylicia Rashad

Soul (2020) Review

22soul-blackness1-mobileMasterAt3x-v3

Soul

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Jamie Foxx as Joe Gardner
Tina Fey as 22
Graham Norton as Moonwind
Rachel House as Terry
Alice Braga and Richard Ayoade as Jerry
Phylicia Rashad as Libba Gardner
Donnell Rawlings as Dez
Questlove as Lamont “Curley” Baker
Angela Bassett as Dorothea Williams
Director: Pete Docter

Joe (Jamie Foxx) is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz — and he’s good. But when he travels to another realm to help someone find their passion, he soon discovers what it means to have soul.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I knew of Soul as an upcoming animated movie from the same people who made Inside Out, that was put on Disney+. At first I wasn’t really sure about it, beyond that the fact is a Pixar movie. I saw the first trailer however, it got me very interested with the premise. It turned out to be quite great and I was impressed by it.

1280x720-soulotr

I do think that it’s worth going into the movie without knowing much about it beyond the initial premise and setup. I went in having only seen one of the trailers and I enjoyed the movie quite a lot for that. There are some story aspects that are quite typical of that of other animated movies, especially with the general structure. On the whole however, the story is captivating, and it hooks you straight into it. It really takes you on a journey that make you think about life along with Jamie Foxx’s character Joe Gardener and Tiny Fey’s character 22. It’s a beautifully told story, that’s full of sincerity, honesty and heart. It is a very human story about what it means to be alive and the purpose of life. It brings so much life to its very existence in its messages of purpose and the real intent behind our purpose in this life, what sparks us, what we live for and what we do that really matters. There’s some good humour in there, which surprising considering the premise, and there are even several lough out loud moments. The characters are great, even the brief characters who only have a few minutes of screentime have fully defined personalities and you feel like you know them. It is Pixar’s most mature movie by far. In fact, I do wonder how younger people would react to this movie honestly, as I definitely see older audiences getting much more out of the movie. I’m not sure if anyone has complained about the ending but it’s a bit abrupt, however I really like the point it ends on.

soul-jamie-foxx-joe-gardner-pixar

The voice cast from everyone was great. Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey play their lead roles very well. There is also a very good supporting voice cast that works well, including Daveed Diggs, Richard Ayoade, and others. The highlights among them for me were Graham Norton and Rachel House, House particularly channels her character from Hunt of the Wilderpeople to great effect here.

soul_online_use_s460_210c_851b4dd5.0

Pete Doctor directed this very well, as to be expected from the director of Up and Inside Out. The movie is beautifully and stylishly animated. Many of the locations are quite good. From The Great Beyond, the You-Seminar, to New York City, all of them look so beautiful and gorgeous. One of the surprising aspects was how much it was actually largely based in New York City, as many Pixar movies go for more fantasy/adventure settings. The stylised photo-realism approach in those scenes are great to watch, from the way they use light, to the way they use the camera. The score is from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and is nothing short of transcendent, and really was a huge presence in the movie.

MV5BN2Y1YTU1YTctNDVmNC00NzhiLWFmNjctYzkxNDliMDViYzVlXkEyXkFqcGdeQWpnYW1i._V1_

Soul is greatly animated and directed, very well voiced, and has a lot of things to say in it. I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite Pixar movie and I probably wouldn’t rewatch it a whole lot, but I think it’s one of Pixar’s best, as well as one of their most clever, poignant and honest films. It’s among the best movies of the year and is worth checking out for sure.

Creed 2 (2018) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed
Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa
Tessa Thompson as Bianca Taylor
Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago
Florian Munteanu as Viktor Drago
Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne Creed
Director: Steven Caple Jr.

In 1985, Russian boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lungren) killed former U.S. champion Apollo Creed in a tragic match that stunned the world. Against the wishes of trainer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), Apollo’s son Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) accepts a challenge from Drago’s son (Florian Munteanu) — another dangerous fighter. Under guidance from Rocky, Adonis trains for the showdown of his life — a date with destiny that soon becomes his obsession. Now, Johnson and Balboa must confront their shared legacy as the past comes back to haunt each man.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

While I’m not a huge fan of the Rocky series (I’ve only seen the original film), Creed was one of my favourite films of 2015. The idea of a sequel to Creed, a movie that seemed to be a good sendoff for the Rocky series, but also being done without writer/director Ryan Coogler, seemed like a recipe for disaster. Also it’s bringing back a classic Rocky antagonist, Ivan Drago, and it just seemed really forced and cliched and looked like it wouldn’t really work. Creed 2 however turned out to be a real surprise.

Creed 2’s story admittedly isn’t the most unpredictable. Not that everything in the trailer is all that’s in the movie, but when watching the movie, you can get the idea of the direction the story will take and what things will happen. Not that this is a big negative against the movie, it’s just not as surprising as maybe the first Creed. Also, the Rocky series is very formulaic, so it’s a given that it would follow similar story beats. Without spoiling anything, structurally this movie is a bit different from what you’d expect based off the plot summary. On paper the idea of the plot sounds incredibly silly, but like the first Creed movie, they actually take the story very seriously and it works. This is probably the darkest of the Rocky series. The third act is so incredibly satisfying, with an ending which would be perfect for the entire Rocky/Creed series. The movie is 2 hours and 10 minutes and you can feel the runtime and some of the pacing was a little slower, but I was still invested in what was going on.

Michael B. Jordan is once again great as Adonis Creed, this is even more his movie than the previous Creed with the whole movie pretty much surrounding him rather than him and Rocky. He’s really convincing both in the dramatic side as well as on the physical side. Sylvester Stallone is also good as Rocky. Whereas in Creed where Rocky was a really present supporting character with a big storyline, here he’s even more of a supporting player but he’s still quite involved with the movie. Rocky Balboa is still Stallone’s best role and he gives yet another great performance as him. One of the highlights of Creed was Tessa Thompson as Bianca Taylor, Adonis’s girlfriend. Thompson made Bianca more than just the protagonist’s love interest and that continues into Creed 2, with their relationship playing a big part in the story. The chemistry between Jordan and Thompson is also once again great and feels really believable and genuine. The biggest surprise is of Dolph Lungren as Ivan Drago (again I should mention that I never saw Rocky 4), who gives a great performance. The film took a really cheesy character from Rocky 4 that was pretty much an 80s Russian villain and made him into a real fleshed out human being. The movie surprisingly gives some time focussing on Drago and his son Viktor (played by Florian Munteanu) and that really benefited the movie. Florian is a real boxer and that could’ve been either been good or bad, as being a good boxer isn’t guaranteeing that they are good at acting. Even though he doesn’t have many lines, he really works in the role and is imposing as this beast of a boxer, but he’s also someone you can sympathise with given what’s happening with him and how he’s been brought up. There are also some parallels between Rocky and Adonis, as well as Ivan and Viktor. I actually would’ve liked to have seen more scenes between Ivan and Viktor.

One of the biggest concerns of Creed 2 I had was the lack of Ryan Coogler being involved. His direction of Creed was fantastic and added a lot to it, and so I wasn’t sure how a different director would handle the sequel. While Steven Caple Jr.’s direction isn’t quite at Coogler’s level, it’s still rather solid and all around really worked. There isn’t as much fighting as you’d think there’d be, but the fight scenes that we get are really great. It doesn’t quite reach the levels of the first main fight in Creed with the tracking shot, but they’re all great. It all feels real tense, you feel every blow that’s dealt to Adonis. The last fight in particular was really great, and was captivating, cathartic and really satisfying.

Creed 2 is surprisingly great. It doesn’t quite reach the levels of greatness of the first Creed but it’s a very solid movie, very satisfying and well made, and also a perfect ending to the Rocky/Creed series. I heard that there may be like a Drago movie and while I’d be on board with that, I hope that the Rocky/Creed series ends here, because I can’t think of a better ending to the series than this. If you like Creed or the other Rocky movies, I’m pretty sure you’re going to like Creed 2 as well.