REVIEW: Even though it takes some hits, ‘Creed III’ ends up above average

In the lede for my “Creed II” review, I asked for the main character Adonis to fight John Cena in “Creed III,” ala Rocky Vs. Thunderlips in “Rocky III.”

It didn’t happen, but the film is still alright.

Michael B. Jordan not only reprises his role as Adonis Creed for the third time in the series, but also directs. Having defended his title several times and getting higher in age, Adonis retires early in “Creed III,” after what he said was his last fight.

Following his retirement, Creed operates a boxing academy where one day he comes across a former friend, Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors). Just released from prison, Anderson was a promising fighter before his sentence and is looking to get back in the sport. Anderson doesn’t just want to box, though, he wants the title and the life Adonis was able to live while he was in a cell.

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REVIEW: Finely crafted ‘Aftersun’ never hooks one in

Sometimes a movie comes along that seems to do all the right things and still never hits the right notes. That’s the unfortunate case with “Aftersun.”

Director Charlotte Wells makes her feature film debut with “Aftersun,” which largely follows a young girl named Sophie (Frankie Corio) who’s on vacation with her father Calum (Paul Mescal). The film showcases how Calum was a good, tentative father, but also seemed distant at times.

The audience eventually learns that the vacation is a collection of Sophie’s memories, and that she has been going over old home movies to reflect on what’s happened in her life since the holiday.

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REVIEW: Pedestrian ‘To Leslie’ has great performance to lean on

Debates over Oscar campaigning aside, there’s no doubt Andrea Riseborough gave an award-caliber performance.

She stars as Leslie in the film, which picks up six years after the character won nearly $200,000 through the lottery. In the present day, Leslie’s bank account has run dry, with her having gone through the money she won.

She finds herself at the movie’s start not only homeless, but also an alcoholic. After briefly staying at her son’s apartment, she finds herself at a motel where the owners decide to take a chance and give her a job. There, she has a chance to restart her life, but it’s not made easy because of her addiction and past mistakes.

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REVIEW: Brilliant work by Bill Nighy makes ‘Living’ worth watching

Bill Nighy can sure make someone laugh, as seen in films such as “Love Actually” and “Hot Fuzz.” As this film shows, he can also make someone cry.

Nighy stars as Rodney Williams in “Living,” an older man who heads the public works department in London. Williams has fallen into a fairly standard routine, riding the same train to his office and often looking over the same project requests day-by-day.

Early on in the film, Williams visits his doctor and learns of a terminal illness that, at most, gives him six months to live. Looking to make the most out of his life with the time he has left on this Earth, he seeks advice from some younger people and decides to make an impact in at least one way at his place of work.

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REVIEW: Melancholy drama ‘Causeway’ features strong leads

After a decade of mostly appearing in action blockbusters and major releases, Jennifer Lawrence returns to the smaller film space with the intimate drama “Causeway.”

The film, directed by Lila Neugebauer, who’s making her feature film debut, follows Lynsey (Jennifer Lawrence), a member of the  U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers. The film picks up with Lynsey recovering after suffering a head injury caused by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

Needing time to recover, she returns to her hometown, New Orleans, and stays with her mother Gloria (Linda Emond), even though the two have a strained relationship. While she’s there, she meets an auto-mechanic, James (Brian Tyree Henry), who is dealing with trauma of their own. Both individuals, who are a bit lost in life, are able to form a friendship from there.

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REVIEW: Poorly portrayed mental illness sinks ‘The Son’

Florian Zeller’s 2020 film “The Father” was a stellar exploration of a person going through a difficult health crisis and the impact it has on their family.

His follow-up, “The Son,” has a similar premise, but it’s not nearly as good.

Hugh Jackman stars as Peter in the film, a businessman who’s considering entering the world of politics as a consultant. Around the same time, his wife Beth (Vanessa Kirby) has given birth to their new son.

The movie picks up with Peter getting contacted by his ex-wife Kate (Laura Dern), who explains that their teenage son Nicholas (Zen McGrath) has been skipping school and seems troubled lately. Hoping to give Nick a better environment and a new school to try, Peter takes his son in, but even then, the teen has struggles.

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REVIEW: ‘Triangle of Sadness’ succeeds on strong satire, despite plot issues

One would have always guessed a movie set on a ship with “triangle” in the title would take place in the Bermuda Triangle, but here we are.

“Triangle of Sadness” instead takes place in less paranormal, but still dangerous waters. The film centers on a successful couple, the model Carl (Harris Dickinson) and influencer Yaya (Charibi Dean) who are invited aboard a luxurious superyacht.

They’re joined by many other wealthy individuals who are there to enjoy all of the fancy amenities, as well as the ship’s many staff members. Most of the staff seems fairly dedicated to their job, except the heavy-drinking captain (Woody Harrelson). This ends up becoming a bit of an issue when the yacht runs into heavy seas with big waves.

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REVIEW: ‘A Man Called Otto’ is moving, but clichéd

This film is an adaptation of a book written by a Swedish author in 2012. I have to imagine he watched 2008’s “Gran Torino” and 2009’s “Up” before putting pen to paper.

Tom Hanks stars as Otto, a man who recently became a widower and lives day-to-day thinking there’s not much left for him in the world. Otto is rather grouchy and quite particular in his old age. For example, he doesn’t want anyone driving on the private road in front of his home.

He begins to loosen up, though, when he’s approached by a young, friendly couple and their two daughters. The matriarch of the family, Marisol (Mariana Treviño), especially forms a bond with Otto, helping him to find more in life again, which leads him to start helping others around the neighborhood.

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REVIEW: Ambitious ‘Babylon’ ends up being an obnoxious dud

Director Damien Chazelle’s last three movies have either ended up on my top 10 of the year lists, or an honorable mention.

His latest film, though, will likely end on 2022’s worst of the year list.

“Babylon” tracks the careers of three characters in Hollywood during the late 1920s and early 30s. Jack (Brad Pitt) is an experienced performer, Nellie (Margot Robbie) is a new actress on the scene and Manny (Diego Calva) is a person doing odd jobs as he works his way up the studio ladder.

The movie shows how their careers are impacted by drugs, the extravagance of the roaring 20s and the shift in Hollywood from silent films to talkies.

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REVIEW: ‘The Whale’ is 2022’s hardest hitting drama

With help from talented director Darren Aronofsky, Brendan Fraser makes a hell of a comeback with a new, major starring role.

Based on a stage play with the same name, “The Whale” tells the story of Charlie (Fraser), an obese, reclusive, disabled man residing in Idaho. He lives in a depressed state, having gained weight after the death of his partner, and has an estranged relationship with his daughter, Ellie (Sadie Sink).

He gets an opportunity to reconnect with Ellie, though, when she visits Charlie, wanting assistance with her homework. A college English instructor, Charlie decides to help her with essays with the hope that he can reconnect with his daughter, especially with his declining health.

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