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Counting out Creed III franchise; Scream VI is outrageously ridiculous but quite enjoyable

“Creed III” (Rated T)

Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Jonathan Majors, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad

Genre: Drama, Sport

Where to watch: In theaters

Dwight’s Rating:

The 95th Academy Awards were just held on Sunday, honoring the best in film from 2022. About a year from now, we’ll be talking about the awards handed out for the best in movies from 2023. But while it’s still very early in the year, one thing is certain: you won’t be hearing any mention of “Creed III” in those conversations.

That’s very much unlike the first “Creed” from 2015, which was nominated for one Academy Award for Sylvester (Sly) Stallone as Best Supporting Actor.

Stallone, of course, was catapulted into superstardom after writing and starring in “Rocky,” the movie franchise from which “Creed” is spun off. And “Rocky” from 1976 is one of the most successful sports and boxing films of all time, earning nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay, both for Stallone. The film won three Oscars – Best Director, Best Film Editing and, of course, Best Picture.

Even the silly “Rocky III” with Mr. T as a cartoonish villain earned an Oscar nomination for the still-popular “Eye of the Tiger” as Best Original Song.

But no, “Creed III” won’t see the love. Just as “Creed II” couldn’t match the exuberance of its predecessor, this latest film is making a strong case for this franchise to retire from the ring.

It is still stylish and slick. Just when you thought you’ve seen every single way a boxing match can be presented on the big screen, star Michael B. Jordan in his directorial debut, has found a spectacularly artful way to depict people brutalizing each other.

Jordan is back as Adonis Creed, who’s still dominating the boxing world, and is thriving in his career and family life. When Damian (Jonathan Majors), a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy resurfaces after serving time in prison, he’s eager to prove that he deserves his shot in the ring. The face-off between former friends is more than just a fight. To settle the score, Adonis must put his future on the line to battle Damian, a fighter who has nothing to lose.

One thing you won’t see in “Creed III”: Sly Stallone. This will be the first time the actual Rocky hasn’t appeared in any of the many films associated with this long-running franchise. It seems Stallone has had a falling out with the producers, and reports suggest he also didn’t like the direction of the storyline in this new film.

Nevertheless, like the two previous “Creed” installments, this franchise still does well at being about family, and co-stars Tessa Thompson (“Passing” and the “Thor” films) and the legendary Phylicia Rashad go a long way in helping it achieve this. However, it makes some near fatal flaws in trying to create compelling boxing drama.

First of all, timelines seem to be a little off, especially based on what we were told in previous films.

Secondly, there’s omnipresent Majors (who seems to be in a major new flick every month), who represents the very best and worst of the picture. Without a doubt, Majors delivers the best performance here. He’s functioning on another plane entirely, expertly knowing the right time to be subtle and when to be over the top.

But his character Damian is confusing. Is he supposed to be a bad guy? Should we not be rooting for him? I mean, you could be forgiven for kind of hoping he beats Adonis. Many will feel a great deal of sympathy for him.

And rooting for two “good” guys in the ring could have made for compelling drama. However, “Creed III” unwisely tries to paint Damian as a comic-book villain type. It wastes a number of great opportunities – a real shame with such a talented cast.

Additionally, during the grand boxing finale, there’s the usual, highly unrealistic, extremely massive number of landed punches, particularly to the face. Yet, both fighters walk away looking like they barely ran a half-marathon.

If each edition of this series is going to be merely “Adonis Creed meets a new challenger”, we can save everyone plenty time and money, and just watch ESPN whenever they broadcast fights.

Otherwise, there’s not much more to see here, and we need the ref to count this franchise out.

“Scream VI” (Rated C)

Cast: Jenna Ortega, Melissa Barrera, Hayden Panettiere, Courtney Cox

Genre: Horror/Mystery

Where to watch: In theaters

Dwight’s Rating: 

It’s gruesome! It’s disgusting! It’s unnecessarily brutal and flippant about human life. And it’s quite a lot of fun!

“Scream VI” continues the tradition of extremely self-aware, horror-movie trope-ridiculing young people, getting slaughtered to pieces. And 27 years after the original “Scream” slashed its way onto screens, this latest one is proving the appetite to see people die horribly in motion pictures is apparently insatiable.

I can’t recall if I’ve watched any of the movies in this franchise after “Scream 2” (I don’t even know if I watched that one, to be honest). And if I did, I’ll likely mix up the storylines with the “I Know What You Did Last Summer” films, or “Saw”, which at one point (with nine whole movies) appeared on track to becoming an annual event, like the Super Bowl or WrestleMania.

There are, however, incessant references here to previous characters and killers. I had no idea who they’re talking about. And I didn’t really care. It truly doesn’t matter. But if you’ve watched them all, and have been keeping track of the body counts and names, then you’ll be in heaven (or is it hell?)

In any event, four survivors of the Ghostface murders leave Woodsboro behind for a fresh start in New York City. However, they soon find themselves in a fight for their lives when a new killer embarks on a bloody rampage.

Isn’t it always that?

Again, this is some grotesque stuff. But good golly, it’ll get you to shout at the screen (just like Regina Hall’s character in the great “Scream” spoof film “Scary Movie”), and jump out of your seat, and argue with the characters, and call them bad names. And the mystery and all the twists and turns and reveals are a real kick.

Just telling you how much I enjoyed this outrageously ridiculous movie is enough to make me want to “scream”!

Dwight’s Oscar scorecard: A++

Never before in the nearly 10-years I’ve been doing “Reel to Real” have I ever predicted with 100 percent accuracy every single one of the Oscar winners.

I’ve come awfully close – missing one or two here and there.

But this year, every one of my “Who Will Win” predictions was correct.

On the other hand, I can’t think of a time when my “My Personal Favorite/Who Should Win” picks have fared so poorly.

But from beginning to end, and for better or worse, the 95th Academy Awards didn’t fail to live up to expectations.

The night was dominated by “Everything Everywhere All at Once”. Going in with the most nominations at 11, it went home with the most wins at seven, followed by “All Quiet on the Western Front” (with four) and “The Whale (two).

As predicted, “Everything…” did win the biggest prize of the night, Best Picture. But I was really hoping the award would go to what I felt was the year’s top film, “The Banshees of Inisherin”.

Poor “Banshees” was tied with “All Quiet” for the second most nominations at nine, but won nada. None of the other correctly predicted categories disappointed me as much as that one.

Michelle Yeoh (“Everything…”) did indeed beat out Cate Blanchett (“Tár”) for Best Actress. And somehow, I just knew the Academy would go with Yeoh’s costar Jamie Lee Curtis (my least favorite performance) in the extremely tough Supporting Actress category, over the fantastic Kerry Condon in “Banshees”.

It’s been clear since the beginning of the year that former child actor Ke Huy Quan would win an Oscar for his comeback story of a lifetime for “Everything…” And I could see it from a mile away that the duo known as “The Daniels” (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) would win Best Original Screenplay and Best Director.

With the latter, I conceded that they deserved that award. So that’s one of the three instances where “My Personal Favorite” actually did win, along with Sarah Polley for Adapted Screenplay for “Women Talking”, and Brendan Fraser for Best Actor for “The Whale” – even if the latter was part of a tie for me with Collin Farrell for “Banshees”

So, you lose some, and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (almost) wins them all.

• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.

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Dwight Strachan

Dwight is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff.

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