Tag Archives: Ryan Coogler


Director: Ryan Coogler; Main Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa ThompsonTony BellewPhylicia Rashad;


This film has been accused of retreading a very familiar story line and of being chock-full of sport movie cliches but, in the capable hands of two rising stars, Ryan Coogler as director and Michael B. Jordan as leading man, it manages to breath fresh air into a very stale franchise. I confess I didn’t watch past Rocky IV, maybe few bits and pieces of Rocky V. Anyway I was pleasantly surprised and moderately nostalgic watching this “sequel”.

Adonis “Donnie” Johnson (Jordan) is the illegitimate son of boxing legend Apollo Creed (really? Adonis son of Apollo? For real? Not even a tongue in cheek quip about it? Ok, then, moving on). He has never known his father and has had a troubled childhood after losing his mother. However his luck changes when Mary Anne (Rashad), Apollo’s widow, tracks him down and takes him in (what would you expect from Mrs. Huxtable?). Fast-forward a decade or so and we see Donnie with a nice job, after growing up in a beautiful home and receiving a good education. Unfortunately, he feels unsatisfied and meant for something different, the shadow of his famous father looming larger and larger, spurring him towards professional boxing.

The second and third act roll out as expected. The underdog (Donnie, not Rocky) fights against all odds figuratively and literally to prove that he’s not just a name but also he has what it takes to be a champion. After being told that he shouldn’t be a professional boxer by his stepmother and by Tony Jr. (Wood Harris), who is a trainer and a family friend, Donnie moves to Philadelphia to seek the help of another legend: Rocky Balboa. It will take some convincing but Rocky eventually accepts to be Donnie’s Mickey and the tale comes back full circle. We do get the training montage with a run through the streets of Philly, it’s a bit corny but strikes the right note with a combination of energy and nostalgia without outdoing it. The fighting scenes are more Raging Bull style than the original Rocky, there are less slow motion sequences and the viewer feels right in the middle of the ring. Even the romance between Donnie and Bianca (Thompson) is not too trite and it helps explore more Donnie as a character. Unfortunately that not the case for Bianca as per Hollywood standards, a well rounded portrayal of a woman is still too tricky!

The acting is what really works to the advantage of this film. Jordan is very convincing and he has a good chemistry with Stallone. The latter gives a nuances and touching portrayal of the old champ, a little worse for wear but with still some sparks in him. Coogler succeeds in offering a new perspective on a worn out story and making it enjoyable and involving.

Uplifting —7/10


Filed under Seen at the cinema

Fruitvale Station

Director: Ryan Coogler, Main Cast: Michael B. JordanMelonie DiazOctavia Spencer;


New Year’s Eve 2008, the last twenty four hours of Oscar Grant’s life. Ryan Coogler writes and directs an engaging and harrowing film, starting at the end of the story with the original video taken by a witness of a senseless act. Oscar is a young man, 22-years-old, with a daughter and a girlfriend. He is not what you would call a law abiding citizen, he did a stint in prison and he sells pot. We also learn that he cheats on his girlfriend, he lost his job because he is chronically late and, well of course, he lies about it. On the flip side the director wants to show that Oscar tries his best to turn around things, he takes care of his family and he is kind to strangers. We watch Oscar going through the ups and downs of what feels like an ordinary day, although we know it has a tragic conclusion. Oscar takes his daughter Tatiana to kindergarden and his girlfriend Sophina to work, shops for his mother’s birthday party, worries about rent and bills to pay and makes an effort to walk the line (like giving up dealing pot and hoping to find a regular job!). Oscar spends his evening first at his mother’s party then he goes to San Francisco with Sophina and some friends to celebrate the New Year. The fateful decision of taking the train instead of his car will have unforeseen consequences (for him) while the viewer has been experiencing a lingering sensation of dread that slowly builds up from the beginning of the film. It is the strong point of the movie along with Michael B. Jordan’s impressive performance as Oscar. Octavia Spencer and Melodie Diaz as Oscar’s mother and Sophina are also very convincing and touching. A very interesting approach for an emotionally charged topic and a first time director. Powerful and gut wrenching. —7.5/10

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Filed under Seen at the cinema