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Creed III Review | No Rocky, No Problem

This is the Jonathan Majors antagonist I’d want to see as a big bad.



Once upon a time, 13-year-old me was making my way from my orchestra seat onto the stage of the Winter Garden Theatre and finding my place on a set of bleachers. It was main event time. Teenage me sat in awe of the choreography, the lights and most importantly, the music of Rocky the Musical, which made its way to Broadway after a successful run in Germany. If that doesn’t speak to the versatility of the Rocky franchise, I don’t know what will.

Soon after Rocky the Musical closed on Broadway, the Creed franchise began. Like the recent Star Wars sequel trilogy was supposed to, the Creed films have all had a different director. Ryan Coogler directed the first installment before Steven Caple Jr. helmed the second and in steps the series’ star, Michael B. Jordan, to close out the trilogy. Unlike the Star Wars sequel trilogy, the Creed franchise’s latest installment and trilogy closer, Creed III, is the best of the bunch and ends this trilogy on a high note. Full of visceral action, compelling drama and fantastic performances, Creed III packs one hell of a punch (that was my obligatory boxing reference) and is the best film of the trilogy. 

A still from Creed III. Photo courtesy of MGM.

Creed III begins with a flashback to a young Adonis (Alex Henderson plays the younger Adonis and masterfully gets Jordan’s chuckle and aura down) and his pal Dame (played by Spence Moore II as a kid and Jonathan Majors as an adult). It’s clear that Dame is a boxing prodigy and on his way to the life that Adonis ends up having. “You’re gonna be there too,” a young Dame tells Adonis, “someone has gotta carry my bags.”

That fate changes after he gets arrested. In fairness to Dame, he’s just looking out for his friend as Adonis is jumped after attacking their foster home father, but that argument doesn’t get you very far in court. 

Fast forward 18 years and Adonis is still living his best life. Much like Rocky by the time of Rocky III, the gloves are away and he’s spending his days playing the part of the frog his daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent)’s backyard productions of The Princess and the Frog while Bianca (Tessa Thompson) spends her days locked away in the studio producing music. But like they say, you can take the man out of the boxing ring, but you can’t take the boxing out of the man, so Adonis still spends time in his gym where he checks in on the up-and-comers. 

A still from Creed III. Photo courtesy of MGM.

That’s when Dame makes his reemergence, not asking for a handout, but the opportunity he never got. He knows time is ticking on his career, and as fate would have it, the number one contender for the World Heavyweight Championship is taken out of commission and Dame is given his one chance. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t go any further into detail, but I’m sure you can guess where that heads. 

Just as Jordan puts a twist on Rocky’s iconic “it’s not about how hard you get hit” line (if I could remember it, I would’ve written it here), Creed III veers away from a lot of the house that Balboa built and is its own thing. Jordan really puts his fingerprints all over this film and makes it his own. I’m sure Jordan was heavily assisted, given that this is his directorial debut and all, but you can’t help but be in awe of what he did. 

The boxing scenes are vital to any boxing film (obviously), and you may not want to admit it, but the Rocky and Creed franchises were in dire need of some shaking up. The formula of showing the entire first round in relative real-time and from there dissolving between the ring girls round after round can grow stale after eight installments. The fights are always satisfying, sure, but that template has been used in all of these films. Jordan finds a new way to expedite the process of the fights in Creed III, utilizing a more fantastical approach to his climactic boxing match. And the anime influences are seen throughout this fight as every whiff of the gloves is heard along with every punch landed (hats off to the sound team). As a result, the film is the most intense of any in the entire franchise to date (try not to squirm when one character takes their mouthpiece out and sees a tooth come with it). You even get a lot of the trash talk while the boxers are in the ring — something I remember being reserved for the time period in between rounds. Just masterful stuff. 

This is further enhanced by the Creed franchise’s utilization of its sponsorships and partnerships — which has only grown with each installment. Whether it’s the way they show Showtime documentaries or use Stephen A. Smith and First Take as a whole plot point, it makes Creed III feel like it takes place in reality. This dates back to Rocky Balboa, which I remember having Max Kellerman on commentary and likely used HBO as its PPV sponsor, but Creed III really took it to the next level by doing product placement that’s not as obnoxious as the Audis in the MCU movies. 

A still from Creed III. Photo courtesy of MGM.

Jordan not only shines behind the camera, but he also delivers another great performance as Adonis. At this point, it feels like Adonis is a part of Jordan and vice versa. It’s his character, and he can continue playing it for as long as he’d like. He’s grown well past the days of being in Apollo Creed’s shadow. It also helps that he and Thompson may be the most believable on-screen couple in a franchise out there, and his moments with the young Davis-Kent are adorable. Maybe continuing to let Davis-Kent grow between installments while increasing her role can keep the franchise fresh if they wish to continue it. 

I’ll be honest — I was skeptical about Creed III not featuring Rocky. I get that you eventually have to move on, but how could a film in this franchise go without mentioning him? Well, Creed III found a way. Outside of one blink-or-you’ll-miss-it reference, I don’t believe that Rocky is ever shown or mentioned. It’s a bold choice, but one that Jordan pulls off because of how the story was written and how it stands on its own. There’s really no room for Rocky unless you wanted him to serve the role of Adonis’ conscience, but it may have been better off to actually keep this story small and personal and allow the viewer to see the Creed franchise fully become its own thing. You know how Spider-Man finally becomes Spider-Man at the end of No Way Home once everything he knew is taken away from him and he’s without all of the webs attached to the MCU? It’s a similar thing in Creed III

It’s been said many times before, but I have to say it again — 2023 is Jonathan Majors’ year. Yes, he was the best part of the abysmal Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, but his performance as Dame is on another level. He’s chiseled like a Greek god, making you actually fear him whenever he faces off with Adonis, and Majors gives an uneasy, but equally animalistic performance that truly cements his place as one of the elite stars in Hollywood. You, like Adonis, feel obligated to help him and want to give him the benefit of the doubt. But like we’ve seen in countless other stories similar to this, that rarely works and it stings when Dame betrays his friend. This is the Majors antagonist that I’d actually want to see in a number of installments of a franchise. There are layers to his story — more than any other villain in this franchise — and he’s more than just a part of the bloodline of one of Rocky or Apollo’s past opponents.

A still from Creed III. Photo courtesy of MGM.

The film does Majors dirty in one area, however. Once Dame does his “heel turn,” he sort of pulls a Brock Lesnar and goes part-time for the rest of the film. He supposedly goads Adonis out of retirement, but we don’t really see any torment in the media. Unless I fell asleep for a crucial 10 minutes, Dame just falls into the shadows and apparently trash-talks Adonis’ family, career and manhood. It’s a totally plausible thing for the viewer to believe, but it would’ve been nice to see it rather than having one confrontation at the beach and then Adonis going on national television to call him out 10 minutes later. In no way am I attempting to say that any of the Rocky or previous Creed films had sophisticated plots, but this was so sudden, and while I appreciate a breezy two-hour film, a little bit more from Majors would’ve really driven all of the emotional intensity home. 

It’s unlikely that any film can ever recreat the total package that was the original Rocky — It was the quintessential underdog story both in terms of its behind-the-scenes stories and on-screen hero — but the franchise that began with Sylvester Stallone running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art has now spun off into one of the best running franchises. It’s just so polished and has real stakes. Jordan’s directorial debut only adds more juice to this franchise after a so-so middle installment, and while it seemed like the franchise was destined to keep finding a new suitor to take the directors’ chair each film, I think they found their guy. Whether this is the final time that Adonis Creed throws a punch or not, Creed III is the perfect end to this trilogy and the second-best film in the entire franchise. Selfishly, I’d love to keep revisiting Adonis every four or five years, but sometimes it’s better to leave when people want more than when they’re begging you to stop (just see Rocky V).

Creed III will be released in theaters on March 3. 


Andrew is an entertainment journalist and film "critic" who has written for the likes of Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, Film Focus Online, /Film and The Hollywood Handle among others. Leader of the Kaitlyn Dever Fanclub.

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Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 Review: Have They Lost Their Spark?



Sam Phillips as Lord Debling, Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

Dearest gentle reader, Lady Whistledown is back for another Bridgerton season, and this time for her own love story (the ton doesn’t need to know). Classy as ever, Bridgerton Season 3 focuses primarily on Nicola Coughlan and Luke Newton’s characters Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton as they take their friendship to another level.

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington and Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton

What is Bridgerton Season 3 About?

After focusing on Daphne and Anthony Bridgerton in the first and second seasons, the story is now following Colin Bridgerton’s story with the girl next door. Penelope was many things for Colin but never a love interest. She was his sister’s best friend, a girl next door, a friend, and someone who had a crush on him. It’s no secret for the viewers that Penelope had a huge crush on Colin for years, but our girl finally feels ready to move on and get her life together. She is now in search of a husband after getting her heart broken in the last season.

What Stole the Show?

Apart from Nicola Coughlan getting the most deserving highlight, Netflix did their fan service and gave more screen time to now-extremely popular Benedict Bridgerton. Benedict Bridgerton has always been one of the fan favorite characters but after this season he has certainly got a huge following. Luke Thompson’s charms deserve to be studied in a university. He seems to be people’s new crush and I don’t blame them! The beautifully written dialogues are as usual top notch.

Bridgerton is famous for many reasons, including its orchestral remix of popular songs. This season Pitbull’s ‘Give Me Everything’ is in the limelight as one doesn’t expect such an iconic party song to sound so classy. Huge kudos to the makeup and costume department for carrying the show with its theme gracefully. They certainly grasped the attention and enhanced the characters of the show.

Benedict Bridgerton and Lady Tilley Arnold

Benedict Bridgerton and Lady Tilley Arnold

What’s Bothering Us in The Show?

The scripting of the show seems rushed. It lacks the spice, passion, and the slow burn romance that defines a Bridgerton story. Colin’s character has been poorly developed this time. After being sidelined for the last two seasons this one was supposed to make him the knight in shining armor, but he rather lacks the character. He tries to help Penelope only because he feels guilty for insulting and hurting her. Later on, he ruins her chance with a great suitor only because he feels jealous for not having her. He acts like a child who wants his toy back as soon as some other child starts playing with it. He misses Penelope’s attention after seeing her happy with someone else who wants to marry her. Some may call it ‘true love’ but I believe it’s too immature and childish thing to do for a Bridgerton character. Nothing against Luke Newton but his character development is not helping the show.

Apart from lacking the slow-build and passionate love story, the show seems to have forgotten about Daphne and Simon Basset (played by Phoebe Dynevor and Regé-Jean Page) completely. Anthony and Kate Bridgerton (played by Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley) appear in one episode and are not even mentioned in the rest.

Nicola Coughlan – The Show’s Star

Nicola Coughlan is shining brighter than any star in the sky. Both Nicola and Penelope are role models for body positivity. Young girls and women across the globe highly relate to Penelope and seeing her accepting herself, being comfortable in her own skin, and getting a complete makeover to feel more like herself is bound to create a positive wave among the fans. Unlike the last two Seasons, the Third Season is also focusing on other characters of the show as well, as it creates branches and stories for potential upcoming seasons. Yet, no one and nothing shines in front of Nicola Coughlan as she wears her crown with grace.

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington

Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington

Is It Better Than Last Two Seasons?

Each Bridgerton story has its unique charm that keeps our eyes glued to the screens. Some love Season 1, others like Season 2, and the rest prefer Season 3 but is it better than the last two? Probably not. Nothing can beat Season 1! As much as the show focuses on the ‘Friends to Lovers’ storyline, it lacks the true essence of romance and no, I’m not talking about the spiciness even though they severely lack to give us butterflies. Polin’s storyline sometimes gives us butterflies but not as much as previous seasons did. The groundwork for the couple was laid since the first season yet they are not coming as strong and passionate as expected.

Bridgerton Season 3 Part 1 is currently available to stream on Netflix. Part 2 will be released on June 13.

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‘IF’ Review | The Most Meaningful and Heartfelt Movie of The Year, Delights With Pure Imagination



This review was made possible by watching an advanced screening

The most meaningful and heartfelt movie of the year. “IF” enchants with delight and wonder as John Krasinski crafts a love letter to our childhood, making us experience emotions that ultimately hit me right in the feels as he reminds us to never lose sight of our imagination! 

In a cinematic landscape often dominated by cynicism and darkness, John Krasinski’s “IF” is a breath of fresh air, a heartwarming and endearing tale that will leave you beaming with joy as it expertly balances the magic, wonder, and adventure of childhood with the poignancy, trials, and tribulations of adulthood, creating a narrative that is at once both nostalgic and universally relatable. The real magic of “IF” lies in its ability to tap into the collective shared childhood experience by evoking memories of our imaginary friends & the adventures we’ve shared with them. 

“IF,” is a whimsical fantasy family adventure that explores the concept of abandoned imaginary friends or IFs as they call themselves. In this heartwarming tale, Bea, a young girl played beautifully by Cailey Fleming discovers her unique ability to see these unwanted characters and reconnect the forgotten IFs with their original creators who have now fully grown up as she embarks on a magical journey through this imaginative, colourful, and creative world. As one girl learns the power of imagination and friendship. Bea thinks she must be hallucinating – until the man in the apartment upstairs reveals he can also see the IFs. 

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Several years ago, Krasinski, known for his work on “A Quiet Place,” penned a script intending to uplift his children who were struggling with feelings of depression amidst the challenges of the pandemic. Krasinski not only wrote the script but also took on the role of director for the film. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Cailey Fleming, Steve Carell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Louis Gossett Jr., and Fiona Shaw, among many other A-listers lending their voices to the characters, “IF” was inspired by the impact of the pandemic on Krasinski’s daughters, Hazel and Violet.

Having long harboured the desire to create a film for his children, Krasinski found inspiration in the imaginative worlds his daughters would delve into. Witnessing the genuine joy and authenticity with which they played, he was motivated to capture this magic on screen. Through “IF,” Krasinski aimed to show his daughters that this world of imagination and make-believe is always within reach, a place where they can be anything they desire. This magical world is ever-present and waiting for them to explore.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Imaginary friends, these elusive entities existing solely in a child’s vivid imagination, serve as a comforting beacon amidst the chaos of adulthood. In this whimsical tale, away from the foreboding presence of sightless extraterrestrials, audiences are treated to a cascade of endearing characters and a wave of nostalgic charm that instils a heartwarming sense of joy and wonder. “IF” is a delightful escapade that celebrates the virtues of curiosity, creativity, and innocence, rekindling the essence of childhood wonder, and reminding us that the magic is always within reach.

Featuring a star-studded lineup of IFs including Steve Carell, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Keegan-Michael Key, and more, the film introduces a mix of charismatic imaginary beings brought to life through the distinct voices of these esteemed actors. Each character, with its unique backstory and quirks, adds a human touch to the ethereal world, resonating with both younger viewers and their older counterparts.

The film’s exploration of imaginary friends serves as a poignant reminder that our childhood aspirations and dreams are not just fleeting fantasies, but rather tangible time capsules that hold the power to shape our future. These creations, born from our imagination, are a manifestation of our hopes, desires, and innermost ambitions – a reflection of who we wanted to be and what we wanted to achieve. As we grow up and face the harsh realities of adulthood, it’s easy to lose sight of these childhood ideals, but the film suggests that we don’t have to let go of that spark. By tapping into the imagination and embracing the spirit of our youthful selves, we can reignite our passions, rediscover our sense of purpose, and continue to evolve into the best versions of ourselves. In this way, imaginary friends become a powerful tool for self-reflection, creativity, and personal growth, reminding us that even as we age, we can still hold onto the essence of our childhood dreams.”

Through the vibrant personalities of figures like Blue, Unicorn, Sunny, Spaceman, and Ally, the movie explores the boundless bounds of a child’s imagination. A blend of conventional and eccentric companions, such as Blossom, Ice, Cosmo, and Marshmallow creates a tapestry of humour and charm that engages viewers in a realm where the fantastical meets the mundane in delightful ways. Most significantly Lewis, an old teddy bear voiced by Louis Gossett Jr sadly passed away and the film is lovingly dedicated to him with such a touching tribute after the credits rolled.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

To render the unseen into vision, director John Krasinski enlisted the expertise of VFX supervisor Chris Lawrence and the revered effects studio Framestore, weaving together around 800 meticulously crafted shots featuring a diverse ensemble of 42 CGI characters. Within this narrative realm, a poignant blend of fantasy and magical realism flourishes, engendering a profound sense of belief in the audience as they witness these ethereal beings coalesce on screen. Employing a blend of physical puppets and digital animation, the film sought to honour the sanctity of space and performance, poised on the precipice of seamlessly integrating these otherworldly entities within the tangible fabric of the film universe.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Through this meticulous fusion of technical prowess and artistic vision, the film emerges as a testament to the transformative power of storytelling, poised to captivate audiences with its charm and artistry.

With a captivating blend of computer-generated CGI forms seamlessly integrating into the real world, expertly led by the dynamic duo of Fleming and Reynolds, As the live-action leads, they exhibit effortless chemistry on-screen, commanding attention and drawing the audience in. The initial wariness between Bea and Cal gives way to a warm and engaging rapport, characterised by witty banter and exasperation.

As Bea navigates the challenges of transitioning through her teenage years, she finds solace in these quirky and unique imaginary friends, embracing the comfort and security of childhood delights. Meanwhile, the film’s relationships take centre stage, led by the charismatic performance of Ryan Reynolds and standout Cailey Fleming, alongside Fiona Shaw. The movie’s greatest strength lies in its nuanced balance between lighthearted moments and emotional depth, evoking a sense of warmth and family, particularly during poignant reunion scenes.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

One of the film’s most endearing relationships is that between Bea and her father, played by Krasinski, which is charmingly tender and heartfelt.

Michael Giacchino’s music score for the movie “If” is a masterclass in emotional depth and thematic complexity. The composer delivers one of the best scores of his career, weaving a sonic tapestry that perfectly captures the film’s poignant exploration of connection whether that’s from human or imaginary. Giacchino’s themes are creative, heartfelt, and sincere, expertly conveying the emotional highs and lows of the characters’ journeys. From the tender warmth to the soaring grandeur of the score’s more uplifting moments, every note feels carefully crafted to elevate the film’s emotional impact. Giacchino’s score is a stunning achievement, showcasing his remarkable composer skill and ability to tap into the heart of a story.


In essence, “IF” is a cinematic celebration of the power of imagination, brought to life through a tapestry of endearing characters and heartfelt moments that left me feeling nostalgic and uplifted. With its colourful jumble of personalities and whimsical storytelling, the film is a captivating journey into the enchanting world of make-believe that will warm the hearts of viewers of all ages. 

IF” hits theatres on May 17. 

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Arthur the King is an Epic Masterpiece



Arthur the King movie poster (Lionsgate Films)

Here follows the review of Arthur the King, a story of deep connection between people and dogs. Not all heroes wear capes, some have wagging tails and would cross a river (and jungle) for you.


Desperate for one last chance to win, Michael Light convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team gets pushed to the outer limits of endurance, a dog named Arthur comes along for the ride, redefining what victory, loyalty and friendship truly means.

Arthur Foundation

Mikael Lindnord raced through a jungle in Ecuador and after feeding a few meatballs to a stray dog made a friend for life. The dog followed Mikael and his team through the rough terrain. Mikael named the dog Arthur and took him back home with him.

Arthur and Mikael Lindnord (Photo taken by Krister Goransson)

The Arthur Foundation collaborates with various organizations in different countries that work towards animal welfare.

Click on the following links to reach out to Mikael Lindnord.

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The movie is based on the memoir, Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home by Mikael Lindnord, who was the athlete who participated in the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador. It is important to note in the movie they refer to him as Michael Light. Even though the original race took place in Ecuador, the movie changed the location to the Dominican Republic. The original race took place in 2014, while in the movie the race takes place in 2018.

Mark Wahlberg portrays the part of the Mikael and delivers an excellent performance alongside Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel and Ali Suliman. Ukai, a stray dog, was a real champion portraying the role of Arthur. The film takes us through picturesque locations in the Dominican Republic. The suspense was felt at every turn and corner and you are kept glued to the screen with a gripping storyline. The story balances the journey of Mikael and Arthur and eventually joins their path like a jigsaw puzzle.

Mark Wahlberg as Mikael Light (Lionsgate Films)

A fictional backstory is provided of Mikael’s competitive journey as well as the journey that Arthur took to get to Mikael. The movie successfully tells a deep story of connection between dogs and people. If you want to know more about the real story, you can check your local bookstore or Amazon for a copy of Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home

This movie is a 5 out of 5 for me. The connection between Mikael and Arthur is brought to life in this epic masterpiece. Arthur found a home in the heart of Mikael and thanks to Mark Wahlberg and Ukai, this film adaptation of ‘Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home’ became a memorable movie.

The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the important scenes of the movie. Arthur the King has a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is no post-credits scene so no need to wait till the end.

Arthur the King Official Trailer (Lionsgate Films)

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