Throwback Thursday: The still-awesome ‘Varsity Blues’ (1999) brilliantly parodied ‘Friday Night Lights’ five years before that film existed (Movie review)

In our Throwback Thursday series, we’re looking back at movies, TV shows, books or comics that are more than a year old and don’t fit with our regular “flashback” features. Maybe we missed it when it was new, or we want to revisit an old favorite. Basically, we’re reviewing old stuff because we feel like it.

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John’s top 10 movies of 2018

The dominant genre of 2018 continued to be superheroes; even with the “X-Men” Universe and DC Extended Universe releasing only one film each, the three Marvel Cinematic Universe movies were impossible to overlook. Still, this was a less blockbustery year than 2017, and by year’s end I had seen at least one really good film in every genre. From a throwback thriller to an arthouse gem, here are my 10 favorite films of 2018.

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All 8 ‘Rocky’/ ‘Creed’ films, ranked (Movie commentary)

Having seen the latest “Rocky”/ “Creed” film, “Creed II,” it’s time to rank all eight films of the saga from worst to first. There are no outright bad films in this series, and a case could be made for any order between No. 2 and No. 7. Just thinking back on the 42 years of “Rocky” films is enough to make me want to blast “Gonna Fly Now” and take a run up the museum steps. Here we go. Ding. Ding.

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‘Creed II,’ a sequel to both ‘Creed’ and ‘Rocky IV,’ wins by decision (Movie review)

We’re not supposed to heap praise on sequels, since they are standing on the shoulders of their predecessors, but something should be said about how skillfully “Creed II” continues the story from “Creed” (2015) and “Rocky IV” (1985). Suffice it to say, director Steve Caple Jr.’s film will please fans of this franchise that has become a safe haven for grown men to cry in the theater over themes of fathers and sons (real or makeshift) and overcoming the odds.

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‘Creed II’ is a crowd-pleaser, even if it doesn’t pack the same punch as the original (Movie review)

Ryan Coogler’s “Creed” (2015) was a surprisingly well-executed and welcome addition to the “Rocky” franchise.  Working as a reboot of sorts, it brings “Rocky” to a new generation. With “Creed II,” Steve Caple Jr. directs a fairly by-the-numbers sequel that works, but doesn’t have near the impact that “Creed” does.

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First episode impressions: ‘All American’ (TV review)

In “All American” (9 p.m. Eastern Wednesdays on The CW), Spencer James (Daniel Ezra) gets a chance to move from gang territory to a safe neighborhood to play football, coached by a former NFL player, Billy Baker (Taye Diggs). After taking three buses to Beverly Hills, he hits it off with the coach’s daughter, the star receiver’s girlfriend, and even the coach’s son after some initial tension. Cue the theme music.

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‘Uncle Drew’ has NBA nostalgia and a few good jokes, but is ultimately forgettable (Movie review)

For some reason, I had somewhat high expectations for “Uncle Drew.” Now, I say that with the understanding that the movie consists of NBA players in prosthetic makeup to appear as old men. So it isn’t like I was expecting something phenomenal, but I did think it could be funny. What we get is a fine movie, but it’s forgettable and not something I plan on revisiting.

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Fall TV 2018: Thoughts on 8 new shows and how long they will last (Commentary)

There are more good shows on TV than ever, but the traditional fall season has become the dumping ground for the least exciting new series – perhaps because they need the extra buzz of Fall TV Previews more than something with the cachet of an “Atlanta” or a “Fargo.” Still, some quality series rise to the surface: Recent years have given us “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “This Is Us,” along with glitzy franchise entries like “The Gifted” and assorted MCU efforts (“Iron Fist” and “Daredevil” boast new seasons this fall).

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‘GLOW’ finds its footing in Season 2 by ramping up emotions and stakes (TV review)

The Netflix series “GLOW” (Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling) is intriguing to me because of its ’80s pop look and feel. Apparently based on true events, the show centers on a down-and-out director and a cast of nobody actresses who are enlisted to create a ladies wrestling TV show. With just 10 half-hour episodes, we were able to burn through Season 1 fairly quickly when it premiered. It’s solid, with some pacing issues while the characters and stories are established, but overall it rates a 3/5.

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