A lot of movies could benefit from a viewer going in with no knowledge of what they’re about to see, but in the age of previews giving away everything, it’s hard to find an experience like that. Streaming services might be bringing it back though: A synopsis and a still image look intriguing, the service recommends it to you based on your viewing habits, it gets good ratings from others … so maybe you’ll give it a shot. Netflix’s “Cam” benefits from the Mystery Mine Ride approach.
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.
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.
With movie theaters serving up the latest round of Wizarding World delights from J.K. Rowling in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” here are my rankings of the nine “Harry Potter” universe films so far (I’m considering “Deathly Hallows” to be one movie, not two). Starting from the weakest and working my way to the best, this is how I rank them. Lumos!
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.
J.K. Rowling’s first movie script, 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” leans heavily on the introduction of lovable characters – and more than its fair share of creatures, of course. It includes a side plot about a troubled boy, Credence (Ezra Miller), but that’s the most forgettable part; it’s there because the film can’t only be a fun encyclopedia. The second of this five-part “Harry Potter” prequel saga, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” course-corrects and emphasizes the story – for better or worse.
“The Meg” is exactly what you think it is. It’s a big, dumb shark movie. The thing is, it’s actually not as bad as I expected either. The plot is a lot less predictable then I assumed and, contrary to what I had heard, the CGI shark isn’t horrible. (At least it’s about what you could expect with a 75-foot shark.)
“Adrift” is the true story of Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) and Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin), who accept an offer from a wealthy couple to sail their boat from Tahiti to California. Along the way they encounter one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in history, causing their boat to be wrecked and stranded at sea. As the film unfolds through a series of flashbacks, we live through the buildup of their relationship as well as the disaster itself.
“Hotel Artemis” is a strange animal. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the film doesn’t do enough to stand out either. It depicts a futuristic Los Angeles in which riots and chaos have overtaken the city as the citizens fight over water. In the middle of the city stands Hotel Artemis, a sort of hospital for criminals. Taking a page out of the “John Wick” franchise, Hotel Artemis has a set of underground rules: no cops, no weapons, no killing other guests, etc.
I was so impressed with “The Haunting of Hill House” that I immediately checked out writer-director Mike Flanagan’s previous horror work, which is easy to do in these days of streaming services. Although his IMDB goes back to the turn of the century with student films, Flanagan didn’t enter the mainstream until this decade, when he directed six horror (or horror-adjacent) films. All are worth checking out to see the progression of an emerging genre talent. It’s interesting to look at rankings of Flanagan’s films on the web and see that there’s nowhere near a consensus on the order, but here are my personal rankings: