Edinburgh Cinema

Edinburgh’s cinemas have their own, different feel. When I visit them, I’ll be writing about both the film and the place, giving you the organic experience. Film critics on the big scale can’t really cater for this, so I hope my reviews bring something extra in this respect.

Creed 2

Creed-II-2018-movie-poster

Creed 2

I remember Rocky IV in the mid-1980s, at the peak of Reagan's (and Donald Trump's) America. It's a film so mesmerizingly patriotic to American exceptionalism, the boxer 'Italian Stallion' Rocky Balboa as the plucky underdog, avenging the brutal death of his friend Apollo Creed by taking on the steroid-abusing giant who killed said friend in the ring, Russian Ivan Drago. I seem to remember at least three montages as Rocky first mulls over his Hamlet-like destiny to avenge his friend's death, and then unlike Hamlet, goes into training to whip some Russian ass. There's No Easy Way Out, indeed. Rocky's triumphant, improvised speech at the end getting President Gorbachev up from his chair, applauding, muttering, 'Who is this man?' is one of the all-time memorable orations, in terms of silliness. Though only a child when I first watched Rocky IV, I realized then it was Rocky, not democracy, who really won the Cold War for America.

Those were the days, when the capitalist system was about to deliver the seemingly knock-out blow to its only serious rival. Now, we have neoliberalism: there are no really different ways of doing things, people in America can be whatever they want to be, so goes the narrative, and America has nobody to go toe to toe with its power. This, indeed, is one of two major problems with Creed 2, so silently banal is the 'nemesis' in this movie, Ivan Drago's son, Viktor: imagine a really embittered, angry version of Viktor Krum from the Durmstrang school in Harry Potter on discovering Ron Weasley is marrying Hermione.

Creed 2 nevertheless is a completely different beast to both Harry Potter and Rocky IV, the national politics replaced with family drama. Up-and-coming Viktor Drago wants to fight (and beat) Creed because Creed's father-figure, Rocky Balboa, defeated Viktor's father Ivan. That original loss, we are told, consigned the Dragos back in the 1980s to national humiliation and poverty, the wife/mother (played again by the icily beautiful Brigitte Nielson) walking out on them. This could have been an interesting storyline but the film explores it insufficiently, giving us only caricatured anger from Viktor, though a few tender moments do flicker between the shamed, aging Ivan, and his brooding son, especially at the end. One particular moment involving the use of the white towel, I find poignant and moving even now.

Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan, I found a more difficult character to care about. Already rich, with a beautiful new apartment overlooking Los Angeles, Creed and his professional singer/songwriter partner Bianca (Tessa Thompson) apparently have it all, though complications arise with the birth of their first child. Like the plot to Rocky III (Rocky vs Mr T's 'Clubber Lang'), Creed will have two fights, allowing his arc to move from complacency to kick-ass determination. Family issues are eventually overcome/resolved for both fighters.

A neoliberal Rocky movie for the ages, then? Creed 2 I found strangely inconsequential, without the bombast and over-the-top theatrics of Rocky's melodrama, as a film that tries to be more serious and loses something along the way. Michael B. Jordan's protagonist is too handsomely articulate and healthy to be an underdog, his wife too beautiful and talented, his home too plush, his social surroundings too unconnected to his identity in terms of neighbourhood. Rocky more effectively portrayed a physically damaged, working-class hero done good – the boy from the streets of blue collar Philadelphia – while Creed could be from anywhere in the USA. In fairness I missed the first Creed film, and perhaps that gives us the roots this protagonist needs, but like Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born, the heroes seem to fit this world of fame and fortune too easily. I find myself thinking back, meanwhile, to a quote from Marilyn Monroe, on how dreaming of being famous was much more fun than being it. It's the second problem at the heart of Creed 2 and the already-has-everything protagonist, whose violent cause I don't completely understand, beyond the apparent joy of beating the crap out of people.

Mortal Engines
Widows
 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Guest
Friday, 04 December 2020

Captcha Image

What's On This Week

My Latest Posts

November 17, 2020

If I were to detransition, this is what I would write

Warning: this is a speculative piece of writing, not an official announcement, although I have recently begun to imagine an 'ideological' detransition (from trans woman to GNC male). Here, I'm trying to articulate and reflect on my thoughts and feelings, and imagining myself from a different perspective. In this post, I'm Gina v...
November 17, 2020

Trans Hell-thcare

The picture accompanying this post is important to me. I took it yesterday, 16 November 2020, unsure what I'd find. It's been nearly eleven months since I came off oestrogen for reasons I'll get into in a moment. Undoubtedly this has had an effect on me, bodily and therefore psychologically, but the accompanying selfie gives me a reassura...
October 17, 2020

What if gender-critical feminism came to power?

This scenario is inspired by a dialogue I had yesterday evening with a gender-critical feminist just before I went to bed. Here is what I dreamed: In the summer of 2021, the Conservative minister Liz Truss introduces legislation, making women-only spaces legally accessible only to those born female. This U.K. law includes a provision for funding al...
October 13, 2020

Responses to my blog post (1)

A frustrating aspect of my website is that when people write in, there's no trace of an email address so no way of getting back to people, and also no way of publishing their messages. However, I received such a nice response to my article just now that I'd like to include it here. It's from some who for the sake of confidentiality (in case it's ne...
October 11, 2020

On adopting a more gender-critical transgender activism

On adopting a more gender-critical transgender activism Note to the reader: This post is intended as a contribution to addressing the current tensions between transgender activism and gender-critical feminism. The way I see myself in relation to female i dentity, and the ideas I express here, are not a prescription for other trans women. The t...
May 11, 2020

The Book of Queer Prophets, curated by Ruth Hunt

in Books

  The Book of Queer Prophets: 24 Writers on Sexuality and Religion The historically fraught relationship between Abrahamic religions and LGBT+ identities provides the backdrop to The Book of Queer Prophets , a collection of twenty-four meditations by public figures who identify as both religious and LGBT+. The book's curator, the for...
May 09, 2020

Queer/Transgender short film: Mesmeralda

Joshua Matteo's short film, Mesmeralda , merging horror with esoterica, is now out on youtube . As with his previous work Metanoia , we see youthful trans actors racing through the empty streets of a moonlit New York, haunted by symbols and stalked by a masked figure of violent intentions. Mesmeralda , as described by Matteo, is the companion ...
March 08, 2020

Sterile like the moon: the joys of transgender healthcare

Sterile like the moon: the joys of transgender healthcare Summer, 2016: Gina's Big Bang, as transitioning begins A bureaucratic question in a sun-lit room. My medical practitioner asks me if I intend to have children. The question lingers, but the self-loathing is instant. No, I won't be having children. The practitioner nods. She moves on to the n...
November 10, 2019

General Election

General Election 12 December 2019 I spent the last election in an office, alone but for the company of a colleague. We watched the BBC's coverage while I drank wine, downbeat and expecting austerity and the absence of hope to triumph. Then we saw the exit poll and hung around, disbelieving at the sight of the kindled embers and lukewarm glow of a f...