Creed III is the third film in the Adonis Creed series, following the life and career of the son of Apollo Creed, who was part of the Rocky series, which itself had six film iterations. Just considering that film universe is a little exhausting, and those of us who saw the original Rocky in 1976 could hardly have imagined that 47 years later, we'd still be engaged in the series.
The first two Creed films were co-written and directed by Ryan Coogler (who also did the two Black Panther films), but in this case he has stepped back and let Michael B. Jordan, who plays Adonis Creed, to direct. (Sylvester Stallone, who gave birth to the whole schmegegge, isn't in this one, though he's credited as a producer.)
So here's what I'll say about Creed III. The movie is well acted and directed, and as entertaining as one would expect. (It also is under two hours, which adds a star to its rating in my book.). But it hits exactly the beats one would expect.
I do think there is an undercurrent to Creed III that didn't exist in the Rocky films. The plot concerns how one of Adonis's friends from his youth, Damien Anderson, re-enters Creed's life after almost two decades in prison. Naturally, he wants a shot at the heavyweight title; this is, after all, a movie with Rocky DNA. But the underlying plot point is about young Black men faced with choices that more advantaged people never have to make, and whose choices are fewer than those of other people.
Creed III is what it is, and maybe a little bit more. It doesn't break new ground, but it does demonstrate that Jordan may be a director with whom to be reckoned.
"Poker Face" has ended its 10-episode, first season run, and while it has been uneven at moments, I've enjoyed almost every moment. As I wrote here when it started, "Poker Face" is a kind of callback to the mystery movies of the seventies, created by Rian Johnson (Knives Out) as a showcase for Natasha Lyonne as Charlie Cale, a young woman who can tell if a person is lying just by looking at them. That puts her in the position of solving crimes as she is on the run for her life, and the series - which is meticulously plotted like an intricate puzzle - has been utterly charming. Can't wait for season two.
Meanwhile, "Perry Mason" is back on HBO for a second season, with Matthew Rhys playing the famed defense attorney made famous by Raymond Burr in the original series more than 50 years ago. The scenario is entirely different - it takes place in Los Angeles in the early 1930s, and Mason is a far less finished character at this point in his existence. But the production design is gorgeous, the writing seems even more solid this time around, and Rhys is terrific.
I am conflicted about the new Chris Rock comedy special on Netflix, "Selective Outrage." Rock gets it right when he says early on that none of the jokes he tells will be able to be repeated at the office, and there's a lot of anticipation for when he addresses the moment a year ago at the Oscars when he was slapped by Will Smith.
All of which is fine. But I have to admit that the standup set was a little bit much for me - a little too profane and irreverent, going places and saying things with which I just was not comfortable. But I suspect that's me, not Rock. But be cautious when you watch it, and make sure there are no children in the room.
Two wines to recommend to you this week…
• The 2019 Blackboard Red Wine from Washington State, a lovely combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, is really, really good - it has hints of vanilla and jam, and was terrific with a nice petite filet and roasted potatoes.
• And, the 2020 Tagua Tagua Carmenere from Chile, which is has a a bit of spiciness to it and went great with shrimp and scallop cakes that I served with sautéed spinach.
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.