The Good Dinosaur ***1/2
The newest 3D animated family adventure film from Pixar and Disney has all the hallmarks of both venerable production companies; stunning 3D animation and Disney drama of the tear-jerking “Bambi” variety. The storyline could be upsetting for young children. There are several frightening scenes of natural disaster, and vicious attacks by adversaries with whom our hero, the young Dino named Arlo, must contend. As voiced by child actor Raymond Ochoa, Arlo is the fearful, clumsy runt of the litter who wants only to make his mark, and make his Papa proud. Comic relief comes in the form of a caveboy, who Arlo befriends and names “Spot.” The young human, surviving on his own, is very doglike in his guttural communications and movements. The scene-stealing segment of the film comes midway through when T-rex rancher and cowpoke, voiced by Sam Elliot, herds thousands of Longhorn cattle through the prehistoric landscape. Orphans, grave peril, family bonds, friendships and adventure, it’s all here, and put together in way that makes this a standout in the Pixar/Disney partnership.
It’s though Sylvester Stallone was made for the roll of “Rocky,” and almost nothing else (sorry Rambo and Judge Dredd fans). He showed a bit more acting range in “Copland”, but as the partially punch drunk, soft hearted boxing champ from Philadelphia, Rocky Balboa, Stallone nails it. “Creed,” as you’ve noticed, is not technically a “Rocky” sequel, as evidenced by the title, at least Rocky never enters the ring with boxing gloves. It is in fact primarily the story of former Rocky nemesis Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son, Adonis, played by Michael B. Jordan. Up and coming young boxer Adonis Creed runs from his “Creed” association as he seeks to prove his self-worth. It’s a good story that develops slowly, thoughtfully, and believably. But as a bookend for the 40-year-old Rocky franchise, “Creed” makes a perfect end point, and Stallone steals the show. While the 1976 “Rocky” showcased the “modern” urban jungle of Philadelphia, “Creed” follows suit, but with a Millennial perspective. The soundtrack is a hip, R&B showcase from composer Ludwig Goransson who wisely included haunting overtones of the famous Bill Conti “Rocky Theme,” which shows up at key points. Though maybe not one the best boxing movies (some of the fight scenes are not terribly convincing) the movie has a lot of heart and will tug nostalgically as we watch the aging Rocky Balboa enter the golden years of his life as he helps a struggling young fighter start his.
What do those stars mean?