MOVIE BUFF-ET: Holiday season ushers in a bundle of anticipated movies

Creed 2 / MGM

New In Local Theaters

  • Boy Erased (R) 1 hr. 55 min.
    (Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet (PG) 1 hr. 52 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Pinnacle Hills, Bentonville Skylight)
    » Watch trailer
  • Creed II (PG-13) 2 hr. 10 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Pinnacle Hills, Bentonville Skylight)
    » Watch trailer
  • Robin Hood (PG-13) 1 hr. 56 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Rogers Towne)
    » Watch trailer
  • The Front Runner (R) 1 hr. 53 min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback)
    » Watch trailer
  • Green Book (PG-13) 2 hr. 10 min.
    (Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer

It certainly is the most wonderful time of the year at local movie theaters.

With Thanksgiving upon us, there’s a veritable cornucopia of films that will be released from now through early January, providing movie buffs with the most diverse and hopefully the best quality of releases for the year.

The slate of films opening today is proof positive that the long Thanksgiving weekend is a great time for a trip to the cinema. There’s a bundle of choices that will rival the selections on grandma’s dessert table in terms of variety and flavor.

With six films opening today, I’m having a hard time trying to decide what I’m going to see first.

Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” the much-anticipated sequel to 2012’s “Wreck-It Ralph,” will no doubt win the box office race, even though early reviews say it is good, but not quite up to the standard of the original.

I’ll probably see this one at some point. John C. Reilly, the voice of Ralph, always entertains, and Sarah Silverman, who voices the rambunctious tween Venellope, is funny in doses, but video games aren’t really my thing. The original was tedious to me.

However, the real battle for my money this week is between “Creed II” and “Green Book.”

“Green Book” stars Viggo Mortensen as Brooklyn bouncer “Tony Lip,” who is hired to drive famed African-American pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) on a concert tour through the Deep South in the 1960s. The film is getting rave reviews and will likely be a factor in the Oscar race.

I’ll see “Green Book” soon, but “Creed II” will be the next movie I see in theaters. “Rocky” is one of my all-time favorite movies. Sure, the series got sillier and sillier as it went on, but “Rocky” is one of the great feel-good movies, and while decades separate it from “Creed,” director Ryan Coogler captured the heart and soul of the original masterpiece.

Steven Caple Jr. directs Creed II from a script written by Sylvester Stallone and Juel Taylor. The story pits Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordon) against Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the boxer who killed Creed’s father Apollo in the ring. Adonis takes the fight against the advice of his mentor, Rocky (Stallone).

Yes, the plot is a bit contrived, but I trust in Jordan as a performer and to a great degree in Stallone as a story man. I’m trying to keep my expectations low, but I’m excited to see another film in the Rocky-verse.

Boy Erased” is another film that has Oscar buzz. The film, directed and co-starring Joel Edgerton, is based on the true story of Arkansas native Garrard Conley, who went through a gay-conversion therapy program at the behest of his parents.

The film stars the talented Lucas Hedges as Jared, a character based on Conley, with Nicole Kidman as Nancy, his mother, and Russell Crowe as Marshall, his father who is a pastor for a Baptist Church.

Word is that powerful performances by Hedges, Kidman, and Crowe could have each of them in Oscar contention.

The Front Runner” stars Hugh Jackman as Democratic Sen. Gary Hart, whose run for president ended abruptly in 1988 when reports of an extramarital affair came to light. The biographical drama, which also stars Vera Farmiga, J.K.Simmons, and Alfred Molina, has an outstanding cast, and I’ve enjoyed the previous films of director Jason Reitman. However, reviews have been mixed with some saying the movie is a bit flat. Others suppose the film might have been better if it were told from the vantage point of Donna Rice (Sara Paxton), the woman at the center of the scandal.

There is a new “Robin Hood” movie out this week. The trailers and TV spots make it look bad, and early reviews are trashing the film that stars Taron Egerton as the title character and Jamie Fox as Yahya/John, Robin’s Moorish mentor.

I love the stories of Robin Hood, and the 1938 adaptation starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland is another of my favorite movies. I’ll see this Robin Hood film some day, but it’ll probably be on cable.

Classic Corner

Superman: The Movie

Eighty years ago, Superman burst forth from the imaginations of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in Action Comics No.1, creating the template for every super hero to follow. Forty years later, their Man of Steel became the first super-hero to headline a big-budget blockbuster movie in 1978’s “Superman: The Movie.”

In celebration of the character’s two landmark anniversaries, the Malco Razorback Cinema and Grill, will hold a special showing of movie at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27.

The film that set the standard for what a super-hero movies could be, trumpeting“You Will Believe a Man Can Fly,” as its marketing slogan.


With the advances in technology, slogan doesn’t quite hold true today, but it was as close to being on-target as possible when the film opened nationally on Dec. 15, 1978.

Directed Richard Donner (“Lethal Weapon” series, “The Omen,” “The Goonies”) did all fans of Superman a favor by taking the character and the movie as seriously as he could for the period, and the film he shot was an epic parable of heart, hope, and humanity.

Marlon Brando(Jor-El), Glenn Ford (Jonathan Kent) and Gene Hackman (Lex Luthor) gave the film clout, but the movie belongs to then newcomer Christopher Reeve.

Without Reeve’s convincing turn in the dual role of Superman/Clark Kent, the film would have flopped instead of becoming the blockbuster it was in 1978-79 and the classic that it is today.

Just as Superman was the blueprint for all super heroes that followed, Donner’s film became the blueprint for the super-hero origin film. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige got his start in Hollywood working as an intern for Donner, and he has credited his mentor’s film as an influential in the success of the Marvel movies..

While we could all see through the flimsy Clark Kent disguise, Reeve’s performance as Superman and Clark was distinctive enough for viewers to suspend disbelief.

Reeve’s Clark was nerdy and klutzy enough to sell the gag, and his Superman radiated good will, hope, and strength of character. It’s an indelible performance that was the engine behind the film.

Likewise, Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane worked splendidly in the context of the film, and her chemistry with Reeve was palpable.

Lois’ awe of Superman parallels Clark’s awe with her, setting up a wonderful love triangle that’s charming and poignant.


The scene where Superman makes his first public appearance to save a falling Lois from a crashing helicopter is thrilling, and it contains one of the best lines in any super-hero movie.

Lois responds to Superman’s assertion, “Don’t worry, I’ve got you” with the classic, “You’ve got me? Who’s got you?”

Several sequences of Superman thwarting crimes across the city of Metropolis with his amazing powers follow, even one of him saving a cat out of a tree. The scenes are magical. They truly capture the heart of Superman’s heroism.

Luthor and particularly his bumbling henchman Otis (Ned Beatty) will feel cheesy to a modern audience. Their broad performances were what Donner was going for and are well performed, but in hindsight, they feel outlandishly campy..

However, Luthor’s fiendish gambit to increase the value of his land holdings in California by firing one nuclear missile southwest at the San Andreas Fault and the other northeast at New Jersey not only tests Superman’s powers but also his heart and character..

Superman wants to stop the missile headed for California first because Lois and his pal Jimmy Olsen are there, but in order to gain help in escaping a Kryptonite trap, he promised Luthor’s main squeeze Mrs. Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine) to stop the missile headed for New Jersey, where her mother lives, first. By keeping his promise, Superman sets up a scenario that has dire consequences for Lois.

Some have issues with the plausibility of climax of the film where Superman flies counterclockwise around the Earth to turn back time so he can save Lois. However, by concentrating on that detail, they miss the heart of the movie and the humanity of the character.


The film should be viewed from the angle of a parable about the extent of Superman’s love and humanity instead of whether the film’s depiction of science makes sense.

Obviously, the science is off. A man flies in movie. Science is thrown out the window from the get go.

Back in 1978, I missed the connection between the climax and the opening of the picture, set on Superman’s home planet Krypton and in his Earthly hometown of Smallville, and the distinct contrasts Donner drew in their depictions.

Shot with an icy blue hue, Krypton is sterile and bleak, while Smallville with its golden tone, is warm and hearty. The contrast is an excellent touch by Donner, one the comics had never broached at that time.

Superman was born on Krypton, but he was nurtured on Earth. His thoughts and morality were human despite his great powers.

When Superman chooses to save Lois and disregard the Kryptonian wisdom of Jor-El, who instructed his son not alter the natural course of human events, the Man of Steel opts for the ways his adoptive home planet and the love instilled in him by the Kents instead of the stoicism and aloofness of his Kryptonian heritage.

That choice shows that Superman’s greatest power doesn’t stem from his Kryptonian physiology, but rather from his very human conscience. Superman’s humanity makes him the hero he is, not just his fantastic powers.

What a wonderful parable for 1978 or any day.