Sylvester Stallone

Z is for Zookeeper (2011)

Kind-hearted zookeeper Griffin (Kevin James) is a much loved by his co-workers and the animals in his care. However, Griffin is unlucky in love so when he reconnects with ex-girlfriend Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), the animals in the zoo decide to break their code of silence in order to help him win her back.

Zookeeper is not good, and it also struggles to figure out what it is. The scenario of animals taking and helping out a zookeeper makes it targeted towards younger audiences. However, the humour is full of inuendo that children won’t understand or find it funny, and the adults who might find it funny, are unlikely to be watching this film in the first place.

The special effects for the animals aren’t terrible, however the choice of voice actors might well be. I’m not saying you expect a certain voice to come from a bear or a giraffe, but a lot of the voice cast didn’t suit the animal or give a good performance. So many of the animals sounded grumpy or were mean. They weren’t exactly friendly and if they’d been human with those attitudes, I doubt Griffin or anyone else would’ve been friends with them.

Kevin James gives a perfectly bland performance as nice guy Griffin. He has no chemistry with Bibb, or Rosario Dawson who plays a vet at the zoo, so one has to wonder how he is cast as a romantic comedy type lead. He is good at falling over and crashing into things though. So, there’s that.

I doubt anyone would consider this a spoiler, or care if it was, but I have to mention what happens during the end credits. All of the animals sing Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” and it’s one of the weirdest things I’ve seen and one of the worst things I’ve heard. Especially when Sylvester Stallone tries to harmonise with Cher. Yep, that is something that happens. No offence to Cher, she’s amazing, Stallone on the other hand, is not.

Zookeeper is unfunny, predictable, and somewhat unsuitable for the kids it’s aimed for. Just don’t waste your time. 1/5.

REVIEW: Bullet to the Head (2012)

After his former partner is killed, Washington D.C. detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) comes to New Orleans and forms a reluctant alliance with hitman James Bonomo (Sylvester Stallone), whose partner has also recently been killed, in order to bring down a common enemy.

The plot of Bullet to the Head is somewhat derivative but the action sequences and the characters make that plot enjoyable on the whole. Stallone and Kang make an unexpectedly great duo and the scenes of them finding their feet around one another are fun. Stallone’s Bonomo is the typical monotone antihero who resorts to violence to get what he wants very quickly, while Kang’s Kwon is a by the book cop who wants those responsible for his partners death to face legal justice. The filmmaker did a nice job of sidestepping the usual trope of having the Asian lead be a martial artist, instead Kwon can throw a punch but it’s his logic and connections with the police that help him and Bonomo track down their partners killer.

While Kang and Stallone are fun to watch, Jason Momoa steals every scene he’s in as sadistic killer Keegan. He’s an intimidating combination of brains and brawn and manages to standout against a physical adversary like Stallone, and against a potential strategic adversary like Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Morel.

There are some grisly fights in Bullet to the Head and the action sequences pad out a plot that is surprisingly convoluted with multiple bad guys, and people double-crossing one another at almost every turn. The plot is unoriginal, but having minor characters who then get a backstory and motives means there’s a lot of moving pieces and they don’t always come together neatly.

Bullet to the Head is a retro action film that knows exactly what it is and leans into all of its one-liners. It’s not great but it’s not boring either. 3/5.

REVIEW: Creed (2015)

creedpostersmallFormer Champion Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) returns to the world of boxing as a trainer and mentor when Adonis “Donny” Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed, seeks him out to help him become a boxer like his father.

Creed is written and directed by Ryan Coogler and sees him reunited with his Fruitvale Station star. Coogler manages to rejuvenate a franchise that’s decades old but is still respectful to the character of Rocky and its legacy while setting up a new hero of the story with Donny.

Michael B. Jordan is great as Donny. Fighting is all he knows how to do and is one of the things he’s good at and actually enjoys but then there’s this legacy of his father’s name, a father he doesn’t know but there’s so much respect for that it’s intimidating. Donny wants to be his own man but at the same time he keeps being around Rocky, a man that knew his father, until Rocky gives in and trains him. Rocky is an interesting character in Creed. He’s older and maybe a little sadder, and he’s not interested in the life of boxing anymore. Donny helps make Rocky embrace life again and they help each other be better people.

Stallone really is brilliant in Creed, it’s been a while since he’s done something that wasn’t Expendables-esque and this time he really brings it. His performance will have you reaching for the tissues because it really is heart-breaking sometimes.

The fights in the film are exciting and gripping. One fight in particular is memorable due to the fact it looks like it’s all in one take. As Adonis fights in the ring, the camera pans around him and his opponent and after a punch there’s a cut on the guys face and you just can’t tell when there could have been a cut for the makeup person to run into the ring to do that. Also a few of the boxers Donny goes up against are professional, real-life boxers. This adds another layer of danger and anticipation whenever Donny steps into the ring.

While Creed is a boxing film and a part of the Rocky universe, at its heart is the relationships between the characters. Donny calls Rocky his Uncle and they are like family, fighting and caring about each other, and then there’s his relationship with Bianca (Tessa Thompson). It feels like such a natural romance and Bianca is not just a love interest. She has her own dreams and aspirations and isn’t afraid to tell Donny when he’s mucked up. Their romance didn’t feel shoe-horned in at all and it complimented the narrative as a whole.

Creed is a brilliant movie full of heart and excitement and has done a great job at rejuvenating an old franchise. 5/5.