Michael B. Jordan: On family, fatherhood, and fight of his life in ‘Creed II’

From Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures and Chartoff Winkler Productions comes Creed II, with Michael B. Jordan, three-time Academy Award nominee Sylvester Stallone, and Tessa Thompson reprising their leading roles in the next chapter of the Adonis Creed story, which follows the young boxer’s life inside and outside of the ring as he deals with newfound fame, family, his father’s legacy, and his continuing quest to become a champion.

Since arriving in Philadelphia from California three years ago to train with retired former heavyweight champion Rocky Balboa (Stallone), Adonis (Jordan) has found love and success. Under his mentor, coach, and “uncle” Rocky’s tutelage, Adonis has risen quickly in the professional boxing world as a heavyweight title contender. He and his longtime love, Bianca (Thompson), the beautiful and talented singer-songwriter who is a rising music star in her own right, are now ready to make a commitment and start a family. His adoptive mother, Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad), who had hoped Adonis would not follow in the footsteps of his father, has accepted his choice, recognizing in her son the talent and passion that made her late husband one of boxing’s greatest champions.

Adonis should be on top of the world — but instead, he’s struggling to reconcile the doubt he feels on the inside with the acceptance and adulation he’s receiving from the world. As the illegitimate son of former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed — who died in the ring before he was born — Adonis is grappling with his legacy and life in the celebrity spotlight. Despite his success, Adonis is afraid of not living up to expectations, especially his own. He questions his abilities, and wonders if he’s fought the best and is worthy of being a champion.

It’s not long before an opponent steps forward who forces Adonis to confront his doubts and answer those questions: a young, undefeated heavyweight contender, Viktor Drago (Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu) — son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the Russian boxer who killed Apollo in the ring three decades earlier — publicly challenges Adonis for what the boxing world labels a historic next-generation “Creed vs. Drago” showdown.

For Adonis, who wants to avenge his father’s death, taking on Drago’s son in a hyped-up title bout is more than just a fight. But for Rocky, who fears that history will repeat itself if these vengeance-seeking sons square-off, there’s much more to lose than just a title.

“I think Adonis has felt like an underdog ever since he became champion,” says Jordan of his character. “I don’t think he ever felt like a champ. He never felt like he was the sure-win, which is an interesting thing to play. He’s always felt like he has something to prove. He wonders: why do I feel empty? Why do I not feel complete?” Before Adonis can answer those questions and move forward, he must first look back. His connection to his late father always seemed to be like a fighter shadow-boxing; unable to wrap his arms around the ways he’s the same or different from Apollo, Adonis can only measure himself by legend and lore, stories and symbolism. Even Rocky and Mary Anne can only do so much to help the young man whose past contained multiple paths know where he came from.

“Out of nowhere, this blast from the past arrives which forces Adonis to go down a dark road, to really reflect on and figure out why he fights, and if he really has what it takes to be a great fighter,” concludes Jordan. “This film shows that sometimes you have to go through darkness and the fire to realize what’s important. You have to face your fears and go through pain.”

Now showing in Philippine cinemas, “Creed II” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Anyone can wear the mask in ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative minds behind 21 Jump Street and the BAFTA and Annie-Award winning feature, The LEGO Movie, bring their unique sensibilities to a fresh version of a different Spider-Man Universe, with a groundbreaking visual style that’s the first of its kind. Spider-Man™: Into the Spider-Verse introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where anyone can wear the mask.

Check out the new Spot of Spider-Man™: Into the Spider-Verse and watch the film in Philippine cinemas December 12.

Based on the comic book characters created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli in 2011, the movie centers on the adventures of African-American/Puerto Rican Brooklyn teen Miles Morales as he tries to fit in at a new private school in Manhattan.

Miles’ father is a by-the-books police officer and his mother is a devoted nurse. They are both loving parents who are proud of their son’s achievements, and want to see him succeed in the new school for gifted students. However, adjusting to the new school proves to be tough on Miles who would rather spend time with his friends from the neighborhood or visit his uncle Aaron, who encourages his talents as a graffiti artist. Although Miles idolizes Aaron, his charming uncle is quite a complex character who has had troubles with the law in the past.

Peter Parker (Jake Johnson), Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) and Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in Sony Pictures Animation’s SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE.

Miles’ life becomes even more complicated when he is bitten by a radioactive spider, and he finds himself developing super powers, which includes venom strike, camouflage, sticking to objects, incredible hearing, Spidey sense, and much more. Meanwhile, the city’s nefarious criminal mastermind Kingpin has developed an ultra-secret nuclear super collider which opens up a portal to other universes, pulling different versions of Spider-Man (including an older Peter Parker, Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Ham and anime Peni Parker) into Miles’ world.

Aided by familiar characters such as Peter Parker, Spider-Gwen and a kick-ass version of Aunt May, and new characters such as Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir and anime Peni Parker, Miles learns to accept the challenges and responsibilities of being a real superhero. He ultimately realizes that anyone can wear the hero’s mask and take action to fight for what’s right.

Lord, who also co-wrote the movie with director Rodney Rothman, says it was the Miles Morales character that initially attracted him to the project. “We really thought it was an amazing, fresh way to tell the Spider-Man stories,” he notes. “When Sony came to us and said, ‘We want to do an animated Spider-Man movie, we initially said, (as we do with all of our projects), ‘No. Because the Spider-Man story has been told so many times. We then started talking about how we would approach it in a fresh way if we were to do it, and thought, it has to be Miles!’ At that time, Miles was easily the most exciting character in the Marvel universe. So, we leaned into this idea of a different superhero for our era, set in this environment that has multiple Spider-people from all of the comics. This idea of exploring different universes and playing with all the various versions of this beloved character opened up a world of possibilities to us.”

Columbia Pictures presents, in association with Marvel, a Sony Pictures Animation film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Featuring the voices of Shameik Moore as Miles Morales, Jake Johnson as Peter Parker, Hailee Steinfeld as Spider-Gwen, Mahershala Ali as Miles’ uncle Aaron, Brian Tyree Henry as Miles’ father Jefferson, Lily Tomlin as Aunt May, Luna Lauren Velez as Miles’ mother Rio, John Mulaney as Spider-Ham, Kimiko Glenn as Peni Parker, with Nicolas Cage as Spider-Man Noir, and Liev Schreiber as Kingpin. The movie is directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman and produced by Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Christina Steinberg, from on a screenplay by Lord and Rothman and a story by Lord, based on the Marvel Comics. The executive producers are the late Stan Lee, Brian Michael Bendis and Will Allegra. Music by Daniel Pemberton.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

Left with nothing, ‘Widows’ become capable of anything

Based on the popular U.K. television series of the same name, created by Lynda La Plante, “Widows” is directed, co-written and produced by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen, whose 12 Years a Slave won the 2013 Academy Award® for Best Picture.

When McQueen approached renowned screenwriter Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) to co-write the script, she says she jumped at the opportunity. “Steve McQueen called me, which was a great phone call to get out of the blue,” she recalls. “He knew I lived in Chicago, and he wanted to do a heist film starring four women, so I’m already in. Then it’s going to be shot in the town I live in and love, Chicago, which is such an underused town and such a cool town. And he wanted to use all the neighborhoods and really employ the city as its own character. And you just don’t see Chicago enough, the real Chicago in film. So, I was immediately, like, ‘Where do I sign up?’”

According to Flynn, the story offers a twist on the typical heist film in that each character that intersects comes from different ethnic, financial and social background. “My favorite part about heist films are when the team comes together. I love that,” she notes. “That’s one thing I wanted to keep about that heist feel, was that these women were coming together, not because one was a jewel thief, and one was a safe cracker, that type of thing, but because they just happen to all be connected by their husbands.”

L-r, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Viola Davis and Michelle Rodriguez star in Twentieth Century Fox’s “Widows.”

The filmmakers assembled an impressive cast of actors for the film. McQueen says it was very important to make his cast feel comfortable and at-home, so to speak. “It’s very simple: they’re all great actors and you need to create an environment in which they feel safe to experiment and explore. That’s what I hope I provide actors, a safe space to fall on their faces, brush themselves off and try again in search of some kind of truth.”

Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis says it’s a role that she never imagined she’d be asked to portray. “It’s a huge departure for me,” she exclaims. “I wouldn’t imagine myself being in this. First there’s a nice love scene in there. It’s kind of action-packed. I don’t know, I just didn’t see it. So, Steve McQueen literally coming to me and saying, “I do see you in this role,” was sort of exhilarating to me.”

In the film, Veronica is married to career criminal Harry Rawlins, played by Liam Neeson. When you first meet them, the couple have already been damaged by a tragic death. “They very much are bonded by grief,” she notes. “And then Harry dies in a heist accident… and she’s left with nothing, literally nothing. Nothing in terms of finances and nothing in terms of even emotional reserve. But she decides to live.”

She decides to live by finishing the heist Harry was supposed to commit. Step one: employ her crew, the widows of Harry’s cohorts in crime. “It just starts off with all of us being strangers,” Davis explains. “But the one familiar element is that all of our men died in this fire, and they were all thieves. That’s the only thing that binds us together. And, also the fact that we’re all broke and we need to survive now. We’re in survival mode. But other than that, we couldn’t be any more diametrically opposed.”

Rated R-16, “Widows” opens December 5 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox.