Now Playing – ‘Creed III,’ ‘Scream VI,’ ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’

Cesar Soto, Staff Writer

This March has truly breathed life into the box office. With some films setting box office records for their franchise, movie theaters have plenty to show and movie fans have plenty to see. For those who may be indecisive on what to check out, here are quick and to-the-point spoiler-free reviews of some of the hottest blockbusters out right now.

“Creed III” – Directed by Michael B. Jordan

Michael B. Jordan makes his directorial debut in what is an absolute knockout of a film. Being the third film in the “Creed” series and the first in the “Rocky” series without Sylvester Stallone, Jordan proved his talent from both in front of and behind the camera.

The film follows Jordan’s portrayal of Adonis Creed, who has recently retired and is looking to focus on his family life. He is challenged when childhood friend and former boxer, Damien Anderson — played by Jonathan Majors — comes back into his life after a lengthy prison sentence, eager to prove he deserves a shot in the ring. 

While Jordan is excellent once again as Creed, Majors gives one of the best performances of the year thus far in any film. With deep personal stakes that challenge your morals of whether to root for him or not, his character is the best Rocky villain yet. His emotional back and forth with Jordan was also great, even if a few story beats relating to their character motivations sometimes felt rushed. 

The boxing sequences are also the best out of the “Creed” films, influenced by anime with slow-motion shots and tight angles that add even more excitement to the already stake-filled fights. 

Thanks to Jordan’s newly discovered talent as a director, the franchise is stronger than ever, resulting in the most personal “Creed” film to date. Audiences agreed by helping set a new franchise record with a $58.6 million opening weekend, and with plans to develop the series into more films and even television, the star will only grow brighter for Adonis Creed.

“Scream VI” – Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett

Directors Matti Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett from film collective Radio Silence return to helm the sixth installment in the Scream franchise after reinvigorating the franchise with last year’s “Scream V.” This time around, the new group of characters is out of Woodsboro and in New York City, where they once again have to deal with yet another Ghostface killer in the franchise’s latest fun and refreshing entry that is one of its best.

This change of setting to New York City allows the filmmakers to play with many different possibilities and reward the audience by fully taking advantage of them. Scenes that take place inside a bodega and on board a subway are examples of how the directors took the “Scream” formula that has been done many times before and made them feel exciting and tense to scare up moviegoers. The satirizing comedic moments and “whodunit” aspect are also back from the other “Scream” films and done in more clever ways that tackle the trend of horror franchises and play with audience expectations.

It was jarring to see at times how the Ghostface character acts more superhuman-like than we have ever seen them before, but the twists and turns are just as unpredictable as ever — even if they do not all fully pay off in a satisfying way. The kills, however, are satisfying, with some being the goriest we have seen in the franchise.

Even without Neve Campbell’s Sidney for the first time in these films, the new cast of characters held their own and felt very at home in this franchise. Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera are standouts as the Carpenter sisters, while Courteney Cox reprises Gale Weathers and Hayden Panettiere returns from the dead as Kirby Reed from 2011’s “Scream 4.”

The franchise consistently finds ways to keep audiences on their toes, and the possibilities for what a “Scream VII” film would look like are endless. But like these movies have shown time and time again, they will find a way. With fans scaring up its opening weekend to a franchise record $44.5 million, they will be there for it too.

“Shazam! Fury of the Gods” – Directed by David F. Sandberg

Unfortunately, this DC sequel did not set box office records. In fact, it opened to a lower-than-expected $30 million after the first film back in 2019 opened to over $20 million more. Even though it is already set to be a financial disappointment, do not let this discourage you from giving it a shot. In a year where we have had a huge Marvel tentpole open, this is easily the most entertaining superhero flick we have gotten this year.

This second “Shazam” film follows Billy Batson and his family, who are suddenly threatened by the daughters of Atlas, played by Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler. Together, his family must turn into the best versions of Shazam and Co. to save their world from this looming threat.

Nothing about this story is all that new but Sandberg has shown to know how to balance the large action and stakes with the lighthearted tone that has separated these films from the rest of the DC Universe.

While slightly over-the-top in this one to a fault, Zachary Levi’s Shazam still gets plenty of laughs, with his interactions with the three villainous actresses being great comedic highlights. The visual effects are also great for being a smaller-scale superhero story compared to what DC has done recently, but it is that smaller scale here that made this enjoyable.

Its box office performance thus far has made the prospects of another “Shazam” film to be unlikely, but just for one movie, it was refreshing not having to think about the bigger stakes in the DC Universe. We do not get many of these kinds of superhero movies that are built around a family coming together to fight a common threat, and if this is the last one we get for a while, it is a good thing that they made this one fun.

With more movies set to come out this March and beyond, there is plenty of high-quality blockbuster entertainment to check out at your local theater. Once you decide, bring along your friends and family, buy the largest popcorn and drinks you can, sit back in your comfy recliners and enjoy the show.