4 Life Lessons Toy Story 4 Can Teach Adults

Woody and Bo Peep in Toy Story 4 Pixar

Warning! The following contains SPOILERS for Toy Story 4**. Read at your own risk!**

Toy Story 4 wasn’t specifically crafted for adults, but with the franchise having a major successful release across a few generations, it’s fair to say many of them will buy a ticket to see the latest installment. Luckily, Pixar’s run of crafting films for all audiences has continued, and as there’s plenty for kids to enjoy while watching, there’s also a lot of themes for grown ups to chew on as well.

In fact, there’s a surprising amount of lessons adults can pull from Toy Story 4 that might go well over a child’s head. This is totally fine by the way, as they’ll be far too obsessed with Forky and the hilarious Ducky and Bunny to pay attention. For the older crowd, here are some of the major thematic beats of the film that may speak to them.

Woody Toy Story 4 Pixar

Change Is Scary, And Sometimes Inevitable

As children, very few people go through life with the thought they’ll be anything less than a raging success at whatever their career path is. As many adults will attest to, plans don’t always pan out, and whether it’s early in the game or late, changes happen that can turn a person’s life and goals upside-down. This was the case for Woody, who went from top toy under Andy to largely forgotten under Bonnie.

One interesting bit of this plot point, in my opinion, is that the change hit Woody before he was even ready to admit it. We see early on he’s still trying to operate as the “top toy” and give orders to others when Dolly was running things. Finally, once things start to sink in, he throws himself into keeping Bonnie happy by doing his best to keep Forky around even when the newest “toy” just wants to be trash.

Toy Story 4 features a lot of Woody floundering for a purpose under new management, and coping with the realization that he doesn’t really have one under his new kid. It’s an experience several adults can empathize with and perhaps understand far better than the kids in the theater. It’s probably not the best parent-to-child talking point of the film, but at least both parties will probably agree those dummies were scary as hell!

Forky Woody Toy Story 4 Pixar

“One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure”

This popular old adage is often said ad nauseum in pop culture, but rarely does it come into play as heavily in a story as it did in Toy Story 4. By Forky’s own admission, he’s trash, and at the start of the movie would like nothing more than to wallow in the safe and warm garbage that’s calling out to him. I get it, who doesn’t love a roll in the trash?

Of course, Woody informed Forky he’s more than trash; he’s a toy of great significance to Bonnie. As Toy Story 4 laid out, he’s tied to what turned around Bonnie’s difficult orientation, and creating him ended up brightening her experience quite a bit. It didn’t matter to her if he wasn’t a real toy or generally viewed as someone who might be called “trash,” he was important to her even if she didn’t particularly understand why.

For me personally, this was a reminder of the things kids latch onto that adults don’t really understand. We forget that kids can have deep connections to seemingly insignificant things, partially because they may not be the best at articulating why these things are so important to them. “Trash” can mean a lot to people regardless if others understand it, and as long as it doesn’t evolve into a hoarding obsession, that’s generally ok.

Woody Bo Toy Story 4 Pixar

Change Can Be Positive

As stated earlier, change is inevitable and can often upend the goals and dreams we had previously set for ourselves. For Woody, this meant coming to terms with the fact that he was no longer a vital toy to his owner, and finding his new place within the group dynamic in lieu of that change.

Of course, his goals changed a bit when he discovered the previously missing Bo was hanging out around the carnival, and Woody’s change ended up being something positive that allowed him to become a “lost toy” and reunite with his love from way back in the day. It was one of those “when one door closes another one opens” situations that turned a somewhat sad situation into a positive for the toy sheriff.

Even though it may have seemed like an absolute win to audiences, Toy Story 4 did a great job showing the struggle in Woody in considering such a bold change in life. Even the best opportunities can be scary when someone’s done the same thing for so long, but sometimes it’s worth it to take that dive into the unknown and deal with the details and consequences as they come.

Buzz Woody Toy Story 4 Pixar

True Friends Want What’s Best For Us

One important thing to note is that Woody didn’t come to the decision to leave Bonnie all on his own. In fact, he seemed ready for another painful goodbye to Bo and to resume his duties as an ignored toy until Buzz stepped up and encouraged his good buddy to move on. The other toys supported the decision, of course, even though many of them had little to no context of the situation.

True friends want what’s best for us, even if those decisions end up putting some distance between them. It’s a great lesson to learn as an adult, especially for those of us who may not have made any new friends since college and don’t have many to spare as is. Saying goodbye to friends is never easy, but the good ones tend to understand and want only want what’s best for you.

Of course, there’s always some sadness in saying goodbye to these people, which is why I’m glad Toy Story 4 didn’t try to dress up Woody’s exit as an entirely happy affair (though Pixar had some doubts about doing so). Everyone was a little sad, but Woody was happy to be reunited and have some future with Bo, and his friends were happy to see him happy again. It’s basically like a rated G version of a bachelor/bachelorette party!

Did any adults who watched gather any other big life lessons from Toy Story 4? Let us know in the comments and see it in theaters now, and continue to stick with CinemaBlend for the latest in movie and television news.

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Is Chris Hemsworth Returning For More MCU Movies?

After the first two Thor films, Chris Hemsworth found himself just as underwhelmed with the franchise as many fans felt. But then Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok came along to blow us away and revive our interest in the God of Thunder. And in Avengers: Endgame, the character wasn’t given the cut and dry conclusion that had us saying our final goodbyes to Iron Man and Captain America. So, what’s next for Chris Hemsworth and the MCU?

Shortly after the $850 million worldwide success and high acclaim of Ragnarok, Chris Hemworth and Taika Waititi apparently capped off 2017 by throwing around ideas for Thor 4 on New Year’s Eve. Here’s what Hemsworth said:

So if Chris Hemsworth is going to return for another Thor movie, it will likely be with his creative partner Taika Waititi. One problem: ever since Raganok, the filmmaker is a hugely popular name in Hollywood. Waititi is currently finishing up his dark comedy, Jojo Rabbit, where he stars as Hitler, and is attached to the Disney+ series The Mandalorian, a live-action adaptation of anime Akira for 2021 and an animated Flash Gordon movie for Disney. So big emphasis on the “further down the road,” perhaps?

Tessa Thompson fueled rumors of Taika Waititi’s Thor 4 a couple months ago when she said she’d heard a pitch happened for another sequel. Perhaps it will be cleared up when Marvel announces its Phase Four slate after the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home, presumably this summer.

Then again, there’s already tons of movies in development that are likely to fill the spots: Black Widow, The Eternals, Black Panther 2, Doctor Strange 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Not to mention the likelihood of another Spider-Man and Captain Marvel, and word of Shang-Chi also soon joining the MCU.

Marvel could squeeze in Chris Hemsworth into the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie, considering the hero ended up with those characters when Endgame came to a close. When CinemaBlend asked Hemsworth if he’d be interested in becoming part of the team, here’s what he said:

So if Taika Waititi is tied up, hopefully Marvel is considering two Hollywood Chrises to join forces for the third Guardians. Either way, the actor seems game for anything! In his words:

There are plenty of places Thor could end up! With Captain Marvel in a sequel considering he said he “liked” her in Endgame? In the upcoming Disney+ series Loki? Considering the success of his character and his interest in reprising the role, we doubt we’ve seen the last of him.

For all the latest on the MCU, keep it tuned to CinemaBlend, and don’t forget to check out our Marvel movies guide.

Charles Barkley Really Isn’t Happy About Space Jam 2

Michael Jordan may have been the star of Space Jam, but if the Nerdlucks hadn’t stolen the talent of five NBA players to become the Monstars, then there wouldn’t have been a reason for him to play basketball with the Looney Tunes. Charles Barkley was among those victims, playing for the Phoenix Suns at the time, but just because he portrayed a fictional version of himself in Space Jam doesn’t mean he’s pleased that Space Jam 2 is on the way.

Charles Barkley has spoken before about how he doesn’t believe Space Jam 2 needs to exist, and when recently asked by ET if his opinion on the matter has changed, Barkley responded:

It’s been 23 years since Space Jam was released in theaters, and while critical reception to the Joe Pytka-helmed movie was mixed, it went on to win an Annie Award, a Grammy Award and two ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards. So Charles Barkley well within his rights to think Space Jam is “good,” but judging by his feelings towards Space Jam 2, we probably shouldn’t expect him to cameo in the sequel, let alone check it out on the big screen.

It is worth noting that outside of the basic premise of Looney Tunes characters playing basketball with professional athletes, no official plot details for Space Jam 2 have been announced yet. Still, one would imagine that it won’t deliver the exact same kind of story its predecessor did. This is a sequel, after all, not a remake, so it helps keeping things fresh while retaining some of elements that made the first movie work.

For Space Jam 2, Lebron James will the spot left behind by Michael Jordan, with James also producing through his production company SpringHill Entertainment. Star Trek: Discovery’s Sonequa Martin-Green has also been cast as James’ wife, while NBA players Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis and Klay Thompson, and WBNA players Diana Taurasi, Chiney Ogwumike and Nneka Ogwumike, will also have roles in the movie. But don’t expect to see Stephen Curry participate.

Behind the camera, Fast and Furious 9 director Justin Lin was initially supposed to direct, but he later departed, and Random Acts of FlynessTerence Nance was hired as his replacement. Black Panther’s Ryan Coogler is attached to produce.

With filming set to begin this summer, Space Jam 2 heads to the proverbial court on July 16, 2021, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for moe coverage. In the meantime, you can look through our 2019 release schedule to plan your trips to the movie theater this year accordingly.

Ryan Murphy’s Netflix Musical Has A Killer Cast, Including Meryl Streep And Ariana Grande

Over the past year, star-studded movie musicals have caught the interest of audiences with big hits such as Aladdin, Mary Poppins Returns and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Now Netflix has made a smooth side-step in the direction of its big movie studio peers with a feature adaptation of Broadway’s The Prom starring the likes of Meryl Streep, Ariana Grande, James Corden, Keegan Michael-Key and Awkwafina. Talk about star power!

American Horror Story, Pose and Glee creator Ryan Murphy is helming The Prom for Netflix and has nabbed an incredible dream cast, all of which his first choice, per Deadline. The musical will begin production in December ahead of its fall 2020 release and have a theatrical run before landing on the streaming site.

The Prom debuted on Broadway in fall 2018, with its stage run closing out this summer before the musical comedy goes on a national tour in 2021. The Tony-nominated production was penned by the writers/composers involved in Broadway adaptations of Aladdin, Elf and The Wedding Singer.

The musical follows four fading Broadway talents (played by Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman and Book of Mormon’s Andrew Rannells) who travel to a conservative town in Indiana to join the protest against a high school’s decision not to let a student bring along her girlfriend to prom to bask in the free press of the situation.

Ariana Grande will play a popular high school student named Alyssa and Crazy Rich Asian scene-stealer Awkwafina is on board as a publicist to the group. Keegan Michael-Key will play the school’s principal and friend to the student at the center, Emma. A national search for the role of Emma is currently underway.

Meryl Streep has brought her talent to tons of musical roles in recent years, including two Mamma Mia movies, Mary Poppins Returns and Into the Woods also with James Corden, who she will star with in The Prom. Fans of Big Little Lies will also be happy to see her and her co-star Nicole Kidman together here. Kidman has been in a few memorable musicals in the past, such as Nine and Moulin Rouge, but it’s been 10 years since.

The additions of Grande, Key and Awkwafina are also great moves as each of them have recently dominated buzz in music and Hollywood. Grande is delivering No. 1 hits left and right, Key is starring in summer blockbusters such as Toy Story 4 and Lion King and Awkwafina is rising the ranks to the A-list, as she soon stars in the next Jumanji adventure.

The big-name cast reportedly were quick to accept their Prom roles and the film’s message of inclusion. It is worth mentioning that shortly after reports of Ariana Grande joining the project surfaced, Billboard reported that Grande’s tour schedule may come in conflict with the film’s production. We’ll have to wait and see if this is true or not.

The film’s release comes just in time for award season but it will contend with Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story starring Ansel Elgort, coming on December 18, 2020. Another musical coming in summer of 2020 is a movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first big Broadway hit In the Heights, directed by Crazy Rich Asians’ helmer Jon M. Chu.

Are you excited for The Prom? Sing your song in the comments below!

Ranking All The Rocky Movies, Including The Creed Movies

Sylvester Stallone - Rocky IV

Are there any moments in cinematic history more exhilarating than hearing the “Rocky” theme song playing in full blast? Whether it’s Rocky running up the steps of the Philadelphia’s Art Museum, or the on-screen athlete’s fighting his strength in the ring, rousing himself up — once again — for the fight?

I can’t think of anything so instantaneously pulsating as hearing those musical notes working you up into a frenzy. And that’s only a small silver of the indelible success of the Rocky movies, the career-making series that turned actor/writer/director Sylvester Stallone into a world-renowned superstar.

In terms of iconic films franchises, there are few series quite as rousing as the Rocky movies. And it’s a cinematic legacy that continues to shine with the perpetually on-the-rise Michael B. Jordan at the forefront of 2015’s Creed and 2018’s Creed II, respectively. The series has come a long way since its early days, but their legacy has only rarely been tarnished.

Through thick-and-thin, they’ve picked themselves up and delivered one knockout after another. And in the spirit of celebrating the continued success of the Rocky and Creed movies, we’re providing our ranking of the best in the series. The champions, if you will, that have stood the test of time and proven themselves victorious and acclaimed — especially compared to the low points.

Rocky hasn’t won every time he’s been in the ring, but he has earned a great deal of respect in addition to many lumps to the head. Let’s take a look at the Rocky films that have become the best of the bunch, walking up the steps — or to the ring — to their ultimate glory. I hear that theme music now…

Sylvester Stallone - Rocky V

8. Rocky V

Every franchise has its low point. When it comes to the Rocky movies, it’s undoubtedly Rocky V. While many Rocky movies are not without their respective faults, Rocky V is the first Rocky movie that feels like a complete disappointment, unable to capture the charm of its predecessors — in terms of grit, grime, cheese, heart or shine — and it’s a poor, misguided attempt to bring the franchise back down to its more humble, realistic roots.

To its credit, the core components behind Rocky V seemed promising. John G. Avildsen, the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind the original Rocky, came back to take on directing duties again, and there was a clear effort from Sylvester Stallone as an actor and writer to bring the series back to its humble roots. Particularly after the extravagantly, gleefully, pompously over-the-top (in ways both good and bad) Rocky IV, the Rocky film franchise had clearly jumped the shark a bit.

For its first attempt to conclude the Rocky series, Rocky V‘s promising decision to make the title character totally bankrupt, emotionally astray and ultimately more family-focused was a promising one. Unfortunately, the sequel’s execution was severely lacking for this round.

Making movies isn’t an exact science. You can have the right people back and not return to your former glory. Ultimately, while Rocky V did take a few risks and tried to produce something that was true to the origins of the series and this character, the result was an emotionally shallow, falsely-felt film that didn’t seem true to what made the predecessors so endearing — in both authentic and campy fashion.

The result is a conclusion that was far from appealing to Rocky fans; it was a knock-out in all the wrong ways. Thankfully, Sylvester Stallone went back and gave his most iconic character a more fitting and formidable finale later in life with Rocky Balboa and the Creed movies, because this sequel was from the winning finale the series deserved.

Sylvester Stallone - Rocky II

7. Rocky II

Perhaps my perception of Rocky II is a little cold? It has been awhile since I’ve seen it. And as far as Rocky sequels go, it’s not the worst — as you can see by this ranking. It has a good heart, grand emotional gestures, some solid fight sequences, and it’s clearly intended to give general audiences the ending they wanted the first time — even if it’s removed of the heartwarming grace notes that came with the original’s final beats.

But what sticks out about Rocky II is that it’s reactionary — and not necessarily in a good way either. Specifically, it’s Rocky with broader, more conventional ambitions.

Following the astounding success of the original, Best Picture-winning Rocky, Sylvester Stallone took on directing duties in addition to writing this sequel, providing audiences with a sequel that was meant to give them the one thing that wasn’t found in the first movie. Specifically, Rocky beating Apollo Creed inside the ring. As far as sequels go, that’s an okay idea, if you can still provide the gritty, emotional dramatic sincerity of the original. Unfortunately, compared to the first Rocky, Rocky II is severely lacking in that regard — most especially with how it handles Adrian’s story this time.

Having Rocky become a family man makes perfect sense, and Rocky Jr. is a beautiful addition to the franchise provided by this sequel. Unfortunately, the decision to have Adrian fall into a coma due to the child’s premature birth feels ill-advised, to say the least. Gone is the chemistry and the grounded charm of their relationship, one that served as the emotional core of the original movie.

While it does give Rocky the emotional drive to continue fighting and provide his mettle in the ring, this sequel is more about winning the heavyweight championship than it is recognizing that winning in life often means having the people you love be by your side, no matter what happens in the fight. Unfortunately, that’s something overlooked in Rocky II.

Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren - Rocky IV

6. Rocky IV

Here’s the thing: Is Rocky IV a good movie? Not really, no. But is it entertaining as hell in its extravagant campy way? Absolutely. The third sequel in the Rocky series might not be the strongest sequel, but it’s certainly the most memorable — and based on the success of the Creed movies, it is also be the most impacting to the franchise’s legacy. Despite its multiple of flaws, IV really helped shape the future of the Rocky franchise in a major way.

In Rocky IV, the stakes have never been higher. It’s not merely Rocky’s championship on the line. It’s not merely his late friend Apollo Creed’s legacy that’s on the line. No, it’s America that’s on the line, buddy.

With the introduction of Ivan Drago, a boxing superhuman that has been chemically made to be the most fit, effective boxer in the history of the sport, Rocky is in the thrust of the Cold War, battling for the proud state of America’s hard-earned integrity while hoping to stay alive by all means necessarily. Rocky has a whole lot to prove to everybody, and he is going to make every punch count.

It’s as cheesy as sports movie come, and it is completely devoid of the grounded grittiness and emotional integrity that was crucial to the original film’s success. Yet, it’s hard not to have a smile plastered on your face as you are watching this wildly ridiculous movie.

It’s quite possibly the most ’80s film ever made, and it prides itself of being of its time and place. There is still a retro charm to be found in Rocky IV, but when you think about how it ties into the Creed movies, Apollo Creed’s death is given a resounding emotional honesty that ripples throughout the whole series. And there’s a robot too.

Sylvester Stallone - Rocky Balboa

5. Rocky Balboa

Once meant to be the final swan song for the Rocky saga, Rocky Balboa is often among the more forgotten titles in the Rocky franchise, and that’s a shame. It had a quiet Christmas release back in 2006, and the reviews were generally strong — particularly for a Rocky sequel. Critics praised the film as a nice return-to-form for the series, it wasn’t given a glowing response upon release. Over time, it has been overshadowed by the Creed movies, but Rocky Balboa does provide its own satisfying, emotionally-enriching conclusion to the long-winded boxing-based franchise — if only a temporary one.

In this fifth sequel, Rocky Balboa is older, gentler and more subdued. He is a widow, with Adrian having passed away in the intermediate time between Rocky V and this sequel, and Balboa is making peace with his final years running a restaurant named after his departed wife. But his connection with this son is a bit fraught, and he is plagued with grief and other personal demons.

This is decidedly a more downbeat, mature continuation to the franchise, one that is intentionally trying to harken back to the down-and-dirty success of the original. Then it comes time for Rocky to put himself back into the ring.

From there, Rocky Balboa does suspend belief a little bit, and I believe that this is the rare Rocky movie where the moments spend away from the boxing ring are actually stronger than the ones inside the square — though in the right moments, the boxing matches can be as exhilarating as before. But when I think back to Rocky Balboa, the scenes that stand out are not when a 50-plus-year-old Rocky is swinging physical punches to reclaim that former glory.

It’s the emotional punches, like when he is at the grave sight, somberly recounting his emotional struggles to his wife’s tombstone, or when the aged athlete tries reconnect with his adult son, played by Milo Ventimiglia. For the first time since the original, it’s the dramatic moments that stand out. While it doesn’t result in the finest Rocky movie, it was a bittersweet, surprisingly touching send-off, until Creed came along nine years later.

Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone - Creed II

4. Creed II

The newest addition to the Rocky saga, Creed II had a great many expectations to live up to — much like Adonis Creed himself stepping in the ring to defend his late father’s honor. It’s the sequel to the shockingly phenomenal 2015 spin-off/sequel Creed, which found the Rocky series given new life as the character metaphorically passed the torch — or, rather, the boxing gloves — to the next generation.

It was an incredibly impacting, deeply investing return to the ever-extended Rocky franchise, while also providing an emotionally-gripping, narratively-satisfying conclusion to the Rocky saga. Or, at least, one might think that would be the case.

Sylvester Stallone didn’t direct this sequel, though he was once in talks to helm the picture, but he did return to co-write and produce this sequel, in addition to reprising his role as Rocky. The result is a sequel that can be a bit lopsided in its focus.

The narrative is still centered around Adonis Creed, and similar to Rocky II, it finds the boxer starting a family life and hoping to reclaim his glory while fighting Viktor Drago, the son of Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago, i.e. the man who killed Apollo Creed, Adonis’ father, inside the ring. But caught in this story is Rocky’s own journey, with the actor/writer trying to give Rocky yet another conclusion, even though both Rocky Balboa and Creed already provided the actor some ample time to say goodbye.

Ultimately, Sylvester Stallone’s involvement is both to the film’s benefit and detriment. While Rocky’s story does get in the way of telling the continuing adventures of Adonis Creed, his mentorship throughout the second half of the film is often key to its emotional success.

Through Rocky’s commitment and loyalty to his late friend and his revenge-driven son, we get to see the layers through which this sequel is given more complexity and nuance than most of the Rocky sequels — including Rocky II —were able to find. Particularly when Creed II also spends time focusing on the hard-knocked lives of the Dragos, which is one of this sequel’s most unexpected, yet surprisingly great, additions — even if, in the scheme of things, their story is cut down.

Creed II is a bit too long, particularly for such a predictable story, and it’s clear that a good amount of the story was cut down to keep things focused. Unfortunately, that often means that the Dragos’ scenes are lost on the editing room floor, which is a shame since Dolph Lundgren’s performance is surprisingly quite good here, conveying the hurt and the guarded emotional insecurity that comes from his devastating loss to Rocky decades earlier.

It’s additions like these moments that make the Creed movies even better than the Rocky sequels that came before it. If they make another Creed movie, I hope we can have more scenes like these quietly devastating and emotionally resonant subplots. Perhaps they’ll come when Stallone leaves.

Sylvester Stallone, Mr. T - Rocky III

3. Rocky III

Now, when you rank movies, there is always going to be personal preference on some things. I don’t know how convincingly I can argue with someone that Rocky III is one of the high points in the boxing franchise, but I’m going to make a valiant effort to make my case.

Unlike Rocky II, which tried to have it a little bit of both ways when it came to capturing some of the original’s spark while also infusing some more broadly conventional story ticks, Rocky III leans heavily into the schmaltz and earnest goofiness that would shape the ’80s sequels — without going totally overboard like Rocky IV did.

Having a larger-than-life presence like Mr. T (in one of his first cinematic roles and easily his most defining outside of The A-Team) in your movie might make it more heightened and bizarre than it should otherwise be. But in the world of competitive egos and showmanship like boxing, it makes perfect sense to have someone as lyrically menacing as Clubber Lang throwing around colorful insults at Rocky Balboa as if it were the WWE and not the boxing ring.

Again, it easily could’ve gone totally haywire. But it’s a credit to Sylvester Stallone as an actor, writer and director that he recognizes how he can swing more heavily into the silliness and the sensationalism of this series, and provide a rousing sequel that’s true to the spirit of the Rocky franchise.

I could go on about how Rocky III is probably the second-best Paulie movie in the Rocky series, in my opinion, or how it provides one of the most iconic endings in the franchise, but it’s ultimately a really fun, really splashy, entertaining sequel that also allows a solid number of character beats to work in emotional punches as well. It’s all-around a solid sequel, and it’s got the Hulkster to boot. How much more do you need in a Rocky sequel?

Michael B. Jordan - Creed

2. Creed

In true underdog fashion, Ryan Coogler’s extraordinary Creed came out of nowhere and became an undisputed champion. A surprisingly thoughtful, extremely well-acted and impeccably spin-off/sequel exploring legacy, perseverance, honor and stability, it was an incredible achievement and is a film that return to the themes and idealism of the original Rocky while also still respecting the impact of the Rocky sequels. The result is a compelling, layered and, above all else, resounding human look at a franchise that has often preferred broader theatrics after its initial success. It’s the complete package.

So much credit needs to be given to director/co-writer Ryan Coogler. This deeply personal, intensely emotional studio film could’ve easily been another lazy, half-hearted attempt to rejuvenate the Rocky franchise. Instead, Coogler’s second film is an impacting, engaging look at these iconic characters, and it’s often Rocky’s relationship with Adonis Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan, that packs the biggest punch.

As much as I love Jordan’s romance with Tessa Thompson’s Bianca in the film, it’s ultimately the bromance between Creed and Rocky that works the best here. Their mentor relationship is filled with heart, nostalgia and quiet grace. For my money, this is Stallone’s finest performance as Rocky Balboa to date. He was robbed of that Oscar.

It’s hard to determine which film is stronger: Creed or Rocky? Ultimately, after a lot of back-and-forth, I’ve decided that Creed just barely falls into the second place category, but this successor is perhaps the best continuation of an iconic movie franchise one could hope to create in Hollywood today.

Sylvester Stallone - Rocky

1. Rocky

It’s the movie that started it all. The truest underdog that worked against the odds to steal everyone’s hearts, even if our lead character didn’t ultimately win the big fight at the end. It’s Rocky, the 1976 masterpiece starring and written by Oscar-nominee Sylvester Stallone in his career-making role.

It is a grounded, resoundingly human look at integrity and persevering, and serves as an authentic, affecting American dream fable that showcases one’s deep drive to make something of themselves — despite their impoverished background — and to prove to the world they have greatness with them. As you can imagine, Rocky is a deeply personal movie for Sly Stallone, and it’s impossible to imagine any other actor playing this role with the same astounding resonance.

In the wannabe boxer’s attempt to work up the ladder and make a name for himself in the cruel, cold world of 1970s Philadelphia, Rocky is a layered and flawed, but instantly lovable title character who might not have the biggest brain in the whole wide world, but he has more heart than you can imagine. He has determination and then some to take on the top prize, and while it doesn’t entirely work out on his favor, it is certainly not for a lack of trying.

Beyond the boxing matches and the great motivating montages and the deeply quotable lines from Paulie, Rocky’s mentor and trainer, it’s ultimately Rocky’s relationship with Adrian that really makes Rocky such a great and everlasting movie. Through their hard-luck relationship, there is a beautifully human relationship between them, one that is emotionally felt and sincere in its presentation.

For all the blows and punches thrown throughout the film, what ultimately makes Rocky such a great movie are those final moments, when a wounded, near-blind Rocky yells for Adrian, his lasting love, and the knowledge that she’s ultimately by his side is what matters most to this fighter. Rocky might’ve lost the heavyweight, but he certainly won in the end.

Rocky hasn’t always been on top. But through it all, thankfully Sylvester Stallone has kept his greatest character in the ring, fighting the good fight through ups-and-down and proving itself victorious more often than not. Often, I believe the magic of the movies is found within the Rocky movies.

Now that the Creed movies have taken over the belt, we can look forward to Rocky‘s 40-plus year legacy living on throughout the future of cinema.

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Captain Marvel’s Creative Team Knew Right Away How Nick Fury Would Lose His Eye

There’s always a lot of excitement surrounding a movie prequel and the ways it might answer questions that fans have about a series. Going into Captain Marvel one of the biggest questions fans were expecting to get an answer to surrounded how Nick Fury lost his eye. The film eventually gave us the answer, though not in the way many were likely expecting. Although, it seems that, for the most part, what happened was a foregone conclusion.

It was a somewhat anti-climactic, and yet hilarious, answer, as Nick Fury got scratched by an alien creature called a Flerkin, which doesn’t sound nearly as impressive when you realize a Flerkin perfectly resembles a house cat. However, Captain Marvel co-director Anna Boden says that while we might not have seen this moment coming, it was really the most obvious scenario under the circumstances…

Anna Boden had previously admitted that there was a lot of discussion of different ways that the lost eye could have happened. However, in the directors’ commentary of the Captain Marvel Blu-ray she indicates that, really, one way or another, there was never going to be another source of the lost eye.

And really, if you have a character in your movie that looks like a domesticated feline but is actually a viscous space alien creature with a pocket dimension in its mouth full of killer tentacles, how the hell are you going to have anything else be part of the iconic moment?

Of course, knowing that the Flerkin would be responsible for the lost eye and knowing exactly how the scene would play out are not quite the same thing. Anna Boden says that they didn’t know it would happen exactly like that at the beginning, so there was likely still a lot of brainstorming of ideas even once they’d settled on Goose the cat/Flerkin being the source.

The only reference previously made to the events of Nick Fury’s injury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe come in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Fury says the loss came from trusting someone. In Captain Marvel, Fury actually speaks to Goose after discovering what she really is, and says he’s trusting the creature not to eat him.

Instead of revealing what really happened, Fury lets everybody else start their own rumors, which he conveniently avoids confirming. The actual cause of the damage isn’t ultimately important to the character, though the fact that he lets it remain a mystery very much is in character for the man that we know.

The Original Batman Movie Looked At Steven Seagal Before Michael Keaton For Bruce Wayne

For as many what if scenarios as the comic movie industry has presented the world over the past few decades, there may be none more baffling than the one we’re about to talk about. In hindsight, casting Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne in Batman feels like a stroke of genius. But back in the day, it seemed like a move that only a laughing stock could make.

And yet somehow, Warner Bros thought that Steven Seagal somehow made a better choice for the Batman lead, something that the film’s screenwriter Sam Hamm recently discussed in an interview. And in his recounting of the situation, this was the studio though process at work at the time:

So while Steven Seagal looked like the type of guy you’d cast as a costumed vigilante, especially when fresh off landing a studio contact on the back of his debut hit Above The Law, that works for half of the role. It’s the Bruce Wayne part that would have suffered, and Sam Hamm knew it right from the start.

Though it doesn’t sound like this prospect got too far, as while SyFy Wire continued to ask about this experience, Hamm followed up with this anecdote:

As history would prove, Steven Seagal would go on to make several other action movies for Warner Bros, but Batman would not be one of them. Meanwhile, Michael Keaton, to his temporary chagrin, would win the role of both Batman and Bruce Wayne, starting a fruitful career as men who prefer their suits winged in the comic book firmament. Sometimes, history gives you what you need to deliver that happy, fitting ending.

Batman (1989) is currently available on digital HD, as well as on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD; with a complete 4K box set coming in September.

Dragon Ball Super: Broly May Already Be Getting A Sequel

It may not have worked out bringing the Dragon Ball franchise into the live action realm with 2009’s Dragon Ball: Evolution, but things are still going well on the animated front after all these decades. Most recently, the 20th Dragon Ball movie, Dragon Ball Super: Broly made $124.5 million in theaters worldwide, making it the highest-grossing Dragon Ball movie ever and one of the highest-grossing anime movies of all time.

With a financial performance like that, plus positive critical reception, chatter about a sequel would understandably start. Sure enough, on the Japanese Blu-ray and DVD release of Dragon Ball Super: Broly (via Twitter user Goresh), Akio Iyoku, head of the Dragon Ball Room over at Shueisha, said that he and his team have already “steadily making preparations for the next Dragon Ball movie.”

The fact that a sequel to Dragon Ball Super: Broly is already being discussed seems like a fairly quick turnaround, but fans shouldn’t expect this follow-up to be incredibly similar to its predecessor. Akio Iyoku also mentioned that with the next Dragon Ball Z movie “things will probably head in a completely different direction,” with the end result being “even more incredible.” Producer Norihiro Hayashida added that following the experience with Broly, they will “continue to aim even higher and higher.”

It’s hard to say if Akio Iyoku means this Broly sequel will be different tonally or plot-wise, but either way, the creative team are clearly pouring a lot of thought into how to keep the cinematic side of the Dragon Ball franchise going. Officially speaking, 20th Century Fox Japan and Toei Animation haven’t announced a Broly sequel is on the way, so hopefully there will be an update soon that makes this more of a sure thing.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the deeper corners of the Dragon Ball franchise, Broly, like Goku and Vegeta, is an incredibly powerful Saiyan, and the original incarnation of the character was the villain across three movies: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan, Broly – Second Coming and Bio-Broly. However, Dragon Ball Super: Broly opted to bring a new iteration of the character into the main continuity thus making those previous three movies non-canon.

While the new Broly was still an antagonist like the original version, Dragon Ball Super: Broly depicted him more sympathetically, though no less dangerous. No spoilers here for those who haven’t seen the movie, but there’s definitely a lot of room to continue exploring Broly should the Dragon Ball team decide to go further along this track.

As you can easily deduce from the title, Dragon Ball Super: Broly picked up after the events of the Dragon Ball Super TV series, which concluded in Japan last summer, but is still airing in the United States. Since there’s no official word about a follow-up TV series to Super being in the works, at the very least, delivering a sequel to Broly lets fans hang out a little longer in this colorful and explosive universe.

If/when an official announcement is made concerning a Dragon Ball Super: Broly sequel, we here at CinemaBlend will be sure to let you know about it. For now, plan your trips to the movie theater this year accordingly by browsing through our 2019 release schedule.

Spider-Man: Far From Home’s Zendaya Explains How Thanos’ Snap Changed MJ

Warning: Avengers: Endgame SPOILERS to follow!

When Thanos snapped half of the universe out of existence in Avengers: Infinity War, not only was Peter Parker among the fallen, but so too were some of his classmates, including Zendaya’s Michelle “MJ” Jones. Thanks to the efforts of the surviving heroes, the fallen were all brought back in Avengers: Endgame, albeit 5 years after they first disappeared. That sets up an interesting dynamic to be explored in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Zendaya explained how the Snap and coming back changed MJ, saying:

We have wondered about how Peter Parker’s high school class returning five years later would work, and it seems that those who were snapped will go through a period of serious adjustment. The world of the film has changed and it seems that MJ, Peter, Ned and the rest of the snapped classmates in Spider-Man: Far From Home will be in a unique position of playing catch up as they try to find their bearings in a world that went on without them.

Five years might not seem like that long, but if you went to sleep in 2014 and woke up now, you’d probably be feeling pretty unmoored by a lot of things.

As Zendaya tells Fandango All Access, this kind of makes Michelle and the people who were snapped “oddballs” in the film and that makes sense. While the heroes obviously know exactly what happened and were fighting to bring everyone back, the average person might look at these people who have literally returned from the dead with a skeptical eye, even though it is half the population.

Whether their status as the returned brands MJ and the other snapped high schoolers with a scarlet letter or makes them pariahs in any way we’ll have to wait and see, but that experience will clearly be something that ties them together. Perhaps that brings Peter and MJ closer together romantically, as they can confide in each other about what it was like to be snapped and brought back in the way that they were.

Just as the survivors of The Decimation bonded over their survivor’s guilt, so too will those that were snapped find comfort in each other in Spider-Man: Far From Home.

We don’t know yet how the snap and the return affected these characters beyond just jumping them forward in time. What was the experience like of dying and coming back? While I don’t think Spider-Man: Far From Home will dive into the darkness in this way, being once again burdened with the weight of existence wasn’t pleasant for Jon Snow so I’ll be curious to see if it has any psychological effect on MJ, Peter and the rest.

Spider-Man: Far From Home wraps up Phase 3 and the Infinity Saga when it swings into theaters on July 2. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to prep for all of this summer’s biggest movies.

Why Toy Story 4 Needs To Be The Final One

Toy Story 4 Woody's hat tip goodbye

Warning: spoilers are in play. If you haven’t seen the latest chapter in Pixar’s landmark franchise, you’ve got a friend in us, but you might want to read a different story.

To land on an ending as heartwarming and effective as the one Toy Story 3 did, with Andy giving his legendary toys to Bonnie, is something every long-running franchise wishes it could land. Yet somehow, Toy Story 4 landed its own ending that not only respected the events of its predecessors, it outdid the third movie’s ending on an emotional scale.

With Tom Hanks’ Woody and Annie Potts’ Bo Peep reunited, and Forky taking his place at the center of Bonnie’s play group, everything led to a bittersweet finale that saw the main characters start brand new lives. And that’s exactly why, from the bottom of my heart as a fan, I think Toy Story 4 needs to be the final one in the series.

If you still need some convincing, consider the following:

Toy Story 4 Andy playing with Woody and Buzz in the yard.

Woody And Buzz Are Split Up

Historically, the Toy Story franchise has always seen Tom Hanks and Tim Allen at the center of the universe, as Woody and Buzz, respectively. While new toys and new pitfalls have been introduced into the story throughout each entry, the constant has been that these two friends have paired up through it all. Of course, Toy Story 4 splits that lynchpin pair up for good, which means it’s time to let them have their own lives.

Now that we’ve seen that Woody and Buzz can live productive lives without each other, there’s no reason to keep pairing them up for the sake of doing just that. When you split a pair like this apart, it means the end of an era that you generally can’t come back from. To make a Toy Story 5 where the two characters all of a sudden re-team out of the blue would ruin the power of their final conversation in this current movie. In Toy Story 4’s big adventure, both toys became leaders in their own right. Now, there’s no need for them to lean on each other.

Toy Story 4 Woody and Forky walking down the highway

The Ending Ties Up Woody And Buzz’s Stories Perfectly

While we’re on the subject of Woody and Buzz, we’ve seen these characters grow to the point where Toy Story 4 puts them in the places they were always working toward. The cowboy toy who was always obsessed with being owned by a kid has now learned to loosen up and live the life of a lost toy, independently. So Woody’s story arc in the Toy Story universe has come full circle.

Meanwhile, Buzz Lightyear went from being an imposing presence to a trusted friend who knew how to co-lead the gang of toys through the complexities and adventures in life with Andy and Bonnie. But now, with Bonnie Hunt’s Dolly in charge and Buzz finding his “inner voice,”  there should already be an easy way for life without Woody to work. Plus, if anyone should be there to help Forky train Knifey in the ways of being a proper toy, the formerly delusional spaceman is the best candidate. Again, another story arc has been closed and finished perfectly, without a need for further meddling.

Toy Story 4 Ducky and Bunny sitting at their carnival game

Shorts With New Characters Would Be More Exciting

As I’m sticking firmly to the belief that Toy Story 4 should be the final film in this iteration, that’s not to say that there aren’t tons of toy stories in this universe to be told. It’s just that as far as the franchise’s proper entries go, that mine has been stripped. Not to mention, when you look to the contracts of actors like Tim Allen, their obligations look to be covered after Toy Story 4. So while renegotiating the landmark talent for further films might cost Disney/Pixar a pretty penny, shorts with some of the newer toys or even new adventures with the older supporting toys from Toy Story history just might be the ticket.

We saw this work well in the years between Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4, through shorts and specials like “Partysaurus Rex” and Toy Story of Terror! The tradition is about to continue too, with Forky Asks A Question set to be a series of Disney+ shorts. So there are always opportunities to give someone else the spotlight in new, compact adventures that are solely meant to entertain. (Like, say, a buddy cop dramedy entitled Ducky and Bunny: Plush Rush Miami).

Toy Story 4 main cast lineup in the antique store

Pixar Should Be Creating New Franchises To Experiment With

The last big reason that Toy Story 4 should be the final entry in the proper canon of Toy Story films is, quite frankly, one Pixar itself has already mentioned as an ongoing concern: the studio needs to start moving away from sequels. While the top brass have been lucky with the franchises they’ve tended to so far, it has to be said that when the people at Pixar are at their best, they’re creating new worlds.

If new paths aren’t worn, and new trails aren’t blazed, the next Incredibles or Wall-E will never be found. Considering how Toy Story 4 went from a movie that needed to convince the world it should exist into the success it currently is, it’s easy to see why sequels may seem like a good idea. However, if the company wants to stay fresh, it will keep to the promise of moseying onto the next wagon trail and reaching for the sky with new ideas.

The Toy Story movies have given the world a lot to enjoy over the course of almost a quarter of a century. That’s a lot of time to be hanging around with a pull-string cowboy and a Space Ranger, and while it hasn’t been wasted, it’s definitely time to see what lies beyond their corner of the world.

Toy Story 4 understands this as a film, and it’s time that all who love this series tip their hats respectfully, and make their way into the future. That, and considering how bittersweet/downright tear-jerking the endings to Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4 are, they’d probably have to go to some unhappy lengths to top them.

If you want to enjoy one last round-up with the gang, Toy Story 4 is currently in theaters. But if you’re ready to see what’s new in the world of either animation or live-action, the 2019 release schedule is here to save the day!

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