The RetroLight Awards | Michael B. Jordan

He’s becoming the next Samuel L. Jackson. He’s in everything and everyone wants a piece of him. He’s able to wax heroic or villainous, dramatic or comedic. He’s a jack of all trades and seemingly, a king of many of them.

He is Michael B. Jordan.

Sure, he is was forced to list a middle initial because of some basketball player, but that is about the only thing he had to do in movies. He can do anything and Jordan is persuasive at any task. At first, Jordan was penned for TV beginning his career in…

(Fun Fact) The Sopranos. 

Many people think of another TV show, but The Wire put him firmly on the map as the mischievous and much-maligned Wallace. However, his career began with the bent-nose Mafiosos as the anonymous ‘Rideland Kid’ and Cosby. No, not the one everyone has seen (and no longer admits). Cosby was the “sequel” and no one really watched that. But Jordan was there. And now, he’s everywhere.

Today, we have one of the most versatile leading men in action and drama going today. Here’s proof:

Ain’t no one forcing this kid to do anything anymore. The winner of the November RetroLight Award is…

Michael B. Jordan

Chronicle

chronicle michael b jordanMichael B. Jordan plays Steve in Chronicle. Made on a minuscule budget, this cult favorite is a “found-footage” take on the superhero genre and is both sorely underrated and under-appreciated. The film uniquely spins a worn-out gimmick into new and creative territory. With the camera functioning with their powers, this film feels refreshingly cinematic. Director Josh Trank (also a screenwriter for Fant4stic) pushes the boundaries of a PG-13 rating with a narrative that delves into darker themes and violent imagery. Chronicle goes there.

The story follows three teenage friends that bonded together after they discover an alien substance in a cave that gives them telekinesis. Cleverly, this film utilizes its generic, blockbuster premise in a very personal, relatable way. The boys utilize their powers in comedic ways: pranking people at a local store, playing football above the clouds, and finding “heroic” ways to look up girl’s skirts. It’s fun to see play out on screen.

Jordan’s character, Steve, is a very confident, popular, and goofy guy who is running for class president. We don’t have a chance to learn that much more about his backstory because of the directorial choice to focus on Dane Dahaan‘s character, Andrew. His heartbreaking core is established from scene one, and is heightened to terrifying levels in the third act across a beautiful character arc. Without spoiling anything, this film gets bloody, and, at times, scary. If you haven’t had a chance to see this gem, please do so!

Review by: Bryan Ray

Red Tails

red tails michael b jordan

Based on the true story of Tuskegee Airmen, a squadron of all African-American fighter pilots in World War II, the dog fight sequences versus the Nazis are the only redeemable takeaway from a film with a lot of potential that failed in execution.
A lackluster script and a corny dialogue (George Lucas produced & financed this passion project) doomed the otherwise decent watch.
A star studded cast led by Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. (Also decent performances from David Oyelowo and Nate Parker) but our spotlight is on Michael B. Jordan and his three-ish minutes of screen time. Regretfully, he was a footnote in a few scenes. If you blink, you’d miss him completely.
Well, well, how things have changed for MBJ. What used to be not much more than an extra with maybe 10 lines of dialogue has become the star attraction after his turns in Chronicle, Fruitvale Station, Creed I & II, and Black Panther. 
Ironically, Lucas said he financed the movie because Hollywood doesn’t want to finance spendy films with all-black casts.
“They don’t believe there’s any foreign market for it, and that’s 60 percent of their profit,” he told “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart. “I showed it to all of them, and they said, ‘No. We don’t know how to market a movie like this.'” 
Black Panther proved this dated concept wrong, maybe in today’s market, this film would play better, but with the many pitfalls, it would likely crash & burn, just like MBJ’s Maurice Wilson eventually did in Red Tails.
Review by: Todd Proctor

Creed

Creed01993.dng

We all knew who Michael B. Jordan was before this movie, but it wasn’t until Creed that we discovered his leading man star power donning those famous red, white, and blue trunks. Jordan portrays Adonis Creed, son of Rocky’s former foe-turned-friend and boxing legend Apollo Creed. Adonis, the product of Apollo’s infidelity, was actually taken in by his estranged father’s widow. That relationship, as well as the one with Adonis and Rocky, is one of self-discover and forgiveness, which gives this film an emotional foundation.

This was a film of nostalgia but Jordan, Stallone, and Coogler (director) did an impeccable job of crafting a story that took this franchise forward in fresh, new, and compelling directions. And while Stallone received a deserved nod for an Oscar, Jordan should have been given one too. His performance was densely layered as Adonis. Think about his name — not that one, his last name.

After finding out who his real father was, he still chooses to go by his mother’s maiden name of Johnson. Why? He didn’t want anything handed to him because of what that name means. That begins his discovery to deal with the pain of feeling like he wasn’t good enough to have that name in the first place. We see his rage entering the ring and eventually his relief when he can forgive his father. We sympathize with him. We root for him. Many believe this is one of the best films in the Rocky franchise. And that’s all because of Jordan.

Review by: Chad Hirsch

Black Panther

black panther michael b jordan

Despite what some people believe about Black Panther, there is a reason to place this on the mantle among the Pantheon of comic book movies — Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger/Golden Jaguar. 

Much of his acclaim lies in the skill of Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole to tell Stan Lee’s and Jack Kirby’s story intended for this character. Killmonger was a complex man, riddled with questions and fueled by vengeance. He’s largely the reason this didn’t feel like a typical Marvel film. The layers of characterization. The thematic promise. And that death scene.

When CBM fans think about “the greatest villain ever,” they usually lean toward brute force, bionic powers, and the arch-nemesis posse he or she runs with (and probably has matching jackets). Jordan’s ability to tell that story, charisma to portray it, and insight to personify the script makes him one of the best ever, as well as one of the most underappreciated because he was so underused. That’s the power Jordan brought to this role — and largely the power Marvel didn’t leverage. He’s that good.

Review by: SPW

Fruitvale Station

FRUITVALE

When Fruitvale Station arrived on the screen, it was discarded as an indie film with a relative newcomer without skins on the wall to warrant a visit to the cinema. And then, reviews came out that preached the story beneath the acting was an important one, a bold one, and one that needed telling.

This was Ryan Coogler’s first foray with his favorite actor, say Michael B. Jordan is Leonardo DiCaprio to Coogler’s Scorsese. In 2009, this movie crafted a delicate story about an all-too-familiar portrayal of life — death by police officer shooting. Slightly inspired by the Rodney King video in 1991, Jordan plays Oscar Grant, a man whose point-blank shooting while he was handcuffed, unarmed, and face-down was caught on video on a train station platform in Oakland.

Jordan plays each facet of Grant masterfully — a flawed individual who has a serious, introspective side that made you end up sympathizing for him after you learned all the facts. You know death is looming for Grant throughout the movie and yet, it seems he knows it’s coming too. Jordan has an almost prophetic approach to this role that often gets forgotten when considering his career. With Grant, Jordan was able to eschew his place into Hollywood as a serious actor and one who can dip his toe into any medium with force and tangibility.

He’s a storyteller more than an actor, and that is probably no more pronounced than in this dynamic role.

Review by: SPW

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