There's a New Rocky Movie, and It's Called Creed
Creed: “PG-13“ (2 hours 26 min.)
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Andre Ward
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Turns out, He was a Contender
Back in 1976 we were treated to the phenomenon that was Rocky Balboa (Stallone) a rags-to-riches American Dream tale about an uneducated but kind-hearted working-class Italian-American who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in the city of Brotherly Love (Philadelphia) who was eking out a living as a hard-scrabble boxer who subsidized his existence as a debt collector for a small-time loan shark. As the film starts out Rocky is a small-time club fighter, who, by the sheer randomness of the universe, gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship fighting against the reigning Champ, one Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). Well, some 40 years and five sequels later (the last one appearing in 2006), you would figure that we’ve learned all we needed to know, and have essentially rung all of the marketing and drama out of this story.
Creed - Official Trailer [HD]
The Sweet Sport
A decade after we last saw Rocky step into a ring (unless you count the entertaining and clearly one-off Grudge Match from 2013 which pit Stallone against Robert De Niro in what was so obviously intended as the always wished for, but never realized matchup between the fictional Rocky Balboa and real-life Jake La Motta (De Niro), but we digress), we now have a surprising and equally compelling story that not only acts as a coda but a relaunch and revitalization of the series. This time, instead of following the meteoric rise and redemption of a sad-sack but lovable lug, we are introduced to the out-of-wedlock son of the long-deceased Apollo Creed, who was abandoned by his birth mother and later discovered and adopted by Creed’s widow, Mary Anne (Rashad).
A new Legend
Adonis Johnson/nee: Creed (Jordan) who wasn’t actually born until after his father’s death (Rocky IV, 1985). Has always been something of a scrapper, and now wants to follow his father’s footsteps. Against the wishes of his Step-Mom, he has been traveling across California’s southern border into Baja, Mexico to box. Twelve hours after his last Mexican fight, Adonis is back at his corporate job in Los Angeles where he hands in his letter of resignation. Next he goes to see his mother, and explains to her that he wants to Box, However, not only does his mom object, but so too does the owner of the local gym. So he packs up his gear and heads to Philly to seek out a mentor who he believes will help him achieve his dream — the one and only former heavyweight champion and one-time friend of his father — the retired Rocky Balboa. As can be expected, at first Rocky balks, but eventually agrees to mentor Adonis. With Rocky’s help they hope to get a title bout in order to face even deadlier opponents than his father. But whether he is a true fighter remains to be seen.
Let the Training Begin
An Amazing Film
This film works on so many levels it is truly astounding. First by thematically re-creating the look and feel of the initial Rocky film (Adonis is, in his “regular” life, a collections officer, which is nothing more than the corporate equivalent of a loan shark’s pet leg breaker — which, as you’ll recall — was Rocky’s “regular” job). Plus, while the path that Adonis takes isn’t as rags-to-riches as was Rocky’s, but it the drive and dedication he exhibits to get there is palpable and propels both him, and the film forward.
The City of Brotherly Love
Props to Michael B. Jordan
Michael B. Jordan — whom we first noticed in TV’s Parenthood, but really caught our eye in both Chronicle and Fruitvale Station — is a dynamic powerhouse in this film (as usual), and his presence alone is the most compelling reason to see this film (Stallone himself reported that when he was approached by writer/director Ryan Coogler to relaunch the franchise, he initially refused, but when he saw Fruitvale Station he realized that Coogler was the real deal and green-lit the project; which makes it all the more galling that Jordan wasn’t nominated for a Best Actor Oscar).
Rocky and Creed
You Need to see this Film
This is a well-written, well-acted, amazingly orchestrated, and brilliantly-shot film, if you haven’t seen it, you need to. If you have seen it, watch it again, then go back and watch other films starring Michael B. Jordan (except Fantastic Four; he’s the best thing in that film, but seriously, shine it on), he should be considered a new national treasure.
© 2016 Robert J Sodaro