If you are a fan of the ‘Rocky’ films then you’ll find the new movie, Creed, fits the franchise like an old, well-worn glove (or boxing glove, as it were.) The movie hits all of the Rocky beats at all the right moments and is, for the most part, the cinematic equivalent of comfort food that you’ve been eating since you were a kid.
Creed (or what could easily have been called ‘Rocky MMXV’) has our old friend, Rocky Balboa, playing mentor and coach (the old Mickey role) to the illegitimate son of his former rival, Apollo Creed. You can most likely guess the rest of the story, but writer/director, Ryan Coogler, still manages to make this a fun and entertaining tale.
Apollo Creed had an affair with a woman and then died before his son, Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), was born. The boy has grown up fighting in orphanages and group homes, until he is recued by Apollo’s widow (Phylicia Rashad.)
Even though Adonis now lives a life of luxury, he still struggles with the angst of being abandoned by his father and is determined to find his own identity and make his own mark on the world.
The Creed son becomes a successful underground fighter, but has ambitions to become legitimate; so he seeks out the assistance of his late father’s friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), to help guide him down that path.
When it becomes known that Adonis is actually of the former Champ’s blood, the planets align to put the young man in the ring with the current heavyweight champion, Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew.) Who will win? If you’ve followed the previous films then you know that answer is completely up in the air until the movie’s climax.
Michael B. Jordan has some incredible acting skills, in addition to the physique required to pull off the part of Creed; and, for me, it’s always fun to see the legendary Sylvester Stallone on screen – especially as his iconic character, Rocky. These two have great chemistry together and I completely bought into the premise of the film.
There is an uncut two-round fight-scene early in the movie that is worth the price of admission by itself and is maybe the best boxing action I’ve ever seen on film. The camera puts you in the middle of the ring as it flows in-between the actors as they duke it out. The complex choreography it must have taken to pull this off is mindboggling.
On the downside, I didn’t really care for Creed’s awkward romantic interest in the form of an ambitious musician named Bianca (Tessa Thompson), who plays some of the most incredibly bad music I’ve ever heard in a movie. This is a good time to go get that popcorn refill.
There is also an inane version of Rocky’s famous ‘Gonna Fly Now’ exercise montage that typically has kids following behind him, cheering him on; but in this instance its motorcycles and ATVs following behind the would-be champ, Creed. I didn’t get it.
There are quite a few weird moments in this film and a couple that seemed more like a parody than a serious part of the script. Nevertheless, despite its predictability and strangeness, I still enjoyed this film and I’d still happily go see another Rocky movie. Grade: 6.5/10
Photos © 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.