My family and I went to see “Rocky 4” on Christmas Day 1985.
There isn’t much I remember from that Christmas thirty years ago, but I do remember braving the cold Colorado winter night with my parents and sister to go see that movie. I also remember going to see “Rocky 5” the day before Thanksgiving with my mom in 1990.
Needless to say I grew up with the “Rocky” movies. I am not a big Sylvester Stallone fan but, let’s face it, he was born to play that role and he knows that character so well that he fits effortlessly into it each and every time. As much as I have a soft spot for the “Rocky” movies I have to admit that I scoffed when I first read about Sly making “Rocky Balboa” in 2006.
Yet in 2007 after catching a late night showing of “Rocky 4” on TV I decided to re-watch the first five Rocky movies in preparation of seeing “Rocky Balboa”. In the end I ended up liking “Rocky Balboa” quite a bit.
Cut to nine years later when I heard about “Creed” I once again scoffed. But then I began to see positive posts about the movie from friends on Facebook. Not to mention the fact that a friend told me that a former co-worker, Tessa Thompson, was in the movie playing the love interest and I suddenly found myself very interested in seeing the movie.
So last Thursday night I went to see “Creed”.
I am happy to report that I LOVED the movie. It’s not the best movie ever but it is very good for what it is. What was so good about “Creed” and to a lesser extent “Jurassic World” (see my review of that movie: https://jeremyochsgonzales.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/jurassic-world/) is that it isn’t a reboot and it’s not a true sequel either. It’s more of a semi-sequel/spin-off movie. At 69 years old Sly just can’t play the fighter anymore but by having the son of his former rival/mentor/friend play the new boxer you get a fantastic mix of a character you love, Rocky Balboa, a character you remember fondly, Apollo Creed, and a new character, Adonis Johnson Creed (Michael B. Jordan), that is quite capable of carrying the movie on his own. The movie is just the right mix of straight drama, boxing drama and a little bit of classic “Rocky” cheese.
The acting is as good as you could hope for.
I first saw Michael B. Jordan in 2013’s “Fruitvale Station” and I thought he was excellent in it. I was a little worried with his career choice with the disastrous “Fantastic Four” but I think “Creed” a good choice for him. It’s a mainstream movie but he gets to do some real acting in it.
What I liked about the character of Adonis, and Jordan’s performance, is that he’s not just a ghetto kid who has no other way to make a living other than to box. He has a backstory with a little bit of struggle but ultimately he come from privilege and has the ability to make quite a good living outside of the ring. Yet, he is driven by the legacy of his father and his own desire to box. It is a well put together character and an excellent performance.
Like I mentioned before Sly knows the character of Rocky Balboa inside and out. He once again eases right back into the character he is most well known for. Like he did in “Rocky Balboa” he is able to add a new layer to the character. This time he truly is an old man in the twilight of his life. A man who has lived a ton and lost a ton and is perfectly content simply putting one foot in front of the other each day.
Things change when Adonis comes into his life and Sly does a very good job of showing us the latest (could it be last?) chapter in Rocky’s life. I can see how 39 years after the original “Rocky” Sly is getting Oscar buzz for his latest portrayal of this iconic character. With a Golden Globe nomination already under his belt it certainly seems possible.
I worked with the actress Tessa Thompson back in 2004 and I was thrilled to find out she was in the movie, as I mentioned before. I also quite enjoyed her performance as Adonis’ love interest.
Her character of Bianca has just enough character development to keep her from just being the standard boxing gal pal.
Phylicia Rashad also has a small role. She does what she can with it but it is not a developed as I would have liked.
In the end I am happy I saw “Creed” in the theatre. It was everything I could have hoped it would be. If you like the Rocky movies at all it is definitely worth your time to go see it.
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