I haven’t made it back out to see Spider-Man: Homecoming again yet, but decided to finally rewatch something sitting on two queues … Creed. I hadn’t seen it since it was in theatres, where I saw it twice. I am a huge fan of the Rocky franchise and thoroughly believe Stallone was robbed the Best Supporting Actor Oscar that year. Sure I didn’t see Bridge of Spies, but that movie will disappear into history eventually while you can’t throw a rock into a crowd and find someone who doesn’t know about Rocky.
I will admit I was nervous when Creed was coming out since this was the first film without Rocky front and center or Stallone writing. Ryan Coogler had only written and directed one other feature length film (Fruitvale Station) previously, so there was a lot of uncertainty. Then the trailer hit, and I was sold. Michael B. Jordan had been building a strong repertoire of supporting roles, but I believe this was the one to put him on the map for most people. Creed may be one of the better spin-offs and history and also one of the best Rocky movies to boot.
I give it 9 “Eyes of the Tiger” out of 10.
FOR THE UNITIATED
Creed starts out with Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad) adopting Adonis (eventually Michael B. Jordan). We jump to modern day where Adonis is boxing somewhere in Mexico and wins his 15th straight fight. After quitting his day job, he goes to Delphi Boxing Academy: Home of Apollo Creed to try and get Lil’ Duke (Wood Harris) to train him. Adonis is turned down stating no one will train him, prompting him to challenge anyone and everyone in the gym. Swiftly defeating one of the up and coming fighters, he is then challenged by the #2 pound for pound fighter Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler … who handily knocks him out. Adonis then tells his mother who all but washes her hands clean of him boxing before he moves to Philadelphia.
Upon arriving in Philly, he visits Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) who rejects the training proposition. We learn of the big boxing match coming up between “Pretty” Ricky Conlan and Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler before Ricky Conlan goes to jail for several years. We then learn in another news clip that there was a fight at a press conference and Conlan broke Wheeler’s jaw. Somewhere in there, Adonis (or Donnie) meets his neighbor Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and starts falling for her. She is a DJ with progressive hearing loss.
Eventually Rocky breaks down and decides to train Adonis, who everyone soon finds out he is the son of Apollo Creed. Adonis has been trying to keep that side of his life secret so he isn’t treated any differently since he already has an uphill battle due to not being “street” enough. Then the challenge comes from the champion Conlan who is hoping to capitalize on the name, which is very similar to how Rocky got the shot in Rocky. We then learn that Rocky has cancer and he doesn’t want to fight it since he has seen what it does. Adonis then takes on the challenge of convincing Rocky to fight the biggest challenge of his life.
The emotion injected into Creed is the best thing about this movie. There is the nostalgia factor of Rocky coming back to train Adonis on top of pictures / videos of past movies. The music is something most people know about Rocky even if they have never seen a single clip. This movie is a perfect mix of the old score that everyone knows and loves and a new score that blends the two worlds together. Throw in another top notch training montage with Fighting Stronger’s remix and the final rounds and it is hard not to get pumped up. Most good sports movies are easily turned into tear jerkers, but I have always had a soft spot for Rocky.
But similar to the prior movies, the real emotion is balanced between the accomplishment of the boxer and what is going on in their life. Creed ups the ante by Rocky having cancer. When he finds out and tells the doctor he isn’t going to go through with the treatments after seeing what happened with Adrian … uuggghhhh. We also lose two more characters from the franchise with Paulie and Duke leaving only Rocky. Both die before this movie, and only Paulie gets mentioned when Rock visits the tombstones.
What isn’t in the movie are two other facts that only add to the heart of the movie. Ryan Coogler famously wrote the screenplay as an homage to his father who suffered from a neuromuscular disorder and was a huge fanatic of the Rocky franchise. On top of that, Sylvester Stallone’s eldest son died of a heart attack while the movie was in pre-production. Stallone had a breakdown but was convinced to use this as a dedication. So in short, bring tissues if you have a heart.
I am not certain if there are many things I didn’t like or would change. There is a strong rumor that Carl Weathers would reprise his role as Apollo in some form, and at first I was upset that it was cancelled ultimately because of egos and money. Then after seeing Creed, I am not sure it would have fit in anywhere. After all, the franchise is not known for its dream sequences.
As mentioned in the opening, this is one of the best Rocky movies, so I figured I would take this time to rank them:
- Rocky III
- Rocky IV
- Rocky II
- Rocky Balboa
And as the joke goes … there was another?
There is supposedly a sequel in the works, I just hope it gets made before the actor / director combo gets too busy because Creed is amazing. Go watch it now on Hulu or Amazon Prime … or rent it where you can find it!
Most people look to Rocky IV for the best in the franchise, I would disagree. Rocky III is the pinnacle and still my favorite, although Creed gives it a run for its money. Rocky III sees Micky dying right before a big fight that Rocky loses. Apollo then steps in to help train, teaching him a new style of fighting. Not only that but we get Hulk Hogan and Mr. T as opponents in a movie directly from the 80s.
If you want a second recommendation for a television series, then you are in luck. The Wire is the show that most people would recommend if they have seen it, but a surprising amount of people haven’t seen. Its a slow burn of a show, but phenomenal in all aspects. Thanks to The Wire, we got famous characters and actors such as Stringer Bell (Idris Elba), Omar (Michael K. Williams), McNulty (Dominic West) Tommy Carcetti (Aiden Gillen) Marlo Stansfield (Jamie Hector), and “Bubbles” (Andre Royo) to name only a few.Creed reunites two characters from the show with Michael B. Jordan (Wallace) and Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale).