Creed has a secret weapon. Because a lot of movies have solid concepts, good scripts, interesting direction, recognizable IPs, talented young stars or some combination of those elements.
But those other movies don’t have Rocky. Not it’s pedigree as a series which, over the past decade, it has managed to snatch back from its more ridiculous tendencies (give or take a Broadway musical), but Rocky Balboa, the character created with loving care over the past 40 years by Sylvester Stalone.
Stalone is a revelation here, turning in a warm, funny and intense performance that’s closer to his turn in the original film than any of the sequels. A particularly touching scene shows him reading the paper at Adrian and Paulie’s graveside, resigned to a quiet and lonely life after the loss of his wife and brother in law and the alienation of his son.
But this is only half Rocky’s story. The movie belongs primarily to Adonis Johnson (later Creed), the son of Apollo Creed, conceived during an affair and born after Apollo died. (In Rocky IV, in the ring at the hands of Ivan Drago, then Rocky gets revenge and ends the cold war. Remember the bit before about the series getting ridiculous? I was talking about that. But I do love Rocky IV, I’m getting off track) Adonis’s mother also died and he was bounced around foster care and the juvenile detention system before Creed’s widow Mary-Anne took him in, hoping to preserve a connection to her long dead husband. Hoping to prove he’s worthy of his father’s name and legacy, Adonis moves to Philly to train with Apollo’s best friend and competitor. There he learns to box, falls in love and connects with Rocky as the father he’s never had.
This movie lives in it’s really great performances. I already called out Stalone, who really was exceptional, but there’s also Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne, who does more by herself talking to a TV than most actors do with monologues, Tess Thompson as Bianca, a singer Adonis falls for and is an excellent successor to Adrian. And Michael B. Jordan is incredible.
Jordan’s performance is restrained and focused. Adonis has none of Apollo’s flamboyance, but he does share his father’s arrogance, and he’s a good mentee for Rocky, who understands the kid’s single focus and drive to prove himself.
The film is creatively and vibrantly shot, which was refreshing, since this movie could have easily been very lazy and still very enjoyable. (See Rocky Balboa…) My favorite sequence involved Adonis projecting Rocky and Apollo’s first fight onto a big screen and standing against it, blocking out the Stallion and fighting his father.
Like Rocky I think that Creed is going to make a major movie star of it’s leading man, and it’s about time for Jordan, who is just. so. good.
- The Martian
- Straight Outta Compton
- Crimson Peak
- Bridge of Spies
- Mockingjay Part 2
- The Man From UNCLE
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- Inside Out
- Jurassic World
- Ricki And The Flash
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Fantastic Four
- Terminator: Genisys
- Pitch Perfect 2
We were a little late because parking at a mall on Black Friday is a nightmare, but we caught of few of them!
Hateful Eight, still looks awesome. No change there.
Ride Along 2: Much like many comedies, I thoroughly look forward to watching this on HBO one day when I’m sick and don’t go to work.
Barber Shop 3: Is apparently happening? This one is going to deal with the fall of the middle class, which is like, pretty heavy for Barber Shop. But hey, nothing says, “serious comedic engagement with social issues” like Nicki Minaj reciting jokes about her ass being “a Black Amex” that pays her rent.
Central Intelligence: This movie stars The Rock and Kevin Hart and is not a remake of Twins (but that would probably be better). The tag line is “To save the world you need a little Hart and A Big Johnson” which is probably funnier than anything actually in the movie.
The Revenant: At Thanksgiving dinner my cousin described DiCaprio as going, “Full Bale” for this role. I didn’t have the heart to explain to the young one that the term is in fact, “Full Daniel Day Lewis” or perhaps, “Full Brando.” Because”Full Bale,” works too.