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Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad & Tony Bellew
Welcome to my first cinematic movie review of the year!
The Rocky franchise means so much to so many people. It’s iconic. I’ve must have seen the Rocky films so many times that I’ve lost count. I like them all (except Rocky V); I even like Rocky Balboa, despite the negativity it received from fans and critics alike.
When I originally heard about this I was under the impression that it was going to be a prequel where the focus would be on Apollo Creed’s rise to the top of the boxing world. I would love to see something like that. Imagine if they did prequel movies for Clubber Lang or Ivan Drago, or even Mickey!
Before I continue with the review, I just want to say that Sylvester Stallone is in phenomenal shape for a 69 year old. On reflection, didn’t he admit to using steroids for Rocky III? But still, he looks well for his age!
As the title suggests, this film is centred on Adonis Johnson, the son of Apollo Creed. He goes by the name Johnson as he was born just after his father’s death and his desire to step out of his father’s shadow. It is also reviled that Johnson is the product of an extramarital relationship. Boxing is in Adonis’ blood. It’s something that he’s born to do. So, he sets off to Philadelphia to seek out Rocky Balboa and ask him to be his trainer. Rocky is initially reluctant to get back into boxing, having already made a one off comeback in 2007at an advanced age despite suffering brain trauma during his career. However, the more time Rocky spends with Adonis, the more he sees Apollo in him and eventually agrees to be his trainer. It’s not long before Adonis gets a title shot, but does he have the heart of a fighter? Does he have ‘the eye of the tiger’? (See what I did there, kids?)
After watching this I feel as though I can run a mile or chase a chicken because Creed is fucking awesome. It shattered my expectations and has left me hungry for more. It did what it had to do and was what you expected with the same sort of plot which made the Rocky films so special. It has the Rocky touch is what I’m trying to say.
The Rocky franchise isn’t going to lose steam anytime soon. It’s here to stay.
As kids, my friends and I would talk about the future of the Rocky films and that in Rocky 25, Rocky would be the trainer and training up his son to be the main guy. Obviously that doesn’t happen but you get the sense that this is the last true Rocky movie as he’s getting old and battling an illness. There’s this scene where it looks as if he’s going to drink raw eggs but he fries them instead. That scene right there reminded me that Rocky is getting old! Like Star Wars – Episode 7, this feels like a remake of the original and is planting the seeds for the Creed series. Will Stallone continue as Rocky? I really don’t know but if he doesn’t, it would feel like an end of an era.
The fight scenes were perfect. There are two big fights in this film. The fight from the middle of the movie was an awesome scene which felt as though it was shot in one take, kind of reminds me of Birdman where that entire film felt as though it was done in one take. Very impressive scene which separated itself from the originals, but the film fight did pay homage where the final fight (which was actually filmed at Goodison Park in Liverpool) was shot in a montage format, plus it has the signature Rocky theme tune!
What did I make of Adonis Creed? I like him. I felt he was a fleshed out character with a solid backstory. He’s imperfect, like Rocky. He comes with a lot of baggage, and is driven to become a success. Jordan is a good actor and was believable in the role. The horror that was Johnny Storm is well and truly behind him (actually, aren’t they doing a F4 sequel? Fuck sake, Fox!)
As for the villain, ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan, I felt he was good. They used pretty much the same format as they used for past Rocky villains but you know what, it worked! He was such an arsehole and a major heel (yes I said heel, fuck you). Some of the antics I thought were a bit over the top. He’s frequently starting fights at press conferences in the same manner you would see in pro-wrestling. I hated him because he was a full blown cocky prick, but it just worked out perfectly.
What makes Rocky so special to so many people is that it’s all about overcoming the odds. Everybody loves the underdog. Creed has adopted the same elements as Rocky and had moulded it into its own.
Very impressed with this movie, it has a bright future.
Rating: **** (Champion)