The 416th film I have seen in theaters…
Second only to the original film. Amazing
Young Adonis Johnson wants to be a fighter, like his father. He was born to his father’s mistress and following her death, he was adopted by the father’s wife. The father is Apollo Creed, greatest boxer ever, equivalent of Muhammad Ali. Being denied the chance to train in LA, he travels to Philly to see if his father’s frenemy Rocky Balboa will train him. What follows is an emotional journey as Adonis overcomes his self doubts concerning his worthiness to use the name Creed. Along the way, our old friend Rocky is diagnosed with cancer. With Adonis facing a title shot, and Rocky facing death, both must learn to dig deep and FIGHT.
Michael B Jordan is an actor that has been skirting my attention for a while now. He has been named as the “ideal actor for” just about everything lately. He’s been acclaimed in several TV shows and films I have not watched. I never saw Chronicle or Fantastic Four, the first by oversight the second by choice. It took Mr Jordan a while to capture my gaze, and he won’t be losing it anytime soon. Fucking awesome. He makes the film his own, outshines Balboa, impresses and then breaks my heart. “I’ve gotta prove I’m not a mistake”. My God, he was amazing.
The Italian Stallion. Sylvester Stallone returns to his most famous role for a seventh time. Rocky Balboa (part 6) was a special film. It felt very much like a victory lap for Stallone. In some ways it was the end for him. Creed is the first Rocky film that he did not write. Instead he brought us one of his better acting turns. His name is being bandied about for an Oscar nomination. He deserves it. His ageing, sickly version, of Rocky is a central support of this movie, perhaps THE central. He allows Jordan to make the movie his own and only supports the character. He is also the emotional heart of this film- the strength of the other entries as well. This is a tough, macho, man who has a great tendency to wear his heart on his sleeve. A near flawless performance.
Tessa Thompson is Bianca, the R&B singer/songwriter that Adonis falls in love with. Not the meatiest of roles, but she is able to convey quite a bit with what is given her. More a supporting actress than leading role for this entry. As her character suffers from hearing loss, and is a singer, I suspect the inevitable sequels will delve more into her struggles.
I was not sure what to expect here. Spinning off of that amazing series was a risk, but it paid off in spades. The direction was perfect. The performances were deeply moving. The MUSIC! Man, this movie has a great soundtrack, truly deserving to follow Bill Conti. Ludwig Goransson is the composer and he gave this movie it’s own feel while still being faithful to what came before. It almost dances around the Conti work, using similar chord progressions while embracing the R&B feel of modern music.
As great as the music is, the cinematography might be the winner here though. The first pro fight that Adonis has against “Leo the lion” is ONE SHOT. The film work is by Maryse Alberti, known primarily for Documentary work, including one of my personal favorites of the genre: Crumb (1994).
My father was not a movie fan, he watched sports almost exclusively. One of those exceptions was Rocky (not surprising given his sports fandom). I think my dad identified with this guy from the neighborhood who just wanted a shot. He raised us with these films and they are unassailable to me, even Rocky V. I thought that “Rocky Balboa” was as close as they were going to come to the magic of the original. I was wrong.
This film has catapulted to the top of my 2015 list. There are still 5 big releases that I need to assess before I make a final call (Trumbo, Revenant, Hateful 8, Joy, The Force Awakens).
For now, I hold this in similar regard to Fury Road, it’s closest competition.
See this movie!
- Rocky Balboa
- Rocky II
- Rocky IV
- Rocky III
- Rocky V