Published on December 18th, 2015 | by Thompson
Creed Best Rocky Since the First
When I saw Balboa in theaters on Thanksgiving Day, I brought a young lady with me. It was our first date, but it wasn’t the romantic irony that made me cry multiple times during the film. It was the flashbacks, the black and white film, the score, the far-fetched story – an unbelievable dream.
I cried more at Creed with my father than at Balboa with a girlfriend, and it wasn’t because of the thick, sweaty nostalgia that hangs in the theater ether when you take your traditional, second-generation, Italian father to a Rocky movie.
Creed is the best Rocky since the first Rocky. I was so amped after the film I watched Rocky III and Rocky IV as soon as I got home from the theater. I had to go back in time and relive the plot points referenced in Creed.
Rocky IV is great, as it takes the whole revenge aspect to new heights not even fathomed in Rocky III. Mickey might have died at the “hands” of Clubber Lang in III, which brought tears to my eyes, but Apollo being bludgeoned to death by Ivan Drago in IV, the greatest name for a villain besides Darth Vader, brings about a hate that could never be felt for any other Rocky opponent. But Creed carves out a new legacy that should live another 50 years.
The longer you watch, the more Michael B. Jordan looks like Apollo Creed – not just his body and fighting style, but the way he carries himself. But he’s not trying to be Apollo. He’s trying to be Adonis Johnson. What a name. Adonis. Only Apollo, the greatest fictional heavyweight fighter in the world, could have an illegitimate son named Adonis. He could have no other name.
Remember that third fight after Rocky III between Rocky and Apollo behind closed doors? Ever wonder who won? [Spoiler alert]
“Since we’re like family, tell me. Who won that third fight?” Adonis asks Rocky.
“He did,” Balboa replies.
Adonis talks like a heavyweight champ early in the film, but gets knocked down a peg or two trying to find a trainer in Hollywood, his eventual nickname. Hollywood is really a Philly kid, though. Adonis becomes himself in Philly with the help of a nice girl with a weakness, Bianca, and the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, who has given up boxing for good and spends most of his time at Adrian’s Restaurant or Adrian [spoiler alert] and Pauley’s graves. [Spoiler alert] He too has a new fight. Cancer – the same as Adrian, and Adonis makes him fight.
Much like Rocky, Adonis gets a once-in-a-lifetime shot at the title after winning his first fight in the states. Despite Creed being a lot like the original Rocky, Stallone had nothing to do with the writing and is only credited for acting and producing, and as a p.g.a. no less. Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington brought Creed to life, and Coogler directs it beautifully. The boxing choreography is impeccable, and performance of Jordan is Oscar-worthy.
Adonis takes on a champion on his way out, much like Rocky did with Apollo. The champ shares a lot in common with Floyd Mayweather. [Spoiler alert] He’s facing seven years in prison and this could be his last fight. In order to jack up the gate, the champ’s manager requires Adonis to use his father’s name, which he hesitates to do until Bianca convinces him that he’s more like his father than he would like to admit.
A new generation of Rocky fans have revived a saga that may have four more movies left in it. Let’s hope for at least two. [Spoiler alert] Creed still has to win, and then lose, and then lose someone close to him (Rocky), and then win again.
THE VERDICT (94/100): This Rocky reboot has everything, including a classic ’70s score and a hip-hop influenced soundtrack that also reaches back in time, a young, up-and-coming actor giving a great performance, an aging legend willingly taking a backseat for the better of the franchise, awesome direction, writing, and boxing choreography, and three moments that will bring tears to the strongest men’s eyes.