By Sean Gardner
The original Rocky is my favorite movie of all time. The sequels (excluding Rocky Balboa) not so much. Rocky V is so bad I actively try to convince people that it doesn’t exist. Creed now allows Sylvester Stallone to do what he failed to do with the Rocky character in Rocky V.
Directed by Ryan Coogler of the heartbreakingly fantastic Fruitvale Station, Creed tells the story of the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed. Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) having grown up in foster care and juvenile detention centers, seeks the help of an aging Rocky to become a professional fighter.
But this, like the original 1976 film, is not a movie about boxing. It is character driven. Each of the main characters are deeply flawed in some way. Adonis wants to make his own legacy apart from his father, but he carries around so much anger and pride that he makes it harder for himself than it needs to be. Rocky is aging and alone. All of his friends and family are gone. He isn’t even really into boxing anymore, having not stepped foot into Mick’s gym in years. Stallone plays Rocky perfectly. The two are synonymous, and with the recent Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor, it’s the best he’s been in years.
The film contains all the obligatory pep talks, training sequences, and stair running that accompany any Rocky film. However, I hesitate to even call it a Rocky film because Coogler has created a story that strongly stands on its own. The movie is about Adonis and his journey in accepting who he is and accepting the name of Creed. Coogler takes it in a new whole direction. It’s a Ryan Coogler film with Rocky in it.
Creed is one of my favorite films of the year, and will definitely be on my Best of 2015 list.