Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Movie with Abe: Creed

Directed by Ryan Coogler
Released November 25, 2015

Some franchises never die, and it’s inevitable that they’ll be rebooted again and again. The first “Rocky” film won came out in 1976 and took home the Best Picture Oscar, launching Sylvester Stallone’s career and creating a number of iconic moments that are still referenced by film fans and Philadelphia visitors on a regular basis. That film spawned four sequels, which earned increasingly poor reviews, and a new film, “Rocky Balboa,” directed by Stallone, was released in 2006 to more positive reception. Now, Rocky is back for what may well be one last time in “Creed,” which puts a new boxer at the center of its story and gets him started on his career.

Adonis “Donnie” Johnson is introduced as a young boy in juvenile detention with a penchant for getting into fights. The arrival of Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad) changes Donnie’s future, as the widow of Rocky’s top opponent and friend Apollo Creed decides to adopt his illegitimate child and raise him as if he was her own. In the present day, Donnie (Michael B. Jordan) treks back from Mexico in the morning to hone his boxing skills and works in a corporate setting in the afternoon. Having grown up in luxury thanks to Mary Anne, Donnie has not forgotten his past, and he can’t help but be pulled into the life his father led, which brings him to Philadelphia, where he pressures Rocky (Stallone) to begin training him.

This reviewer was not particularly excited about this film, having received the original 1976 film tepidly when I watched it and steering clear of all the sequels, sitting down for this one only because of Stallone’s Golden Globe nomination, his first bid in thirty-nine years. I am pleased to report that the film was much better than expected, even if its plot took a predictable course and didn’t offer many surprises. Jordan, who was terrific in “Fruitvale Station,” brings a relatability to Donnie, who is initially wary of taking on the last name of the father who died before he was born because he wants to make his own mark. Stallone, to his credit, also delivers a fine performance, one that shows Rocky’s age and the choices he has made in his life. Tessa Thompson adds to the cast as Donnie’s neighbor and girlfriend Bianca, an aspiring singer with gradually worsening hearing loss. By the time it reaches its inevitable and admittedly exciting epic fight, this film has already proven itself more than capable. Stallone has successfully passed the franchise on to Jordan while paying tribute to Rocky’s legacy, and it can’t be a surprise that “Creed 2” is already in development. It’s very possible that this reviewer might even go see it.


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