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Creed

tn_creedThe world is hard and shitty sometimes, but also sometimes it’s beautiful, and with some luck, some talent and some very hard work, unlikely things can happen. For example, what are the chances that director Ryan Coogler, after his true story police shooting drama FRUITVALE STATION won awards at Sundance and Cannes, would want to use his window of opportunity to pitch a movie about Apollo Creed’s son? And then what are the chances he’d convince Sylvester Stallone to play Rocky Balboa in it and a studio to make it? And finally what are the chances that it would both honor the history of the ROCKY movies and chart its own path to be something new? I don’t know what the odds are, but CREED beat ’em.

Michael B. Jordan (who also starred in FRUITVALE) plays Adonis “Donnie” Johnson who, as an orphaned teenager in and out of group homes, discovered he was the son of the most famous boxer in the world. Moving to the Creed mansion with his father’s wife Mary Anne (now played by Phylicia Rashad instead of Lavelle Roby or Sylvia Meals) takes his life straight from ROCKY to ROCKY III. Hungry to comfortable. As an adult he’s successful in a corporate job, but sneaks off to Tijuana for small time fights.

At his dad’s home gym Delphi in Los Angeles (who must’ve inherited some money from him if that’s supposed to be the same gym from III) nobody will train Adonis. It may be at Mrs. Creed’s request or maybe they just don’t believe in him, but they think it’s too dangerous. His father died in the ring. I love how much of this film’s drama comes specifically from what happened in the most ridiculous sequel. Maybe this will redeem IV for those who think it ruined the series by removing Apollo from it.

So Adonis pulls a Tommy Gunn: he goes to Philadelphia, finds Rocky and sets about trying to convince him to train him. But at this point Rocky is separated from the world of boxing. He had his comeback fight, he proved himself, he knows it can’t happen again, he doesn’t even stop by Mighty Mick’s anymore. So it’s gonna take some convincing.

Like the original ROCKY, it’s a drama and a love story before it turns into full-on sports movie. He falls for an up and coming singer named Bianca (Tessa Thompson) who seems a little taken aback by but completely supportive of his life of getting punched in the face. Meanwhile he’s dealing with his own issues. He doesn’t even tell her who his father is. As the product of an affair, he has to worry about his very existence threatening the Apollo Creed legacy. But also, of course, he doesn’t want people to think he’s getting shots he doesn’t deserve because of the name. He doesn’t want to think that himself. He wants to earn the name. There’s a great moment when Bianca sees him with Rocky and is stunned. He never mentioned anything about this. He knows the guy from the statue at the art museum and he never mentioned it!

mp_creedWhen Adonis first sees that statue he’s basically just another tourist, even if he has more purpose.  As a newcomer to Philadelphia he gets to be shown the sights, starting with something as simple as a Philly cheese steak, but also including dirt bike riders and a black music scene that would never have been part of Rocky’s world (though we know Rocky still loves soul music because he wakes up Adonis with some Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes). The first song montage in the movie is to a new song by Philadelphia’s own The Roots and John Legend. Meek Mill, also from Philadelphia, is on the soundtrack too.

Rocky couldn’t get Mickey’s attention until he got that chance to fight the champ. Mickey spent his time with the more serious contenders at the gym who he believed had a future ahead of them. Now Rocky’s in the position of coming into the gym for the first time in years but to help some kid they never heard of instead of their guys. I got a kick out of the scenes where Rocky’s working with Adonis and in the background Pete (Richie Coster) is on the corner of the ring working with his accomplished son (Gabe Rosado), but with his head turned glaring at Rocky because he’s been trying to get him to help out his son with drills for years.

CREED could definitely work as a standalone movie, but I’m glad I refreshed myself on the whole series, because there’s alot in there to pick up on. You hear about the fates of a couple major characters who aren’t present, there’s a quick mention of the son of another character, an answer to something that was left a question in part III. It definitely connects to ROCKY BALBOA, with Rocky still in the same house and still running his restaurant Adrian’s. But we never see the place during operation, never see if Marie or Spider or anybody are still in his life, so he seems more alone than ever. He doesn’t even seem to have his dog Punchy, and I’m pretty sure there’s only one turtle in the tank now. Even his turtle is alone! R.I.P. Cuff or Link.

As a trainer Rocky has his own style, but definitely takes some things from Mickey, including a specific “old school” training method. Adonis wears modern athletic gear, but you can bet he’s gonna jog in a grey sweatshirt, and at one point I noticed Rocky wearing Chucks and grey sweatpants at a time when it’s significant that he needs to be working hard. And of course some of the events mirror the events of previous movies, particularly the first one. This time the Creed is the nobody given the opportunity only because of his name, who wants to rise to the occasion. It’s also a reversal in that the champ is the one who’s kind of a low class thug, while Adonis comes from money (starting when he was a teenager), has an education, had other opportunities that he turned down because this was what he wanted to do. The champ’s ironic nickname is “Pretty Boy,” which is one thing that we see Adonis dismissed as.

I knew from FRUITVALE STATION that Coogler was good with actors, and particularly Jordan, and I love the character of Rocky Balboa, so it’s not too surprising that this story of Adonis and Rocky is very effective. What I didn’t expect at all though is that Coogler, with cinematographer Maryse Alberti (THE WRESTLER, CRUMB) would also find ways to shoot the boxing matches that feel completely new. It’s counterintuitive, because the fights are shot mostly very close to the fighters, almost always inside the ring, making you feel right in the middle of it. One fight is shot with the camera floating around and between the fighters in one long take (I bet they used that camera that Keanu used in MAN OF TAI CHI). The main fight mixes this style with other tricks from the realistic to the surreal. This movie kept putting a huge grin on my face just from the virtuoso technique. The entrance is actually as thrilling as the fight, it feels like you’re walking out to the ring with them. Props to the sound design in this scene, which really captures being pummeled by gigantic, distorted bass. I already liked Coogler but I honestly had no idea he had these kind of chops.

Music is extremely important to the ROCKY series, and I was a little worried this would be a problem without Bill Conti and in a world where movie scores don’t even seem to include main themes anymore. The songs don’t come close to either a “Gonna Fly Now” or an “Eye of the Tiger,” but they form a good texture for the movie that’s modern but not cheesy. More importantly, the score by Swedish composer and music producer Ludwig Göransson does a very good job of funneling the style and bombast of Contin into a modern score. Creed’s theme is reminiscent of Rocky’s, but with a tiny bit of a Morricone lilt.

This incredible filmatism and blood-pumping music helped to make what is basically another variation on the climaxes of ROCKY and ROCKY BALBOA still be thrilling enough to give me goosebumps and make the audience applaud at the end. But I don’t think that would work if we didn’t care so much about these characters from the between-bouts portion of the movie. There’s a little scene early in the movie where Adonis sees a photo of Rocky with a very young Rocky Jr. and says “Dope picture.” When Rocky explains who it is it kind of feels like exposition to explain why his son’s not around, but if you think about it it’s loaded with significance. To Adonis, who never met his famous boxer father, it’s a nice fantasy to have had a childhood like the kid in the picture. But to Junior it wasn’t so great. He  moved away because it was so hard to live in the shadow of his famous father, so isn’t it interesting that Adonis has moved here for exactly the same reason, and now seems to be filling that emptiness in Rocky’s life? He gives Rocky something to care about again, something to look forward to, a reason to live besides telling old stories.

In the fight, Adonis uses moves he learned from Rocky, moves he learned from watching videos of Apollo, combinations that Rocky told him Apollo used on Rocky. He demonstrates the fortitude of Rocky though also the hot-headedness of Apollo. When he finishes his training montage he not only raises his hands in victory, but starts yelling, unheard by us, maybe some sort of self-hype or trash talk like his father would’ve done.

For his part, Rocky combines aspects of his own mentors as a trainer. He is both the strategizing buddy that Apollo was and the inspirational, loving father figure that Mickey was. But also just kind, goofy Rocky.

Is Adonis Creed the product of a bloodline, or of mentorship? He is both. To me the most touching theme of the movie is its approach to family. Adonis (like Rocky) grew up without any parents. You have to respect Mary Anne for finding, taking care of and loving the product of her husband’s infidelity. But he can’t get what he wants in L.A. so he comes to Philadelphia and he calls Rocky his uncle. And by the end of the movie they really consider each other family.

Maybe ROCKY BALBOA wasn’t the perfect ending for Rocky after all. Maybe it was just the perfect ending to that chapter. Or maybe CREED is the perfect post-script. Time (which is undefeated, according to Rocky) will tell. If they do decide to make a CREED II then I humbly request that Stallone get to make up the names of the characters, because Adonis is a good one but we need some more colorful names in there. And maybe an appearance by Clubber Lang. And the tiger jacket. And the son of Paulie’s robot. And they should mention that one of Apollo’s nicknames was “The Count of Monte Fisto.” That doesn’t get mentioned enough. I mean, that’s a really good nickname. You gotta respect that.

Ah, I’m not gonna tell them what to do. They seem to get the idea. Long live Creed and long live ROCKY.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 30th, 2015 at 11:18 am and is filed under Drama, Reviews, Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

88 Responses to “Creed”

  1. As much as I loved FURIOUS 7, CREED is far and away the best Part 7 of a film franchise to release this year (and probably ever).

    And no, I did not forget about STAR WARS.

  2. My main complaints about the movie were the eye make up in the end. It just looked so shoddy. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen make up effects so amateur and it stuck out like a sore thumb in an entry in a series that prides itself on good busted face make up. Also we start on Paulie’s birthday and there is no indicator that 30 years before he got a robot as a present. But that point is just out of my own selfishness. Maybe Coogler knew better in that regard.

    Nevertheless this was a good ass movie. I can’t remember the last time a packed house unanimously applauded for a movie like this and it was actually well deserved. I want to say maybe FURY ROAD at one of my screenings this past summer but before that? I really can’t recall. Also the way people were hooting and hollering and jumping up and down during the fight scenes (including some people past their 60s) reminded me of all the stories I used to hear my cousins tell me about watching ROCKY movies at the cinema (I only got to see BALBOA but even then in my 3 screenings of that one you also saw that effect).

    The way it parallels & echoes but not necessarily repeat the original Rocky so authentically is pretty amazing considering how many years have passed and how often Rocky has been copied since then. The main heart of ROCKY were Adrian and Rocky as well as Mickey and Rocky. So it was nice to see the love story and mentor/protege dynamic being two of the movie’s strongest & most well developed points and basically it’s core. It was then and there that I knew that these guys GOT IT.

    Also:

    (SPOILER)

    Really loved that he just went the distance. If he had won I would’ve rolled my eyes. Repeating the original Rocky ending was far more effective an ending to the journey the movie took us as well as Donny, Rocky and Bianca in.

    (END SPOILERS)

    Adonis really did remind me a lot of Apollo (he had a lot of the same mannerisms, cocky, quick witted, determined and assured but still hiding insecurities etc.). It was just the little things like removing the tape after the knock out in Tijuana or his braggadocious trash talk but it really helped sell the concept a lot. Same with Wood Harris in the little we saw of him as Duke’s son. He had Tony Burton’s mannerisms down pact. You could tell THE WIRE dudes really studied the acting of Weathers and Burton in the Rocky movies before playing in this one.

    I was legitimately shocked to see Andre Ward. When he showed up you heard some “oohs” and “aaahs” in the theater I was in. Which brings me to another good point the fictional characters played by real boxers have records that are consistent (not identical) with their real life achievements. That’s always a nice touch and was a good carry over from the way the last movie did it with Antonio Tarver. Other nice holdovers from the last movie are Rocky’s chair at the grave site and Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman competently continuing what they started when taking over Stu Nahan as the official boxing commentators of the series going forward.

    Overall Rocky was well handled by a new jack to the series but there were scenes where you could tell when Stallone did uncredited rewrites. His writing style is just too obvious within this universe especially with Balboa himself. Not that it’s a bad thing at all just an observation. I thought it was also really cool how even in death Paulie still gets one of the best laughs in the movie. Very appropriate. Seeing Mighty Mick’s Gym and Rocky there so many years later was really rewarding in a way from a nostalgic POV. Brought everything back full circle. Good to see one of the turtles is still around too. At this point either Cuff or Link is going to outlive every other original character in the franchise.

    Also it did a really good job of capturing the differences between Philly circa 1975 and Philly in 2015 and bringing things up to date. Seeing stuff like the Front Street Gym and kids on ATVSs and dirt bikes nicely grounded things. All that while still keeping the exact same triumphant spirit that is embedded in the Rocky franchise DNA in it’s own way.

    I mean the minute I heard “Going the Distance” start queing up during the fight I literally got chills like I always have done with these movies. No matter how many times I’ve seen it done. That combo of visual, emotional investment and Bill Conti music always has worked on me my entire life pretty much and it was no different here. It’s very much a Rocky movie without having to have Rocky throw any punches and Sly gets a lot of props for taking a chance on Ryan Coogler and giving him the keys to the kingdom.

    From a technical level Coogler knew he had something to prove and that he did. There were nice touches like over the shoulder perspectives and I noticed that not just in the first fight like Vern pointed out but even during the warm up to it as well it seemed like it was nothing but a long take shot. Which was very impressive from a cat who ain’t even outside his 20’s & only one movie under his belt still to already be that commanding over the visual language of cinema. Dude has a very sharp eye for kinetic directing which isn’t something we really saw in FRUITVALE STATION since the narrative never demanded it of course. Really looking forward to see where he goes from here.

    Back to the key use of music during key visual sequences with a great deal of emotional investment (something Stallone talks about in his Directors Chair interview) hearing The Roots The Fire (from 2010’s HOW I GOT OVER actually it’s not very new) and Pac’s Hail Mary during the moments they were used got me hyped as fuck. Good use of hip hop in this even the songs I didn’t know (like Meek Mill who I don’t listen to) and a decent original score too even when it didn’t rely on the Bill Conti classics. The actual Adonis Creed theme (basically his “Gonna Fly Now” as heard during his dirtbike backed montage) gave me chills at one point.

    Overall as a huge fan of the series I was very proud when I walked out of this one. It amped my adrenaline and motivated me while leaving me wanting more the way a Rocky movie should. At this point 2015 has been such a great year for reviving franchises that I grew up with (Rocky and Mad Max) that it makes me want to almost give Star Wars 7 a shot now. But only JUST almost.

  3. Saw this in a packed theater (Sunday matinee showing) and the crowd was literally cheering and clapping during the final fight, and some of the very sparingly used but incredibly well placed music cues really got people going. It was actually pretty amazing.

    Man I want to see this movie again.

  4. I am so glad you did “Rocky Review Week”, it really did enhance my viewing experience. Few things I loved about Creed that weren’t mentioned:

    1) There were so many little references to the original flicks I lost count. I loved that Adonis wore a t-shirt that said “Why do you fight.. because I cant sing and dance”. Wish someone would have mentioned Clubber Lang, though. Did he just retire after that loss to Rocky?

    2) The love story really was great. I found myself smiling like a goof every time Jordan and Thompson were on screen together.

    3) I might have been reading too much into it, but I thought it was interesting that Thompson’s character had progressive hearing loss and would eventually lose the ability, through aging, to do what she loves, pretty much like every boxer in the Rocky universe.

    4) Im not sure who the boxer was that was supposed to face Ricky Conlan but had his jaw broken during the weigh in, but I liked how he was left pretty much absent from the remainder of the flick. It would set up a great sequel.

    There was very little I could find fault with. I was more excited going into the final fight than I have been for pretty much any major sporting event I can remember the last few years. I cannot wait to see it again.

  5. Forget to mention that that pic of Sly with Sage was kinda sad to see considering the circumstances that fell upon Sage at the end of his life there. I’m surprised Sly went through with that considering that any other father would always view his son as that little boy. So it must be extra hard for a dad to see those kinda mementos when he knows he’s outlived his boy.

  6. Jeff G – “4) Im not sure who the boxer was that was supposed to face Ricky Conlan but had his jaw broken during the weigh in, but I liked how he was left pretty much absent from the remainder of the flick. It would set up a great sequel.”

    That was Andre Ward. Olympic gold medalist and former WBC super middle weight champ who also happens to have an undefeated record just like his Rocky-verse counterpart. I too want to see him in a future entry. He really could be to Creed what Clubber Lang was to Rocky. Especially since it seems that Conlan is being set up as the Apollo type.

  7. It totally redeems Apollo’s death in Rocky IV by using it as the entire motivation for a new character full of baggage to deal with. This is why I love sequels. Time can recontextualize the parts that may have been disappointing in the day.

    MAJOR SPOILER PARAGRAPH

    Are we going to talk about Rocky’s answer to who won the secret fight? I love that he says Apollo won but Rocky is kind of an unreliable narrator. He would totally give credit to the dead legend, and Adonis is a stranger at that point, and Rocky just doesn’t care anymore. But we’ll still never know.

    END SPOILERS

    also did anyone get the vibe that the Rocky Jr was Stallone saying goodbye to Sage, giving him a better ending in film than he got in real life, Furious 7 style? I didn’t know if that was a picture of the real Sage or one of the kids from the sequels.

    I totally noticed the lone turtle. Who was the son of a Rocky III character? I missed that.

  8. Fred that definitely was Sage.

    I think Vern was referring to Wood Harris though of course the paternal character was also in ROCKY II and III so I’m not sure either. I think I may have missed a great easter egg. Will keep my eyes peeled when I watch it again with a fellow lifelong ROCKY fan next weekend.

  9. Whoops meant to type “was also in ROCKY and ROCKY II” .

    Currently watching ROCKY III again at the moment so I got caught up.

  10. Delighted to read this is well received by you Vern. I’m looking forward to seeing this now.

  11. One of the trainers at the LA gym I think was supposed to be the son of Duke, Apollo’s trainer (and then Rocky’s trainer in Rocky III).

  12. Yeah reading the review for a second time I just realized Vern didn’t specifically single out that that character was the son of one from ROCKY III just that he also mentions III in the same breath. So yeah it was definitely the Wood Harris character (Little Duke).

  13. Yes, you are correct about which character I was referring to. I tried to be a little more vague about some things than usual to leave some surprises for people who (foolishly) read the review before seeing the movie.

  14. Oh, and thanks for the correction on The Roots song. I still buy their albums but I think Rising Down was the last one I really listened to alot (and even that was a mixed bag). They continue to grow and evolve but when they lost interest in the boom bap they kinda left me behind.

  15. I think I need to see this again before really settling into an assessment of this film. My initial reaction, as I shared in the Rocky Balboa (part 6) thread is that this is a very good movie on its own terms; a worthy follow-up and visual/thematic direct sequel to part 6; and a beautiful and meaningful new chapter in Rocky’s journey in particular. This and part 6 really bring everything about the series together, full-circle in a way that honors and brings cohesiveness and closure to the journey and kind of ties up all the loose ends of the mythology (well, not all, but enough to be really satisfying).

    I said the same thing about part 6, but I really like the journey ending here.

    I complained a bit about the Adonis Creed character in the Balboa/part 6 thread. I’m not sure that’s entirely fair, and I think that’s coming from the perspective of someone who grew up on Rocky and is really viewing this film first and foremost with an eye toward Rocky’s journey. So, that bias is there with me from the jump. In my defense, I think Coogler gives a lot of this movie’s best stuff to Rocky, and Sly steals about every scene he’s in, which is many of them. Mickey was a far more minor character than Rocky is here.

    For a person who might not have been exposed to or “got” the Rocky films (just generationally, in the same way that I was not really exposed to and don’t really “get” or get into, e.g., John Wayne), I think Creed is a great thing. I’m fine with Creed being this generation’s Rocky. That can only be a good thing, and the way this film honors Rocky and the Rocky series is very poignant and just awesome. Coogler really did the whole love letter thing.

    My only point is that, with the Rocky series, you can strip away any one other character, and I still think Stallone’s Rocky carries and grounds those films. We love Adrian, Paulie, Mickey, Apollo, all of them. And I certainly would not contend that the series doesn’t need these characters–if none of them but Rocky had been present in part 1, it would have been a whole different ballgame. But the series as this kind of evolving organism can continue to press on without these characters, as we’ve seen (with each film dropping a major supporting character from part 3 on), because it’s Rocky’s journey that grounds, propels, and gathers everything together, and it’s only in reference to that journey that these other characters take on the significance they do (don’t hold your breath for the Paulie origin story prequel). Rocky goes on without any of these other characters.

    I’m not sure Adonis Creed goes on (as an interesting character or journey) without Rocky, not just because Rocky’s the guy who’s name has been in the title for all these years, and not just because he’s the last character/actor link to the original series, but because Stallone and his character are absolutely the heart, soul, narrative vision, character arc, and pathos of this series. I’m not just talking going forward, I’m talking this film, right here. This film succeeds because of Coogler and his team, AND because it’s a very satisfying Rocky film that recapitulates the key beats of the Rocky I and Rocky 6 journey in a very self-conscious way (SPOILER- including the manner in which Adonis gets his title shot and the manner in which that fight plays our and resolves). Without Rocky and his journey in this film and the Rocky mythos, you have a fairly under-developed narrative about a main character we haven’t really gotten to know all that well (and who is far less developed and captivating than Rocky in part 1).

    This film absolutely works as a Rocky film, and it works because it’s a Rocky film. A sequel to it may also work, but for me to stay invested, it’s going to require further development of the Creed character as someone other than Apollo’s son and Rocky’s protege.

  16. Broddie and Jeff G, correct me if I’m wrong, but Andre Ward’s character is not only the dude who got his jaw broken at the press conference but is also the same dude who beats Creed’s as at Duke’s gym, catalyzing Creed’s decision to go to Philadelphia. Right?

  17. I liked the fact that the current owner of Mighty Mick’s is kind is a dick and the friction between he and Rocky leads him to train Donny elsewhere. I mean how many times has a beloved establishment from your childhood get bought by new owners and turn into a shadow of its former self? I liked that because it had a ring of truth to it. Like you can’t go home again. It also forces Rocky and Donny to start training from square one.

    Also if you remember Rocky owned the gym in 5. From the looks of things it looked like he had to sell it which means Rocky is probably in worst financial straits then when we last saw him.

    I loved this movie. Chills, goosebumps, tears, I had them all. I was literally on the edge of my seat and stood and applauded at the end. The last movie I did that in? Oh yeah, it was Rocky Balboa.

  18. Jack, I just assumed Rock had sold the gym (or watched it implode) before part 6, since there’s no mention of it in that one. I took him to be in the same straits as part 6, still owner-operator’ing Adrian’s. Also, am I crazy, or wouldn’t he have pocketed a healthy chunk of change off the Dixon fight? When he visits Adrian’s grave at the end of part 6, he is noticeably spruced up, but then by this film, he’s back to the rattier classic Rocky look, so who knows how he’s doing financially.

    I prefer to think that he’s doing just fine financially but now feels like he belongs to/in the neighborhood. Like, at this point, what’s he going to do out in the burbs, or what’s he going to do walking around all dolled up. Sure, he’ll put on the old red sportcoat to mix and mingle at Adrian’s, but when he’s off the job, it’s Rocky-from-the-neighborhood all day e’ry day.

  19. I’d really love to see Clubber Lang come back to one of these films.

  20. You’re welcome Vern.

    I could understand where you’re coming from. While I have enjoyed their work after GAME THEORY especially UNDUN I do feel that I’d take ILLADELPH HALFLIFE over any of them anytime. I didn’t even feel compelled to listen to their last one.

    Skani – Yeah. Same guy.

  21. Is it too soon to start a rumor about Creed 2 where Adonis fights Drago?

  22. One of the many terrific things about this movie is how it puts a fresh spin on the Chosen One narrative. How many freaking times have we seen heroes who are told “You’re so awesome, you just have to believe you’re awesome, and you’ll succeed – because you’re awesome!” One mechanical, seriously overused “arc” (ugh.) Donnie could have been that, but Coogler and co were savvy enough to flip it: Promise and expectations can fuck you up. Donnie’s conflicted and complex, which is way more interesting than the typical “naif (or superhero) swats down obstacles on conveyor belt to happily ever after”. You care about Donnie (and Rocky and Bianca) throughout, instead of merely biding your time for a triumphant finale. Good stuff.

  23. Funny I remember back in the day Mr. T was supposed to do a cameo for ROCKY BALBOA as a boxing commentator for the finale fight, but that didn’t happen.

    Here is a major difference between CREED and the original ROCKY: ROCKY wasn’t made with sequels in mind originally. There are so many Marvel-esque sequel seeds planted in CREED (some obvious, not so much) that I think we’ll get in sequel(s). Creed Jr. vs Stuntman for the vacant title? Rocky’s continuing fight with cancer, Rocky probably be forced to confront Creed’s widow and bury that hatchet, the girlfriend’s hearing loss until she becomes deaf. (Imagine them replaying the courtship/marriage/kids angle from ROCKY II, with Coogler alternating with such shots on mute from her perspective.)

    Imagine if Rocky dies, there’s the funeral and afterwards Creed Jr. sees a tall old blonde stranger watching it away from the ceremony and it’s Ivan Drago? Imagine that loaded confrontation.

  24. Shit, I didn’t even think about Adonis meeting Drago in a sequel. Of course if they announce a sequel I’ll be excited, and I was only partly joking about that stuff at the end of the review, because I would love to see Adonis take on some big, colorful opponents (maybe a tournament for the vacant title). But honestly they probly shouldn’t do a sequel. Those things RRA mentioned are not loose threads that should be tied up, they’re just part of the continuing cycle of life and/or sports. It would sure be hard to end Rocky’s story better than this.

    I get Skani’s point about Adonis not being able to hold a movie on his own, but that’s partly because this is a buddy movie. I don’t want to see Murtaugh or Riggs solo movies either, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good characters. The star of CREED is not really Adonis or Rocky but the relationship between the two of them.

    p.s. I saw it a second time and it still gave me chills when the title came up, when he got the trunks, and when he was on the mat and flashed back through all those memories and then saw Apollo and got to his feet.

    p.p.s. I purposely left this out of the review because I didn’t want to give it away, but the gift of the trunks is one of my favorite things in the movie. Not just because of their history in the series but because of the symbolism of having both names on them and the generosity of Mrs. Creed to be willing to put both names on them. Beautiful.

  25. Probably, SPOILERS, at least indirect ones.

    Vern, I think that’s a good point. Although there certainly were buddy and mentoring elements in the previous films, this is the first one to really make the buddy/mentor relationship the linchpin of the film. And the Adonis-Rocky relationship is frankly far more rich, fraught, poignant, and satisfying than the Rocky-Little Marie and Rocky-Robert relationships from part 6 and perhaps even more so than Mickey-Rocky. The chemistry between Jordan and Stallone is great.

    What I think will be the main challenge going forward is how to keep things feeling fresh vs. feeling like it’s a rehash of he whole Rocky life cycle but now in the life of Adonis. In many respects, this first Creed film is derivative and re-hashy of Rocky 1 and 6, but somehow that is okay and seems right, even necessary. Like Greek mythology or a mini Joseph Campbell hero journey, it feels right for Adonis’s burgeoning boxing career to re-enact or parallel Rocky’s. It’s the mystical Rocky journey circle of life thing. I’m down for that. Plus, this film brings enough that is new and good to the table for it to feel like it transcends being just a rehash or even homage. There is a really perfect mixture of the fresh and the familiar here working together in concert. Bringing the Creed strand back into the series (something that was pretty marginal in 5 and 6) and showing us a new level of vulnerability in Rocky and a new kind of relationship for Rocky; bringing Rocky into the Mickey role while staying true to who Rocky is. Likewise, Adonis stepping into the Rocky role but with him still being a very different kind of character–he’s his own kind of person. They nailed this one, which is why I suppose I’m feeling a little protective of it and wanting it to just end here (I guess that’s my own crisis of mortality and aging rearing its head!).

    For a person who is new to the series and who, for whatever reason, won’t see or can’t get into the earlier entries, I think it will be just fine if they make Creed sequels that more or less recycle themes and plot points from Rocky 1-6. Creed will take the title, lose his way and recapture it, maybe take on a couple cartoonish super-villain baddies, and then perhaps go through his own crisis of aging and role transition. Hell, I think I’d still enjoy such films, especially if Rocky’s still in the mix. The challenge that Coogler (or whomever) will face is to keep finding that balance between the legacy and milieu of a Rocky film and the need to keep things fresh and find new stories to tell.

  26. I’m still getting my thoughts together on this one and am nowhere close to ranking it in the series, but it’s uniformly excellent and I don’t know who wouldn’t like it. In an age where most “passing the torch” reboots ruin the original hero (Indy 4), or give us a bland, anonymous new hero (Tron Legacy) or do both (Die Hard 5), it’s a miracle Creed pulls its concept off – it’s not even on the same planet as those movies. Rocky plays a supporting role without ever feeling like an afterthought, he’s respectfully written and Stallone delivers the goods. Adonis may not be an all-time classic character just yet, and even though I’ve already seen complaints on the good ole’ internet about how Adonis isn’t a good character because of everyone’s favorite buzzword “privilege”, you see he’s a hard worker and generally nice guy and you root for him.

    I do have some nitpicks that will probably go away after time. *SPOILERS* I feel the Adonis’s mom storyline felt unfinished (it can still be further developed in the sequels so not a big deall), and I’m not sure how I feel about Rocky Jr/Robert leaving, especially because their estranged status in 6 already felt like a rehash of their estranged status in 5. Was Rocky just going to die and not tell his own son? I know they grew apart but I feel like a Milo Ventimiglia appearance at the last fight would have gone a long way. Also I’m not crazy about the Apollo theme song yet. It sounds way too Spaghetti Western for this movie (specifically The Ecstasy of Gold from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly). Bonus points for them throwing in lyrics like “Gonna Fly Now”, though. I like the ending of the fight alot but it definitely loses some punch it could have had since Rocky Balboa did the same thing. You can appreciate the effort they made to make it as different as they could though.

    But those are nitpicks. The character development is great, the fights are awesome without copying the originals (the one-take fight in the middle is not only technically jaw-dropping, it actually has a reason to exist unlike the ultimately pointless one-take in SPECTRE). The “callbacks” are smartly used – you keep waiting for that classic Rocky Theme, and when it finally kicks in, everyone in the audience was cheering. You wonder why the steps weren’t in the montage, and when they make an appearance at the end and you realize what they’re doing, it’s simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring. This movie smartly understands that The Rocky series is about emotions as well as action and works the tear ducts almost non-stop (Stallone’s reaction when he gets his diagnosis brought sniffles to the entire theatre).

    So yeah, it’s an incredible movie. This and Mad Max: Fury Road are shining anomalies in the giant trash heap of Hollywood reboot-quels and we’re lucky to have them.

  27. Oh, and I forgot to mention I even liked Creed’s foray into Kevin Williamson-land when Adonis mimics Brando in The Godfather, not mentioning that Rocky’s late wife looks an awful lot like Connie Corleone.

  28. Another nice holdover from ROCKY BALBOA that I forgot to mention: Stitch Duran who was in Mason Dixon’s corner is now on Team Creed. Continuing the tradition of people who were backing a Rocky rival now becoming an ally of Balboa.

  29. “Those things RRA mentioned are not loose threads that should be tied up, they’re just part of the continuing cycle of life and/or sports. It would sure be hard to end Rocky’s story better than this.”

    Vern – I thought ROCKY BALBOA was a good finish to his story. I thought the same of CREED. But we’ll see him again if we get a sequel.

    I guess that’s the interesting difference between movies now and back then. Sly with each ROCKY movie was making up as he went along with no great franchise vision. I said this before, but CREED was inspired ROCKY fan fiction. Coogler looked at the movies and found a way to put his take on that world and properly inserted it continuity-wise into that series.

    What I’m trying to say is if Coogler wasn’t thinking about some of those plot threads and where they go off screen (aka sequels) when he was writing and making this movie…I would be surprised. Call me cynical.

    Then again Marvel allegedly tried to get Coogler for their Black Panther movie. DC wants him for their Cyborg movie*. CREED should be his commercial franchise, instead of just another guy jumping on and later off a runaway franchise train.

    *=Which honestly I have the gut feeling that’ll fade away in favor of a Teen Titans movie.

  30. Skani – think of this new prospective CREED Franchise rehashing characters/stories like the modern superhero franchises. I mean we’ve had/going to have 7 Superman films in 40 years, and 5 of them have Lex Luthor, 2 with General Zod. 8 Batman films, 2 with Bane, 2 with Joker, 2 with Victor Zsazsa, 2 with Catwoman, etc. Think of the Supes/Bats-verse characters that people expect in those movies and the different people who played them. (3 Louis Lanes, 3 Perry Whites, 3 Alfreds, etc.)

    It’s a tricky thing to rehash while trying to do something a tad new, like giving your car a new paint coat. I mean ANT-MAN rehashed a lot of IRON MAN plot elements (for example: bald corporate villain who kicked out the former owner/namesake of their company who wants to bastardize said ex-namesake’s awesome supersuit and sell it under the table to bad guys) and you have the trademark Marvel touches with actors appearing from other MCU stuff plus references, the redemptive angle for the hero, the humor, obvious set-ups for sequels and other MCU product*. Then there were the inspired moments (some from Edgar Wright and others like the Rudd/McKay/Reed team) like that setpiece fight in a child’s trainset or using size perspectives to be in the thick of battle, then cut away from a distant POV and realize how comical it looks.

    In short, CREED 2 better not just be ROCKY II straight-out rehashed. Instead of Rocky not able to make that sweet commercial money, Creed Jr is able to but he’s sued for punching that nightclub guy from the last movie, which basically drags him through the TMZ mud.

    *=Consider our title character’s (fun) fight with an Avenger, which basically is set-up for why the Avengers get Ant-Man involved in next year’s CIVIL WAR movie…but organically it also worked for ANT-MAN’s purposes and not feel like total set-up.

  31. For those curious about the one-shot boxing scene –

    The Story Behind The Astonishing One-Take Boxing Scene In "Creed"

    "Those of us who are fortunate enough to have our dreams come true, we have that moment happen, and then it's like, Holy shit, it's really scary," director Ryan Coogler told BuzzFeed News...

  32. Is it becoming a “thing” in the Rocky movies that folks die off screen and, if so, will they do that to Rocky? Adrain and Paulie died in between films. I was glad they didn’t end the movie with Rocky dying. It seems a little ridiculous that he would be alive and kicking for much longer if they did a sequel. and I think it would be really dopey to bring him back and kill him off in the first ten minutes of a new film.

    One other nitpicky thing was I thought it was a little ridiculous that Mrs. Cosby didn’t come to watch the fight in person. Just sayin’

  33. RRA, I think those are good points (even though I haven’t yet seen Ant Man :))

    I’m probably just shortsighted, but it’s hard for me to see how a Creed series doesn’t end up following the same basic arc of Rocky–not note-for-note, but in the general sense. We need to see him rise to the top, conquer Goliath-esque giants, stumble and lose his edge, and regain it. We don’t necessarily need to see him go broke or whatever (again, it doesn’t need to be a note-for-note retrace of the Rocky series). But there are only so many interesting, high-stakes things you can do with the character before it gets completely predictable or stale. There need to continue to be new-for-him personal and boxing career stakes and changes of pace.

    Stallone recognized that, and that is why Rocky lost everything at the beginning of part 5. For me, part 4 was the first in the series that didn’t really do anything to advance the character (which is not to say I didn’t enjoy it). It was simply, okay, he beat Clubber and showed he is a true champion; um, now let’s find a guy who makes even Clubber look like a sissy, and let’s take away Apollo. But as far as allowing us to see another side of Rocky or see him grow or really learn something about life and himself, this film doesn’t do that. So, Stallone reached a crossroads where the series was either going to just openly keep pressing into “villain of the week” mode (as Rocky 4 did, relative to Rocky 3), or he had to do something bold and different, and so he sent Rocky back to ground zero in part 5. But once you’ve played a given major life crisis card, you can’t play it again too soon if at all. In Stallone’s case, I think the long gaps between 5 and 6 and between 6 and 7 really helped things, because they allowed enough time to elapse for us to be left wanting more and for there to be interesting new stories to tell based on Rocky’s aging, and all of the associated life challenges. Either real, new life challenges need to percolate organically with the aging process, or there need to be new wrinkles to the underdog-to-champion-back-to-underdog arc, or we are just watching our hero slay a new and cooler boxing dragon year after year.

    What the Creed series is up against is the fact, by design, we aren’t just experiencing this as Creed 1, we are also very much experiencing it as Rocky 7, and it is very much trading on all of that nostalgia and mythology. So, given that many of this do experience this as Rocky 7, we are not at the beginning of a new series but well into an old series where all of the major stakes-raising tricks have been played, sometimes repeatedly–hero goes the distance hero becomes; bona fide champ; take away his eye of the tiger; here gains fame and riches; hero loses fame and riches; hero loses those he loves.

    For me at least, the fact that Creed is Rocky 7 (i.e., that it inherits some “been there, done that” baggage from the rest of the series) is evident in the way I experience the parallels between Adonis Creed’s title shot in part 7 and Rocky’s own title shot in part 1, not to mention strong parallels of both of them to boxing plot of part 6: Our beloved underdog gets unlikely match with the champ based on a publicity fluke and then goes the distance but loses. Once Pretty Ricky comes into the frame, I am already very aware of how keenly Creed is toe-ing the line between homage/recapitulation and out-and-out jacking of the core boxing plot of part 1 and 6. For this film, I can accept it as a cool recapitulation of this mordern myth of the boxing underdog hero’s journey. But how much of an appetite will I have for too much more recapitulation of Rocky series stakes-raising tricks by the time we get to Creed 3/Rocky 9?

  34. I have to say that I felt Phylicia Rashad hella distracting in this. She’s so culturally identified as Ms. Huxtable (again, maybe only for a guy like me in his late 30s), that it’s a distracting casting choice. Plus, there was just this weird feeling of Rashad’s work and this character being tacked on. Like it was all shot in one day by the second unit and than strategically edited into the film. I don’t know, like she never comes off the soundstage and into the rest of the film. I guess it makes sense that she stays in L.A. and whatnot, but those just felt like random scenes with Ms. Huxtable and lacked the weight they were supposed to have.

    More generally, I think all of the early Adonis backstory exposition–everything that has to happen to get him to Philly–feels like this narrative decathalon of rushed, choppy, and obligatory plot check-boxing to establish who Adonis is quickly enough to get him to Philly so he can meet Rocky and still spend most of the running time there. Like, there was one or two movies in all of that alone, but in this film, it just felt like a lot of rushed effort to establish a layered character without actually earning any of that sense of layering by showing it evolve organically. Either make that a separate film the ends with him arriving in Philly or instead just start this film in Philly and tell the backstory via flashback or in the initial meet ups with Rocky. For me, those first 30-some minutes are extremely rushed and choppy, tonally don’t connect to the rest of the film. The whole “Adonis in LA (and Tijuana)” aspect of the film is kind of a headscratcher to me inasmuch as I would think someone with Coogler’s chops could find a more creative vs. tonally disconnected and narratively front-loaded way of communicating that information. For me, it makes the first 30-40 minutes something of a drag.

  35. I’m not saying I personally could do it, but I think there is a way–via flashback (e.g., in the middle of a training or fight montage), dream sequence, over-the-initial-credits montage, or dialogue-heavy emotional first meeting with Rocky (a la Rocky and Robert’s argument outside of Adrian’s in part 6) that you could communicate Adonis’s core backstory fairly quickly and fairly deftly. I could see the counter-argument that this would be too rushed and perfunctory, but I think the initial 30-40 minutes of backstory box-checking and scenery hopping is itself too rushed and perfunctory, and as I said, feels disjointed and tacked onto the beginning of the film, like a different little mini-film or set of mini-films.

  36. “RRA, I think those are good points (even though I haven’t yet seen Ant Man :))”

    Skani – Its decent, if so far maybe the weakest of the MCU origin stories. (Which I include GOTG and AVENGERS, even though they’re team movies.) Basically if you like Marvel you might like it. If not…you get the idea.

    Then again, Terry Gilliam liked it which surprised* the shit out of me.

    *=Not as surprising as when the Internet who cried tragedy a year earlier when Edgar Wright quit the movie (which he had been working on for almost a decade), then it ended up getting better reviews than AOU. I guess that’s an old fashioned case of AOU being hotly anticipated and AM flying under the radar skewing expectations.

  37. I had the opposite feeling of Rashad. I thought it was great to see her today, in a real movie, and doing a good job. I think her role as Mrs. Huxtable only helps to make you instantly see her as a strong and loving mother figure. And I think it makes perfect sense that after she watched her husband be punched to death in Vegas she is not going to go to another boxing match ever again, especially one where her son is fighting a guy everyone thinks is going to make mince meat out of him.

  38. Just saw this today. Holy shit, I did not expect to love it so much. Obviously, as a man over the age of 30, I have a biological imperative to get misty-eyed whenever Rocky gives a speech. (In the theater, the sniffles of grown-ass men sounded in the quiet moments like sad crickets.) But I didn’t expect to really be on Don Johnson’s side the way I was. Certain elements of his life story–elements I never put together until now–coincide with my own in a way that made his final pronouncement pretty cathartic for me. Let’s just say I was glad they kept the lights low so no one could see me chopping onions in public.

    But also what got me on board was the top notch filmatism of the fights. The editing was really superb. That final missed punch by Pretty was a thing of beauty. Just pure visceral filmmaking.

    Oh, and I don’t want to assume but if I had to guess I’d say that photo was if Sly and Sage. Which was probably why that was the first out of the seven or eight times in the movie when the theater’s filtration system failed to get rid of all the dust in the air.

    Wow, I needed that.

  39. So glad to hear you loved it Majestyk. I remember that you were initially pretty skeptical. Nice to see that Coogler made you a believer.

  40. Big news tonight is that apparently Coogler is in talks to direct BLACK PANTHER for Marvel.

  41. That’s a great move. Assuming Marvel allows him to impose some of his own vision and sensibilities on this (a potentially big if), he’ll crush it.

  42. Skani – considering TWS and GOTG and IM3 and Avengers films and so forth…yeah they might let him have some of his vision/sensibilities.

  43. It’s been such a beast for Marvel to find a director for this movie that I wonder if he’d be able to bring more leverage to the table than the usual journeyman they’ve been hiring lately. Really, though, I think his sensibilities, at least from this one movie I’ve seen, would fit in just fine at Marvel.

  44. Good stuff Majestyk(from your first post). As a man slightly over the age of forty, I too have a predisposition to wail like a sullied wench at these things.

    But boy oh boy did I love this movie. Besides being a sucker for these father/son/mentor/family-is-where-you-find-them tales, I love the great big heart of Stallone’s Balboa. His trajectory from Rocky as fatherless bum to underdog contender, adopted by Mickey, husband to Adrian, flawed father to Rocky Jr(notice how true to life this can be – parents can mess up their own kids knowingly or not, yet be great mentors in the eyes of others), Saint Rocky to potential future slut Maree, adopted father of Philly, Avenger Of Apollo/Ender Of Cold War, to respectful widower and reluctant mentor/trainer of Adonis.

    Some scenes that got me –

    – Rocky and Adonis working the speed bag together during a training montage, seeing Rocky get his juice going.

    – The way Bianca slaps Adonis with joy after he wins his first fight, like she had no idea how good he was.

    – The jogging/street-bikes scene was a bit corny, until they stopped in the middle of the road as that great crescendo of war-rhythm music swells, and they’re at Rocky’s house! And as Rocky opens the window and looks out, he sees Adonis and friends saluting him with their revving bikes. Beautiful.

    That final scene on the museum steps, and what Rocky and Donnie say to each other, and CREED’s chances as contender for best movie of the year…not bad, not bad at all.

  45. Black Panther is the one Marvel movie I hope doesn’t end fucked up. Well besides a potential BLADE 4. So best of luck to him if he gets the gig.

  46. >The way Bianca slaps Adonis with joy after he wins his first fight, like she had no idea how good he was.

    That was such a great and authentic moment. That article about that scene that I think someone linked to here explained why it felt so true: it was take 11 of doing that whole scene in a single take and she and Stallone were genuinely elated for Jordan that he had made it through.

  47. SPOILERS, I’m sure:
    Hoping to check out this one again tomorrow for a second viewing. For some reason, the extremely positive critical reaction is kind of nagging at me, just like it’s getting over-hyped (I like Rocky more when he’s an underdog, I guess). I’m pretty confident this is a very solid Rocky film (I don’t think I’ll change my view on that), but I think like part 6, it’s too far into the series and too much of an admixture of the serious drama and implausible cliched cornball stuff (which I love) for me to really treat this as an Oscar-worthy picture, which is some of the hype. I could see a supporting actor nomination for Sly, but that’s about it. In general, I feel like this film gets too much of a free pass on some things that really don’t work, like:

    -The first 40 minutes, which are rushed, herky-jerky in jumping across time and location, and seem to exist primarily to check a bunch of Adonis back-story boxes. They feel like a bunch of little vignettes that are tonally disconnected from the rest of the film but run too long to be ignored. I think all of that backstory narrative dumping could have been handled better.
    -The main plot beats are directly lifted from Rocky 1 and 6
    -Adonis’s path to a title shot and the fight itself and its resolution are just too note-for-note borrowed from 1 and 6 to ignore. I’m not saying I have a better solution. Maybe don’t even give him a title shot in this one.
    -The film tries to set up and communicate too many plot points and characters and dynamics in its running time. I feel like major chunks of the movie could have been dramatically edited or eliminated altogether. This film tries to give too much time to too many Adonis-and-other-person dyads.
    -Michael Jordan’s performance is great, but I find Adonis to be the weakest and thinnest-written character in the script. That’s a problem when it’s the titular character and franchise heir-apparent
    -Things that almost always deliver big in a Rocky film pretty much feel flat for me. The montage with dirt bikes was just a complete WTF for me that lacked any emotional, I’ve-got-the-eye-of-the-tiger-psyched-up punch for me. The fight scenes, which everyone is falling all over themselves to praise, similarly did not do much for me. The close-shot cinematography certainly made things more intimate and maybe more realistic, but the fights just weren’t as much pure visceral fun. They weren’t memorable. I couldn’t believe all the hysteria over that single-shot first fight. I thought it was pretty short, perfunctory, too closely shot. Meh.

    What worked was the milieu, the performances, the beautiful further evolution of Rocky, and the Rocky-Adonis relationship (also beautiful). These things, the similar feel to part 6, and my general love for this series are what still makes it definitely a very good Rocky film. But these other things are really nagging at me, and I think it’s coming out more since I’m kind of having a Mugatu crazy pills moment where I feel like nobody else is having these reactions. And I am all signed up to love a Rocky film.

    Sorry to keep rambling. Still working through the emotional process that is a new Rocky film :)

  48. Just finished second viewing. Still think it’s a deeply satisfying Rocky film. Still stand by my criticisms, though their impact is exaggerated above. Aside from being a compelling Rocky film, it’s a solid three-star movie in its own right, very well-acted, touching, engrossing. Donnie is a more intriguing character than I gave credit for, and I think there is a lot of room to grow and explore new angles here, so I’m backing away from my doomsterism on more sequels.

  49. Well, I’m glad I finally found time to see this one, because it is fantastic. Not much more I can add that hasn’t been mentioned already, but Creed is exactly what movie-making is all about. Human characters struggling and striving and coming together and forming bonds; that’s some life-affirming shit.

    The one-take boxing match was the show-stopper, no question about it. Absolutely incredible technique on display there; film-making bravado, much like the title character.

    I was also hooked at the very start in the juvenile detention facility. When he asked “what was his name” and the title card came on the screen and the music swelled, I got serious goosebumps.
    -Stallone working the speed bag next to Donnie was awesome, you could see the joy on his face, loved it.
    -In the final fight when Donnie landed his first big punch and the Rocky theme played, aw man, that was great. Game fucking on you limey bitch.
    -Stallone legitimately should get a best supporting actor nom for this; he had to work a pretty tough register here. Simultaneously being the happy-go-lucky Rocky character, but still convey the tragedy that he’s seen in life, and also handle a cancer diagnosis. Not an easy role, not by a longshot, but he fucking nailed it.

    I’m maybe still a little amped, but I gotta say this is my favorite movie of 2015, a year that includes Mad Max Fury Road. We’ll see if Star Wars/Hateful Eight/Revenant can take a shot at the title, but right now Creed is wearing the belt.

  50. Michael Rapaport Loses His Sh*t After Sylvester Stallone Loses At Oscars — Watch

    We know how you feel! Michael Rapaport exploded into rage in front of his TV when he heard Sylvester Stallone lost out in the Best Supporting Actor category at The Oscars on Feb. 28. Click here to …

  51. …and people wonder why I stopped watching the oscars and grammys in 2003 and never looked up.

    While everybody else was watching a self congratulating wank fest I watched Kurosawa’s RAN and SON OF SAUL back to back a the film forum. No regrets.

  52. Broddie- Instead of the Oscars, I watched Fritz Langs five hour german fantasy epic DIE LIBENUNGEN from 1924 based on Wagners opera THE RING. I believe I made the right decision of spending five hours.

  53. As the Oscars is, as Broddie put it, “a self congratulating wank fest”, DIE NIBELUNGEN is the same. Although with much darker undertones, it´s one of the most preposterous movies I have ever witnessed. As it starts out with ” a tribute to the German people”, you can guess where this is going.

    If you have a morbid sense of humour about it (which I claim to have) it is interesting to look at the film as an expression of an entire race of people starting to go completely insane.

  54. While everybody was pretending to be too cool and edgy to care for the Oscars, I watched the Oscars and didn’t regret it.

  55. I always pretend to be cool and edgy. That´s on my CV.

  56. More power to you CJ. Somebody has to watch them. I just realized they’re not for me quite long ago. Well actually awards shows in general. I’d always prefer to do something else 9 times out of 10.

  57. If Sly had won I would’ve youtubed it. That had potential to be a brilliant TV moment but alas…

    How was Rock BTW? I expected him to be awkward as fuck with that crowd of people. They think they dodged a bullet by never giving it to Gervais but Chris Rock in a room filled with many rich and vain white people had to be a trainwreck for them and comedy gold to everyone else I assume.

  58. Kinda weird Oscars, awards all over the place. MAD MAX walks away with a armload of awards but none of the biggies; SPOTLIGHT winning Picture and Screenplay but nothing else. Chris Rock and Louis C.K. turn the evening into such good stand-up comedy that I routinely forgot it was the Oscars and got annoyed when Rock got interrupted by stupid awards.

    Most predictable outrage: Oppenheimer snubbed again for another shallow doc about a popular singer.

    Most predictable justice: Morricone finally gets his gold, and well-deserved too.

    Biggest upset: Rylance upsets Stallone?! Even he seemed confused. I mean, he’s fuckin’ great, but I thought the momentum was obviously with Sly.

    Best category: Holy shit, has there ever been a stronger slate of cinematography nominations? Lubezki winning three years running is kinda weird, but then again, he just keeps being amazing. But boy, any of those could have won and I’d have thought it well-deserved.

  59. I watched two and a half non-kung fu Shaw Brothers movies. But I probably would have done that anyway.

  60. Rock was awesome. Many people (including me) expected lots of “White people are so lame” and “Can you believe how RACIST the Oscars are?” jokes, but he lashed out at everybody, from the lack of diversitv in the nominees, to Jada Pinkett Smith boykotting the Oscars, to people acting as if the academy burnt a cross and lynched Idris Elba and Will Smith for not nominating more black actors. (Shoutout to Louis CK for his Documentary Short bit.)

  61. Also Louis Gosset Jr was a presenter. Granted, they pretty much hired him as “token black Oscar winner”, but come on, who doesn’t like to see Louis Gosset Jr?

  62. Lou Gossett Jr. Is a national treasure to me and while I’m sure many will agree they will probably attribute that sentiment to his work in ROOTS or AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMEN. For me though it’s because of ACES: IRON EAGLE III.

  63. Although the fact that Lou Gossett Jr. was appearing in unwatchable garbage like LEGEND OF THE MUMMY (1997) a decade or so after his Oscar win kinda gives credence to Rock’s point that Black Actors just can’t get good roles. It’s not like he’s the first actor to struggle after his bug win, but I do think it telling. I appreciated that Rock points out that it’s not that there’s no work for Black Actors, it’s just that there’s little good work. Plenty of movies have a Black Best Friend. Not enough have really compelling dramatic parts. Of course, good luck getting much sympathy from Asian or Latino actors, women over 35, etc…

  64. Don’t forget ENEMY MINE, Lou Gossett Jr. was great in that.

  65. Did not watch the Oscars, but I’m not mad Stallone lost, as I truly think this is one of these “honor just be nominated” situations. Just the fact that he got the nomination is a tremendous career capper and is a fitting resolution for Rocky: It’s not about getting the decision or the knockout, it’s going the distance.

    Anyway, I’m mid-way through my third watch of Creed, and now that all the baggage of expectations has been sorted out, I’m pretty solidly loving it. I’ve come to the conclusion that my initial liking-but-not-loving-it-and-not-sure-what-all-the-hype-is-about reaction stemmed mostly from the singular phenomenon of this being a Rocky movie that is not exactly a Rocky movie. A movie that is partially about Rocky and where Rocky and his Philly world (particularly the Rocky 6 version) are central characters, but not the central character–where the narrative energy and psychological world substantially revolves around this other character who enters that world from elsewhere and who exists in relationship to Rocky (and Apollo) but also as a unique and fully realized character of his own. A character who’s demeanor and life circumstances are in some ways similar to but in other ways very different from Rocky (and from Apollo). Yet it is also a character (and film) whose arc very much follows that of Rocky I. Lots of parallels, lots of callbacks and fan service, but lots that is different. Adonis is “the Rocky” in this story, or is “the Apollo.” Rocky is “the Mickey,” but he’s only about 20% Mickey in terms of tough-love demeanor: he’s still very much Rocky. Bianca is “the Adrian” narratively, and yet she’s nothing like Adrian. And so on.

    I think my initial resistance was just adjusting to the fact that Rocky was a major character, but that it’s not centrally about his journey and his goals in the same way as with the previous films. We don’t spend time alone with him in this one the way I’m used to, and I think that was initially a hard adjustment for me, as much as I like Michael B. Jordan. Now that I’m past that, I can really just enjoy Jordan’s performance and Adonis’s journey in its own right and then just be grateful that Rocky is in this world as well…and not just as a cameo but as a fully invested performance and a fully realized character who goes to new places. I think I wanted the film to be more about Rocky than it was or than it should have been. Now I get it, and I now I think I get why I didn’t get it as much at first. I’m a slow learner.

    Anyways, the narrative parallels and the general pregnant-with-Rocky-mythology-undertones are too strong to ignore and are strong enough to at times border on re-hash; and yet everything about the Adonis character, his demeanor, backstory, struggles, love interest, his unique bond with Rocky, his abandonment issues, etc. are so fresh and different from anything previous to the Rocky franchise; and it is all integrated so effectively and with such fondness and regard for the franchise. And then there are some really effective new elements and risks (the one-take fight, which has grown on me). There’s really nothing to which I can liken it in terms of franchises, sequels, reboots. It simultaneously honors, incorporates, extends, recapitulates, and elevates the Rocky story in a really profound, almost spiritual way. Man, I’m fully fully on board now.

  66. *It’s not about getting the decision or the knockout, it’s going the distance*

    As Franchise Fred might say – I love you Skani. Bravo. Bullseye. High five etc.

  67. Aw, shucks, Poeface. U 2 bro. Besides, we all know who really deserved to win this. You guessed it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lV_2ur8MacU

  68. You’re right, Skani – I’m sure Stallone would have loved winning that Oscar but he’s probably just happy knowing he went the distance. (Not to mention he can go home and cry in the giant pile of the 20 other awards he won for Creed).

    To be honest I kinda expected the upset (well, to Mark Ruffalo, not Mark Rylance) – everyone always says the Academy loves a good sentimental actor comeback story but have they actually followed through? I know Michael Keaton for Birdman, Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler, Eddie Murphy for Dreamgirls and Bill Murray for Lost in Translation were all heavy favorites to win and were all upset. I figured Stallone wouldn’t break the pattern though it would have been nice.

    So let’s address the SPOILERY elephant in the room – do you think if Rocky had died he might have won? Not just in the sense he would have definitely had more Oscar bait-y scenes, but to be honest maybe the Academy felt “well the character’s probably coming back, we can vote for him next time”. I honestly went into Creed 90% expecting Rocky to die and was simultaneously pleasantly surprised but also a little disappointed he didn’t. Surprised because Rocky persevering and climbing those steps at the end was the perfect ending, the perfect cap for this character that I didn’t see coming. Disappointed because I really want Creed to have a sequel (especially to patch up the unfinished story with Adonis’ mom) but it’d feel weird and wrong if Rocky wasn’t in it (having died offscreen). And it’d also feel weird if Rocky WAS in it, since I don’t see where else there is to go for the character. What, does he get cancer again? But who knows, I thought Rocky Balboa was the perfect final word on the character (and to be honest the ending of Rocky V with his son on the steps isn’t half bad either) – Stallone and Co. may have something up their sleeves and we can never count them out.

  69. You know, in retrospect, it’s funny how ROCKY winning Best Picture completely misses the entire point of the movie.

  70. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS — Finally saw this one and fuckin’ loved it. You guys have covered pretty much everything already, but I did want to point out one little detail that I enjoyed: At the end of the fight, Pretty Ricky comes over and genuinely congratulates him for going the distance. Fight brothers! This is especially important to me, because I actually found myself kind of torn about him. Ricky’s a moron and a hothead, but he’s right, he really did come from nothing, he earned this. He’s pretty mean to Donnie at the press event, but he’s basically right, the kid would never be anywhere near here without that name. And this is probably his last fight — he’s going to jail for the rest of his prime fighting years. It was through his own stupidity, but you can see how much regret he has over it. I love the scene with him and his trainer (an excellent Graham McTavish, who I hope to see more of soon) where he gets to be a little vulnerable. They’re both aware that this guy has completely ruined everything they’ve both spent years building by acting like an idiot. McTavish is obviously furious at Ricky, and at first it seems like he’s gonna be an anti-Rocky, a cold father figure who just wants the money. But no, he says this fight is to ensure that Ricky’s kids are going to be OK while he sits in the can. And Ricky just bows his head because he knows he’s right, and he knows it’s all his fault. It’s a nice moment, and Tony Bellew actually does a nice, subtle job of embodying Ricky’s contradictory shame and ego. I actually found myself kind of liking him, or at least sort of not wanting him to lose in this, his last chance. When Donnie earns his respect, he seems genuinely happy — he took this gig as a payday, but now his legacy is something special.

  71. I was also on Ricky’s side for the press conference. He might be a dumbass chav who’s thrown his life away over some macho bullshit, but he still has absolutely no reason to grant Adonis any respect at that point. Regardless of what we, the audience, know about his struggles, he really, truly did not earn his spot in that fight. He doesn’t do that until halfway through the second round.

    I also like that Ricky doesn’t take his manager’s advice to just stay back and win by decision rather than going toe-to-toe with Adonis and maybe getting knocked out. Ricky knows this is his last fight and he wants to go out swinging. This is the end of his legacy as much as it’s the beginning of Adonis’, and he has just as much to prove.

    I rewatched this last night, and it’s ridiculous how much this movie has me in its pocket right from the jump. Think of little Donnie’s first line of dialogue. He’s 10 years old. He’s getting hauled off by the screws for fucking up some kid four inches taller than him. And all he’s got to say is “At least let me get my shoes.” That’s some succinct badass character-building right. That’s how a John Carpenter anti-hero gets introduced.

    (“Adonis Creed” would also sound fit in perfectly next to “Snake Plissken,” “Napoleon Wilson,” and “Desolation Williams,” now that you mention it.)

    I think if the title had come in a little harder, maybe even accompanied by the sound of a starting bell, I would have thrown my elbow out from fist-pumping too hard. So good call on that one, Coogler. Not sure how much PT my ObamaCare covers.

    Things I noticed the second time around:

    • Adonis is already taking off his glove before the Mexican boxer he knocks down is even on the seven count. He knows a KO when he sees one.

    • When shadowboxing along with the YouTube video of Superfight 2, he starts out doing Rocky’s moves (symbolic of his unexpressed anger at his father), then does Apollo’s (symbolic of his acceptance of his father’s legacy), then starts doing his own (symbolic of synthesizing his influences to become his own man at the end of the picture). It’s the whole movie in microcosm.

    • I like that the onscreen stats only appear for the fighters appear when Adonis is about to fight them, not when they’re first introduced. Saving Ricky’s for the end, right when you’d forgotten all about that motif, makes it more powerful. It’s a great “Shit just got real” moment.

    • Did you see the size of Stallone’s fucking fist compared to Jordan’s? It was the size of a three-year-old child’s head. It looked like it weighed ten pounds. I would not want to get hit with one of those fucking things. I rematched ROCKY immediately afterward and practically wept for Apollo’s ribs.

    • Bianca’s progressive hearing loss is a great metaphor for a boxer’s career. As Rock said, time defeats everyone eventually, so do it as much and as hard as you can before it catches up with you.

    • It’s great that everybody knows Rocky and has no problem calling him by his first name. (Even Bianca, who’s not shown to have any interest in boxing or sports, is a little starstruck.) He’s basically the mayor of Philly, except the actual mayor might have a harder time getting let into a locked jail cell to have a private conversation.

    • Ricky’s final missed punch is the most breathtaking piece of action editing of the year. And I don’t say that lightly.

    • I love that the movie everybody falls asleep during is SKYFALL. Because SKYFALL sucks.

    This fuckin’ movie, man. Before it came out, I had lots of intellectual objections to the very concept of a ROCKY spinoff, but it won over my heart almost instantly. My brain wasn’t far behind. It’s like Rocky said: “Drive it through the body and I promise the head will fall.”

  72. Also I just noticed that one of Tony Bellew’s only two professional losses was to a guy named “Adonis” (Adonis Stevenson, in 2013) so I’m sure he was glad to get a chance for a rematch against another Adonis.

  73. Great commentary you guys. Great moments. I do love the Adonis-Ricky exchange. “Respect.”

  74. Late to this. Not much I can say that you guys haven’t, but this is a really great movie.

    Rocky 1 will always be my favorite by a landslide. Probably everyone’s. My second favorite is #4; I love the full tilt 80s over the topness!! This one ranks at #3.

    I’ll marathon them all again in 2 or 3 years. My rankings might change (they do almost every time I watch a beloved series marathon style) by I am sure at least moments of this will hold up for years (the one shot fight was extraordinary!)

    If they get to it, I think Creed 2 should detatch itself from the ROCKY universe. New characters and places. Give it its own identity. But, a part 3 should have a Clubber or Drago. Making reluctant peace with Drago would surprisingly work I think. And Dolph Lungren seems up to the challenge to reinvent this character as a tragi-hero.

    I think its my favorite 7. Beats STAR WARS…and I liked STAR WARS a lot. But it did what STAR WARS 7 tried to do but came short by being too darn obvious about it. Most of the franchises I can think of that even get to 7, their 7 doesn’t come close to this. Nice try Jason Vs. Carrie though!

    One thing…don’t you guys think its time to stop passing around those trunks? They’ve been soaked with 40 years of ballsweat!!!

  75. Love the look of this! Go, Coogler!

    Black Panther Teaser Trailer

    HERO. LEGEND. KING. Watch Marvel Studio's Black Panther teaser trailer now. ► Subscribe to Marvel: http://bit.ly/WeO3YJ Follow Marvel on Twitter: ‪https://tw...

  76. Sly posted this teaser on IG…

    Mastor Troy - Google+

    Mastor Troy - Google+

  77. All of these ingrates complaining that Stallone is directing the next one cause Coogler is unavailable. As if he didn’t already direct 4 solid entries in the series including 2 that are considered some of the best ones. I hate the internet.

  78. Broddie, this, too, saddens my heart.

    I mean, people are complaining that Stallone is directing a Rocky film?!!

  79. It’s like living in a punch drunk world.

  80. I thought we were all progressive here!? This is cultural appropriation of the reverse cultural apparition of CREED!

  81. Ha ha ha but as we all know progressive and stupid are not always interchangeable.

  82. I don’t know, I think what people liked about CREED (and I’m including myself in that) was that it had a different style and a different point of view than the others in the series. I can see being disappointed that the next one’s just going right back to the same old thing. Especially if you’re some millennial twat who never watched a Rocky movie in his life but has strong opinions about what they’re like anyway.

  83. I think Coogler is living the dream right now and the brother needs to take all the offers he gets now before they stop coming in. So I don’t fault him for moving on. Dude got both a Rocky movie and a major superhero joint under his belt as a young black director? That is unprecedented and he must continue to strike while the iron is hot and stretch his wings. Not box himself in.

    As a fellow melanated creative type I’d do the same. Besides he’s part of that family now. Sly wouldn’t deny him if he wanted to direct one again.

    I too did appreciate a new blood perspective and again was really proud that a young black man got that shot and knocked it out the park. However some of these idiots really forget that Stallone directed himself to 2 of his greatest performances as that character in ROCKY II and ROCKY BALBOA. Then he provided endless entertainment and some of the most iconic moments in sports movie history as the director of III and IV.

    They act like he’s an unsuitable replacement. Forgeting that some of your most cherished Rocky movie memories were likely directed by Sly himself. Now they have the audacity to question his competence in directing another movie in the series? What kind of movie fans are these people?

  84. They’re not movie fans. They don’t give a fuck about the medium, just the message. They’re still no different than Born Agains flocking to shitty, incompetent evangelical films starring Kirk Cameron just because they espouse Christian values. These motherfuckers joined the choir and now they demand to be preached to.

    That said, I think Coogler would make a better sequel, because he’s at the point in his journey that Adonis would be in his, and that kind of meta parallel is a crucial part of every Rocky movie. Somehow I don’t think unkillable war horse Stallone will have the same insights into the first flush of success and celebrity that someone like Coogler, whose life must have changed radically in the last few years, would have. Stallone already told his version of that story in ROCKY II, for a very different time and based on a very different experience (Stallone was pegged as a one-trick pony after ROCKY and had to prove himself all over again, while Coogler became the belle of the ball after CREED and was offered the keys to the kingdom). But I don’t blame Coogler for moving on. He told the story he wanted to tell and now he wants to tell different ones. I respect that and wish him the best.

  85. Pff, the people who are angry that Stallone directs the next CREED, are just racists who hate Italian-Americans.

  86. The Undefeated Gaul

    October 10th, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Honestly, my interest in this film quadrupled as soon as I learned Stallone was directing it. Thank God there’s some sane people left in this world who know how to respond positively to this news – reading the comments on other websites was putting me in a very bad mood indeed. So many of them not only ridicule Stallone, but also seem to state that he can’t possibly direct it, cause… he’s not black? Jesus.

  87. I had mixed feelings on CREED. I thought it was very stylish, had a lot of heart, took the Rocky character to new and powerful places, and introduced compelling new characters. It was a competent, emotionally involving film that effectively passed the torch/reset the franchise, and I liked the fight choreography. It was fresh. On the other hand, it does a tremendous amount of recycling of beats from ROCKY I and BALBOA, I felt the pacing was a little uneven, and the central character was frequently at serious risk of being overshadowed by Rocky. All in all, solid B+.

    I have similarly mixed feelings about Sly taking over from Coogler. Sly’s directorial output has been uneven and his recent instincts seem to hew toward the gimmicky and lazy. THE EXPENDABLES is a big ongoing stunt and a tease that never delivers on the sales pitch. Bringing back Drago is, of course, awesome fan service, but it, too, feels like a fan fic stunt. Coogler brings a level of restraint, where Stallone plays it pretty broad. Tonally, ROCKY IV is such a big Bay-ish sexy music video of a film as compared to ROCKY I’s gritty, scrappy feel. With Stallone writing and directing and then drawing CREED into the ROCKY IV orbit, I worry that we will lose the groundedness of CREED 1, and Adonis will fail to break out from Rocky’s and his father’s shadow (a la Tommy Gunn, lol).

    Of course, I’ll see anything with Drago in it, multiple times, but it feels like a bit of a step backwards for the CREED branch of the Rocky-verse (patent pending) to go in this direction so fast.

  88. Also, I fully acknowledge that it would be very difficult to do another ROCKY/CREED film where I wouldn’t find something to pick on. We’re 40 years and about to be 8 films deep here, so, the very premise of the CREED series is that it is capitalizing on the ROCKY “brand” and associated reservoir of sentiment and goodwill. It’s always going to be a tricky proposition to honor and build upon the legacy vs. merely milk it. I think this film is a kind of fork in the road where they can really explore and develop Adonis Creed and help him break away, or it can double down on the nostalgia legacy tour angle. I can enjoy either film, I suppose, but I hope Sly is able to resist the instinct to overshadow the Creed character and devolve into nostalgia porn. There’s no easy way out, here, Sly.

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