Quick Summary: Former heavyweight boxing [champion Rocky Balboa trains Adonis Johnson, the son of his dead friend and rival Apollo Creed.
Genre: Drama / Sport
Director: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson
Length: 133 min.
Release Date: 2015-11-25 (USA), 2016-01-15 (UK).
More Info: IMDb
Creed - Official Trailer
I binge-watched the Rocky franchise last year, which at the time consisted of 6 films. I liked the first film quite a bit, and 2 to 4 were fun, even if they were basically the same goddamn thing again and again. By the end of the franchise, I was thinking "Oh my god, why the hell are there 6 fucking Rocky movies?" Well, now there's 7.
This time around, though, we follow around Adonis "Donnie" Johnson, the illegitimate son of former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. Donnie is dad-less, because the Rocky franchise likes to purport racial stereotypes about black dads leaving right after they get some bitch preggers. They make some excuse about how Apollo passed away before Donnie was born, and his birth mother not long after. He bounces around group homes and juvie for a while, before Creed's widow eventually tracks him down and takes him in. He grows up and does well for himself, but he wants to be a boxer like his father, even though his adopted mother doesn't approve. Donnie needs a trainer to help take him from amateur to pro, so he sets out to find Rocky Balboa, former heavyweight champ, who took the title from his father and later became close friends with him. This isn't the first film in the franchise that features Balboa training up and coming fighters, but this time we're given one that's likable and that we want to root for, instead of that shit from the 5th film.
You can probably figure out most of the rest of the movie from here. None of it is very surprising, and it's not terribly different from the plot of previous Rocky films. Story-wise, it's the closest to the first, since it's not about someone who's already a big champ. It's about the son of a former champ trying to become one and proving himself in his own right, not just for the name he carries (he prefers to use his birth mother's name for that very reason). I won't go into the full details of that part of the plot to avoid spoilers, though you've probably already figured out most of it. The film also spends some time on the developing relationship between Donnie and an aging Rocky. Donnie often refers to Rocky as "unc", or "uncle", and their relationship becomes more than just that of a trainer and an aspiring fighter.
Sylvester Stallone (Rocky) and Michael B. Jordan (Donnie) do a decent job with their respective roles. None of it stands out as anything spectacular, but it gets the job done. At least we don't have to listen to Stallone scream "ADRIAAAAAAN" at all during the movie, so arguably it's Stallone's best performance in the series.
Creed is a good film, and possibly the best of the Rocky sequels, though that's not saying much. It's not as strong as the original, and its greatest shortcoming is that it's just too similar to past Rocky films, which sadly has been too true of the series since the second film. That said, it's still worth giving a shot if you're a fan of the franchise.
While we're here, let's take a quick look at the rest of the franchise.
Rocky (1976) IMDb
The film that started a franchise. That's not exactly a good thing, as this didn't need to be a franchise since it works as a standalone film. Oh well. The original is still a pretty good film about an underdog attempting to go the distance and become the world heavyweight boxing champion. It's often considered a classic, though I don't know that I'd hold it in that high regard. It's certainly a good film, but it suffers from predictability and the screaming of "ADRIAAAAAAN!". Fun fact: This film begins on November 25th 1975, exactly 40 years before the release of Creed.
Rocky II (1979) IMDb
Picking up right after the first film ends, the second follows a pretty similar plot. Apollo wants a rematch with Rocky, and he's damn determined to get it. It's not exactly a bad movie, it's just so fucking similar to the first that it's difficult to get invested in it. Another fun fact: The fight at the end of the movie between Rocky and Apollo takes place on November 25th 1976, exactly one year after the start of the first film, and exactly 39 years before the release of Creed.
Rocky III (1982) IMDb
Taking place some time after the last film (this film is the start of chronological issues for the franchise), Rocky is now the heavyweight champion of the world, has successfully defended the title numerous times, and is living comfortably. However, some hotshot, up and coming fighter wants to challenge him, even though Rocky wants to retire. This hotshot is played by none less than Mr. T. Mr. T pities the foo' who dares not fight him. Rocky is very much a foo'. None of the rest of the movie is as interesting as Mr. T and his pity.
Pictured: A very angry foo'
Rocky IV (1985) IMDb
Rocky is up against Ivan Drago, a Russian of insane size and power, in a match of revenge after Drago kills Apollo Creed in an exhibition match. I could say more about the film, but the plot is so similar to past films that it's just not that interesting. This film takes place sometime in 1985. Probably.
Rocky V (1990) IMDb
Picking up once again right after the last film ends, this one plays even more hell with the series timeline. Rocky's kid has aged about 3 years in the span of a few days, and it takes place in some ambiguous timeframe during the late 80's. Rocky retires from the ring due to injuries and ends up training some kid. The kid turns out to be a complete shit, though. The movie is pretty awful, but at least the did something different with the franchise for once.
Rocky Balboa (2006) IMDb
The 6th film, and currently the final one focusing on the character Rocky, returns the chronology to something that resembles reality. This time we focus on old Rocky, and even though this film was fairly popular among fans, I hated it. I even hated it more than I hated the awful V, which is generally considered by far the worst Rocky film. Rocky is old, people are dying, he's aging, and he wants to come out of retirement for one last fight, and I can't be brought to give a single shit.
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