Creed

There is probably no one less qualified to review Creed than me. I have seen absolutely none of the Rocky movies. I haven’t seen Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III: Rocky Harder, Rocky the Fourth, Rocky V: 3D, or Rocky Balboa. Nor did I see that terrible cash-in movie where Stallone and De Niro have an old man fight while Kevin Hart makes faces.

The point is, my mom has seen more Rocky movies than I have. But I don’t think that should detract from my opinion of this film. Because it’s a pretty good film.

Creed follows Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), the illegitimate son of Rocky the first antagonist Apollo Creed. Despite being the result of an extra-marital love affair, Apollo’s wife adopts Adonis and raises him as her own. Which is pretty great for him, since she’s living off of Apollo’s boxing winnings. But despite having a great job, and all the opportunities in the world, Adonis really wants to box. He fights in Mexico to get his kicks in, but he really wants to fight in America. His gym won’t train him (What, why?) so he heads over to Philly to try and pull Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) out of his restaurant to give him some real training.

It’s still unclear to me why Adonis needs Rocky. But they bond and train and it’s beautiful. Creed thrives in its character moments. Glances, turns of phrase, dialogue. Both Michael B. Jordan and Stallone bring their A-game to Creed. Not to mention a few minor characters get their chops in as well.

It’s as simple as simple gets. Sports movies are almost always the same. But we love them, because it’s about overcoming adversity, about triumphing, about showing the world who you really can be. Creed has no frills. But it also pulls no punches. The fights are appropriately brutal and feature long shots that anchor us in the action. It’s fun, it’s also funny, and when the music begins to swell, it all brings a tear to your eye.

Creed does what all boxing movies do: make us forget that boxing is a garbage sport that should have died by now. Adonis’ mother briefly touches on the subject when she scolds her son for wanting to box. Reminding him that his father could barely climb the stairs and needed her to wipe his behind. And I can’t help but agree with her. But damn, if it doesn’t make for one fine movie.

3 out of 4 stars.

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