Rocky Balboa returned in a way few could expect. This time around, he’s older, wiser, and the father figure to a young boxer ready to become pro. Rocky Balboa is the retired general taking in a new recruit, preparing him for an excellent start to a new pro boxing career.
Adonis Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan, managed to coax a rusty, long-retired Rocky Balboa back to the boxing gym. It isn’t easy for boxing legend Apollo Creed’s son to find anybody willing to dedicate themselves to training him. A full one-third of the first part sees him struggle to just get anyone to take him seriously, including Rocky.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) November 25, 2015
Stylistically, the film offers refreshing new territory courtesy of director Ryan Coogler. It’s hard to believe that the Creed movie is only his second feature film. As Entertainment Weekly reports, his first feature, Fruitvale Station, also saw him pairing with Michael B. Jordan. That film won numerous awards, and put Coogler on the map as someone to watch.
Tessa Thompson plays the love interest to Creed after he arrives in Philadelphia. The dynamic between Thompson and Jordan is great, authentic, and provides a necessary subplot to Adonis’s rugged, strenuous life. Tessa is dreamy as a post-hipster, hearing-impaired songstress. The other acting standout in the movie is Creed’s ultimate opponent, the cocky English bad boy “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, played by real-life boxer Tony Bellew. The troubled world champ is the perfect thorn to pester the Balboa-Creed legacy. Bellew offers huge helpings of authenticity. Besides actually being a serious boxer, his acting chops destine him for future bad boy roles.
Great cinematography and art direction give life to scenes of weathered boxing gyms. They remind viewers of hidden caves among the city sprawls of any metropolitan area. The gritty Philly streets set the perfect training ground for a young boxer and legendary mentor to make their mark. Rocky Balboa is still the king of this town, no matter how retired he may be.
There is an underlying homage to the city of Philadelphia, the same city made famous in the previous Rocky movies. Here the city is again, for the 2010s. Though Philly is still presented as no less than a gritty urban underdog, it also creates the conditions needed for champions, which is one reason why Adonis moves there after not getting any serious consideration in Los Angeles. But finding a mentor and a gym he can call home on an even grittier side of town, complete with a training staff, acts as the necessary catalysts for birthing a new era of championship-level boxing, or at least birthing a Rocky Balboa movie spinoff franchise.
— Screen Rant (@screenrant) November 18, 2015
While promoting the film with sports legends of another type on Inside The NBA, Sylvester Stallone spoke of his affinity for Philadelphia.
“It’s really unique because, at the birth of this nation, the city was supposed to be the city. Then things happened. Even though they signed the Declaration of Independence and everything else, everything went to New York, a lot of things went to Massachusetts, and Philadelphia sort of just stayed there. It was sort of left behind, and I think [Philadelphians have] a little chip on their shoulder. They band together and take their brotherhood kind of serious because they feel a little slighted, I think. I really do. That’s why I believe Philadelphia fighters are so aggressive, and that Joe Frazier totally typified what that city is all about.”
So, Creed is a Thanksgiving treat that can be welcomed by older fans of Rocky, along with younger moviegoers looking for holiday entertainment. The Creed movie is fairly long, at almost two hours and 15 minutes, but is full of vigor and never drags.
[Image via Warner Bros. Pictures/YouTube]