Film Review by Fiore
It is always sad to see quality characters leave the screen. Rocky Balboa is a celluloid icon. Unfortunately, Sylvester Stallone is pushing 70, far past credibility for a fighter, even in professional wrestling. So, it’s only logical to bring in a next generation to the story; and that is exactly what happens in CREED, the seventh film in the Balboa saga.
Rocky (Stallone) is an old man, a former champ, alien to the glamor and glitz that once dominated his lifestyle. His wife Adrian, and best friend Paulie, Adrian’s brother, have passed. Rocky has settled in his hometown of Philadelphia, running the restaurant lounge that bears his wife’s name.
Into Rocky’s quiet life comes Adonis Johnson, played by Michael B. Jordan, who is the bastard child of Apollo Creed. Adonis, though an educated young man, harbors an anger and a penchant for fisticuffs. He seeks the one man left from his father’s glory days, and attempts to follow in Apollo’s footsteps. Rocky is not ready to return to the gym or life of a fighter, but a series of events joins Adonis and Rocky on another underdog quest.
Jordan is solid in this role. He is easily received as Adonis, and his performance should help viewers forget his horrendous casting in THE FANTASTIC FOUR remake as Johnny Storm. Jordan was touted as an Oscar contender early on, as was Stallone for supporting actor. While no one will ever embody Rocky like Stallone, neither rises to the level of Oscar material. Jordan became a rallying point for certain folk when the charges of racism plagued the Best Actor Oscar Category, but it was a further example of cretins rallying to a cause because of race, and not talent.
Playing the heavy for Adonis’ final match is Anthony Bellew, as Pretty Ricky Conlon. He’s the light heavyweight champ, and British. Not exactly sure why the British are the heavies, but the Rocky story has already played the race card, the communist card, the ghetto card and the age card, so perhaps the British were the only ones left. Bellew, however, is not nearly as menacing as Rocky’s former foes. There’s no sense of urgency to his antagonistic qualities. Perhaps writer/director Ryan Cooglan should have used a Mexican champ. The script could have taken advantage of several stereotypes to build up the confrontation. The British are fine people, they’re just not that intimidating.
1. Rocky’s graveside visit
2. Rocky’s return to the gym
3. The cancer talk
This is the first Rocky film that Stallone has not scripted in some form. It shows; for the movie is a mere retread of the first film. All film lovers will know where this plot is going from the opening reel. Jordan, Stallone and Tessa Thompson as Adonis’ love interest, hold the script together, but it all has a warm left-over taste.
On the technical side, Director of Photography Maryse Alberti is inconsistent. Some shots are
pristine, with the clarity of shooting with a HD Red Camera, while others have the softer feel of film. Either one is good, but to haphazardly mix them is distracting. Editors Michael Shawver and Claudia Castello don’t help by extending CREED a solid 45 minutes past the necessary length.
All told, CREED is not a bad view. The final battle is a carbon copy of the first Rocky -Apollo affair, but it is still fun when the Rocky theme blurts. CREED is not as strong as ROCKY, ROCKY III, or BALBOA, but it is stronger than the other three films in the series.
The grade for CREED = C