This is the much-delayed final review of my series regarding movies that I recently saw that I didn’t get to when they were in the theaters.
To put it simply, I loved everything about “Creed.” It is the story of Adonis “Donnie” Johnson. He is the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky Balboa’s former boxing nemesis who later became his friend. Johnson’s mother was a woman that Creed had an affair with and he didn’t know he had a son before he died.
Johnson wants to be a big-time boxer like his dad and moves to Philadelphia and asks for the help of Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to accomplish that.
I loved the original “Rocky”, the 1976 film about Balboa, a down-and-out boxer who finally got his shot at the big time with a fight against Creed. Should it have gotten best picture over “Network” or “All The President’s Men?” That’s a posting for another day.
“Rocky II”, released in 1979, picked up the story nicely from the first film. I liked “Rocky III” (1982) and “Rocky IV” (1986), but as Balboa became more polished there was something missing from those films.
I would still like my money back from “Rocky V” (1990) and I thought “Rocky Balboa” (2006) was a nice farewell to the Rocky Balboa character.
“Creed” has changed all that. Rocky Balboa has new life and more importantly, the character of Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) has come on to the scene and it’s a win for the fans of the series.
“Creed” is the most realistic film of the series since the original one. You feel like you are walking the streets of Philadelphia with Johnson. You feel like you are in the ring with him. And I have probably said this about other movies, but I think the key to good acting is when it doesn’t feel like the actor is acting and appears on human on screen.
Jordan accomplishes this. Johnson was a troubled youth. Creed’s widow Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad) brings him home from juvenile detention when he was a boy after his mom died and raises him.
From that day on, he doesn’t want for anything. He goes to work in an office after college, but he is intent on becoming a boxer and moves to Philadelphia where he wants to learn from Balboa.
Throughout the movie, there’s an intensity around Johnson that Jordan easily conveys of a man who still believes he has to prove himself worthy.
Another strong performance comes from Tessa Thompson, who plays Bianca. She is a singer-songwriter who lives in Johnson’s apartment building in Philadelphia. She’s no groupie, but definitely her own woman. The two fall in love.
Stallone received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. His Rocky Balboa is still the same person that people love. He continues to run a successful restaurant, but his later years haven’t been easy. His wife Adrian has died, which was mentioned in “Rocky Balboa” and it’s mentioned in this film that his best friend Paulie has also died.
Balboa faces a crisis of his own in “Rocky Balboa.” At first reluctant to help Johnson, Balboa is soon in his corner.
There are plenty of references and tributes to the “Rocky” films in “Creed”, but this is Jordan’s film and it is a new era regarding this story.
“Creed” was directed by Ryan Coogler and co-written by Coogler and Aaron Covington. Stallone’s nomination was well-deserved. But Jordan deserved a least a nomination and the same goes for Coogler as director and for the screenplay. How the Oscars have screwed up over the years is a posting for another day.
A January story in “Variety” quoted Stallone saying that he and Jordan are trying to come up with ideas for a “Creed” sequel.
There’s plenty of stories to be told regarding Adonis “Donnie” Johnson. Just remember what the original “Creed” did. It kept it real.
RATING — *** 1/2 stars
UNTIL NEXT TIME. . .