Movie review: Creed

I had not seen Michael B. Jordan in the well-regarded Fruitvale Station, or the Fantastic Four flick.

Creed_Movie_PosterI had been initially disinclined to see the movie Creed. I’d seen the first four Rocky movies, and while the earlier ones were good, the fourth one I thought was awful. Never bothered with the apparently terrible fifth, or Rocky Balboa, the 2006 film I missed, despite a respectable critical response, because we had a two-year-old.

Now, I should emphasize how much I especially like the original 1975 movie. In part, it was because I saw it with my mother, just the two of us, which we did periodically when I visited Charlotte, NC, where my parents moved in 1974.

But Creed was playing at the nearby Madison Theater. PLUS Sylvester Stallone won a Golden Globe AND was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, for playing Rocky.

Maybe it was low expectations, despite quite decent reviews, but I really liked this film. One could appreciate the storyline, even if you had never seen a single reel featuring the Italian Stallion, as Balboa had been dubbed. But it surely enhanced my enjoyment, the dialogue that evoked the late boxer Apollo Creed.

The plot is that a young boxer is driven to follow in his late father’s footsteps, without using the champion’s name; beyond that, see it for yourself. The film is directed by Ryan Coogler, based on a screenplay by Coogler and Aaron Covington.

I enjoyed Phylicia Rashad as the mother figure, especially in the pivotal scene near the end, which is, in the context, LOL funny. Also good is Tessa Thompson as Bianca, the irritating neighbor/singer. And, yes, Stallone is worthy of the awards buzz.

It is Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson who is the real revelation. I had not seen him in the well-regarded Fruitvale Station, or the Fantastic Four flick. But I did see him on the TV show Parenthood a few seasons ago as the boyfriend of one of the Braverman girls, and he was quite fine then. This performance by Jordan is Oscar-worthy.

Despite the boxing violence that was more graphic than it was 40 years ago, I left the cinema feeling exhilarated by a feel-good movie. It ended with a variation on a familiar Rocky trope, which The Wife particularly loved.