January 17, 2016


Ryan Coogler, 2015
When people heard that there was going to be a Rocky reboot, they probably let out a sigh of disappointment. They probably said to themselves oh great now Rocky isn't even safe. The sponge was about to be wrung out again, beating an American classic to death. Then they saw the film. Creed goes on to defy the rebooting culture that we have grown accustomed to. It doesn't just try to repurpose a classic for a quick moneygrab (cough Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Creed isn't a bastardized version of the classic Rocky films. It has its own personality, its own youngness. It's own style. It's own energy. It's an inspiring film about past and present. Old and new. The old - Rocky Balboa, who warms the screen when you first see him. The legend of Rocky is evident throughout the Philly streets. The new: Adonis Creed - the young offspring of the late Apollo Creed. Rocky has a long career behind him and Adonis is an aspiring boxer who can't escape his genetic urges to fight in the ring. He tracks down Rocky and is persistent in his attempts to take him on and train him. They say that kids that do not have active fathers will look for fathers in life. And you can sense the feeling of obligation that Rocky feels, having been personally affected by Apollo Creed's death in the ring. Rocky at this point is tired, beaten, still grieving. Time has caught up with him, and as he says so poignantly time is the real "undefeated champion".

One of the most refreshing aspects of the film is it's not built on the tired premise of the kid from the streets who comes from nothing and has something to prove. has something to prove. Adonis comes from money, could easily have stayed in his desk job in the corporate world. He would have had success without fighting. But he just couldn't resist. So he ultimately has to defy expectations that he's just a son of a hero that was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

Stallone does an amazing job of carrying his history with him. He walks slowly, his mumbling voice reminds you of all of the punches to the head that Rocky has had to endure. He's an aged man. Humbled by father time. You see them both fighting themselves on some level, although the fights are so different in nature.

There's something so truly American about the Rocky films. The struggling working class man pushing yourself to he limit, overcoming the odds. The underdog story. Everyone has the images ingrained in their memory of Rocky at the tops of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with his hands in the air in that classic shot. And although Adonis isn't necessarily a working class hero, he does have something to prove and something to personally overcome. Creed even has it's own version of the "top of the steps shot" that is actually quite moving. What is a Rocky film without the epic big fight scene? Creed doesn't hesitate to create its own David vs Goliath, Country VS Country scene. USA Vs. England. The film builds to that final fight so remarkably. The final twenty minutes will have you on the edge of your seat, shadowboxing and biting your nails.

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