As a huge boxing fan, and someone that’s liked every Rocky movie (other than Rocky IV), I was looking forward to this addition to the series. It’s the first one that wasn’t written by Sylvester Stallone, but writer/director Ryan Coogler. Coogler brings his Fruitvale Station star Michael B. Jordan. I first met him at the San Diego Film Festival. He’s a nice and talented guy, but unfortunately, I wanted to thrown in the towel half way into this.
The movie starts out promising as we meet Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son from an affair. Watching him as a disgruntled youth in a foster home, beating up a much older bully, works well. Nothing else in the movie does. Jordon occasionally shows glimpses of charisma that will serve him well in his acting career (we can forget about Fantastic Four), but the script does what the last boxing movie (South Paw) did. It uses every cliché from previous (mostly Rocky) films.
When Rocky Balboa came out almost 10 years ago, it was the first Rocky film in 16 years. It was fun (even if they had to CGI some abs for Stallone). This movie is getting great early reviews, and crowds are going to love it. I disliked almost everything going on in the picture.
When Apolla Creed’s widow (Phylicia Rashad) decides to adopt Adonis Creed and take him out of the life of foster homes, things look up. He becomes well-educated, gets a promotion at his job in finance, but…he secretly goes to Tijuana to box. He doesn’t use the “Creed” name because he wants to make it on his own. That makes for a goofy scene where another boxing trainer rats him out, and you wonder why no other reporter would’ve been able to figure this out, either. Especially since Balboa is training him.
There’s a love interest (Tessa Thompson) that we’re introduced to in the weirdest way. She blasts her music out of a nearby apartment, and Creed needs to constantly go over to tell her to turn it down. She merely slams the door in his face. I’m not sure why ANYBODY would like her, or root for this relationship, after that. Well, aside from the guy that sat behind me at the screening. He was talking non-stop, and everytime Rashad was on screen he had to yell “It’s Clare Huxtable.”
[I will save my rant against her, a person that has defended Bill Cosby against the over 50 rape allegations].
The villains in this movie aren’t given much depth. There’s a trainer, that you wonder why would be so mad that Rocky didn’t want to train his son. There’s the reigning champ, with a boxing nickname nobody would have — “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Anthony Bellew). He’s from Liverpool and looks about as intimidating as Ringo Starr. Even my date leaned in and said, “He has a flabby body, and doesn’t look like a boxer.
The boxing scenes were shot well, although it has that usual pet peeve I have in boxing films — the amount of shots someone takes to the head (you’d either be knocked out or the ref would stop the fight).
There were many scenarios in which more humor could’ve been included (for example, boxing commentator Jim Lampley could’ve easily said, after Creed kept taking shots to the head, “We can see the training Rocky has given him.”).
Audiences will adore Adonis, and the studios are going to be thrilled — another actor can take over the series.
I’m giving this 1 star out of 5.