I was a kid when the first Rocky came out and like everyone else, I loved it. When they continued to make sequels, everyone made fun of that. But other than Rocky IV, the sequels were good. So, it’s not just the fact that this movie reminds me of Rocky IV. In fact, this movie will remind you of every Rocky movie; of every boxing movie. It recycles everything in the Marquess of Queensberry Rules of Boxing Movie Cliches. And boy is it bad. Now, the other critics are going to tell you it’s great. That’s because everyone loves Michael B. Jordan. I get that. He’s a great actor. He’s charming in interviews (and he was a super nice guy at the San Diego International Film Festival a few years ago). That doesn’t mean this is good. It’s not, but most audiences won’t care. They don’t care how bad the latest Fast and Furious or Transformer movies are, so I doubt they’ll dislike this. But here’s an analogy that will put it all into perspective. Remember how excited you were about the fight between Gerry Cooney vs. Phillip Brown in 1984? Oh, you don’t remember that the way we remember Hagler vs. Sugar Ray, or the Thrilla in Manila? Well, Conney vs. Brown is about the same level of excitement as Drago vs. Creed in Russia. Ya know what’s crazy? This movie was so bad, that I was actually more interested in the villains and their father/son relationship. And the screenwriters (one of them being Stallone) didn’t go far enough with that storyline.
In the Rocky films, the characters had more depth. There’s emotion. In this movie, I’m watching Creed act like a punk-ass jerk. Now, that anger worked in the first Creed (even though I wasn’t a fan of that one, either). In the first Creed, we see he’s had a troubled life, going in and out of juvenile hall, not having a father in his life, etc. There were also a few interesting elements dealing with Adonis living life in the shadow of his famous father. In this movie, you just want to slap him and say, “Grow up already!”
Here’s the story and flashbacks in a nutshell. Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren, who has aged nicely) killed Apollo Creed in Rocky IV. Rocky then fought him in Russia and won. Ivan is now treated in Russia, worse than Roberto Duran was treated in Panama after the “No mas” fight with Sugar Ray. They hate Drago for losing the belt, and so he channels all his anger into his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu). When Viktor Drago starts winning some fights and becoming a name, his mom (Brigitte Nielsen, who looks scarier than any of the fighters in this) reemerges for some reason. There’s also a storyline with Creed having a baby, and that child might be deaf like mom Bianca. And that’s another character I’ve never warmed up to. She was such a bi**h in the first movie, that even when she’s trying to give her husband good advice, you just don’t care. For some reason, these same scenes worked with Adrian getting angry at the dopey Rocky, with his hangdog look. In this, I think Creed is going to haul off and slap her. That’s not the vibe we should be getting. Also, isn’t Creed trying to learn the same lesson he should’ve learned last time, about fighting for honor, or for the name Creed on his robe?
I’m also curious about the casting of Phylicia Rashad as the mom. She has been a big supporter of Bill Cosby and claims the women all made up their stories about him. Well, since James Franco was robbed of an Oscar nomination last year because of things his girlfriends said about him…and we currently have Jude Law’s movie with Woody Allen not being released because of claims against Allen…which stars do we actually boycott and end their careers? I think what Mel Gibson did is a thousand times worse, and he’s back to making movies and getting nominations. And Rashad has yet to come out and apologize for supporting a guy that’s now spending the rest of his life in prison for raping a woman. Instead, people are upset that Viggo Mortensen said the n-word during a Q&A for the terrific film Green Book. Society amazes me these days, but I digress.
It’s also frustrating when you watch these movies how much they get wrong about boxing. In the original Rocky films, it’s the fact that the ref would’ve stopped the fight because of the beating Rocky took. In this movie, at least the boxing looks real. You just wonder how certain injuries wouldn’t end a career, or when somebody talks about fighting in Russia and Rocky says something about the judges favoring Viktor there. Uh, this is fighting for a belt. They’re not using local Russian judges if they fight in Russia. I’m guessing when Ali fought Frazier in Manila, they didn’t find some local judges/refs from the Philippines.
If you liked Creed, and you’re excited about this movie, go see it. You’ll love it. I just found it predictable, and with a lot of unlikable and uninteresting characters.
1 star out of 5.