Sunday, December 13, 2015


Ok fine, I fell for it again.

Rocky V was so fucking horrible back in 1990 that it forever tarnished that vaunted series of popcorn boxing movies you couldn't avoid from 1976 onward. But then Sylvester Stallone, probably guilt ridden over the Rocky legacy, directed himself in 2006 in Rocky Balboa and put a nice finishing touch on the series. And he walked away with it intact again. Great.

If you are over 50 you remember the first Rocky on a big screen. Man, was that a movie! The music, the story, the guy, the background characters, the whole damn thing made you want to run out into the streets and shadow box until you realized how out of shape you were. Rocky won Oscar, Stallone was a star, and Bill Conte could write music that actually made you want to work out. Wow.

Then came Rocky 2 which had to be made. Stallone was now a muscle bound meathead. Lovable but still he had become his own real life self. Rocky 2 was ok, not great but ok. Then Rocky 3 came along. And it was better, much better than Rocky 2 because its villain was actually a villain, not the lovable Apollo Creed, but Mister T in all his glory. And they killed Mickey. Rocky 4 featured another great villain, a steroid pumped robot Russian who actually killed Apollo Creed.

Then came Rocky 5. Ugh!

But a fresh set of eyes in a 29 year old director named Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) saw a series that needed to continue and the result is Creed. Thanks a lot, Ryan Coogler because this series is back and as good as ever.

Creed features two actors you cannot help but love, Michael B Jordan as Apollo Creed's insecure love child, and of course, Stallone as a broken down Rocky just living out his life until he can reunite in the after life with Adrian and Paulie.

The story is basically Rocky rebooted with Stallone playing the Burgess Meredith part (women weaken legs) and Jordan playing Rocky. Inexperienced, angry and looking to knock over the best fighter on earth, Creed moves up the ladder under a different name. Then when he beats a fighter of note, yep, its all over the media who he really is.

You can guess the rest. And it's thrilling. Updated and freshened up by Coogler, this series could go on for years if the players want it to. Some part of me hopes it does, yet some part of me worries about a Creed 5.

And now a bit about Stallone. He aint a great actor, lets face it. But at age 69, he knows who he is. He's Rocky Balboa. And dammit he is fantastic in this movie. He moves like a 69 year old ex fighter. He worries about his own mortality like a 69 year old man. He revels in his de facto son's success. He bleeds for Creed's failures. If Sylvester Stallone is not nominated for an Oscar for this movie, I will be shocked. And if he wins, I would be happy for him. He is that good.

Go see it. It's worth it.

No comments: