There are lots of different kinds of fights that go on in life— mental fights, emotional fights, spiritual battles, family fights, fighting against one’s upbringing or shortcomings, and even when we are talking fights that are physical, like my friend who is currently battling cancer, it doesn’t necessarily involve violence. I’m no fan of violence as a way to solve human problems, indeed I think its unChristian. So, as you might imagine, I’m not much a fan of watching boxers try to punch each other’s lights out. Having said that, I have to give props to the now seven movies in the Rocky franchise, and perhaps especially to this last one, entitled ‘Creed’, directed and written by Ryan Coogler. The script is really quite excellent, even if the drama is rather predictable and the movie runs a little too long (2 hours and 12 minutes).
Americans love an underdog, and of course the Rocky movies are all about an underdog triumphing against the odds, and this movie, focusing on the son of Apollo Creed, Adonis, is no different. Michael B. Jordan is terrific in this film, as is Sylvester Stallone, And Phylicia Rashad (remember her from the Cosby show) is good as Adonis’ step mom, as is Tessa Thompson as Adonis’ girl friend. The director is smart enough to not bring into the picture too many characters, but rather develops the main ones along interesting, if sometimes predictable lines. Adonis is a young man trying to find his own identity, standing in the shadow of his famous father. Should he see himself as a Creed or not? Is he Donny Johnson, or Adonis Creed? The identity crisis is at the heart of the film. And of course in this film Rocky, is just a trainer, who cheers from the sidelines, but he has his own health battles to deal with along the way.
What I liked best about the film is the interchanges between Stallone and Jordan. These, and not the final fight, are the real highlights of the movie as we see their relationship develop and survive various stresses and strains. Rocky’s wife Adrian is gone, as his his friend Pauly, his own trainer, but a new relationship with Adonis provides a spark, and a reason to carry on, for Rocky. This film has gotten lots of praise, and it is mostly deserved. There is even some talk about Oscar buzz, and in a year when there are not that many great films, who knows what can happen? The first Rocky film was a total outsider and underdog in 1976 and yet it won Best Picture and all three of the major characters in the film played by Stallone, Burgess Meridith as the gritty trainer, and Talia Shire were nominated in the actor category. That won’t happen this time, but I expect some nominations. Some fights are predictable, but the Oscar fight is not this year.