The more I think about the movies I loved from 2015, the more I find myself at a loss for words…or, at least, I admit that I am not in a mental state where I can write a whole bunch. Plus, I have gone to the movies a lot more than I did the last time despite responsibilities, so I find that the more I write the more this thing might drag on despite my enthusiasm.
So, here is one bite-sized morsel about Creed. With slight spoilers. But I’m pretty sure everyone has seen this movie already, so…semi-fair warning? Whatever, we’re giving this a go.
What makes this movie work is how much it leans into its pedigree, to the point where it reveals the cracks within, giving some new perspectives that manage to make the proceedings fresh. Yes, I’ve pissed and moaned before about movies that lean so hard on past material that the moviemakers forget that anyone in this day and age can catch the originals on the internet or at their local library. But writer Aaron Covington and co-writer/director Ryan Coogler, working with the deft cinematography of Marsye Alberti and the editing of Claudia Castello/Michael P. Shawver, give an intimate and brutal look on desire, dreams and legacy to a story that is pretty much a near beat-for-beat retelling of, “Rocky” for the young (and old).
The first thing that jumps out is that the titular character, while cocky and headstrong at points, is actually a little sensitive and introspective. There is one sequence of him boxing in Mexico that smash cuts to him working a normal desk job…preceeded by scenes of him in a jail, getting into a fight and then being talked to by prison staff and their would-be foster mother. There is an implication carried throughout the movie that what drives the man since he was young is a violent nature, and a lesser movie would have just left it at that, being little more than just a brochure for how hereditary traits are the name of the game in sports. Except the movie has other ideas.
Over the course of the movie, he keeps his relation to the legendary Apollo Creed a secret, even from a woman he loves (a musician played by Tessa Thompson in a way that manages to be compelling in their own right even if they become more of a plot device by the end), all in the name of being his own person while being inspired by that person (he fails to keep it secret for long, of course, being that this is set in modern times). He exemplifies the modern person: someone who is inspired/influenced by those before him who also wants to carve their own path, even within the field and mold of an arena that has left many people, including Rocky himself, broken. But he keeps at it, despite the warnings of their mother, witnessing another idol, Rocky himself, waste away as they march on to possible glory in a world that expects a lot, and yet nothing, from him because of their late father’s legacy.
Oh yeah, and this character drama comes with some intense fight scenes. Seriously, if you thought the Mayweather-Paquiao fight was a shitfest, just watch this movie and it will be enough to make you forget your disappointment. Not since, “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning” have fights felt so bone-crunchingly real and brutal, never shying away from the damage such a profession can do to a person. If there’s one take away from this movie (other than that Michael B. Jordan is the next big thing), it’s that my skinny ass has absolutely no business getting near this sport.
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