I saw Creed last night. It’s the story of Adonis Creed, Apollo’s son, trying to make a name for himself and prove that he is his own man. Actually, it’s about a lot more than that, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. I’m a Rocky-file. I’ve seen the previous six films more times than I can count, and that’s not just because I’m really bad at math. The first film edges out the second film as the most engrossing film I’ve ever seen. It’s impossible to watch those two movies and not be on the edge of your seat and not live and die by every line delivered and every punch thrown. You become desperate for the hero to succeed, and there is no better type of escapism than that.
Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago, and Tommy Gunn are a league of super-cheesy villains that did their best to ruin the Rocky franchise. There’s no way around it Rocky III -V are just bad films.
Stallone redeemed the franchise with Balboa, the sixth Rocky film, but it involved the serious ability to suspend disbelief that a sixty-plus-year-old Stallone would be allowed to step into the ring, even in an exhibition match. Still, the film was markedly better than the previous three Rocky films, and it made for a nice conclusion in the Rocky saga.
And then came Creed. Is it a good film? Yes. It’s better than good, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have it’s problems. It’s predictable. It’s schmaltzy. It’s a bit heavy-handed at times, but somehow it works. I saw it in a too-crowded movie theater, and I’m glad I did. I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to witness an audience in unison spontaneously yell and scream for the protagonist during fight scenes. To hear other grown men sniffle during the most dramatic moments is beyond comforting. At one point, when Creed is floored during a fight, the film goes silent, and in that silence, a woman roared at the top of her lungs, “Get up, Creed!” It sent chills down my spine. If you’re going to see Creed, see it in a crowded movie theater. It’s not my favorite environment, but it’s worth the hassle in this case.
And now for the depressing news. Rocky is old. I’m not talking about Stallone. I know he’s approaching 70, but he’s managed to keep himself fit and vibrant. This is not the Stallone that appears in the movie. Rocky looks like a man in his 60’s who took punches for a living. He has trouble moving. He gets winded easily. His clothes are baggy and worn. He just looks tired. They threw in an unnecessary health struggle for Rocky to deal with in this movie, but forgetting that, it was just sad to see Rocky on the decline. He was the hero. The tough guy that gave as good as he got. Age gets us all, but too see it happen to Rocky – Well, that’s tough to watch. I know that was the point of the Rocky character in this movie, for us to see him fight the biggest battle of his life (aging) and to do it with the same courage as it took him to step into the ring all those years, but it doesn’t make it any less depressing.
Having said that, I still give Creed a recommend. It’s a thrilling movie that – like the first, second and sixth movies – does the Rocky franchise proud.