Springtime is the best time of year for catching on some of the flicks you are excited to revisit or catch up when you missed it on their initial release. Icon Vs. Icon’s husband and wife team, Delores and Hank Price, Jr., recently turn their attention to 2015’s “Creed” and are ready to offer up their takes on the jawn. Check it out below!
She Says: ”Creed” is a film with a dual purpose. It is a sequel/spin-off to the beloved “Rocky” franchise that stays true to its titular hero that we know and love. At the same time, it sends the franchise in a new direction, and in doing so creates a “Rocky” for a new generation. “Creed” marries the fantastic and outlandish world of 1980s Rocky with the modern day, HBO 24/7 world of boxing. In doing so, it offers realistic, believable scenarios for the film’s characters and their development, while also honoring those who passed in earlier installments.
Obviously this was a Hank Price selection as it wouldn’t have been my first choice for movie night so I won’t go into much plot as I’m sure his review will delve into “Rocky” excess with a heaping helping of punch drunk Italian moxie. In simplistic terms: Apollo Creed’s widow finds his illegitimate son, Adonis, at a detention facility for youth and takes him in because she’s just really nice. Dolla dolla bills y’all and time passes. Adonis doesn’t want the dolla dolla bills because he dreams of boxing stardom like his daddy. He finds sad Rocky in Philly, who eventually agrees to train/mentor him, and a love interest who is damaged like he is (he had a crappy childhood, she’s a magnificent singer who’s losing her hearing). He doesn’t want to be known as Creed’s son but, of course, it comes out. Rocky gets sick and Adonis urges him to fight his disease just as he is fighting for his dream, figuratively and literally. Blah blah blah emotions blah blah blah a sequel is set up at the end.
So, Saturday night I wanted the moving images to make me forget about life for a while, or more specifically 122 minutes. My preconceived notions weren’t far from the mark. The movie was enjoyable with dynamic, believable characters, emotions, blood, sweat and tears. It provided entertainment for me, a “Rocky” novice, while also providing entertainment for Hank, a “Rocky” aficionado (why don’t you put that on your resume Hank?). Did it deserve an Oscar nomination? No, but then again I didn’t think “Mad Max: Fury Feminism” deserved one so do whatever you want with my opinion. Sylvester Stallone did a wonderful job portraying an aged fictional icon while Michael B. Jordan shined (he also could legitimately be Carl Weather’s lifeblood).
The movie is different from earlier installments as times have changed in society but it stays true to providing a film for men with secret emotions. Men have emotions but are taught to hide them behind mugs of beer, porno rags and guy stuff. However, they emerge because, contrary to popular belief, they exist. They won’t cry when Shelby Eatenton Latcherie dies at the end of “Steel Magnolias” (20+ year old spoiler, sorry not sorry) but will cry during the “Rocky” franchise. Hank and I cried during “Creed” but we also drank a bottle of bourbon and I love a good cry and Sylvester Stallone’s iconic characters always provide fuel for my salty tears. As Simple Jack said in “Tropic Thunder,” this movie makes my “eyes rain.”
Besides it being an enjoyable film, I’m left wondering about Sylvester Stallone. Why don’t people celebrate him as a screenwriter? I don’t understand. I know he didn’t write the screenplay for “Creed” but he wrote the other “Rocky” films, creating this world and these eternal characters. Maybe he is celebrated more than I know but I just think of Sly Stallone and his ridiculous Rocky slurring, punch drunk voice and am left confused. Also, I could have used a little more character development with Adonis, a little less “Rocky” training by chasing chickens and running the streets of Philly like a crack addict. We met this tough and hard kid in the opening of the film and I wanted to know more about him because that would help me know more about 17 years later him. Ya feel me?
Anyway, it was a good film. Did it change my life? No, but honestly I’m just looking for some entertainment. Aren’t we all?
He Says: We suspected we’d seen the last of the Italian Stallion in “Rocky IV” when he toppled communism and southpawed the Cold War into submission. We thought we’d seen the last of Philadelphia’s Favorite Son in “Rocky V” when he suplexed Tommy Gunn and his mega mullet into the street and knocked George Washington Duke 10 feet in the air with a gut punch. But in 2006, we were rewarded with the nostalgic and inspiring “Rocky Balboa,” which we knew was the Stallion’s last ride, and would have been a fine end for the character. Thus, it’s ironic that in this era of sequels, reboots, and remakes, the Rocky franchise, which was widely mocked for its sequels, has found new life in “Creed,” one of the best films of 2015 (in my humble opinion, anyway).
My better half did a fine job summarizing the story, so I’ll just get to some of my thoughts. SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD…….TURN BACK NOW…..
The fan service is tremendous. Bringing back Apollo’s widow as Adonis’s adopted mother and introducing Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale from “The Wire”) as the son of Apollo’s (and Rocky’s) trainer, Duke, tie the story to the past while creating characters that will undoubtedly appear in future installments. I loved when Adonis brought up the secret fight between Rocky and Apollo at the end of “Rocky III”/beginning of “Rocky IV” and thought it was a cool twist that Apollo won the fight. The fight sequences were fantastic and well-filmed. I liked the HBO 24/7 presentation and stats on each of the boxers that Adonis fought. And the acting, particularly by Stallone and Jordan, was some of the best in the franchise. Stallone in particular somehow found a way to make that ol’ lug Rocky even more lovable.
My only real issue with the film is that it too closely follows the plot of “Rocky,” much in the way that “The Force Awakens” too closely follows the plot of “A New Hope.” Of course, “Creed” has to end with Adonis fighting the heavyweight champion, and it would have been unrealistic for him to win, but it didn’t have to end the exact same way “Rocky” ended. I am interested to see how “Creed II” will play out, with Conlan going to prison and presumably vacating the title. Perhaps Adonis has to fight Danny Wheeler, trained by Apollo’s trainer’s son, in a quasi-rematch from Apollo’s gym for the title and then defend it against a hungry Conlan in “Creed III”? I’d love to see if there’s any way to shoehorn Clubber Lang or Ivan Drago in one of the sequels somehow. I kind of doubt it, but I’m sure Stallone and Co. can find a way to do it.
If you’re a fan of any of the Rocky films, even the early ones, or just sports films in general, “Creed” will have you fist-pumping and jumping out of your seat until the final bell.
Winner by Decision: 4.5 Paulie’s Robots out of 5.