Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Greetings friends, it’s time for your annual motivational story about boxing and montages, give or take 20 years between Rocky V and Rocky Balboa. Actually annual is perhaps not the best term to choose, but it does seem like this exact movie comes out an awful lot. However Creed is not a poor man’s Rocky by any stretch of the imagination; and while it’s true that the film is mostly predictable I think it deserves recognition for its own merits and at least some perception of the minor issues that it has. I’ll go at this review assuming you’ve seen the admittedly mediocre previews.

Creed starts depicting Adonis Johnson as a “good kid that likes to fight a lot” right out of the gate and he doesn’t really shed that tendency throughout the film. There’s a brief instance of arrogant swagger right near the beginning that quickly gets shut down in favor of him being a relatively mellow guy that just happens to be good at punching people in the face. So if the goal of the film was to create a mirror of Carl Weathers’ storied performance it’s definitely not even remotely similar. However that’s not necessarily a bad thing, Michael B. Jordan’s character is much easier for the audience to immediately connect with; if not be awed and inspired by.

On that note it’s kind of interesting that he was mostly raised in a well to do “family” with Claire Huxtable. After a rough early childhood he basically settled down and became a white collar citizen. It’s implied that he kept boxing on the side but we’re not actually sure of that and I’d actually be fairly interested in a portrayal of him in High School or something. Did he just randomly beat the shit out of people or did he keep that to Tijuana? It seems like whenever “Donny” has an emotional moment in his life his natural instinct is to bash into smithereens; and I suppose I can appreciate that approach.

It is novel then that Creed is able to make Adonis seem like a gentlemanly figure who cares for family and his elders as well as maintaining his self-respect. In fact his dialogue is almost exclusively positive aside from a few scarce scenes. He really does seem like a wholesome guy in the end, which if I was to make a portrait of Apollo Creed may not wind up being the case. His character flaw is sort of his biggest asset, punching things; but he never does anything shocking in that regard just gets a little frustrated with a door or a rapper or what have you.

I guess they didn’t want to add too much depth to Adonis so that they could still focus on Rocky still having a good, interesting, extremely emotional character arc. Oddly while this got something of a reaction out of me what really got me invested in the film were the training montage segments, especially the final one. The score of the film is extremely varied and effective, but it is perhaps at its most effective in that moment. I’m sure people will hail the eventual usage of the Rocky theme but that’s kind of super predictable so it’s not a revelatory moment or anything.

This film was not nearly as elusive as the Martian and I was able to go out and see it just this morning; for some reason my newest movie buddy likes going to very early movies, presumably because of the relatively cheap price. Due to Bloodborne I’ve been waking up early for a week or two so it’s not a huge deal on my end; and hey ultimately I save a little money on my never ending crusade to see every potentially good movie that appeals to me, and even the real classics that are outside my repertoire.

Boxing films are movies I enjoy though most of them follow a similar arc, the notable exception being Raging Bull which kind of has a dichotomous storyline. The Fighter of recent years had a unique flavor to it and actually had Christian Bale showing some of his youthly range again so I was all over that one. But as far as Rocky goes I’ve only seen the original Rocky and Rocky IV. Rocky IV is of course a hilarious movie and a masterpiece on that level alone; any movie or piece of fiction that spurs on popular culture is always worth seeing even if the film itself is not up to the usual standard. I’ve also seen Cinderella Man and I think that is more or less exactly the same quality as Creed.

Creed is a fantastic Boxing movie and one of the year’s best. The most impressive part aside from Stallone and the score was the fantastic cinematography. There is an entire two round fight in the film that is a single 5-6 minute cut; and while that’s difficult enough to do in any scenario it is incredibly hard to fathom how they managed to pull off boxing choreography with no cuts or dramatic zoom angles and so forth. Faux Boxing in films is generally done at much lower speeds than actual fights for obvious safety reasons but it seems unlikely they could have made it look convincing in a single cut; and I’m sort of curious how they did it other than make the actors take actual swings at each other. So if this movie gets nominated for Cinematography and (criminally) Mad Max does not this is probably my second choice for that award. Next to best Actor and Picture I think Cinematography is the highest determinant of how good a film actually is with relation to the Oscars; though obviously Picture can go awry.

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