ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!
Everything you loved about the original Rocky movie minus the awful caricature the franchise had become is in Creed. I found myself being shamelessly drawn in - one step, one punch, one round at a time... It has lots of humor, lots of punches and lots of heart...
One was too young to have watched Rocky when it released, but it has always fascinated me because it trumped Taxi Driver and All The President's Men at the Oscars. The story of a lad from the wrong side of the tracks who works hard and wins. What is there no to like? Subsequent movies did make Rocky Balboa more of a caricature, but it kept the flame alive. No one can forget the iconic Bill Conti soundtrack.
So Creed follows the pattern Rocky established years and years ago, and you take to him immediately. A young man who does not want the name of his father and yet is so much like him that he cannot help himself. He's had a rough childhood, a tougher time adjusting to his normal life at a brokerage firm...
His loving step mother (Phylicia Rashad in a wonderful role as Apollo Creed's widow) tries hard to keep him away from his father's profession, but Donnie (short for Adonis) cannot resist boxing.
Which brings us to Philadelphia and Rocky Balboa (I'm saying: Rocky! Rocky! Rocky in my head!)
There is a great sense of corn at work here. The humor keeps you believing. Donnie called Rocky 'Unc' and Unc is now old, hasn't been inside a gym for a long, long time, but you sit back and enjoy the young man's insistence and persistence and how the old man finally agrees to 'give him some pointers'. The rest is history.
The most amazing scene in the film is when Rocky goes to the cemetery to visit Adrian and Pauly's graves. It's a beat the rival to pulp and take a beating until your eye is swollen up like movie, but it's scenes like this that make you want to go back and watch the original.
The slow turn reminds you that Rocky has come a long way... From the man who ran through the streets to climb up the 72 steps of the Philly Art Museum (should be on every movie buff's bucket list!) to someone who takes on Mickey's role.
(Rocky! Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!)
I did not enjoy the unhappy, dour Southpaw and even though The Fighter brought you emotions about brothers as it did about boxing, you know there was something as simple as a 'hero' story missing. Creed makes you want to cheer even though the hard punches makes you go, 'Whoa!'
And that brings us to the intimate camerawork that makes the fights real. We are in that ring, feeling every punch in every round...
You will have to hold your heart from leaping into your mouth for young Creed punching his dad by matching every punch Rocky throws at him on the big projection screen...
Watch this movie, if only to erase the memory of the horrendous Rocky Balboa you saw last.
P.S. The romance track is sweet, and keeps us liking the angry young man...