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THE RING — Now that your Hunger Games hangover has finally subsided it's time to figure out what movies you should check out this holiday weekend. There are a few options, but one of the big-ticket items is the continuation of the Rocky saga, "Creed."
The seventh film in the franchise is no longer focused on underdog Rocky Balboa, but rather on the son of his long-time rival-turned friend Apollo Creed. Usually when you get to number seven in a franchise you've officially jumped the shark and given up, but "Creed" is different because it's actually one of the better films in the catalogue.
Here's the good and the bad when it comes to "Creed."
Michael B. Jordan is a familiar face, but maybe not a household name. You may recognize him from the NBC series "Friday Night Lights," or possibly from this summer's disaster of a film "Fantastic Four." He's a solid actor that knows how to play the tormented and tortured youngster to near perfection and that's exactly what he's called on to do here.
Like all Rocky movies "Creed" has some over-the-top dramatic moments and laughable scenarios, but Jordan somehow keeps us grounded. His performance as Adonis Johnson-Creed is endearing and frustrating and you find yourself cheering for his character.
Director Ryan Coogler made a big splash with his film "Fruitvale Station," which was a huge hit at the Sundance Film Festival a few years back. The movie was powerful thanks to the direction and screenplay by Coogler. The star's performance didn't hurt either. Who was that? None other than Michael B. Jordan.
Fast forward a few years and Coogler is taking on the boxing drama "Creed" and he nailed it. His visuals are powerful, his fight scenes are unique and often times beautiful, and overall he made a really good movie.
It's hard not to root for the underdog and "Creed" is no exception. The storyline is set up in a way that you become emotionally attached to Adonis and want him to succeed. You get so enthralled, in fact that you'll have a hard time from clapping and cheering at moments. At least that was the case in the theater I saw it in.
There is a lot of history behind this film and some of it is interesting enough to actually mention.
In the first "Rocky," Burgess Meredith's Mick trains Rocky, played by Sylvester Stallone. At the time of filming "Rocky," Meredith was 69 years old. In "Creed" Rocky trains Adonis and Stallone is currently 69 years old.
The opening scene of "Rocky" takes place on Nov. 25, 1975. "Creed" will open 40 years to the day after that on Nov. 25, 2015.
In the film Adonis Creed wears American-flag boxing trunks like his father, Apollo Creed, did in earlier Rocky films. This wasn't actually in the original script and was a suggestion from Sylvester Stallone.
Don't get me wrong, I love some good drama, but "Creed" tried almost too hard at times. It would seem that every single character we meet has some terrible thing they are fighting. Yes, it adds some depth to these characters, but it also turns them into one of the sorriest bunch characters who ever ended up crossing paths.
The added drama isn't enough to ruin the movie, but it was enough to notice.
It's basically "Rocky"
The original "Rocky" is a fantastic sports drama focusing more on the latter than the former. The tale of the Italian Stallion made all of us believe we could achieve the impossible. "Creed" does the same thing, but it's a bit too familiar.
In hopes of avoiding any spoilers I'll leave it at this, you'll walk out of the theater with the creeping feeling that you've seen all of this before.
Despite its predictable outcomes and overused clichs it was hard not to like "Creed." I was interested in the characters, anticipating the outcome, and overall enjoying the journey as I watched it.
It's a film worth seeing, especially if you're a Rocky fan. If you're not you should still enjoy it.
"Creed" is PG-13 and earns the rating with some harsh language and violence in the ring.- - - - - -
John has been writing about movies, news, sports and pretty much anything awesome for more than five years. John is the co-host of the Flix Junkies podcast and will always entertain you with his stories.