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Laramie Movie Scope: Creed

The Rocky saga marches on

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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November 26, 2015 -- This latest installment of the Rocky saga goes in a different direction. This sixth sequel of the original, Oscar-winning 1976 hit, has Rocky (played again by Sylvester Stallone) training the son of a former heavyweight champion for a title fight.

While the original film was essentially a story of a Great White Hope, this one revolves more around the blacks in the story, as Rocky becomes a supporting character instead of the lead. The lead is Michael B. Jordan of “Fantastic Four.” He plays Adonis Johnson, a successful banker who quits his job to follow in his father's footsteps (he is the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, who was Rocky's opponent in the original film).

Early on in the film, we see some of his back story, how he was in frequent trouble with the law as a juvenile until he is adopted by Creed's widow, Mary Anne Creed (played by Phylicia Rashad of “For Colored Girls”). The film grapples with trying to explain why Johnson would abandon his cushy job for boxing, which is more of a last resort kind of career. The explanation involves showing that Johnson really likes to fight, and was a fighter during his troubled childhood. He admires his father's stellar career. He also has a short temper, and a lot of boxing talent.

Johnson moves from the West Coast, where he has been fighting south of the border, to Philadelphia, where he asks Rocky to train him. Rocky says no, but Johnson persists, and he reveals that he is Creed's son. He also brings up the fact that Rocky was slow to throw in the towel in Creed's last fight (seen in “Rocky IV” the final film in which Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers, appears). Because the fight was allowed to go on too long, Creed was beaten to death.

Finally Rocky gives in and agrees to train Johnson, who trains hard and wins his first fight in Philadelphia against a good local fighter. By this time, news has leaked out that Johnson is the son of Apollo Creed. A boxing promoter gives Johnson a shot at the title, but only if he changes his name to Creed and the famous Rocky Balboa continues to train him and stay in his corner.

There is also a romance in the film, as Johnson hooks up with a beautiful local singer who lives in his apartment building, Bianca (Tessa Thompson of “Dear White People”). It seems unlikely, but Bianca persuades Thompson to embrace his father's name, and he becomes Creed, at least for the purposes of the championship fight. The fight is held in Liverpool, England, where the champion, ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan, (played by a real boxer, Tony Bellew) lives.

Various complications and crises arise in the story before the climactic championship fight. The main complication is Creed's own difficulty dealing with his feelings about his father. It turns into an emotionally powerful story with strong connections to the earlier films in this series. Jordan, Stallone and Thompson all turn in strong performances in this film.

Writer-director Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station”) serves notice in this film that he is one of the best young writer-directors around. He shows a sure hand directing exciting boxing scenes, as well as convincing romantic and dramatic scenes. This, along with “Southpaw,” makes 2015 a banner year for boxing movies. This film rates an A.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2015 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)