Happy Thanksgiving MMT Family! So I was absolutely correct in my great expectations for the new release CREED, starring Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, and hometown hero Sylvester Stallone. It was everything a Rocky update should be for a new generation – and us folk in generations prior that loved the Stallone films. Director Ryan Coogler, and his co-writer Aaron Covington, injected the right amount of grit, drama, and passion – and added a soundtrack that helped usher the story into the 21st century.
The film follows protagonist Adonis Johnson (Jordan), son of Apollo Creed, who never knew his famous father – his mother was pregnant when Apollo was killed. After his mother’s death, Adonis finds himself in the foster care system, and subsequently the juvenile justice system – until Apollo’s widow Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad) finds and raises him. A natural-born pugilist, Adonis engages in several unprofessional bouts before making his way to Philly – where he locates his father’s former rival and best friend, Rocky Balboa, in an effort to get Rocky to mentor and train him. Rocky agrees, but unbeknownst to them both the young Creed will not be the only one up against a major challenge.
Adonis also finds a love interest and confidant in local singer/songwriter Bianca, portrayed by the multi-talented Tessa Thompson, who not only teaches him local lingo – shout out to Coogler and Convington for tackling the “jawn” definition – but helps Adonis learn lessons in trust and forgiveness.
I. Loved. This. Film. I enjoyed watching my hometown, once more, prominently displayed on-screen. At the Philly press stop earlier this month, Tessa Thompson appropriately described the city as a character in this film, and she was absolutely correct. Coogler, a Oakland, CA native, beautifully directed this film and paid homage to the original Rocky – with Art Museum (“Rocky stairs”) shots – as well as local neighborhoods – with scenes that highlighted Philly favorites like Max’s Steaks in Nicetown (I wrote about Kevin Hart taking Ice Cube to Jim’s and Max’s last year) and Johnny Brenda’s (where Bianca performs) in Fishtown.
Also highlighted were the legendary Front Street Gym – where Michael B. Jordan trained for the role – and the South Philly restaurant Victor Cafe – which was transformed into the fictional “Adrian’s” named after Rocky’s late wife.
To say I loved this film is really an understatement. The fight scenes are THE TRUTH and intense. If you can’t handle gore, it may be a bit much – but I’m a boxing fan so I loved them. And Michael B. Jordan is in peak shape – and Coogler made it a point to note at the press conference that Jordan performed all of his stunts, with no body double.
Contrary to what one of my peers expressed in conversation after our early screening, I also enjoyed the love story between the Adonis and Bianca characters. Coogler has a great eye for minute detail – displayed nicely in an intimate scene that finds Adonis assisting Bianca with her braids. It was simple, but authentic – reminiscent of a Rocky and Adrian moment in the original film.
And speaking of the original Rocky, Stallone is great in this movie! Some people didn’t take to his performance in “Cop Land” – having seen him in action movies so long prior. But if you thought that was a solid performance, like I did, you are really going to love him in this.
Okay fam, I could go on-and-on about this movie, but I’m about to enter “Spoilerville”, and we know I don’t do that (if I can help it!). In sum, CREED is filled with great performances and is very entertaining. I expected nothing less from Coogler, who wrote and directed a fave – FRUITVALE STATION. I can’t wait to see what he, Jordan and Thompson – the latter of whom was brilliant in MISSISSIPPI DAMNED (now on Netflix) – are going to do next. And it will be very interesting to see what type of acclaim this movie, Coogler and cast are given – especially Stallone, who is already being lauded for his performance.
Stop back and let me know your thoughts after you see the movie family! Would love to hear your take on this one. 🙂
Until next thought, Thomasena