Blu-Ray Review: Creed

Published on February 23rd, 2016 in: Action Movies, Blu-Ray, Current Faves, DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews, Movie Reviews, Movies, Reviews, Sports |

By Jeffery X Martin

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People forget that Sylvester Stallone wrote and starred in the Best Picture of 1977, Rocky. That’s an Academy Award in the hands of Stallone. Isn’t that odd? We forget about it because Stallone’s output since Rocky has been so spastic. He’s given us fantastic performances, like the half-deaf officer in Cop Land. Then again, he’s also given us three Expendables movies and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.

Does he hate us? Does he love us? How can we know?

The Stallone Factor is what makes the movie, Creed, so fascinating. He did not write this movie. He didn’t direct it. This movie is Rocky through someone else’s eyes. It was a risk even being in this film. Why would you let someone mess with the role that established you, one of the roles that defined your career? What the hell is Stallone doing?

But that’s where Creed swerves the audience. Stallone is the draw, but this isn’t a Rocky movie. The movie is solidly about Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), the illegitimate son of boxer Apollo Creed and his entrance into the world of professional boxing. He finds love along the way with a beautiful musician (Tessa Thompson) and he convinces an aging Rocky Balboa (Stallone, duh) to train him.

There’s a formula to these films, an outline Stallone himself perfected. All those crowd-pleasing bells get rung. But there is a groundedness and reality to Creed that hasn’t been present in the franchise since 1977. Adonis is no superhero. He’s not battling Hulk Hogan or some Soviet super-soldier. He’s just a kid doing what he loves because he doesn’t have a choice. It’s fight or deny his own soul.

Stallone, however, is the real surprise here. The guy has a tendency to phone in performances. A frown here and there, an eyebrow raise, and that’s Stallone’s version of acting. But he is so good in this movie. He makes Rocky human and relatable again, giving us a hard look at what happens to a hero when the spotlight moves on to someone else. When Stallone acts, really acts, it’s a beautiful thing, and his performance is shiny.

But the whole movie is filled with beautiful moments. Fight scenes filmed in one continuous shot. Michael B. Jordan running down the streets of Philadelphia, just like Rocky did in the first movie, even passing that flaming oil-drum. It’s a beautiful homage. Director/co-writer Ryan Coogler respects Rocky’s story and directs it with understated flash, keeping it gritty without making it nasty.

Creed is a Rocky movie that isn’t about Rocky. Jordan is a strong enough actor to carry this movie. The script is tight and lean. This movie didn’t need Stallone. The fact that he is in it shows a degree of understanding what it means to be a bridge between his movies and the movies of others. He’s letting go. It’s classy. Rocky has become Mickey, and it’s the proper thing for him to do.

It’s no wonder Stallone is up for another Academy Award this year, playing this part. He showed up and gave his all. He acts like the movie is important, and it is. Does Stallone still love us? Yeah. He loves us enough to know when to hang back and let other people take over. It was the right decision, because Creed is one hell of a great movie.

Creed will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, March 1 through Warner Bros.

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