Saturday, November 28, 2015

Everyone in here knows they've seen something special.

For as long as I can remember, my cousin Tony always loved all things Rocky. I'll never forget when he showed me this awful talking-Stallone statue he bought for his classroom, as he was beaming at it the whole time. Hell, even his XBOX Live username was spiderrico34, a fairly obscure Rocky reference if you ask me. And for a guy who didn't annoyingly quote movies all the time (um, like I did), he would manage to work Thunderlips into as many conversations as possible...whatever the Hell that meant (I back then I smiled along cluelessly).

Since Tony succumbed to cancer in late June, I've found myself, perhaps foolishly, smiling and glancing upward anytime something crosses my path that reminds me of him. And as I sneaked off to the movies alone, on a school-night, wellit's safe to say that I saw the ceiling more than once...

Obviously I'm incredibly biased, but I thought Creed was a Hell of a movie. Totally delivering on the greatness of an awesome trailer, Ryan Coogler's film remarkably makes the seventh Rocky film feel both fresh and nostalgic. While full of nods to the original (and subsequent sequels, too), Creed's story manages to proudly stands on its own, too.

Coogler has crafted a visceral tale of a young boxer on the rise, allowing the camera to make sure we fell every single blow. And as the literal punches certainly make an impact, it's the figurative ones that really leave a mark.

Michael B. Jordan f--king crushes it as Donnie, a rather determined young man fresh off a promotion at work. That should be enough for this handsome kid - a sweet-paying gig in downtown L.A- but his desk job is likely a cover. At night, Donnie slips down to Tijuana, kicking ass in a host of unsanctioned bouts..

But Donnie's doesn't really know what he's doing. He's quick, he's strong, but when he finally heads into a local gym and runs his mouth...well, he basically gets knocked the f--k out. You'd think this little lesson would encourage him to hang up the gloves, but shocking no one, he does the opposite. Donnie quickly trades in a City of Angles for one full of Brotherly Love.

If only he could find someone there to mentor him?

Enter the withering icon of Rocky Balboa, once again brought to life by Sylvester Stallone. Rock's old, and having quietly settled back into the trappings of a small-time restaurant owner, is uninterested in training this kid. Rock knows how much work it is, and at this stage in his life, appears to be ready and willing to fade further into obscurity. He doesn't need or want any of this. Donnie ain't having that, however, and essentially demands that Rocky owes him this. But why?

And this is where the movie elevates itself from cash-in, to simply being money. See, Donnie and Rock's relationship feels so true, so honest, we get fully invested in each of them. Obviously their stories are heavily intertwined, but at times each is in their own (fully compelling) movie. Donnie's battling his future and his past, and Rocky's quietly turning his back on everything to help with both fights. Heading in, all I wanted was face-time with the Italian Stallion. But minutes later, I couldn't decide. And that speaks to how good this movie is.

Let me put it to you this way: have you ever read a book where each chapter bounces between two separate story lines? There's that moment when you hit the end of the chapter and you're like f---k! Let me stay here you tricky f--ker. That's how I felt here, initially. But then you realize it's so well-written, so surprisingly engaging, it doesn't matter..

Also not mattering, are the happily-exhausted Yays and Boos. As tired as we all were walking out of the theater, safe to say it was totally worth it. Some guy leaving behind us summed it up best: when he said, rather enthusiastically (for almost one in the morning), I want go home and watch the first one. Right now. 

Her name is Bianca. Do you think they have the balls to make
him yell her name, post-fight? Same number of syllables...
  • Stallone. 
  • If I could be like Mike...Dude, Jordan? Not only is the guy a solid actor, but he's f--king jacked. 'Adonis' ain't the half of it...
  • After some of the most-badass boxing camerawork ever, we get to see Donnie taking his gloves off during the ref's 10 count.
  • Stats! Holy shit did I love the tale of the tape for every boxer. More of that, please (it always reminds me of Can't Hardly Wait when they do that).
  • There was a point where I thought the bass in the theater was going to burst a hole in my chest. Or ass. Hell, it was so loud, maybe even both.
  • So I already think I mentioned this in another review, but good God is Tessa Thompson hot as f--k. And beyond that hotness, this girl had a rad story. Totally dug her arc, even if that sounds way perverted.
  • And speaking of, that's the sign for bullshit? Might have to bring that one to school with me next week, you know?
  • That old score is quite honestly the soundtrack of remembering. It's dated and borderline silly, am I.
  • You can't learn anything talking. This is the tattoo I'm asking for for Christmas.Oh, and the balls to get a tattoo. Um, too.
  • Usually I'm looking forward to a character in a movie taking off their shorts. Not here. I almost squealed when I saw Pop's trunks. It makes me want to (happily) punch someone in the face just thinking about those things.
  • Yo, the walk to the ring in the final bout was f--king pure movie magic. And that's just Donnie's. But the other dude's? Even better.
  • Fine, I'm a Patriots fan - so I don't want to hear shit...but that was the best cheating I've ever seen. Well, that I could see, anyway. As Donnie's eye was pretty f--ked up.
  • You haven't seen the final bout yet, you lucky bastard. You've still got one of the greatest things I've seen this year coming your way. Seriously, the sweet science never looked sweeter.
  • And finally, even though my cousin passed away before he ever got the chance to see his boy Rock one last time, I swear he was in there with me. The last time I ever saw him, he leaned forward and gave me this little impromptu fist-bump on my way out of his hospital room. It broke my heart because I knew that tiny gesture took all he had, you know? If you ever see this film, you'll understand the exact moment I knew Tony was there for me. And the exact moment I bawled my eyes out.
 This is how you look at Pretty Ricky Conlan. That daft c--t.
  • Getting yourself psyched up for a boxing match in atiny locker room must be tough. Especially when you have to share it with the guy you're about to fight.
  • Damn it, Rock. Why you always gotta go visit Adrienne? You know I can't handle that.
  • Yep. Another movie further shaming me due to the fact that I could never, ever....jump rope.
  • Cut my gloves! I gotta shit! Whoa. I always wondered if that happened....
  • Hey, was that Daylight? Now I've seen that movie twice theatrically (which seems excessive, no?).
  • Like the other films, we get a few awesome training montages, right? Right. But there's this one time, let us refer to it as the scene with all the motorcycles, where I actually felt bad for how stupid it was. Totally took me out for a second, the absurdity of that bit. Damn.
  • Not for nothing, but, uh...if only actual boxing was this f--king exciting to watch! Every one of Donnie's fights are the best thing I've ever seen. 
  • And finally, there's a moment in this film where Rock has gotta be a dick. Or at least he thinks he does. Anyway, it's so hardcore, so gut-wrenchingly mean, I was shocked. An actual hit below the belt would have been like a hug from your grandmother compared to just how hard Rocky laid out Donnie with the shit he said. Damn, champ. That shit was cold.
Being that it's been Thanksgiving week (and now, weekend), it's taken me days to finish this post. Gathered around various tables, with a variety of family and friends, recounting who and what we're thankful for, it's been hard to find the time to type up my thoughts on Creed. But even when I've found a minute or two this week to get in front of my laptop? Well, it's still been almost impossible to keep my tired eyes focused on the screen.

Especially when I keep looking up. 


  1. This is such a beautiful review *hugs*

    I have never seen any of Rocky films *hides* It's so odd because I love boxing. I guess I should see the first one at the very least

    1. Ah, thank you.

      I can't believe YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FIRST ONE! Impossible!

      That said, good luck if you ever do, as it's from what...1977? I couldn't imagine seeing it now, but I hope you do. At the very least it's just so f--king iconic, you know? As for Creed, clearly I only thinking with my heart, but it's shockingly good...for a seventh film/reboot. I'd recommend it...maybe even without heading back to the 70s.

  2. Great review! I'm embarrassed to admit that I only recently saw the first Rocky movie in preparation, and I LOVED it! I'm really looking forward to Creed. Michael B. Jordan is the man!

    1. Thank you very much. If you loved the first one, then it's just about guaranteed that you're going to love this one, too. Even with all the good buzz, I was still shocked by how good it turned out to be!