2015 boxing movie

Rating: 14/20

Plot: The son of late boxing champion Apollo Creed seeks Rocky's help as he launches his own professional boxing career.

I guess I should have done my research. I popped in thinking I was getting a spin-off movie for the American version of The Office and an intimate look at the Creed character. Instead, this is another Rocky movie. The focus is less on Rocky and more on the guy who gets his name on the poster, but it's still a Rocky movie. And as those movies go, this is probably the best since the original. I'm not sure it's the most memorable, but the bulk of the memorable moments aren't memorable for the best reasons.

In a way, it reminds me of The Force Awakens. This is a movie that doesn't really take many chances, and it kind of hits all the same notes that Rocky did. It's your classic underdog story updated for the 21st Century. You wonder if something like that is completely outdated because the world is a more cynical place these days, but creating these strong, conflicted, and imperfect characters who you can really root for is something that never really gets old. Creed's fight is an internal one, a man wrestling with legacy and ghosts, and what I like most about the character is that he's never unlikable. He's never cocky, never spoiled, never bitter. There's a moment in the middle where he makes a mistake or two, but he begins this story the same way he ends it--as a likable dude you want to pull for. I thought Michael B. Jordan was about perfect. First, the guy can punch and has a body that's very similar to mine. As with all Rocky movies, there are training montages, and although I'm pretty sure I'm not a homosexual, I really couldn't take my eyes off this guy's body. The character doesn't have a ton of emotional range, but Jordan's always right about where he needs to be.

And hey, there's also a bonus underdog story with this because Rocky himself is forced into a situation where he has to fight. No, he doesn't get in the ring although I wouldn't be surprised to find out they're trying to squeeze one final Rocky-in-the-ring moment in before Stallone explodes in a mess of steroids and plastic. Rocky's thrust into situations, and Stallone's really great at playing this guy who wears his past. It weighs on him. Stallone gets line after line that feel like Rocky movie cliches, the type of things that Mickey would have said after he ate way too much bean salad. It's inspiring and all, but it's the quieter moments that really got me.

This movie always threatens to burst, and I'm not sure I ever like the romantic subplot--this movie's got an Adrian--or some of its tangents. But the feel-good stuff works for the most part, and the boxing scenes are really good. I don't think you watch Rocky movies for boxing realism exactly, and the final fight scene will simultaneously have you pumping your fists and rolling your eyes a little, which admittedly is much better than pumping your eyes and rolling your fists. My favorite fight was one in the middle, a circling camera capturing 1 1/2 rounds in what I think was one extended shot. Jordan might say, "Come on!" too much, but it's an exhilarating moment nonetheless.

Are they going to keep making these?

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