The Rocky movie franchise is one of the most famous and loved of all time. The original 1976 Rocky ended up taking home the Oscar for Best Picture after a wonderful performance from Sylvester Stallone, and while each subsequent film lost some critical acclaim, they didn’t hurt for popularity. Following the first five films, a sixth Rocky movie called Rocky Balboa was released and actually got excellent reviews. I’m sure we all assumed that would be the final film, but we recently learned that a Rocky spin off called Creed would continue to Rocky legend, with Michael B. Jordan playing Apollo Creed’s son, who is training to be a boxer under the tutelage of his father’s friend Rocky Balboa. The immediate reaction here is to become skeptical, as the premise sounds pretty cheesy quite frankly. But after reading the official synopsis, released today, I wonder if this Creed movie might pleasantly surprise us?
Check out the synopsis from Warner Bros. and MGM here, and then read on:
From Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures comes award-winning filmmaker Ryan Coogler’s “Creed.” The film explores a new chapter in the “Rocky” story and stars Academy Award nominee Sylvester Stallone in his iconic role. The film also reunites Coogler with his “Fruitvale Station” star Michael B. Jordan as the son of Apollo Creed.
Adonis Johnson (Jordan) never knew his famous father, world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, who died before he was born. Still, there’s no denying that boxing is in his blood, so Adonis heads to Philadelphia, the site of Apollo Creed’s legendary match with a tough upstart named Rocky Balboa.
Once in the City of Brotherly Love, Adonis tracks Rocky (Stallone) down and asks him to be his trainer. Despite his insistence that he is out of the fight game for good, Rocky sees in Adonis the strength and determination he had known in Apollo—the fierce rival who became his closest friend. Agreeing to take him on, Rocky trains the young fighter, even as the former champ is battling an opponent more deadly than any he faced in the ring.
With Rocky in his corner, it isn’t long before Adonis gets his own shot at the title…but can he develop not only the drive but also the heart of a true fighter, in time to get into the ring?
So the first thing that stands out here is not Sylvester Stallone, but actually the dynamic duo of director Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, who starred in Googler’s critically acclaimed Fruitvale Station. A director with credible, gritty artistic ability is unlikely to take on a project that isn’t backed by a credible and high quality script. In my mind, there’s no way this guy, or an up and coming star like Jordan are going to go out there and embarrass themselves with a sub-par, cheesy spin off. I don’t think Stallone would go there either. So after more thought, I think there must be at least something to this thing.
The story sounds cheesy, no doubt, but it could also present a nice dynamic. The formula in my mind would actually be to have less focus on the boxing itself, and more on the drama outside the ring. There’s a lot of meat available there that can help keep us out of the realm of same-old same-old. According to the synopsis, Apollo Creed died before his son was born, so there is certainly a father-son relationship dynamic that can develop between Rocky and the boy. There’s the emotion involved for both, due to the circumstances of Apollo’s death. Then there’s this mysterious ‘other challenge’ that Rocky is facing. The rumor is that he has some kind of illness, perhaps cancer or head trauma related damage, that means his life is at risk. That certainly sounds ominous, emotional and perhaps we might even see the end of our beloved boxer throughout the film. Another possibility that I haven’t seen anywhere else is that Rocky’s own son has died, with Creed’s son filling the void somehow, pulling Rocky out of suicidal grief.
Michael B. Jordan is a great young actor, and I can only hope that he doesn’t do something here that will hurt his career. I also love Stallone, and love the Rocky franchise dearly, so let’s hope that Creed can deliver us one last great Rocky moment, and perhaps start a new chapter.
Creed is set to be released in November, 2015.