MikeyB's Movie Night: Creed (2015)

 Creed (2015)
Director: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson

 I've mentioned before how while growing up I had three movie heroes: Conan the Barbarian, James Bond, and todays subject Rocky Balboa. Rocky's saga has spanned six movies so far. The first film is one of my favorite movies of all time and while the sequels range in quality, I find even the worst of them are extremely entertaining. So when I heard that they were making another sequel, but this time featuring Rocky in a supporting role training a new fighter in, I was very intrigued. This movie hopes to restart the interest in this series in a big bad way but its been thirty nine years since Rocky first took to the boxing ring. Can this franchise follow in the steps of its namesake and "go the distance" one more time? Lets dive right in and find out how the newest chapter stacks up.

 Adonis Johnson is the illegitimate son of boxing legend Apollo Creed. After deciding to follow in his fathers footsteps and become a professional boxer he moves to Philadelphia to train under the guidance of his fathers friend and boxing great Rocky Balboa. He struggles to overcome not only his opponents in the ring but also his mixed feelings about his father and his own self worth.

 This movie is nothing short of genius. Director Ryan Coogler has managed to take a series that previously only catered to an older audience and has rejuvenated it for an entirely new generation. Michael B. Jordan is perfectly cast as the new hero of the franchise, bringing a real sense of vulnerability and anger to Adonis. Stallone has played Rocky so many times now he could have just phoned it in, but instead he has somehow managed to breathe new life into Balboa. Many critics are saying his return performance is "Oscar" worthy and I have to agree with them one hundred percent. Everything in the movie from acting, to cinematography, to the music is just pitch perfect. I still place the original above this as my favorite of the series due to my nostalgia for it, but I have to say this is one of the best movies I've seen so far this year and my second favorite of in the saga. The champ is here.

 Fun Facts from IMDB for Creed:

 This is the first film in the "Rocky" series that is not written by Sylvester Stallone (Rocky Balboa).

 Stallone has expressed his pride in being a part of a story that has remained relevant for decades. "What's amazing is that this character and these stories have stayed around without any special effects, without any car chases, without blowing anything up, which is what I usually do, no bullets, no cursing, no sex scenes," Stallone said. "That's what I think is so phenomenal. That a generation that wasn't even around when we did the third one, forget the first one, would embrace this and take it to a new level."

 There are a number of extended shots in the film, which cinematographer Maryse Alberti said help penetrate the inherent manipulation of filmmaking. The most celebrated example is an entire 2-round boxing match captured in a single steadicam shot. No post-production stitching was used: "Everybody thinks we're cheating, but that is one shot," Alberti said in Variety. The scene was filmed with an Arri Alexa by steadicam operator, Ben Semanoff. Director Ryan Coogler shot 12 takes of the sequence, with the 10th take being the one used in the final film.

MikeyB's Rocky Rankings:
1: Rocky (1976)
2: Creed (2015)
3: Rocky Balboa (2006)
4: Rocky II (1979)
5: Rocky IV (1985)
6: Rocky III (1982)
7: Rocky V (1990)