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REVIEW OF CREED AKA ROCKY 7

year: 2015 cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson Director: Ryan Coogler
We catch sporadic stock footage of Carl Weathers' former champ Apollo CREED while his bastard son, attempting to follow father's footsteps but not quite as muscular and confident, strategically ventures from the City of Angels to Rocky Balboa's Philly dive bar, where the Italian Stallion, at first, is reluctant to train the kid but then, very quickly, and without a lot of suspense or creativity, the real story begins...

Sly Stallone
The problem with CREED isn't what hindered the last ROCKY film, because it's not exactly boring and has a touch of soul now and again. But there's that similar digital cable TV aura that goes against the grainy aesthetic that made the first three movies so awesome, and the training sessions are way too familiar: including the "Kentucky Fried Idiot" sequence; the ready contender running along with a group of outdoor fans while triumphant music blares; and this time, women don't weaken legs. Meanwhile, there's not too much detail about how Michael B. Jordan's Adonis Johnson aka Adonis Creed lost his father because, let's face it, ROCKY IV, despite its cult status, was pretty much a cartoon, and Apollo's death, fighting a bionic Russian following a corny James Brown performance, was pure blasphemy to such an otherwise genuine, realistic character who not only served as one of cinema's greatest antagonists, but, after his friendly turnaround, made the superior second half of ROCKY III so edgy, streetwise and dynamic.

Really A Secret?
Back to the present: The good news is that Sylvester Stallone has almost equal screen time with the young, somewhat lethargic Creed and his way-too-easily-landed girlfriend, and the old man does a good job in a mellow role without too much brooding as he shares a few worthy moments of nostalgic reverie with pain and feeling.

And as an actor, Jordan has decent chemistry with Sly, making for a much better "son" than that last whiny businessman punk, and provides the right amount of swift rhythm as a brawler, but despite what people keep telling him, he looks absolutely nothing like Apollo (Weathers) and lacks the cocky charm and charisma that made dad so fun and legendary. And hey, if that private bout between Rocky and Apollo at the end of the third film was such a secret, how did LeRoy Neiman capture the first punch? And here's a spoiler... Not only did Yo Adrian kick the bucket (which is already known) but, as we learn at the cemetery, so did the scene-stealing, comic relief Paulie, which is a real shame: the ultra-serious CREED desperately needs some levity, and Burt Young could have provided it.

RATING: **1/2
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