24 January 2016

A Rocky Legacy?

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When I was finishing school, my Dad suggested to me that I consider his line of work as a possible career path. Obviously I ruled this out on the grounds that it's not the fucking Victorian times and I'd rather hang myself than do something as cliched as follow in my father's footsteps. Little did I know that, after nepotism, the only way to get a decent job would be to find the CEO of a company and suck them off in an alley. Creed is the seventh film in the Rocky series, one which has decided to spin off and focus on the young son of the franchise's Hulked up Lando Calrissian, Apollo Creed. Little Creed is determined to do his own thing despite who his father was and he admirably wants to make a name for himself on his own merits. Bearing in mind my own stubbornness on the subject and subsequent lack of success, hope, and happiness, I see him and I as being kindred spirits. So to make it on his own he decides to become a part of his fathers profession, forces his father's ex-world-champion friend to train him, and then takes on his first big match simply as a result of who his father was. Oh, right... good job with the whole 'making it on your own' thing. Prick.

So if I were to take my own bitterness out of the equation and forget about the word 'nepotism', then the one other word to sum this film up would be 'legacy'. On the one hand the young Adonis Creed is continuing on from where his highly respected father left off. And by 'left off', I mean from when he had his brains smeared across the boxing ropes and died from being punched in the skull. In fact, I'm pretty sure the last person to die after having their head smashed through a ring was probably found floating in Michael Barrymore's swimming pool. However the 'legacy' is also in relation to the previous six films with this spin-off now having to shoulder the burden of not titting up an almost forty year old franchise. Although if the series can survive a cameo from Hulk Hogan, or Rocky owning a fucking robot, then it would have to balls-up pretty badly to ruin it. Of all the paths the film could tread, Creed becomes another one of those sequel/remake things like Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Jurassic World in that its story follows almost identical beats to the original. However you kind of can't be mad about that when it comes to the Rocky franchise because that's pretty much all it's ever fucking done anyway.

As such, Creed does what the Rocky sequels have always done and takes a completely logical step in the next direction. I mean if you look at something like Rambo, it has more sequels than its last film had fucking brains, and it doesn't need any of them. First Blood was about a broken man that had been screwed over by his country. The final film in that franchise was about a chunky old jungle man that decided to kill a lot of people having somehow filled his forehead with botox. The sequels made no sense in relation to the aesthetic of the first which should have ended with him doing the franchise a favour and sticking the gun in his fucking mouth. Creed however realises that if Rocky were to fight again at this point in his life then he'd end up being even more screwed than a post record-breaking Annabel Chong. However considering Stallone is now the same age as the screaming prune that played his trainer in the first movie, then why not have him take on that role? Not only does that make complete sense for the character but by focusing more on Adonis, then the franchise can now even outlive the ageing Stallone. I mean at the end of the day, old Sly is now sixty-nine years old, easily beating the fifty-eight year old Colo to the title of worlds oldest living gorilla.

Therefore the final aspect in which the word 'legacy' applies is of course in regards to Stallone and his relationship to his character. I mean, he's been playing the role now for more years than I've been tossing off for and believe me, that feels like a lifetime. Not only that but the character actually managed to go out with quite a lot of dignity in the completely under-rated and presumed final instalment, Rocky Balboa. Well thankfully, Stallone took the risk, put the gun to his head and fired out one of the best performances of his career. Rocky has now lost everything in his life and since his brother was shot down from the top of the Empire State Building having stolen Fay Wray, he's now the last of his species. Old Sly brings genuine gravitas to the role of a man that's got nothing left to live for and provides the film with its huge steroid-addled heart. However, let's not forget that as his deserved Oscar nomination has pointed out, he is playing a supporting part to Michael B. Jordan's Adonis. Some might say that he's essentially passing the torch, but then I suppose others might not like the like word 'torch' reminding them that they were in that crappy Fantastic Four film.

By all accounts, Creed really is the brainchild of director Ryan Coogler who had his mind blown by the first movie as a child. In particular, he was a fan of Apollo Creed who he claimed was one of the first cool black characters that he knew. Considering that Creed spends that first film over his desk and dictating a fighter's fate like a God from Jason And The Argonauts, it's not hard to see why. The reason that the franchise has managed to last this long is because Stallone always infused each film with aspects of his own personal life. Coogler has taken a leaf out of this book and done the same, with Creed being equally autobiographical but minus the excess bullshit of some of the series' mid-sequels. Coogler's Dad was diagnosed with cancer too, which led him to wonder what life would have been like without a father figure. Rather than listening to Tony Stark's advice that “Dads leave, there's no need to be such a pussy about it”, he reacted by conceiving this movie. Adonis's biological Dad is already dead and after years without one, his new father figure gets cancer. Not only that but like Rocky training Adonis, Stallone apparently took a lot of convincing to let them make the film. I'm sure both this now being the best film in the series since Rocky 2, and an Oscar nominated film, have probably convinced Sly that he made the right choice. Plus, just think of all the lovely bananas you can buy with a rejuvenated franchise!

Creed understands that the formula of the franchise is to mix an underdog story with some light grit, character drama, and a feel good ending in which the main character gets repeatedly punched in the face. It also helps that Jordan is brilliant as the young Creed by countering his annoying stubbornness with plenty of inner pain. Plus Rocky is one of the most likeable characters ever and so we find our way into like Creed through him. The one thing that the film doesn't have is a particularly great rival for our main hero, which is mostly fine because I suppose the film is more about the bond between fighter and trainer. However whereas the original series had Carl Weathers, Mr. T., and Dolph Lundgren, this film just has some fat, chavvy looking scouser. The final fight also seems to take place in Liverpool which was quite fun for me because I live close enough to that place that I recognised all the locations but not close enough that I can't make fun of it. There was an amazing scene during the final fight when the camera cut to Creed's half of the audience, all full of good-looking American fans. Then it cut to his rival's fans who all had tattooed faces, skin heads, and looked like they were only there as a meeting place for a fucking race-riot.

Regardless though, I fucking loved this movie and can't wait to see the franchise continue. I mean if you've seen any Rocky film, any under-dog movie, or fucking Creed, I'm sure you'll be able to guess what'll happen in part two, but who cares?! It's well-made fun and so long as they can get a better villain then I have every faith that the sequel will be brilliant. Creed ends pretty much exactly how you'd want it to and despite its conclusive conclusion, it points to an obvious direction for any subsequent sequels. I won't spoil it, but as predicted, nepotism rules supreme and I doubt Creed 2 will begin with Adonis on his knees and deep-throating a promoter. Thinking about it, I presumed it was his father's shadow that he felt he had to prove himself against, but as muscular as an Adonis is, we can't forget how small the penises on those Greek statues are. Food for thought, I guess. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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