A more than fitting follow up to the legendary ‘Rocky’ franchise.
Just when you think Rocky has fought his last fight, he shows he’s still got some bite in him. Although Rocky never dons his gloves and finds his way to the ring, he still finds a challenge in training the hot headed son of his late rival and friend Apollo creed, Adonis creed, played by Michael B. Jordan. With Ryan Coogler at the helms, I couldn’t think of a more dynamic cast to take on this daunting task of following up the Rocky franchise around a boxer that’s not Rocky. I know most of you are wondering if this film is worthy of following up the legendary Rocky franchise which spanned decades and generations. Rest assured, this risky sequel is a knockout.
For those of you slacking on your independent films, Coogler and Jordan worked together in the gripping and telling film Fruitvale Station which was very well done. When it comes to directors skilled in the art of drawing audience reactions and really getting every drop of pathos you can, no one is better than Coogler. You are betting on Jordan and Rocky’s characters throughout this film and you will find it difficult not to cheer, cry, and just feel for the two of them as this movie progresses. Coogler’s use of awkward forced angling and a swaying motion made you feel all the more like you were there in the crowd witnessing the fights and Adonis’ journey to be his own man, rather than watching a movie from the comfort of your seat. On top of all that, Coogler manages to write a great script with Aaron Covington bringing back much of the grit of the original Rocky.
As for the rest of the cast, it was a phenomenal job well done all around. Michael B. Jordan is one talented actor. His transformation for this film physically as well as mentally was great. He manages to lead a film also starring film legend Sylvester Stallone. That alone is a feat in and of itself. Tessa Thompson, who plays Jordan’s love interest does anything but play what the role asks for, and that’s a good thing. Instead of coming off as just a cool girl Adonis is in to, she comes off as an independent standalone character who can exist without Stallone or Jordan in the frame. This is the first time Stallone has not written the script for a Rocky film and the second time he has not directed it. It must’ve taken a lot to hand over his baby, but with Coogler taking over, it’s in good hands. With this in mind, Stallone’s only job was to do what he does best, act, and he delivers a great performance, the likes of which I haven’t seen in years, maybe decades. He is humble and heartfelt, and most of all, gripping from beginning to end.
If you’re a fan or have ever seen a film in the Rocky franchise, you’ll love this one, and if you haven’t, there hasn’t been a better chance since the original one came out to get into it. I could not think of a better way to continue the Rocky franchise into the next generation. Definitely a great film worth watching.