Catching up again, after falling behind on the old bloggin'
I have to give full credit to Jesse Hawthorne Ficks and his Midnites for Maniacs series for making me reexamine the Rocky series as good, heartfelt, even smart movies, and for reexamining Sylvester Stallone as actually an incredibly talented, heartfelt, and even smart actor.
There's a saying that great actors become their characters, while movie stars make their characters become them. By that standard, Stallone is certainly a movie star--there's never a movie where he is not Sly Stallone. But he actually goes beyond this, and becomes something even more. Let's call it an icon, if it needs a word, but the quality I've finally noticed in him is he's one of those rare stars whose body of work means something--there's a line of thought cutting through it that one can follow the same way one follows the developing ideas of one's favorite directors. For the vast majority of movie stars, the only overarching message their career communicates is "Look at me! I'm so cool! I'm a movie star!" But Stallone's career means something more. He says something about the struggle of life. The pain, the hardship...but how it's ultimately worth it. That's certainly the story of Rocky, and it's the story of Stallone's life. So it's no big surprise that it's also the story of his characters.
Anyway, CREED passes that struggle, and that triumph, to a new generation. Michael B. Jordan, as Apollo Creed's illegitimate son, takes up the mantle well. Ryan Coogler's accomplished directing (hey, check out that first legitimate fight, all shot in a single take!) moves the story along with all the tension, drama, and humanity to make it compelling. And if there's any justice, Stallone will finally get an Oscar as best supporting actor.
A crank could criticize the movie as being derivative. It is, after all the Rocky story just with a new Rocky. But that's just because the Rocky story is fucking timeless, and we wouldn't want it to end.
Running Time: 133 minutes
My Total Minutes: 412,248