November 26, 2015, - 3:01 pm
I was pleasantly surprised by “Creed,” which is in theaters today for Thanksgiving. It’s essentially “Rocky 7” (with “Rocky 6” being “Rocky Balboa”–read my review), and it’s a much, much better movie than I expected. But, at the same time, I have some very strong reservations about who is behind it and what this is all about.
Overall, it’s a good, uplifting movie in the Rocky spirit, although I have mixed feelings about what is pretty much the subliminal, somewhat racist celebration of the transformation of everything White in America to Black (when the reverse definitely would have been called out as “racist”). This is the story of Rocky Balboa passing the baton to the new Black Rocky, played by Michael B. Jordan.
When I first heard about this movie, I denounced it on this site as ridiculous and yet another promise Sylvester Stallone made about the Rocky movies that he didn’t keep. As I noted then, Stallone promised us that 2006’s “Rocky Balboa” would be the last, last Rocky movie ever. That was after, years earlier, he promised us 1990’s “Rocky V” was the end. I view Stallone’s promises about the last, last, last, ever, ever, ever, final, final, final Rocky movie like I view illegal amnesty pimps’ false promises that their latest push for legalizing invading alien criminals will be the “last, last, last” time. It never is the last time. They’ll always do it again. There is too much in it for them not to keep doing it over and over. And so it goes with the Rocky movies. There’s too much money in it to stop . . . and Stallone has a model wife and several glammed-up daughters to keep dressed in high style and bling.
Note, however, that last time, Stallone apparently intended to keep his promise. This is the first Rocky movie that Stallone neither wrote nor directed. Those duties are filled, this time, by Black director Ryan Coogler, who approached a dubious and supposedly unwilling Stallone and eventually convinced him to get involved in this production.
Coogler is something of a race merchant, and as I also noted when I first wrote about this movie, the original script was even more politically correct and featured a vastly multicultural cast, with only a lesbian Muslim vegan terrorist missing. Coogler’s first hit movie was “Fruitvale Station,” a race-laden, completely fabricated, anti-police movie that sharply contrasts with the facts of the real story on which it is based. The movie glorified convicted criminal, all-around low-life, and drug dealer Oscar Grant, a Black man who was shot by a White police officer after Grant resisted arrest and the cop thought he’d grabbed his taser instead of his gun. And since Hollywood hates America and loves to ingratiate itself and pretend it’s “down wit da struggle,” liberal movie critics gushed over the fictional “Fruitvale” and it received much undue critical acclaim. So, as you watch Creed–if you decide to spend money on seeing it–you must recognize that its writer/director (who stands to earn gazillions from this) is part of the Black Lives Matter movement of fictional narratives glorifying criminals and attacking cops.
In this movie, Michael B. Jordan, who played Oscar Grant in “Fruitvale,” is Adonis Creed, the illegitimate son of boxer Apollo Creed, who died in “Rocky IV.” I know Hollywood doesn’t strictly adhere to real timelines. But Rocky IV came out on November 27, 1985, almost exactly 30 years ago. And, yet, in this movie, Adonis Creed, is about 22-years-old for the portion that takes place “today.” It would have made more sense, as I originally thought–and had written on this site–was going to be the plot of the movie, if Adonis Creed were Apollo Creed’s grandson. But, that aside, the movie is a slightly ghetto-ized version of the original Rocky story.
Creed is a parentless kid and troubled punk imprisoned in juvenile detention. Adonis doesn’t know he’s Apollo Creed’s son. He knows only that he never met his father, who was never in his life and left his mother, and that his mother is a drug addict who is nowhere to be found. He likes to fight and often gets in physical altercations there. But one day, Mrs. Cosby, er . . . Mrs. Creed (Phylicia Rashad) tracks the young Creed son to the juvie center where he’s housed and bails’ Adonis out. Mrs. Creed explains to the young Adonis “Johnson” in semi-evasive but understood terms that his father/her husband had an affair with Adonis’ mother and he is the child of that relationship. She brings Adonis home to live with her at the giant Creed estate, complete with gargantuan mansion and fancy automatic gate with a “C” on it.
Mrs. Creed raises Adonis as her own son and he grows up to do desk work at a bank. But, instead of taking a promotion, he quits to become a full-time boxer, after having some success in small fights in Mexico. But Adonis knows he needs something more to take him to the next level, and, soon, he pays a visit to Rocky at his “Adrian’s” Italian restaurant (where amnesty-supporting Stallone’s Rocky happily employs illegal aliens). This time around, not only is Adrian dead, but Paulie is, too. Rocky regularly goes to their adjacent grave sites to read them the newspaper and tell them what is going on in his life and the world.
Now, here’s what I liked about this movie. Despite the title and the Black Rocky who is at the center of the movie, this is a Rocky movie. Sylvester Stallone is the real star and he (and the usual Rocky nostalgia we all have) carries this thing, down to the playing of the Rocky theme, “Gonna Fly Now” and the traditional run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, this time with Adonis in tow. Without Stallone as “Rocky,” this wouldn’t be worth seeing. In Germany, movie posters for this, call it, “Creed: Rocky’s Legacy.” It’s Rocky’s training and camaraderie with Adonis Creed–Adonis calls him “Unc,” short for Uncle–that is the highlight of this movie. Rocky motivates Adonis and turns him into a star. And he allows Adonis to move in with him, despite some very rude, behind-Rocky’s-back, insults and derogatory comments about him by Adonis. The two become like family, as Rocky’s son moved away to Toronto long ago, in order to live his life away from Rocky’s shadow. Rocky also faces a serious crisis in his life–and Adonis plays the “magical Black friend” (Black L.A. Times columnist David Ehrenstein first iterated the concept and calls it the “Magic Negro”) role in motivating Rocky to be tough and strong in the fight of his life.
I found this movie enjoyable and entertaining, though there is nothing new here. As I noted, it tracks the Rocky story with a little ghetto-ization. For example, Creed is a rude house guest and has sex with his girlfriend on Rocky’s couch. (Missing was any scene of Rocky throwing the couch out.) There’s nothing objectionable about the movie on its face. It’s just who’s behind it and the not-so-sub-rosa message about what is going on here: the deliberate darkening of formerly-White American pop culture icons as an in-your-face, lording-it-over-you statement about who is now in control and who is no longer welcome, except as the help.
This movie says all that without saying it. It’s not heavy-handed. But sometimes, the lack of heavy-handedness is the most effective on-screen messaging.
(Blacks may get mad at me for saying this, as many do if you say James Bond isn’t Black–he isn’t, and he’s not blond either, a la Daniel Craig. He’s a swarthy, dark-haired White guy. But, as dumb as the “Shaft” movies were, I’m sure there would be “Black Movie Characters’ Lives Matter” riots in the streets, if they made a movie in which Shaft is forced to retire and train a new, White Shaft before handing over the keys to da crib.)
By the way, if Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Hussein Obama Idi Amin Dada saw this, she’d probably declare that for the first time in her life she’s proud to be a Rocky fan.
If you are a “Rocky” fan, as I am, you will like this, aside from the race issues which aren’t spoken (but are quite evident). If skin complexion weren’t such a major (though unspoken) factor in this movie and driving motivation for the career of this movie’s creator, I would probably give this THREE REAGANS. But given that it is, I downgrade and give this one of my rare mixed movie ratings of . . .
Watch the trailer . . .
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