Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2015. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Chartoff-Winkler Productions. Story by Ryan Coogler, Screenplay by Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington, based on characters created by Sylvester Stallone. Cinematography by Maryse Alberti. Produced by Robert Chartoff, William Chartoff, Sylvester Stallone, Kevin King Templeton, Charles Winkler, David Winkler, Irwin Winkler. Music by Ludwig Göransson. Production Design by Hannah Beachler. Costume Design by Antoinette Messam, Emma Potter. Film Editing by Claudia Castello, Michael P. Shawver. Academy Awards 2015. Golden Globe Awards 2015. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2015. National Board of Review Awards 2015. North Carolina Film Critics Awards 2015. Washington Film Critics Awards 2015.
Having developed some rough skills in his years in juvy, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) is rescued by a beautiful Phylicia Rashad and raised as her own despite the fact that he is the product of an affair between his mother and Rashad’s now deceased husband Apollo Creed. Don grows up to become an educated businessman, but his blood boils for a fight and he longs to get into the ring that his father was once supreme ruler of. Quitting his job and moving to Philadelphia, he looks up his dad’s old friend Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and begs him to take him on as a trainee. Rocky objects because he now runs a restaurant and has nothing to do with boxing anymorem, but Don eventually wears him down and, following a fight that captures headlines, is invited to square off with a big-mouthed Liverpool champion who will determine whether Jordan has got the goods or is just trading on inherited fame. Meanwhile, Stallone is slowing down with the years that have taken their toll, and a beautiful singer (Tessa Thompson) has appeared to give our hero something more to care about than just a well-placed jab. Taking the oldest plot in the book and rebooting what should be one of the most tired franchises in film history turns out to be a wise decision by director Ryan Coogler, who makes a film worthy of Body And Soul that overcomes its familiarity with beautifully acted drama amid exciting sequences of training and struggle. Stallone, for the first time not the author of a film in this series, has never been more amiable, his performance superb in a role that requires him to dig deeper than Rocky has allowed him to in a long time. He has now become the Burgess Meredith of these movies, and does so in a warm and loving way that does not diminish his titanic prowess and indomitable presence.