These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.
Yeah, I’m not that huge a fan of the ROCKY franchise. Not because I dislike the movies, but rather because I just haven’t seen many of them. I saw the first ROCKY, which I… liked, albeit outdated and don’t remember too many specific things other than the obvious running up the stairs and celebrating. Then I saw ROCKY BALBOA, which I remember liking, but don’t remember too much other than Milo Ventimiglia being hilariously or ingeniously cast as Stallone’s son. That’s pretty much it. Out of the now-seven movies that exist, I’ve only seen three of them. Youtube’s Nostalgia Critic did a hilarious review of ROCKY IV, something involving a robot. In short, it’s pretty bad. Regardless, I have been on board with this whole “passing of the torch” thing that recent sequels have been doing, or about to do, and I’m a relative fan of Michael B. Jordan, so I was pretty excited to see this movie. Starting off December with a bang, I finally managed to get around to it.
Starring: Michael B. Jordan (FANT4STIC , JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE FLASHPOINT PARADOX , video game GEARS OF WAR 3 , and upcoming films CREED II  and BLACK PANTHER ) and Sylvester Stallone (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 , ROCKY BALBOA , JUDGE DREDD , and upcoming films ESCAPE PLAN 2: HADES  and CREED II)
Support: Tessa Thompson (SELMA , and TV shows WESTWORLD [2016 – ongoing] and VERONICA MARS [2004 – 2007], and upcoming films THOR: RAGNAROK  and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR ), Phylicia Rashad (TV shows EMPIRE [2015 – ongoing], LITTLE BILL [1999 – 2004], and THE COSBY SHOW [1984 – 1992]), and Tony Bellow (feature film debut; congrats, sir)
Director: Ryan Coogler (FRUITVALE STATION  and the upcoming BLACK PANTHER). Writers: Ryan Coogler (FRUITVALE STATION and the upcoming BLACK PANTHER) and Aaron Covington (feature film debut; congrats, sir). Composer: Ludwig Göransson (EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING , CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE , WE’RE THE MILLERS , and upcoming films DEATH WISH  and BLACK PANTHER). Cinematographer: Maryse Alberti (COLLATERAL BEAUTY , THE VISIT , and THE WRESTLER )
The story follows the son of famed boxer Apollo Creed, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) who has the heart of a fighter. Having a strong desire to box full time, but having very little experience in the ring, he seeks out his father’s rival and friend Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and convinces him to train him and make a name for himself in the boxing world.
This was a very good movie, but I do believe it’s pretty flawed.
In fact, I’ll just get my main gripes out of the way because this movie offers a great deal more good than bad.
For one thing, it’s painfully formulaic and therefore predictable. Dealing with the cliché bullshit of the our protagonist getting a girlfriend, but then ruins the relationship by doing something stupid in front of her, they separate for awhile, and she comes back near the end to show her support, I saw this shit coming a mile away and it does take me out of the story a bit. Should we just expect this out of every underdog/athlete story? It’s pretty tiresome. Even worse is the whole “saying something mean-spirited only to realize that it wasn’t what that person meant to say,” it’s becoming such an eye-roll for me now. Don’t get me wrong, most of these events are done with reason, but they’re still clichés. Writers need to take risks and dare to do something different. The audience cannot be sitting in their seats and guessing correctly how the scene or the following scenes will play out. We aren’t paying ten to twenty dollars a movie ticket just to see a movie we’ve already seen. It’s even worse if we only realize that we’ve seen it AS we’re watching it. It also feels horrendously hypocritical when the movie is constantly preaching that it’s trying to do it’s own thing and make a name for itself, even though it’s almost beat for beat every other story that we’ve seen, even in its own universe.
Now while the movie is sadly easy to figure out, this movie is first and foremost a character-driven story rather than a sports movie. How do the characters hold up? Adonis is, unfortunately, a cliché character. He’s a good kid but always finds himself on the wrong side of every situation which results in him fighting someone. However, this cliché is easily overlooked as Jordan is a fantastic and likable actor, bringing serious ferocity and sympathy to the character. Stallone is… well, he’s Stallone. You either love him or hate him and I rather legit enjoyed his performance in this movie. I always believe if you give the right script to an actor, you can turn the worst into the best (John Travolta’s a decent argument for this) and Stallone was given a solid role here. He’s a retired boxer, getting old, and even gets sick and Stallone plays it so straight. He and Jordan have great chemistry, although I do kind of tilt my head when Adonis calls Rocky “Unc” after only knowing the guy for… one scene, already looking at him like family. This was a two and a half hour movie, there was plenty of time to develop that arc.
Side characters are a mixed bag of solid to forgettable. Adonis’ romantic interest Bianca is a solid character, even though she’s the black version of Adrian from the original Rocky movies. I feel like Mary Anne would have been a good character if she was more than just a tacked on reminder that Adonis has a mother who worries about him when he’s fighting. She literally has maybe fifteen minutes worth of screen-time; in the beginning of the movie and then randomly shown at the end. In short, unnecessary to hammer her in like the movie did. Develop her character, or don’t, but don’t act like she’s important if she’s only a half-assed plot device. Finally is the antagonist of the film, “Pretty” Conlon. Totally forgettable. Similar to Adonis’ mom, he’s tacked on because for some fuck reason, this movie NEEDS a bad guy. Again, Rocky says that you are your own worst enemy and that could have opened so many possibilities as a story, new direction, taking risks. That doesn’t happen.