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Best Binges - Rocky to Creed 3

Commentary / Binge-Cation

If you want to treat yourself to a Binge-Cation the Rocky/Creed franchise is a wonderful way to spend the weekend! With nearly 50 years spanning the series, it surprising holds up really well.

The Rocky series follows the story of an underdog boxer named Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone. Rocky, the first film was released in 1976 and won the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editor. Since then, the franchise and its spin-offs have found great worldwide success. Recently, I had the chance to binge-watch all nine movies in the Rocky/Creed series, and here are my takeaways.

Rocky 1976

Writer: Sylvester Stallone

Director: John G. Avildsen

The first film in the franchise is a classic blue-collar underdog story wrapped around a love story between Rocky and Adrian. The attention to detail in the set design is incredible, and the story arc is so smart. The characters, with all of their flaws and imperfections, make them lovable and relatable.

Rocky / Sylvester Stallone: The down on his luck legbreaker that lives in qualler. Boxing is another hustle that puts money in his pocket. He is a simple man trying to make it, but has never gotten a break.

Adrian / Talia Shire: The mousey, shy, innocent woman, that has been underestimated her whole life. When we find her she is hiding her beauty behind big glasses, baggy clothes and an unconfident posture.

Paulie / Burt Young: Adrian's brother wears all of his flaws, brokenness, addictions, and jealousy on the outside.

Mickey / Burgess Meredith: The angry guru, trainer, and father figure.

Apollo Creed / Carl Weathers: The American Dream, and the ultimate showman is The Champion. Apollo is a smooth talking, suit wearing, black boxer that breaks through, yet understands the existing racial barriers and tries to use them to his advantage as he continues to strive for even more greatness.

Film Nerd Stuff: Rocky was written by Sylvester Stallone. Stallone’s sold the script to Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff with the condition that Stallone play the lead. They made much of the film without permits, jumping out of the production van, shooting the scene and jumping back in with the city none the wiser. The steady-cam was invented by Garrett Brown during this movie to follow Rocky through the streets of Philadelphia, getting all of those running montage shots.

Rewatching this movie decades later, I was completely captivated with the characters, script and visual storytelling. I had no choice but to watch all nine movies!

Rocky II 1979

Writer: Sylvester Stallone

Director: Sylvester Stallone

This film follows Rocky as he chooses between his family and his dreams. He risks permanent injury by getting back in the ring to prove his worth, and that he's not just a one-hit wonder. The fight scenes are ridiculous and visually outstanding. This is a natural progression of the love story and a man’s battle with finding himself, his success, managing his ego, and the balance of love and family commitments. This story holds up. And, we are still rooting for Rocky!

Rocky III 1982

Writer: Sylvester Stallone

Director: Sylvester Stallone

This film sees Rocky achieving fame and fortune, but also struggling with the fear of losing everything, all the success he has achieved. The loss of his trainer, Mickey, is brutal. Adrian’s character becomes bigger and stronger. Apollo Creed evolves into his best friend and new coach. Rocky is exposed to a new world of training.

Mr. T is cast as the antagonist Clubber Lang. While the fight scenes are great, the depth of character for Clubber Lang is very shallow. This aspect of the film is a little dated in that today’s films tend to show more story development for the antagonist. From a context perspective, Mr. T was a massive icon in the 1980's.

Rocky IV 1985

Writer: Sylvester Stallone

Director: Sylvester Stallone

This film, in my opinion, is the weakest in the franchise. It has WAY too many montages and a thin plot. However, the USA vs. Russia storyline is still relevant today, I found it hard to watch.

Rocky V 1990

Writer: Sylvester Stallone

Director: John G. Avildsen

The ups and down of life, and the connection between fathers and sons. The story takes us on the whirlwind ride of falling for a con artist as Rocky tries to hold on to boxing and help a young fighter named Tommy Gunn. The Actor that plays Tommy Gunn was real life boxer Tommy Morrison. Morrison's acting is terrible in this film and he was later unable to box professionally because of a blood disease. He died at the age of 44. This film is more character-driven than action-driven, with far fewer montages than the previous film. Thank goodness.

Rocky Balboa 2006

Writer: Sylvester Stallone

Director: Sylvester Stallone

The sixth film in the franchise is a slow burn that tries to bring back the emotional side of the Rocky story. We see Rocky dealing with the loss of his wife, struggling with regrets, and attempting to repair the relationship with his son. Does Rocky have one last fight in him? This film starts slow and ends on a satisfying note.

Creed 2015

Writers: Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington

Director: Ryan Coogler

Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed. Adonis battles with his inner demons about whether he's a mistake and works to prove his place in the world. The film is about finding family, purpose, love, and self. This film is more in line with the first Rocky film and a great addition to the franchise. Creed brings new life and a new storyline to a franchise we all thought was over.

Creed II 2018

Writer: Juel Taylor and Sylvester Stallone

Director: Steven Caple Jr.

We find Adonis questioning whether he'll follow in his father's footsteps and whether he's destined to repeat his father's mistakes. The film is about legacy and father-son relationships. It's a satisfying conclusion to Adonis's story.

Creed III 2023

Writers: Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin

Director: Michael B. Jordan

Jonathan Majors plays Damian Anderson, a childhood friend of Adonis’s who is newly released from jail and reconnects with his old friend. Prior to his incarceration he was an up and coming boxer with the singular goal of getting back into the ring. Adonis feels overly responsible for his old friend and this is where all of the drama begins. There are some twists and turns with deeper character development of the antagonist. It is a more modern approach to storytelling. We are seeing this storytelling strategy a lot more with our villains these days.

While I enjoyed this film I do have a criticism. It is the use of the N word throughout the movie. The Rocky/Creed franchise is a carefully curated franchise that historically is very inclusive and respectful to their audience. I did not like this vulgar change and I think we, as a whole, can do better.

Also, is the ending a little soft? You will have to judge that one for yourself.

This is Michael B Jordan's directorial debut. Congratulations Michael!

My Final Thoughts

The Rocky / Creed franchise is a fantastic series and has withstood the test of time. If you haven't had a chance to watch the series, I recommend it. A trip through film history is a great way to spend the weekend.

Copyright © 2023 Screengoat & Round-Circle, Inc.


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