Empire (UK) - - REVIEW - jonathan pile

Sec­onds out, round seven! Ryan Coogler takes us be­hind the scenes of his en­try in the Rocky fran­chise.

THE YEAR 2015 WAS un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally good for films num­bered sev­enth in a fran­chise. The Force Awak­ens re­turned the Jedi to crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess, while Fast & Fu­ri­ous 7 stands as one of the best in its series. And then there’s the sev­enth film to fea­ture Rocky Bal­boa — named Creed to hon­our its new lead­ing char­ac­ter and sig­nify a pass­ing of the torch. But make no mis­take, this is recog­nis­ably a Rocky film, from the gritty Philly gyms to the back-to-ba­sics train­ing that again (back by pop­u­lar de­mand) in­cludes chas­ing a chicken.

As with the best of Stal­lone’s series (which this ranks along­side), direc­tor Ryan Coogler and his writ­ing part­ner Aaron Cov­ing­ton opt for emo­tional re­al­ism over chest-beat­ing jin­go­ism. Ado­nis John­son (Michael B. Jordan), son of Apollo, love in­ter­est Bianca (Tessa Thomp­son) and Rocky all have their crosses to bear — this is a hu­man drama set in the world of box­ing, rather than a box­ing film ad­her­ing to sports-movie clichés. As it should be. é

Given the weighty legacy of the series and the sur­prise fac­tor of its re­turn (Stal­lone said he was done af­ter 2006’s Rocky Bal­boa), the ex­tras are in­fu­ri­at­ingly slight. Two fea­turettes hint at the fas­ci­nat­ing back­story, but are con­tent to use bland talk­ing heads in lieu of gen­uine in­sight. Al­though the mostly skip­pable deleted scenes in­clude Bianca re­veal­ing a fun the­ory that the fight in the open­ing cred­its of

The Fresh Prince Of Bel-air was fa­tal, and the show was set in the af­ter­life. Seems plau­si­ble...

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