7 Philly locations that star in the new ‘Rocky’ film, ‘Creed’

25 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

7 Philly locations that star in the new ‘Rocky’ film, ‘Creed’.

It was 1976 when Rocky Balboa emerged from an Italian neighborhood in Philadelphia to knock out movie audiences everywhere with his never-say-die, All-American spirit.

A young boxer with something to prove teams up with a veteran trainer and signs on for the fight of his life against a reigning world champ who looks all set to destroy our spunky hero.Rocky is one of the longest-running characters in movies, so it’s hardly a surprise that the makers of “Creed,” the latest installment in the 40-year saga, may have jumbled the established timeline. “Creed” is Adonis Creed (Michael B.At a recent screening of “Creed,” as the familiar fanfare of Bill Conti’s beloved “Rocky” score signaled the start of the final round of the big fight, the audience burst into spontaneous applause. On Nov. 25, nearly 40 years later, Sylvester Stallone is bringing the iconic character back to the City of Brotherly Love in “Creed,” the story of young boxer Adonis Johnson — boxing champion Apollo Creed’s grandson — played by actor Michael B.

Jordan), the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers in the first four “Rocky” movies), who was killed in the ring in “Rocky IV,” which was released in 1985 but is seemingly set in 1982. This was no sneak-preview crowd, primed with free admission and popcorn, but a room full of critics and journalists armored in professional skepticism. Now Creed, the seventh in the series, replays the original plot, but this time Sylvester Stallone has finally handed over the gloves to the next generation.

A cynic might say that the cheering was a Pavlovian reflex set off by a piece of commercial entertainment in the hands of a skilled, manipulative director. He keeps all the heart of the original in introducing the classic story of an underdog’s quest for glory to a new generation through Adonis Johnson (Fruitvale star Michael B. According to totalrocky.com, the idea to have Rocky open a restaurant was inspired by real-life boxing legend Jack Dempsey who owned an eatery in Manhattan, New York, in the 1930s. While the space was empty before film crews turned it into a training spot for Adonis Johnson, it had actually been a boxing training facility previously. In 2015, whether by coincidence or by the mysterious movements of the dialectic, a bunch of semi-dormant franchises have come roaring back to pop-cultural life, enrolling legions of new fans and managing both to transcend and to exploit the nostalgia of Gen-X old-timers.

When Rocky lost his wife Adrian in the 2006 film, “Rocky Balboa,” the character’s interment was carried out at Laurel Hill Cemetery — an historic but functioning cemetery overlooking the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. But this is a film is about a 20-something rising fighter of the future and not one well past his athletic peak. “Rocky II,” released in 1979, picks up the night of the first fight on New Year’s Day of 1976 and continues through the Balboa-Apollo Creed rematch on Thanksgiving of that year. “Rocky III,” released in 1982, nearly catches up to the release date with an extended montage of Rocky’s 10 successful title defenses leading to the showdown with Clubber Lang (Mr. Perhaps the most famous set of steps in movie history, the 72-step entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art is always on Stallone’s list of places to visit when he is in the city.

In the meantime we have “Creed,” which writes another chapter in the saga of Rocky Balboa and which is something that Italian Stallion’s devotees have not seen in a long time, perhaps since the original “Rocky” way back in 1976: a terrific boxing movie. In January, 636 extras joined the cast of “Creed” in the Music Hall of the Temple University Performing Arts Center to film a fight scene between Jordan’s character, Adonis Johnson, and 29-year-old light middleweight champion boxer from Philadelphia, Gabriel “Gabe” Rosado, according to phillyvoice.com. Working from his screenplay, co-written with newcomer Aaron Covington, Coogler wisely keeps the dramatic bones of the 1976, multiple Oscar-winning original, while scenes of Philadelphia street culture, dirt bike riders, a hip-hop soundtrack and even the city’s heralded cheese steaks make Creed feel immediate.

Apollo takes over as Rocky’s trainer and gives his former foe the “eye of the tiger” for his rematch with Lang. “Rocky IV” then picks up where “Rocky III” left off, which is sometime in the winter of 1981-82. From humble beginnings (and an improbable best picture Oscar, beating out “All the President’s Men,” “Network” and “Taxi Driver”), the series rose in the 1980s to heights of grandiosity and preposterousness before stumbling into irrelevance.

Stallone looks like a wreck, but more in the manner of a man who has gone 12 rounds with his plastic surgeon than one who has battled Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago. Rocky says he and Adrian (Talia Shire) have been married for nine years, which would place the movie in 1985, the year of its release, since the characters were indeed married in 1976. In the film’s opening scenes, we get a bracing glimpse of a juvenile detention centre indistinguishable from a prison and are told Apollo Creed’s offspring from an affair has spent the years after his mother’s death here or in foster homes. Supposedly this boy is the bastard son striving to prove his legitimacy, but he looks like he’s spent the second half of his young life cuddling in the family’s very luxurious lap.

The film, which will be released Wednesday, has rated a 78 out of 100 on criticism-aggregator Metacritic and a 96% score on critical-consensus site Rotten Tomatoes. A compelling Tessa Thompson plays Don’s neighbour and love interest, a club singer with progressive hearing loss, and their frank, contemporary scenes along with the love-worn Philly setting add a certain much-needed naturalism to the equation.

Cooger adds a few visual flourishes – a fire eater appears in a darkened arena; Philly youth pull wheelies on their motor bikes – that give Creed a bit of new style, but mainly the movie is same old same old. Actual boxers, including Brit Tony Bellew as “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, and tight camerawork from French cinematographer Maryse Alberti (The Wrestler) complete the screen illusion.

All eyes are on Jordan and rightly so, but Stallone also earns his place, reprising the downbeat, lovable lug from Rocky Balboa who struggled to get past emotional and physical blocks for one last shot at a title. And like Rocky, Adonis falls for a lovely Philadelphian, a musician named Bianca (Tessa Thompson), who schools him in the local cuisine and the local slang. (“What’s a jawn?” he asks her over cheese steaks.) She teases him for having a white uncle (Adonis’s nickname for Rocky is Unk) and gets mad when she finds out that Adonis has been hiding the truth about his pedigree. A boxing movie without clichés is like a political campaign without lies. “Creed,” directed by Ryan Coogler from a script he wrote with Aaron Covington, is self-aware without being cute about it.

It is bizarre — though hardly surprising — that a sport dominated for decades by African-American and Latino athletes looks more like ice hockey on screen. The older fighter is a mentor and a father figure, to be sure, but he also needs someone to take care of him, especially when illness adds a melodramatic twist to the plot. Which partly explains the applause that is likely to echo through multiplexes this Thanksgiving. “Creed” is a dandy piece of entertainment, soothingly old-fashioned and bracingly up-to-date. The punches fly, the music soars (hip-hop along with Ludwig Goransson’s variations on the old Bill Conti brass) and the ground is prepared for “Creed II.” We’ll see how that goes.

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