Champion of the World – #JNGWatches

*Possible Rocky/Creed related SPOILERS ahead!*

I had intended to write my first post about my current read, Elizabeth Gaskell’s awesome and engrossing Victorian novel Wives and Daughters, today, but something happened last night and there’s been a change of plans. (The Wives and Daughters post, full of enthusiastic gushing, will come sometime this week or next weekend, I promise!)

I’m not a huge sports fan really. I did work at a hockey equipment store all throughout my Master’s degree, and I like watching soccer during the World Cup and European Cup, but I’m not the type of person who would sit down and watch a football game or a hockey game or anything like that. If it’s on TV, and my dad is watching, I’m happy to be aware of it in the background, but I’ll usually be reading a book at the same time and escaping into my own literary world. For this reason, a lot of my friends are very surprised when I tell them what one of my favourite movie franchises is…

…Rocky!

I absolutely adore all 6 (well, now 7, I suppose) movies about Rocky Balboa, starring Sylvester Stallone and a myriad of other awesome actors in roles I have adored since childhood. I have no idea how old, or I should say, how young, I was when I first saw Rocky I. I’m half Italian on my father’s side, and so it definitely seemed like a rite of passage that I watch the entire Rocky series at some point in my early years. What my dad probably didn’t expect from his daughter who played absolutely no sports and wasn’t at all athletic (I’ve since fallen in love with going to the gym at least 4 to 5 times a week, but that didn’t happen until I entered university), was that I would absolutely fall in love with the franchise within minutes of watching the first, award winning film. I don’t know what it was about the Italian Stallion that drew me in immediately, but I just couldn’t get enough of the story, and I was pretty happy that there were 5 movies for me to watch – although some were, admittedly, less spectacular than others – I’m looking at you Rocky V! I instantly adored the relationship between Rocky and Adrian because, let’s be real, Rocky might be a boxer but he has an incredibly sweet and kind soft side and he is so good to Adrian and basically worships her. That’s my ideal sort of romance, right there! And then, there are all the other characters who have these larger than life personalities: Paulie is beyond ridiculous and a little overbearing, but he means well; Mickey is surly and mean, but he has a golden heart deep down; and Apollo Creed is the man who inspires Rocky to try harder, to be his best self. It’s kind of impossible not to love these characters because they’re just so realistic – they struggle, they defy the odds, they face a lot of personal demons, and it’s an exciting ride! Not to mention the incredible “villains”, Rocky’s tough opponents, like Clubber Lang who is expertly played by Mr. T (I actually thought Mr. T was a real boxer for most of my life!), and Drago, perhaps Rocky’s toughest opponent, from Russia. I grew up watching Rocky and it holds a prominent place on my bookshelf, amongst my favourite films and knickknacks. It’s a movie I could watch over and over again and never get bored.

Rocky

And, when Balboa was released recently, I was overjoyed that there would be a 6th film in the franchise. Yes, I was devastated about some of the new occurrences, particularly Adrian’s death and Rocky’s difficulty handling the situation, but I loved seeing my favourite fighter again, and watching him age. It’s so gratifying to meet a character and then get to live their entire life with them!

Imagine my excitement, then, when I heard about Creed, the newest film in the Rocky franchise. As soon as I heard the title, without even knowing anything about the movie, my mind was drawn to Apollo Creed, and I knew it had to have something to do with Rocky’s story. Sure enough, Creed follows the life of Adonis Johnson Creed, Apollo’s son.

Wow! That might be the only word I have to describe this film, because it was truly amazing! I absolutely LOVED it in every way possible! It’s probably not the movie for everyone and a lot of people might say that it called back to the Rocky films too much, but I wholeheartedly disagree with that. To steal a description from my boyfriend, I feel like Creed was a love letter to the older Rocky films, while also portraying a new and original story and title character that can take the franchise into the 21st century. Michael B. Jordan was electrifying as Adonis. I wasn’t expecting to be so happy with seeing a new fighter take over the franchise, but he was just too incredible not to like! He fully embodied the role, he was incredibly athletic and dedicated to his craft, and he had such heart. That’s the thing that I’ve always loved most about Rocky – he has this ginormous heart that you wouldn’t expect from a fighter, and he’s actually quite introspective, always trying to analyze the things he says and does to ensure that he doesn’t hurt anyone (ironic as that may seem). He is sensitive in so many ways, and I think Adonis is very much the same. He has the added obstacle of dealing with his father’s death and fame, and it is really interesting to watch him try to make a name for himself, as his trainer Rocky once did. The whole movie was just so enjoyable, and, as I said, it felt new and original, but it also had all of the Rocky elements that I was so hoping for.

This movie was a real winner, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes action and excitement, but who also appreciates a little bit of heart!

Keep fighting as we move into Monday, everyone!

JNG

Girl with a Green Heart

my green heart

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