Do we really need another addition to the superb but, some would say worn out, “Rocky” series? Well, no, but Sylvester Stallone cannot really be blamed for being in the mood to once again revive his best, his most intriguing and his most popular screen character, can he?
News broke this week of how a spin-off movie, entitled “Creed” (the surname, as surely every Rocky fan will know, of Balboa’s charismatic yet ultimately doomed ring rival, Apollo) is to be made, with Stallone, now pushing age 70, to once again play the Philly “bum from the dock” who made good. Already, some fans are moaning and groaning, while others, remembering how good, even great, 2006’s “Rocky Balboa” was, are exited.
The word is the story will follow the now grown up grandson of former heavyweight king Apollo Creed who, after having grown up in a life of luxury the young Rocky could only have dreamed of, decides he has what it takes to win the heavyweight crown – with Rocky’s help of course.
Spin off movies are notoriously hit and miss, and hasn’t Stallone already tried handing Rocky the role of trainer (in 1990’s Rocky V, the only flop in the series)? Despite the negative reactions of some though, “Creed” could well be an enjoyable movie. Simply put, each and every Rocky movie has been, at the very least, worth watching; with the original, the sequel and Rocky Balboa, or Rocky VI if you prefer, having produced some genuine movie magic. It’s hard to see how much Sly can do with the character he created while he was a near-broke, unknown actor living in a bed-sit back in the mid 1970s.
A number of the Rocky regulars have been killed off – Apollo of course, Rocky’s wife Adrian and the old-school no-nonsense trainer that was Mickey – and it will be interesting to see if Stallone employs the services of Burt Young (Paulie) and Tony Burton (Apollo’s trainer/Rocky’s coach) for “Creed.” In Rocky Balboa, Sly added some nice touches, such as bringing back real-life boxer turned actor Pedro Lovell (Spider Rico). Indeed, there was plenty of nostalgia in the 2006 flick. Maybe Stallone will make a real effort and produce as polished and as special a slice of the Rocky tale once again.
Of course, the role of “Creed” may well dominate the action in the new movie, and maybe Sly will appear only in a lengthy, backseat cameo role. But will the fans care about the young Creed fighting, with Rocky providing training duties only and not taking to the ring himself? Remember, Balboa fought in all six previous films, and it was the adrenaline-boosting scenes that were a result of Rocky’s titanic struggles that sent cinemagoers home happy.
As with Rocky Balboa, perhaps even more so, Sly is about to take a gamble with his most beloved screen character.