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George At 

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It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a Rocky movie as much as I did the new sequel, CREED.

We are introduced to Adonis Creed, the son of Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers in the original films) and the product of an affair his father had just before he died in the ring.

We see Adonis as a young man, rescued from an orphan-like series of foster homes and the system by Apollo's wife, Mary Ann, played to perfection by Phylicia Rashad.

Flashing forward to the present, Adonis is now a young businessman at the bottom rung of the ladder, with a desk job by day and a series of amateur fights (in Mexico) on the weekends.

Adonis is played powerfully by Michael B. Jordan, who is perfect every moment, creating a character with unexpected depth and realism.

Adonis is soon hungry to take his fighting to the next level and heads to Philadelphia to meet the legendary Rocky Balboa, one of his father's best friends and the last fighter his father coached.

Rocky is played with surprising power and emotion by Sylvester Stallone, reminding you of just how good he was in the original Rocky film 40 YEARS AGO! (Let that sink in a minute, forty years. Wow.)

Stallone has no interest in getting back into the fighting game, but sees something special in Adonis. The two men's relationship is built on family and respect and their moments together feel real to their core.

This is the first Rocky film not written by Stallone, and its much better for it. Writers Ryan Coogler & Aaron Covington bring a fresh perspective and a modern style to the characters we know, honoring them while energizing the pieces of the Rocky films we love.

They manage to position Adonis as a competitor for the world championship in a way that doesn't feel forced, quite a feat for the film.

The last twenty minutes of CREED are, in a word, perfect. The original Rocky films were, at their core, boxing films that staged fights for excitement and theatrical effect.

This film stages fights in which the camera travels in and out of the ring, constantly moving from a perfect ringside seat to closeups of the fighters in mid punch.

Director of Photography Maryse Alberti with a filmography of mostly documentaries and quiet dramas, choreographs the action in a unique style that just simply WOWS.

Director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station) crafts an astonishingly great film. I went in expecting "a Rocky Movie" and it blew me away.

It's the first time I've immediately re-watched the final act of a film in quite awhile. Stallone and Jordan are superior.

If you are a Rocky fan, get ready for a powerful, emotional story, characters you root for and a great movie that perfectly balances respect for its film legacy with a fresh and exciting perspective.

CREED is a knockout and gets an A+.

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