Directed by: Ryan Coogler. Not to be confused with Creed. For that matter, this film is not to be confused with the entire Rocky franchise, because it stands on its own two feet so well. Really, if we’re being honest here, it has to be said that the worst thing about this film is that it doesn’t put enough distance between itself and the franchise that spawned it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Stallone as a down-and-out boxer/actor in 1976, writing his own film script by pencil, and beating the odds to get the film made, and winning the hearts and minds of America by putting out the Bruce Springsteen of movies, a timeless classic about inspiration and believing in yourself even when you’ve been beat. To put it crudely, Rocky was the best sports movie because the athletic hero lost, and taught us that there’s beauty and nobility in failure. That was a message that 1976 America needed to hear, and when I found out that they were making an update with an African-American focus, in 2016, my ears perked up in curiosity. How are they going to handle this? This has the potential to be pretty interesting. And although they were smart enough to make a story about African-American characters and consequently featuring some great African-American actors (Michael B Jordan deserves infinite hype in my books), and though they were smart enough to pick an African-American team to write the script (one of whom also directing the film), I can’t help but notice that “they” is the six or seven old white guys, including Stallone, who get producer/executive producer credit on this thing. I guess it just feels like, in 2016, America really needs a great mainstream crossover movie, a movie about the black experience that regular, passively racist white folks will go for in a big way. If any movie could have done that, it was this one, and I guess it feels like the all-white production team didn’t really grasp that significance and, unsurprisingly, totally missed the opportunity. They needed to make the Kendrick Lamar of movies, but were woefully inadequate for that task. What they made was a decent movie, and any big-budget Hollywood flick with African Americans in the central roles is a victory these days, but I guess I was hoping for a bigger one. I started writing this before November 8, and now it’s November 9, and I really don’t know what to say, so I guess I’ll just keep writing about all the dumb movies I see.