Creed

 photo creed_zpsdktsugdb.jpg photo starrating-3stars.jpgBefore this picture, the need for another “Rocky” movie was right up there with the urgency for another Friday the 13th installment. Creed is the latest entry in the franchise following 2006’s Rocky Balboa. The series stopped using numbers after Rocky V because well it’s more classy I suppose. This is the first Rocky movie not written by Stallone, but judging from the story, it may as well have been. Creed (or Rocky VII, let’s be honest) is essentially a note for note remake of the original Rocky. That doesn’t mean that it’s bad. On the contrary it’s surprisingly solid. It’s just that this is a tried and true formula. It has worked before and I’m happy to report it works again.

In this episode, Michael B. Jordan portrays Adonis Creed or “Donny” as the son of Rocky’s late rival/friend Apollo. He’s the titular star, an underdog with a shot at the big time and something to prove. Sylvester Stallone is still Rocky but now he’s in the manager capacity, kinda like Burgess Meredith as Mickey. There’s also Tessa Thompson as love interest Adrian, er uh excuse me, Bianca. She’s a singer but suffering from hearing loss. Instead of Apollo, it’s “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew), the title holder that Donny must challenge. Phylicia Rashād is the extended family member of the narrative. Mary Anne is Apollo’s widow but not Donny’s biological mother. Donny was apparently the illegitimate son of Rocky’s former opponent, a confusing detail that isn’t very clear at first.

Creed announces its focus up front. This isn’t a tale about Rocky. Michael B. Jordan personifies a restless spirit in the finance world that quits his job to pursue a love of boxing. Deep down he’s always been a combative fighter, a product of the LA foster care system. Donny heads to Philadelphia and coaxes Rocky Balboa out of retirement to train him as a professional boxer. There’s no question that Michael B. Jordan can physically embody the part. The actor has packed on so much muscle since 2012’s Chronicle it’s ridiculous. Substantially he’s a completely different person. Yet he never breaks out into a fully realized and unique character that subverts expectations. Rocky drank raw eggs, trained in a meat locker and awkwardly pursued an even more socially awkward girl from the pet store. Donny is simply a smart guy. However he’s an incredible athlete too and the pugilistic displays do pack a punch. Director Ryan Coogler stages two fight scenes and the results are mesmerizing. You experience every connect as if you felt the punch yourself. I wish they had been longer.

Creed is a perfectly enjoyable flick. It should really score with audiences unfamiliar with the 1976 film. Rocky was a landmark. I mean c’mon it was nominated for TEN Academy Awards and won 3 including Best Picture. Subsequent entries were less critically exalted but no less crowd-pleasing. What made Rocky III and Rocky IV so entertaining was the charismatic opponents that cast a legendary shadow. Remember when Clubber Lang told Adrian to come to his apartment to “come see a real man” or when Ivan Drago uttered “I must break you” in his thick Russian accent. Those villains were iconic in their mythic evil. Tony Bellew is the nasty opponent in this entry, a Liverpudlian bruiser. While the individual, who is a cruiserweight prizefighter in real life, has an authenticity, he’s not enough of that larger than life personality that can carry a production. Nonetheless, the picture utilizes enough mythology to curry our favor. The effort is impossible to hate. There’s the “Rocky Steps” outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Apollo’s red, white & blue trunks, Bill Conti’s soaring theme during the climax and most importantly, Sylvester Stallone. The 69 year old actor settles into the mentor role like a comfortable pair of shoes. He’s a wise, old soul and his presence in this film feels like a comforting hug. Stallone’s performance is worth the price of admission.

11-19-15

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27 Responses to “Creed”

  1. Hell yes. This is kind of exciting. I was on the fence about it. I hope to re-experience the whole training montage set to the tune of John Cafferty’s ‘Hearts on Fire.’ But i’m betting that probably doesn’t happen. 😉

    Good review

  2. Lots of people have been surprised by this.

  3. Hi there,

    I just came across your great website and thought i’d shoot you a quick e-mail to say hi! I can’t wait to see Creed, been looking forward to it ever since I saw Southpaw. I’m also a big Michael B. Jordan fan so that might have something to do with it too haha.

    I’m Charlotte from Moviepilot.com and I wanted to ask you if you’d be interested in becoming a Moviepilot Creator. We’re currently looking for passionate people who love to write and share their opinions with the world using out platform. We’d love to provide you with an (additional) platform to promote your work, thoughts and opinions, allowing you to contribute to your areas of interest and to influence the culture of those topics even more (movies… and beyond!)

    Feel free to shoot me an e-mail for some more information. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best,
    Charlotte

  4. smilingldsgirl Says:

    Seeing it tonight and can’t wait!!

  5. I like Michael B. Jordan, but Rocky Balboa was an extremely lazy film, as this sounds too. Not sure if I’ll ever check this out but I wouldn’t mind a thoroughly original take on the old, tired triumph-over-adversity boxing genre. Maybe one day!

    • I liked Rocky Balboa. I think this is in the same league, but apparently a lot of critics are going much further and proclaiming this as a “Best Picture” winner. To those I say, let’s just calm down a bit shall we? 😉

  6. So excited for this. Admittedly, though, I like boxing movies despite all of them really being the same story.

  7. Hopefully seeing it this weekend. Great review!

  8. I just saw this today. I was excited about this a couple years ago when hearing about it in development. I think my favorite scene was when Creed ran the streets in training w/ the residents riding their bikes alongside him and then going to Rocky’s window to encourage him in his bout w/ Cancer. It was a great re-creation of the famous montage of the original. So much nostalgia!

    It may be a silly question, but do you think Sly could get an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor?

    So, you only gave this a 3? That’d be a 6/10. I thought it was better than that. I’d say 8/10 or 4/5. So, what was it that kept you from rating it a tad higher?

    • I could pull half a dozen lines from my review but this says it best: “CREED (or Rocky VII, let’s be honest) is essentially a note for note remake of the original Rocky. That doesn’t mean that it’s bad. On the contrary it’s surprisingly solid. It’s just that this is a tried and true formula.”

      Not only could Sylvester Stallone get an Oscar nomantion, he will probably win.

  9. I enjoyed this, however, I agree with you. It’s a copycat of the original. Even the ending was the same as the original. It was still pretty good. I thought Sylvester gave a great performance. 3 1/3 stars.

  10. Creed is essentially a remake of Rocky, but you’re right that it does work again. I was a huge fan. I really liked Donny’s unique struggle with his own heritage and whether he should use it to his advantage or try to make a name on his own. I also thought the fight scenes were mesmerizing. Stallone is amazing in the film. His performance made me cry several times.

  11. If Sylvester Stallone had written the script for the film then the film would be worthy of higher praise. The film just did not have the sparkle of Rocky, Rocky II or even Rocky III. Rocky I and Rocky II we’re very intense. To recreate the magic of the original film was a a huge ask and in my esteemed opinion has not really been recreated and I’ve been very disappointed by Creed. Much more could have been made out of this film, mabye the next instalment Creed 2 will have a more deeper impact.

    • Creed was extremely well received. I actually enjoy the Rocky series, but I didn’t think this lived up to the immense praise it garnered. It was good, but not better than the original. It was Rocky 7 with a new protagonist.

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