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Review: Creed

Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone star in Warner Bros. Pictures' CREED

2006’s Rocky Balboa put a definitive end to the cinematic career of a fictional boxing champion. I didn’t see how they would bring the character back after that film, but they found a way to do so with Creed. This time Rocky isn’t the focal point, but he plays an important role in a film that I somehow see as a pleasant surprise even though I thought it had the chance to be good.

Creed follows Adonis, the young son of Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), the legendary heavyweight champion who tragically died in the ring before the two ever met. While the young man has a promising career in the corporate world, the boxing ring has been calling him. Not being able to ignore those calls any longer, Adonis packs up his belongings and heads to Philadelphia where he finds Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), Apollo Creed’s best friend and former rival. After some pushing, he convinces the former fighter to train him and the two set out to make the kind of history that can inspire millions and change their lives.

First off, most people going out to see Creed will be watching for the boxing. This is obviously a major aspect of the film, so you would hope that it’s at least done well enough. Luckily, the boxing seen here is much better than that since it’s highly enjoyable to watch. One of the reasons for that is due to it being slightly more realistic than the fights in the previous movies in the franchise. Some of it is done so well, that I can’t figure out how they were shot due to how real some of the stuff the fighters were doing and experiencing looks.

Aside from the action, one of the factors that contributes to the film’s success is the relationship between Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis and Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky. Between the two, you’ll find great chemistry that helps in making Creed a wonderful cinematic experience. Many of the scenes where we witness this are also where a large chunk of the comedy lies. Although people don’t necessarily remember Rocky movies for comedy, it’s been a constant part of many of the films in the franchise.

That’s no different here as it’s used in a way that makes us laugh while being able to allow the characters to play off of one another. Doing this also gives audiences an opportunity to see who these people are in terms of their genuine personalities. There’s a great deal of things going on to show that stuff, but this adds to who they are as they become complete people chasing dreams, finding purpose and moving through life.

If you can’t tell by now, it’s clear that I thoroughly enjoyed watching Creed. Along the way to being a true success on-screen, it’s going to do a lot of things off camera as well. For starters, it blows the doors open for a continuation of the Rocky franchise while taking it in a different direction. This is a rare feat when you think about it, because there are very few entertainment franchises that can ever boast changing things completely and still being able to be great while also standing on its own.

Creed also reestablishes Michael B. Jordan after the Fantastic Four debacle. I can’t speak for the others involved in that superhero dud, but Jordan is now able to definitively put that movie behind him in essentially every way imaginable. Instead of that following him around for the next several years as a career threatening albatross, he manages to knock it out with a clean shot to the chin while sending its mouthpiece into the upper deck portions of Goodison Park with a heavy-handed right cross.

Just as Creed reestablishes Jordan’s image as an actor, it establishes Ryan Coogler’s status as an up and coming filmmaker who’ll likely be considered one of the best in the business at some point. This film is only his second feature length picture, but it’s just as great if not better than his first. As I felt after both seeing his first film (Fruitvale Station starring Michael B. Jordan) and interviewing him back in 2013, I thought he had potential. As it turns out, he’s making my belief in his skill seem more and more accurate. Hopefully, he keeps pushing in that direction. I can’t wait to see what this kid does.

Ultimately, Creed is a spectacular underdog tale with garbage truck loads of heart, effort and skill. This gives you great fights, funny comedy, wonderful acting and deeply emotional moments that are constantly flowing throughout its duration. Seeing as it’s easily the best boxing movie in years, you can probably figure out if I think people should watch Creed or not. Even if you’re not into boxing or Rocky, it’s a film that pretty much anyone can watch and enjoy. It has that much to offer.

Rating: PG-13

Director: Ryan Cooler

Cast:
Michael B. Jordan
Sylvester Stallone
Tessa Thompson
Phylicia Rashad
Anthony Bellew
Wood Harris
Graham McTavish
Andre Ward
Gabriel Rosado

Film Length: 133 minutes

Release Date: November 25, 2015

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

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