Creed Review

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The Rocky franchise has been through a funk recently with its past two films, Rocky V and Rocky Balboa. It’s a franchise that should’ve thrown in the towel after V but like the Italian Stallion himself, the franchise kept on coming back. Much like Rocky III, the franchise is getting a little help from a member of the Creed family. But can Ryan Coogler’s Creed spin-off save the franchise or will the old boxer take a bow and retire for good?

Thankfully, Creed is not only one of the best films in the franchise, but it’s also one of the best films of the year. Creed showcases the same heart and grit that made the first Rocky so memorable.

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Creed follows Adonis Johnson, the son of world heavyweight boxing champion Apollo Creed. With the thirst for boxing in his blood, he quits his job and moves to Philadelphia to seek out the training services of his father’s old friend, Rocky Balboa.

Sophomore director Ryan Coogler skillfully pays loving tribute to the classic films while also creating a film that takes the franchise into exciting new directions. Creed also stays levelheaded throughout the film since it never gets too melodramatic or too goofy.

But like Coogler’s first film, Fruitvale Station, the film’s slow burn will make the film seem longer than its two-hour-plus runtime. The pacing of the film is uneven as well. The first act of the film goes from a quick pace to a slow one then back again to a quick pace. It isn’t before it finally settles down and finds its footing that the film starts to become really good.

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The boxing matches are brutally accurate as Coogler intimately focuses on every jab, uppercut, and hook with power behind them. The fighting style is authentic as well. While Rocky showcases the slugfest of a heavyweight fight, Creed shows off the defensive and strategic elements of a light heavyweight fight. It’s that type of fast-paced, hard-nosed defensive boxing matches that puts Creed up there in the great boxing choreography club.

But the Rocky films have always revolved around the theme of loss, both in and out of the ring. Coogler has taken this theme and put together a very character driven film. The main characters in the film are well drawn out and by the end of the film you’ll be rooting for everyone to succeed.

Its biggest strength comes from the film’s two leads, Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. The father-son relationship between the two is what makes this film great. The chemistry between the two is extremely touching to watch, and it never ends up being too hokey. It’s their connection together that makes the audience connect with them on a personal level.

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There’s been some talk of Stallone being nominated for Best Supporting Actor and with good reason. Stallone has never been better as Rocky Balboa. He portrays Rocky with the nuances and subtleties of a broken down lonely old man. There’s a certain amount of sincerity in the way Stallone plays Balboa, something not seen since the first Rocky film. Not to be outdone is Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson/Creed. Jordan displays a wide array of emotions as he deals with Adonis’ ambitions, legacy, romances, and failures. Jordan does everything with such charisma that it’s difficult not to attach yourself with his character.

Like Rocky’s Adrian, Tessa Thompson’s Bianca is the strong female character type that can hold their own alongside the fighter they’re in love with. Tessa Thompson’s relationship with Jordan is a good accompaniment to the father-son relationship between Stallone and Jordan.

Ludwig Göransson’s score should get high praise for being the unsung hero of the film. Göransson accentuates the feeling of each and every scene with such master class. He’s able to pump up the audience with hard drums or build upon the emotional scenes with string and brass instruments. Göransson also did the impossible by creating a theme song, that’s just as prominent as Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now.”

Overall, Creed is a terrific addition to the Rocky franchise. Coogler’s love letter to the franchise pulls on the nostalgic heartstrings and makes us fall in love with characters new and old. It may be easy to predict where the film may go, but it doesn’t reduce the power and enormity of the more touching moments in the film. There are as many quiet emotional moments as there are stand-up-and-cheer moments. It’s an enjoyable reminder that this old dog still has some fight left in it.

Rating: 4.5/5 atoms
NR 4_5 Atoms - A-

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1370 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.

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