Movie Name: Creed
Release Date(s): November 19, 2015 (Premiere)/November 25, 2015 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) grew up fighting and in the foster system…but he was really a Creed. The illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, Adonis is taken in by the late Creed’s wife (Phylicia Rashad) and given everything to make him a success…but Adonis still has a desire and a fire in him. Taking his emotion and past to the ring, Adonis wants to fight and prove himself and his name. Convincing Creed’s formal rival Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to train him, Creed is going to get the fight of his life.
Directed by Ryan Coogler (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Aaron Covington), Creed is a spin-off to the popular Rocky franchise. Following Rocky Balboa in 2006, Creed could be seen as the seventh entry in the franchise that began in 1976. The film was well received by critics and Stallone received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.
Rocky was a staple growing up. When combined with Rambo, it seemed like Sylvester Stallone’s iconic characters were always in the theater. The character’s shelf-life however began to become a joke, but Creed restores Rocky and makes its own film.
Honestly, the core plot to Creed has a very relaunch feel to it. The unknown gets a shot at the big leagues and works with a cranky old trainer with different training techniques while trying to win the heart of a girl. That’s the same plot as Rocky, but Creed smartly plays up the family angle of the story. Adonis is trying to prove his inclusion in the family and making a stronger family as a result…it does work.
The performances also help. They aren’t as cartoonish as later entries in the Rocky series. Michael B. Jordan is cocky and angry like many boxers but you can tell he’s also heavily unsure in many scenes and putting on an act for those around him. Tessa Thompson is good as his girlfriend and it is nice to see Phylicia Rashad as Apollo Creed’s widow who takes an interest in Creed. Stallone is at his best (much like Rocky) in that he brings his age to the role…he is tired, old, and alone and he manages to emote this in his performance. Rocky has become Mickey.
The movie is also deftly directed. Fighting movies are a challenge but have been done to death. Creed doesn’t do anything new but when combined with the performance, it still feels fresh (though it still is no Raging Bull). The movie also contains a lot of nice throwbacks to the original series including a touching ending.
Creed is a new Rocky for a new generation and it wins the title in that sense. It has energy and heart much like the original and still manages to not feel completely derivative. The film’s success has led to plans for a sequel…Creed will fight again (but if it ends in a double knock-out in a rematch with Ricky Conlan I’ll be worried).