Dan's Review: "Creed" packs a real punch
Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan in Creed - © 2015 Warner Bros.
Creed (Warner Bros.)
Rated PG-13 for violence, language and some sensuality.
Starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson,
Phylicia Rashad, Andre Ward, Tony Bellew, Ritchie Coster, Jacob 'Stitch' Duran, Graham McTavish, Malik Bazille, Ricardo McGill, Gabe Rosado, Wood Harris.
Written by Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington, based on characters created by Sylvester Stallone.
Directed by Ryan Coogler.
Just when you though you couldn’t take one more Rocky sequel, along comes Creed, the story of the iconic movie boxer, and the son of his old friend and rival.
Michael B. Jordan plays Adonis (Johnson) Creed, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) who died in the ring at the hands of Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. Rescued by Apollo’s widow (Phylicia Rashad) from foster care and juvenile halls, Adonis grows up in relative prosperity in southern California. Despite his fortunate state, Adonis longs to fight in the ring, taking on fights in Tijuana.
Adonis leaves his office job and seeks out Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) in Philadelphia, hoping to convince the former champ (and best pal of his deceased father) to train him to be a championship-caliber boxer. Adonis also meets and falls in love with a beautiful singer named Bianca (Tessa Thompson). After resisting, Rocky finally accepts Adonis’ offer and begins to train him. Adonis also insists on keeping his identity as Apollo Creed’s son a secret as he accepts fights that bolster his ranking.
Meanwhile the reigning champ, a British fellow named “Pretty” Ricky Conlan needs an replacement opponent after he gets a little carried away during a weigh-in. At the same time, one of Rocky’s associates leaks Adonis’ true identity to the media. Seeing a chance to cash in on the Creed name, Conlan’s promoter arranges a championship fight between Creed and the champ.
During training, Adonis learns that Rocky is very sick, and refuses to seek treatment. He must do all he can to get ready for the fight and convince Rocky to fight for his life. The big fight arrives, and the outcome is… (cue Rocky theme music here)
Creed is an excellent film, mostly because it is - and is NOT just another Rocky sequel. Director Ryan Coogler, who previously teamed with Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station, does a masterful job of making Creed into a good standalone movie. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of “Rocky” reminders involved. One of the best aspects of Creed is the subtle Rocky references that crop up, including the understated “bell ring” that awakens the fighting spirit in the hero, and understated and well-timed use of Bill Conti’s inspiring theme music. The cinematography and fight choreography are much more compelling than any other Rocky movie, too. The fights seem much more real.
Big credit also goes to Stallone, who (for once) let his ego to take a seat as he delivers probably the best performance of his career. It should also be noted that Michael B. Jordan’s performance is equally brilliant.
Creed will make you cheer like you did when you saw the first few Rocky movies, but you’ll be cheering for different reasons.