by Steven Young
This year has marked the return of several franchises. “Mad Max,” “James Bond,” “Jurassic Park,” “Peanuts” and now the Rocky franchise with its latest installment — “Creed.” People, including myself, were initially skeptical about this movie since many considered “Rocky Balboa” a fitting end for the series. After viewing “Creed,” it is clear this latest film is not only the true end for the Rocky franchise, but a possible spin-off to a new series if it becomes successful enough. Somehow, against all odds, this proved to be one of the best installments of the series and a possible contender for the Oscar season for several different awards.
“Creed” follows Adonis Creed, Apollo Creed’s son, as he struggles to prove himself in the world of modern boxing. Being the son of a famed fighter and opponent of the legendary Rocky Balboa proves quite challenging for Adonis. He comes to the point where he has to seek out Rocky himself and have him become his trainer. In a way, “Creed” feels like a remake of “Rocky V” and the first Rocky movie, as it has Rocky taking on the role of the trainer and Adonis filling the shoes of Rocky from the first movie. This includes themes of dealing with going from a nobody to a somebody and developing a romantic relationship with a local woman. This movie also takes on the more basic structure of the first movie in that there are no over-the-top opponents or crazy training montages.
While the opponent is rather nasty at times, he feels more like a mix between Mason Dixon (from “Rocky Balboa”) and Apollo. At times, it almost seems like Adonis is fighting his own father. Rocky’s role as a mentor is handled far better in this movie compared to “Rocky V” – as he has a more likable fighter to train and he fills the role of an aging fighter well. His age is always being brought up, but he still has some fight in him to keep going the distance.
The acting is superb. Michael B. Jordan is completely believable as the son of Apollo. He hits all the right notes and reminds us why we loved Apollo in the early installments. Sylvester Stallone does great too and has wonderful chemistry with Jordan, making his father figure role all the more believable.
The stand out part of the movie, though, was one fight scene in the ring that is shot to look like it is all in one take. This is what separates this movie from the other “Rocky” movies. Previous films relied on fast cuts and time lapses, but this one fight was all in one go and it was rather interesting to see it from this perspective.
The weakest part of the film was the love story, as it felt shoehorned in and was the least enjoyable part of the movie.
Overall, “Creed” was a satisfying movie and a worthy installment in the long running “Rocky” series. The soundtrack was wonderful with that glorious classic theme piping in at points and the film harkened back to why we love the series in general. Mark my words. Come award season, this will get noticed.