It’s okay, people. Fant4stic is gone, it can’t hurt you anymore. you can open your eyes, Michael B. has not thrown in the towel yet -hehe- and Sylvester Stallone gives us the best performance since the first Rocky.
Creed follows the story of Adonis Johnson who is the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, former rival and late friend of Rocky. Being the forbidden lovechild of a former world champion takes a toll on Jordan’s character. Even though he never knew his father, Apollo’s legacy casts a seemingly inescapable shadow on Adonis’ existence. Determined to make his own name, the young and self-taught boxer heads out to Philadelphia to seek out the help of none other than the Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa.
Old skool vs new skool
So it’s kind of a sequel to the Rocky movies but with some much needed fresh blood. No easy task, mind you. The Rocky films have earned their spot in movie history. Even for me, who was born more than ten years after the release of the original Rocky, Sly’s breakthrough movie has a special place in my black little heart. So don’t take my words lightly when I say this; Creed, for me, is undoubtedly the best film in the series since the first one.
Very much like how the main character tries to make it on his own despite his heritage, Creed does just that. Writer/director Ryan Coogler and his team give the audience ample nods to the old movies but without being obnoxious or too conspicuous about it. Yet they still manage to give us a movie with its own identity. Everything in this film feels hip, fresh and modern. And yes, I am aware that makes me sound like that one desperate uncle that’s stuck in his midlife crisis. There’s just no other way for me to say it. Just to give an example; every time a new boxer gets introduced, the screen freezes and his name and stats pop up on the screen. Loved it. The majority of this film is pretty textbook but it’s executed with so much finesse that you can’t really be mad about it.
The score is ballsy but a delight, being a mix between modern hip hop, electronic music and some of the very iconic themes from past ‘Rocky’ movies. Several scenes are shown in one single take which makes them feel much more gritty and touchable almost. One fight scene in particular, and even the walk leading up to it, was so immersive that I felt like it would have been appropriate to punch the guy sitting next to me.
But the best thing ‘Creed’ has to offer…are the characters, both the writing and the performances were just superb. This movie packs a serious punch -oh yes, I did-, both on a physical and an emotional level. Because more than a story about boxing, this is a story about peoples’ lives. Just like the first movie was.
Michael B. Jordan showed me he has the talent in Fruitvale Station, also helmed by Ryan Coogler, and this time he shows it again as Adonis Johnson. Adonis, Donnie for the palls, is a beast and he looks like Hitler’s dream, if Hitler was black -please don’t flag me-. But he’s also very fragile and desperately in need of a father figure which he finds in Stallone’s Rocky. And hooooooly shit, let me tell you. If The Expendables was a joke about his former glory, then this is his comeback to the big league. Sylvester Stallone portrays the champ exactly as I would have imagined him so many years after his golden age. Time has left him old, tired and most importantly…alone. Their relationship feels genuine, albeit a bit rushed, and definitely pulls at your heartstrings once or twice. Combine these two with mandatory love interest Bianca and you got yourself a classic recipe for some good ol’ feels. But overall they leave out the excessive cheese so even emotionally handicapped people like us can enjoy it. so, there’s that.
Plot wise, nothing new. But it didn’t bother me to the point that I want to make a point out of it. The only gripe I have with this, and this entire movie actually, is that the last act feels kind of forced at times. Steering the story in a certain way simply for the sake of tying up loose ends and keeping everyone satisfied. That’s Hollywood for ya.
In the end, I walked out of Creed a happy man. Everything feels fresh, the soundtrack is a knockout -last one, I promise- and it has some of the best acting I’ve ever seen from this cast. Stallone is rightfully nominated for ‘Best supporting actor’ and that’s all I’m going to say about the Oscars and Creed. Simply because all this “Oscars so white black and purple” shit stands in the way of enjoying this movie just like it is…Also I’m running out of room to write. ANYWAY, there is so much to love in Creed that it easily trumps its shortcomings. It’s a respectful hommage to Rocky and an exciting entry into a new era at the same time.
Also; this movie raises my expectations by quite a bit now for the upcoming Marvel movie Black Panther which will also have Ryan Coogler at the helm. With his current record he definitely seems like the right guy for Marvel to have in their corner -ok, I’ll stop now-.
Writer/Director: Ryan Coogler
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone
Duration: 133 minutes
How to watch? -in a fighting stance, preferably on the big screen