Movie Review: Creed

Creed is easily the best movie I’ve seen this year.

Martian was good, but this was better. More feeling, more gravitas, more everything. Even the trailer is better than the trailers for other films. I just watched trailer 2 for Batman vs. Superman and man, that was crap.

As other reviews have said, this is a near perfect movie. Premise is this: Adonis Johnson, Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son wants to be a pro boxer but can’t find anyone to train him. He goes to Philadelphia to find Rocky Balboa to train him. Together, they help each other fight the biggest battles in their lives.

This movies works on so many damn levels.

Firstly, it perfectly walks the line between old and new. There are so many Rocky fans out there and for a studio to green light another Rocky movie, it is impossible to make a new Rocky movie without addressing the old. Ample homage is paid to the prior Rocky movies and this movie certainly takes place in that world and takes note of what occurs in all prior Rocky movies. Make no mistake, as the movie is titled, this is a movie about Adonis Creed. Even though Rocky plays a big role.

Coogler does an amazing job telling a new story built upon the old, paying respect to the old while casting aside what did not work from the old Rocky movies. Things like juiced up Russian soldiers or Mister T. This story is much more believable than its predecessors with the exclusion of the first Rocky.

Secondly, the acting. Jordan and Stallone are genuine, believable, and amazing. Stallone shows a vulnerability that none of his prior characters ever really had. He’s an old man whose done with life. Adonis is a fatherless child trying to find validation. Together, they become a family with all the good and the bad.

Some scenes, namely the scene in the jailhouse, felt so much like a real fight between family members. Like how often times family will say things just to hurt each other even though underneath it all is love. Jordan and Stallone portray this wonderfully and I will confess, many man tears were shed.

Third, it portrays Philadelphia wonderfully. Many people forget that the great portrayal in the original Rocky was that of Philadelphia. It portrayed the city in a way outsiders could appreciate. This film does the same, although to a lesser degree.

Fourth, it speaks to young black men. It is no small deal that the main character in a Rocky movie — especially a Rocky movie as good as this– is a black man. Further, it goes to an issue that, unfortunately, a lot of black men deal with: growing up fatherless. It goes into how someone deals with that, overcomes it, and tells the audience you can have a family, even if your not related or you’re skin isn’t the same color. That Creed was written and directed by a black man only adds to this idea.

Which leads to the last point: this movie succeeds thematically. This movie is one big motivational speech. Like the preceding Rocky movies, the themes are the same: life throws shit at you, but you can fight it. You can fight it and overcome it and keep fighting it. And no matter how adverse your situation is, you can win. It’s a David and Goliath story. It’s an underdog story; Adonis overcoming everyone’s disbelief and Stallone overcoming past pain. You walk out of this movie feeling good, motivated, happy, and touched as well. Man tears will be shed.

Some additional notes:

The music is amazing here. There is the new hip hop, which reinforces that this is Jordan’s movie. However, every time that climax builds, you get that old Rocky music and the nostalgia hits, the emotions hit, and you realize this movie is just as much about the old as it is the new.

Love story was unnecessary.

Training montages were great.

The long shots where a steadicam followed the actors were great.

Boxing cinematography may be even better than the first Rocky.

Score: 9.3/10 Damn this movie was good. I’m trying to think of the last movie that was this good and I can’t think of one. The best movie I’ve seen in the last few years. Sadly, it probably won’t win any academy awards because it is part of a franchise. Even still, I think it deserves to win something.

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