“Creed” is the sixth—sixth—film in the “Rocky” series. It’s the first that doesn’t center entirely around boxer Rocky Balboa; rather, it follows the ascent of his former rival Apollo Creed’s son to boxing fame. Coming almost exactly 40 years after the original, Best Picture-winning “Rocky,” and following a series of lackluster sequel, “Creed” takes everything that was great about the first movie, takes all the stereotypes and cliches of its genre, and creates a new story that is just simply a joy to watch.
Masterfully directed by Ryan Coogler, “Creed” stars Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed. After growing up on the streets he is adopted by Creed’s widow and raised in a world of wealth and opportunity. But he throws his prospects of a stable, if dull, career away in favor of training to be a professional boxer. He moves to Philadelphia and tracks down Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), retired from the profession and running a restaurant alone; his wife has passed away and he rarely sees his son. Adonis convinces Rocky to train him so he can go up against undefeated champion Ricky Conlan (Tommy Bellew) and prove he is a true fighter.
Jordan is great as the determined Johnson who struggles to carve his own path and not be recognized solely for being his father’s son. But the supporting characters who surround him have their struggles too. His girlfriend Bianca (Tess Thompson) is a musician who is slowly losing her hearing. Rocky is aging and sick, and is losing the will to fight it. Stallone has played Rocky so many times now that the character has become the most essential part of his career, and Stallone really gives his performance in this movie his all. This is the most vulnerable we have ever seen Rocky, but at the same time, he serves as a strong father figure and mentor to Johnson. It’s more than fitting that Stallone has received so much acclaim for his performance here, playing the iconic character he originated 40 years ago. He is nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance, and is the favorite to win.
The story is exciting and surprisingly unpredictable, despite having everything you’d expect from this type of film, from the training montage to the unlikeable opponent. But director Coogler takes these stereotypes and makes them exciting. The way he films the fight scenes and keeps the camera moving around the characters is particularly great, and that final fight scene is heart-poundingly thrilling. And we get just enough backstory, just enough side plots, to help us understand the characters without taking away from the main story.
In 1977, “Rocky” defied the odds to become a great and memorable movie. Ryan Coogler has done the same thing here with “Creed,” which is a film actually deserving of more Oscar nominations than it received.
Runtime: 133 minutes. Rated PG-13 for violence, language, and some sensuality.
Academy Award nominations for “Creed”:
· Actor in a Supporting Role, Sylvester Stallone
Check out showtimes for this movie and more at the following St. Louis-area theaters:
- Wehrenberg Theatres
- AMC Theatres
- Regal Movie Theatres
- Galleria 6
- Chase Park Plaza
- Moolah Theatre
- Hi-Pointe Theatre
- St. Andrews Cinema
- Plaza Frontenac Cinema
- Tivoli Theatre