If ever there were a movie to get your blood pumping and that conjures up memories of one of the most beloved 80’s character, “Creed” it is. In fact, Creed is more than just a feel-good film with Michael B. Jordan (Adonis “Donnie” Creed) as the new face of the Rocky Franchise. It is a cinematographic masterpiece.
I have very few ill things to say about Creed. Not only did I get to attend the premiere with all the stars and some of Hollywood’s elite, I saw the film with real, die hard rocky fans. Viewing a film for the first time with people who know the backstory makes for one hell of an experience and Creed is exactly that- an experience. From the moment the film starts, with Donnie as a young child fighting in a boy’s detention center, it sets the tone of the movie. He is mad, hostile and lost, all the feelings young men have when they grow up without their fathers. His life is turned around when Mary Anne, Apollo’s widow played by the lovely Phylicia Rashad, takes him in and gives him the life he was meant to have being the son of Apollo Creed.
Donnie may be able to get away from his father’s name as he goes by his mother’s last name Johnson, but he can’t get away from his father’s blood. Although he works in corporate America, he engages in underground boxing matches. And it is the inciting incident of losing his car in an impromptu match at a boxing gym that sends him on his journey to Philadelphia to find the man who will eventually train him- Rocky Balboa. This is where the movie truly starts.
Throughout the film, we see Rocky and his reluctance to train Donnie, even after learning his is a Creed, turn into genuine love and care for the son of his best friend. Along with all the thrills you’d expect from a Rocky reboot, I want to talk about the writing because it is good.
Surprisingly good. A lot of times you run the risk of corny lines and gratuitous cliché’s, but those are few and far between in Creed, which allows you to focus on the movie and not on the horrible back and forth. Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington putting in the small details like Donnie taking a picture of Rocky’s training instructions, uploading them to his cloud and Rocky looking up to the sky because he has no idea what he means by, “it’s up on the cloud” is perfect. And speaking of Rocky, he has never been more charming, more relatable and more Uncle Roc than he is in this movie. It feels like Sylvester Stallone is just being himself in the film, which translates very well.
Now, of course, I have to mention the things that weren’t so great and the only point of criticism I have for that is Donnie’s hatred for his father. It was not believable. From not wanting anyone to know he is Apollo Creed’s son to hitting a man at Bianca’s show for calling him “baby Creed,” his desire to distance himself from his father seemed force. From the view of someone watching the film, Apollo died before he was born so there is nothing he could have done do cause Donnie to hate him. But this is summed up and resolved at the end of the movie when he expresses his love for his dad, which shows his character arch.
Now I mentioned Bianca. Played by Tessa Thompson, she is the Philly chick Donnie meets and falls in love with in his apartment building. She is an interesting character too (somewhat more interesting than Donnie if I’m honest) because she is a singer and musician who is gradually losing her hearing. Their first interaction, in fact, is Donnie banging on her door in the middle of the night because her music is too loud. Their love story is a sweet one and goes along well with the story.
The big climax of the movie is the boxing scene where he fights Pretty Ricky Conlan from England. In what would probably be Conlan’s last fight before he goes to prison for illegal gun possession, he and Creed go at it, and it’s the end of the film that gives us some of the most memorable images from the movie.
I didn’t want to give away too much, and I so held back on spoilers. All you need to know is that this movie is great, and you have to see it, even if you aren’t a Rocky fan. I give it 4 ½ out of 5 stars.
Film Review: ‘Creed’
Reviewed at Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank, Calif., Nov. 12, 2015. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 133 MIN.
PRODUCTION: A Warner Bros. release, presented with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, in association with New Line Cinema, of a Chartoff Winkler production. Produced by Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff, Charles Winkler, William Chartoff, David Winkler, Kevin King-Templeton, Sylvester Stallone. Executive producer, Nicolas Stern.
CREW: Directed by Ryan Coogler. Screenplay, Coogler, Aaron Covington; story, Coogler, based on characters created by Sylvester Stallone. Camera (Deluxe color), Maryse Alberti; editors, Michael P. Shawver, Claudia Castello; music, Ludwig Goransson; music supervisor, Gabe Hilfer; production designer, Hannah Beachler; art director, Jesse Rosenthal; set decorator, Amanda Carroll; costume designers, Emma Potter, Antoinette Messam; sound (Dolby Digital), Damian Canelos; supervising sound editor, Benjamin A. Burtt; sound designer, Steve Boeddeker; re-recording mixers, Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor; special effects coordinator, Patrick Edward White; visual effects supervisors, John P. Nugent, Alison O’Brien; visual effects producer, Alison O’Brien; visual effects, Sandbox FX, BigHug FX, East Side Effects; assistant director, Donald Sparks; casting, Francine Maisler, Kathleen Driscoll-Mohler.
WITH: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Andre Ward, Anthony Bellew, Ritchie Coster, Jacob “Stitch” Duran, Ricardo “Padman” McGill, Gabriel Rosado, Alex Henderson.