Movie Review: Creed

Nearly a decade after the Rocky series’ sixth and presumably last installment, Sylvester Stallone decides to return to his long-lost love. Creed is the latest rejuvenation of what began as a Best Picture winner all the way back in 1976. Now, one year short of four decades later, Stallone, Michael B. Jordan and Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler try to reignite a spark in all of us.

Boxing is a sport that has declined over the years and fallen out of prominence’s gracious spotlight, a development that’s tragic for the sport’s once passionate fan base. The days of the great Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Mike Tyson are gone and the last contenders of the sport are nearing the end of their careers. What boxing did and is still trying to do is continue to put the coals in the ovens of our souls, to convince us that with hard work and an uncompromising focus, anything is possible. No matter how many hits you take, you get back up. Boxing is a test of the human will as much as it is a test of training and conditioning and that is what the Rocky franchise showed us again and again and why people continued to flock to see the people’s champion.

Now Creed walks in at the last second, just as the crowds were starting to disperse to tell us there’s another event on the docket with the hopes that this tale can return the series’ most loyal patriarchs to the theater seats.

The narrative of an up-and-coming fighter hasn’t been displayed with this much emotion since 2011’s Warrior. Adonis Creed, played soundly by Michael B. Jordan, one of Hollywood’s emerging talents, is trying to find his footing in life and escape the shadow of his father’s legacy. This film is not about Rocky, but Rocky propels Creed’s path, giving him the compass and leadership he so desperately needs at this stage of his life.

Creed is nowhere near as developed or promising a character as the boxing hero we’ve all come to know and love, but that isn’t to say Creed doesn’t show potential. Creed has an untamed fire and seemingly unquenchable thirst within him, the undying will to win. That, coupled with solid direction from Coogler and Stallone, gives any future sequels a firm footing in the industry. With Jordan at the helm, Creed could very well develop a long-lost passion for the sport of boxing and create intrigue in the sport over the next few years.

Coogler once again highlights his central character and the communication between Coogler and Jordan behind the camera is evident. The story’s flow is natural and genuine and the dialogue, especially between Jordan and Stallone, is very noticeable. When you can watch a movie without paying close attention, it’s usually because the film isn’t worth your time. Creed is not that film. Creed is a drama with impact despite its commercial appeal for being a boxing mainstay. The Rocky films have always been dramas and Creed is no different. The transition into this new development in the Rocky franchise is clear and clean. The tone, aesthetic and fluidity of the latest addition is crisp. Creed pays ode to the previous films while still making itself an individual that can be viewed apart from the Rocky epics, arguably the most important comment I can make about Coogler’s work.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Scouts Guide to the Zombie ApocalypseCrimson PeakThe MartianBlack Mass,Enemy at the Gates)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2Beasts of No NationTerminator: GenisysBlack SheepTwisted)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (EverestHerculesThe SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitz)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (The Lost BoysZombeaversCrankErasedI, Frankenstein)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The VisitThe Fantastic FourThe Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Creed: 78.

It’s easy to become ensnared in the works of others, especially when Rocky is such a legend, but Jordan’s Creed and Stallone’s Rocky stand atop the steps of the Philly Museum of Art as two separate entities. Creed is not a younger version of Rocky. He’s his own man and that should give all Rocky fans faith in the character Michael B. Jordan now embodies. Also, Stallone gets a win in Winners And Losers (WAL) for his role.

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