Creed


Director: Ryan Cooglar.
Screenplay: Ryan Cooglar, Aaron Covington.
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Tony Bellew, Ritchie Coster, Graham McTavish, Andre Ward, Jacob ‘Stitch’ Duran, Malik Bazille, Ricardo McGill, Wood Harris, Gabe Rosado.

“Time takes everybody out; time’s undefeated”

Nostalgia has crept into a lot of films lately. In 2015 alone, we’ve revisited Bond (for the 24th time) in Spectre, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is now the 5th film spawned from the 60’s TV show, Mad Max was rebooted with Fury Road, Jurassic World and Star Wars: A Force Awakens tapped into the magic and excitement of their predecessors and now Ryan Cooglar’s Creed is a revisit to the boxing gyms of Philadelphia and has much in common with the original Rocky of 1976. Yes, it’s hard to believe but it’s been 40 years since Balboa first had us on the edge of our seats and punching the air with delight.

Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) has had a troubled youth and always forced to fight his corner in juvenile correction facilities. When he learns that his late father was World Heavyweight Champion, Apollo Creed, Adonis decides he wants to go into boxing himself. With no-on-one to train him, though, Adonis heads to Philadelphia to seek the mentorship of his late father’s friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone).Let’s face it, Creed was always going to be a bit of a gamble. Some people had written it off before it had even arrived but Ryan Cooglar and Michael B. Jordan’s follow-up to the brilliant Fruitvale Station is a gamble that pays off. For a start, Jordan is a very talented and charismatic actor who has a magnetic presence while Cooglar manages to put his own stamp on the proceedings, considering he’s essentially retreading old ground. A huge helping hand comes from the man himself, though; Stallone reprising his most iconic role is a real treat and it’s not just for nostalgia reasons. Sly is genuinely very good here and it’s great to see him recognised with a Golden Globe win and an Oscar nomination. He’s not normally credited with strong performances but when he goes against his tough guy persona – like he did in Cop Land – it just shows how well he can fit that type of role and that’s exactly what he does again. It’s the first film to feature Rocky that hasn’t been written by Stallone himself but Cooglar and co-writer Aaron Covington seamlessly manage to capture Stallone’s flavour for the character. Rocky is now older, slower and more vulnerable and Stallone has no problem displaying and embracing this vulnerability.As mentioned, it isn’t really anything new. We’ve seen, done and wore the gloves before but that’s even more of a testament to Jordan, Stallone and especially Cooglar for making this work. The fact that he goes back to making it more story and character-based and less about the pugilism adds a much needed freshness to the franchise and the bouts in the ring that we do see are very impressively handled. They’re frantically involving as Maryse Alberti’s camera dances around the ring as much as the actors and every crunching blow makes you feel more like a participant and less of an observer – It’s also an added bonus that the unashamed, flag waving jingoism that was so prominent in the Rocky sequels is toned down somewhat.Albeit from another character, this very much looks like the continuation of the franchise and it’s off to a good start. The only problem now is whether they can find the material to keep it from becoming stale. For the moment, though, Creed can certainly handle itself.
Mark Walker

Trivia: At the time of this film’s release, Sylvester Stallone was the same age as Burgess Meredith was at the time Rocky was released (aged 69).

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52 Responses to “Creed”

  1. You’re right, I think Coogler did a great job with Creed. Michael B Jordan is a brilliant new hero to root for and Sly truly deserves his awards recognition. Although I really enjoyed Creed, I do wish the basic story wasn’t so close to the original Rocky as a fresh story would have packed an even bigger punch. Still, I had a very fun time with Cred and look forward to the sequel. I’m a little sad Coogler won’t return for it but I’m happy he’s doing Black Panther

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    • I’m with you on that. I think the story was a wee bit too close to the original Rocky. It was essentially the same story all over again. That said, it was very well handled by Cooglar. Jordan and Stallone were also excellent.
      I hadn’t heard that Cooglar wasn’t doing another one but, yeah, Black Panther sounds great.

      Thanks for dropping in. Appreciate it! πŸ™‚

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  2. One of the bigger surprises of the year. Spot on about it treading on old ground but I’ll definitely take it; felt way more inspired than the Jake Gyllenhaal-starring Southpaw. That one had some excellent fight sequences but life outside the ring there was very dull and overall melodramatic as all get-out.

    On a completely random note: i love the word ‘pugilism.’ How the f**k that has come to refer to boxing, I have no idea. Who thought that that word works? Who, I ask you — who?!

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    • It was a surprise, man. I honestly thought it would make an arse of things but it’s was a solid boxing flick. It does go over old ground but it still works and the reason is the one you mention – outside the ring!!

      Random note: I love the word pugilism too. Great word and so much more inventive. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice review Mark, the more I hear about this movie the more I want to see it. Just need to find the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I triple the β™₯ for pugilism. I didn’t see this in the theater and will wait to rent it. Many people agree with you that Sly and the story was heartfelt and entertaining. It’s hard to pull off good ring fights.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Pugilist is such a better word than boxer isn’t it? It seems more descriptive and suits it better – It doesn’t get used enough.

      That said, it’s a good flick, Cindy. I should have rated it higher and I would have had it not taken so much from the original Rocky. It’s was pretty much a remake of that film but I still really enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I was a big fan of Creed and loved the style in which it was shot. The one take fights and the camera over the shoulder (moving with Adonis) was an extremely creative way to film a boxing movie, making every hit feel that much more powerful. Good shit!

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    • Totally agree on that point, Ryan. The fight scenes were superb and masterfully shot. I wasnt keen on the whole nemesis being an Everton Football fan, and it being set in that stadium, though. This might play better to American audiences but it feels a little cheap over here. Still, I liked the film a lot and both Jordan and Stallone were very appealing.

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  6. Enjoyable fun. I like the whole film series actually. This was a direct copy of the original, albeit a good one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely, Mark. That’s how I see it. It’s a direct copy of Rocky. The whole journey and rise to prominence was almost exactly the same. That said, it was great fun. I’m a fan of the series as well. With the exception of Rocky V, I think I like all the films. Rocky has always been a very appealing character and it’s brilliant to see Stallone bring yet more depth to him. I loved his performance in this.

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  7. It’s got the usual conventions of a boxing movie, but still gives it enough heart and energy that it surprisingly works better than expected. Nice review Mark.

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  8. Hey Mark! Hope all is well man; I’m back after an enforced break and delighted to read this great review of a film I loved. I’m a sucker for Rocky and this did something new whilst also honouring what makes the franchise great in the first place.

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    • Good to see you return, Mark! I’m a huge fan of Rocky myself. I had my reservations about this one but… it delivered. It’s more or less the same story but I found it very involving and the boxing bouts were great. I have the feeling I should’ve rated it higher but I reckon 7/10 is a good enough reflection.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Saw this earlier today, and we hold similar opinions on it. Nothing new, exactly, but there’s a freshness and energy to it that was lacking in the past couple of Rocky films, and I think the cast are good. One of Stallone’s best performances.

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    • Man, the past couple of Rocky’s were reaching weren’t they? They were relying on the appeal of the character rather than the film themselves. But, Creed does well to take it in a new direction and keep Rocky a part of that. I appreciated that the filmmakers appreciated the character and his history.
      That said, it’s the same over again, which was a bit of a cop out but it’s it still, surprisingly, worked.

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  10. I saw this only tonight and I thought the writing was badly uneven. But then again, I’m definitely not the target group as I find boxing a silly sport with it’s machoism and I think Rocky might be the only boxing film I’ve enjoyed. (Haven’t seen Raging Bull though.) But I liked Michael B. Jordan a lot, I really have to see Fruitvale Station, it’s still on my watchlist. And Stallone was better than usually, I liked the vulnerability. And Tessa Thompson as Bianca made an impression, I thought scenes between her and Jordan were really good, weirdly good if you think this is a boxing film. And I enjoyed the last match a lot, especially because before that I had checked my watch couple of times as I was a bit bored. They could have made a bit shorter, I think.

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    • Fair point, Satua! It was a good flick for those that like these types of films. For those that normally don’t, then it still has an appeal. I reckon Creed manages that rare ability to appeal to everyone – the same way Rocky did.

      There’s no doubt it’s flawed. It essentially the same film as it originator but manages just enough to keep it fresh… The vulnerability of Stallone is a major plus point as well.

      I liked it a lot. I originally rated it higher but as it does nothing new, I had to take a 1/2 star off it.

      Raging Bull is still the best in my eyes! πŸ˜‰

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  11. Great review! Really glad to see good reactions now that it has landed over there. I’m no big Rocky franchise fan but this one really won me over. Coogler is such a fantastic young filmmaking voice!

    Liked by 1 person

    • A great young voice, man! To take on such a big deal line this and still manage to see it through? That’s talent! I loved Fruitvale Station and after this, I have high hopes for Coogler. I reckon him, and Jordan, have a long way to go.

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  12. I really should check this out at some stage… more like, do an entire Rocky rerun xD

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Nice review Mark. I’d agree with your scoring and reasoning. I just hope the next one is better. For a film that constantly referenced how he wanted to get out from his dad’s shadow, it spent a lot of time in it.

    Liked by 1 person

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