Remakes and spin-offs are often met with a lot of skepticism, in general. Creed was no different. Rocky Balboa had given us a sense of closure and no one wanted to see Rocky die on-screen like Mickey did after being Clubber Lang-ed in Rocky III. Ryan Coogler is one of the fresh new voices among American film-makers with his debut feature and critically acclaimed, Fruitvale Station also starring Michael B Jordan who thankfully convinced Stallone into handing over the reins of the Rocky series. This movie is the swansong for the Rocky franchise and also jumping point for an entirely new franchise.
Creed has a ton of respect for its predecessors, you can see it in the way it is shot. It focuses a lot on the city of Philadelphia, the way the original Rocky did. Although you aren’t hammered with nostalgia, they’re just peppered throughout and assimilate flawlessly with the new material.
A sure shot way of legitimizing any movie is to get former cast members of The Wire in your crew, seeing Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris) and Wallace (Michael B Jordan) reunite was a joy, albeit a short one, Harris plays the trainer of Apollo Creed’s gym who refuses to train him. Adonis Creed moves from LA and convinces a now retired Rocky Balboa to help him train as an unknown, because he wants to make a name on his own. Sylvester Stallone puts on a performance of such brilliance and tenderness, a magnitude of which was last seen from him in Cop Land. His chemistry with Jordan is cinema magic. Even if you’re not a Stallone fan this performance might make you one, it is gripping, emotional and most of all, subtle. His monologue at the gym might just leave you in tears.
You’ll wince during some of the scenes, the incredible make up team needs to be lauded, especially their work on Stallone during the third act, just stellar work on their part and hopefully will earn them a well deserved Oscar Nomination. The fight choreography is some of the most intense and violent ones filmed this side of Raging Bull, the main reason it is Rated A. There is one sequence which is filmed entirely as a single take, it probably might have involved some Hitchcockian Rope like stitching, but you won’t notice it at all, just great camera work.
If you haven’t watched this yet, it is a great movie to warm up the awards season. Creed is one of the best additions to the Rocky franchise and it’ll tug at your heartstrings and leave you highly motivated like any great Rocky movie would.