Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Michael b. Jordon, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad
Melodrama is a tricky thing to get right. With that said bad melodrama can even be successful in some demographics. As a general rule the melodrama displayed on the Lifetime Channel is pretty poorly executed. That’s judgment on fans of the network. That niche of fans just enjoys melodrama and that’s ok. The ting is though, when melodrama is done right it can be extremely effective. Creed is a drama, a coming of age story, and a sports movie and it does all of these things right.
Creed may seem like a stand-alone film but it is actually a new installment in the Rocky series of films. Creed is the natural culmination of the Rocky character. The film is treated as part of the Rocky franchise too. In the film Rocky still owns the restaurant and he even still has the pet turtle. He’s an old man now. Has he lived a good life? He’s definitely had some ups and downs and when we watch the entire series of films we see them all. My advice is to really just watch the first two rocky films and then skip to Rocky Balboa and then this film.
Creed is about Apollo Creed’s son, a young man who has had a rough life from childhood on. He does have his father’s drive to be a boxer though. When he decides to become a pro boxer he seeks out the one man he believes will give him a chance, the man that defeated his father in the ring before becoming friends with him, Rocky. He wants to deny his father’s name but at the same time he wants to embrace his father’s essence through a connection with Rocky. This internal conflict is addressed a few times in the film and it weighs heavy on every character involved.
I recently lodged a complaint against Star Wars The Force Awakens for not bringing anything new to that franchise. I can feel that being thrown in my face as I give this film a positive review without complaining that the basic story arc here is really similar to what we’ve seen before in this franchise. The thing is this franchise, and others like it, is a walled garden. Creed in the broad strokes is still a sports movie. The sports movie has a required formula to exist within that genre and it is the same as what we’ve seen before; it has to be. This film shines in the effect the sports aspects of the film have on the characters. There’s solid coming of age drama, aging melodrama, and the formulaic love story. The love story is the only hiccup in the film. It’s not that the love story is poorly rendered; it’s just not necessary. In a film that is so locked into certain formula requirements it would be nice to not have the formulaic elements that aren’t required. That’s a pretty minor quibble though. Overall the love story is interesting and unique in parts.
Michael B. Jordon as Adonis Johnson aka Creed shows us he can be great in a film again after his abysmal showing in fantastic Four. It’s Sylvester Stallone that owns this movie though. He knows his character in and out and it fits him like a glove at this point. He gets to bring a new layer of character to rocky in this film though. Stallone gives us overwhelming sadness, loneliness, blue-collar silliness, and hope. I have heard rumblings that he might get recognized with some award nominations and he deserves it for sure. It’s easy to forget that this muscle bound action guy can actually write and act when he really wants too.
Just when you think everything that can be done within the Rocky franchise has been done we get another gem of a movie. Rocky Balboa saw a career finally and completely end and Creed sees a new one begin. This film is a coming of age story for two characters and they perfectly define each other. The final moments of this film are moving and for fans of the original film a little chilling. Creed is a way better film than it should be. The film could have taken a turn down a really bad road, and it gets close a few times, but it steers back before it’s too late. If you loved the original rocky you better have watched Rocky balboa and then you need to see Creed.