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CREED Review: The Best ROCKY Film Since the First

My Rating: [usr 3.5]

Call the latest entry to the Rocky series a spin-off or a direct sequel, or both, but also call Creed the best entry to the franchise since the 1976 original.

Ok Sly, we can officially forgive you for 1990’s Rocky V. Since that unfortunate mishap, Stallone took the series back to the basics that made the original a classic. In doing so, Stallone has allowed 29 year old filmmaker Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan to take the reigns into a whole different direction; focusing on Adonis Johnson Creed – Apollo’s son – with Stallone reprising Rocky Balboa in a supporting role. This has given the series both an opportunity to stretch the boxer’s legend in exciting new paths whilst remaining worthy to its classic predecessors’ origins.

One can only hope that the newest Star Wars film will also benefit from it’s creator handing off control of his beloved franchise to exciting and stimulating young filmmakers and actors; but that’s for another time. Creed in many ways legitimizes the Rocky franchise, which started to get sillier and sillier throughout the 80’s, culminating in the disaster that was Rocky V.

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I’m a big fan of the up and coming 28 year-old actor Michael B. Jordan ever since his star making turn in Fruitvale Station, also helmed by Creed director Ryan Coogler. It can equally be said that Coogler is on the way up as well, as Creed validates Coogler as more than just a one hit film wonder.

For Sylvester Stallone, this film is kind of a revelation. I know it’s weird to be saying that considering this is the seventh time he’s played Rocky, but I was still kind of shocked by how great he is in this film. Indeed, this is Stallone’s best performance since 1997’s Copland, and is comparable to his performance in the 1976 original, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. I endorse, and would totally get behind an effort to get Stallone a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his work in Creed.

Quite minor criticisms of the film, perhaps, include sort of halfway giving us a villain, much like Rocky Balboa does, as well as semi-rushing through a narrative beat that, of course, is meant to pay tribute to the original Rocky, but give credit to Coogler for still keeping things familiarly fresh. One could look at those criticisms as this film merely trying to get from point A to B via differently than the older Rocky’s. It’s kind of weird that a film this grounded in reality, references Rocky III and Rocky IV, two films that took the series into way more ridiculous terrain. Nonetheless, that shouldn’t be dwelled on too much.

If I were to rank Creed amongst all the Rocky films, I would put it at number 2, right behind the original.

Creed strikes a lot of the same narrative rhythms as the first Rocky however, is truly its own organism, ushering a strong fresh character and allowing an old favorite into one of the most dramatically abundant landscape he’s come upon.

About Knox Harrington

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