By Derrick Ernst
Director: Ryan Coogler │Running Time: 133 minutes │Rated: PG-13 │Genre: Drama, Sport │Notable Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad
“This guy here. [Rocky pointing at Adonis in the mirror.] That’s the toughest opponent you’re ever going to have to face. I think that’s true in the ring, and I think that’s true in life.” – Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone)
For almost forty years, “Rocky” has been a household name and a figure for a sport that continues to lose appeal with up and coming millennials. On top of this, more people know the sport of boxing in their observations of a fictional character going toe-to-toe with those who look to be mirror images of sculpted Greek gods. (Thoughts of Ivan Drago anyone?) As one legend ages, champion status is sought to be carried on by another. Creed proves to be a satisfactory spin-off for an ever-aging franchise and is poised to make its way back into the ring for years to come.
Trying to make a name for himself, Adonis Johnson-Creed (Michael B. Jordan) attempts to find stardom in the sport where his late great father (Apollo Creed) lived and died in the ring. Doing his best to avoid the shadows, fighting will be forever in his blood. All throughout his childhood, Adonis teaches himself enough about the sport to win small-scale fights, but fails in the department of exposing himself to the world of boxing. Not to worry, however, a little intervention from an ever-familiar face proves to make a big difference.
In an oddly supporting role, Rocky takes the son of his longtime friend underneath his wing. Not only are the two appreciable counterparts, but they both push each other beyond their limits. Now placed at the corner instead of in the middle of the ring, Rocky is accepting of his new role and affords the inspiration and motivation—all to which Adonis has never been provided with—necessary for success. Although viewership of previous Rocky films is not necessary for a proper understanding of Creed, cross contamination is ever present and surprisingly welcomed.
Brought to present day and given an update for current times, Creed possesses several quirks first seen with Rocky himself as he trained around the clock for his many bouts. From chasing chickens to being the front-runner with a crowd, Michael B. Jordan receives full Rocky treatment and ultimately consumes it with ease. Nevertheless, familiarity maintains a presence, but modernized camera angels, video game-like ringside audio, and HBO Boxing broadcasting, steal the show.
Creed is an exceptional compliment to the longstanding Rocky franchise and packs an updated punch in unexpected ways. Whether it be the fully in-sync tunes that accompany varying scenes or sensational camera work in the ring, Creed knocks out its imitators gracefully and with prowess.