This is shaping up to be a rough movie season for Jay. First, she got dragged to SPECTRE (which by all accounts is a spectacular movie). Second, she’s been dreading Star Wars: The Force Awakens since it was a twinkle in J.J. Abrams’ eye. And third, a whole other Sean-approved franchise makes a return and potentially gets rebooted into a whole new series of movies. Dun Na NAAAAAA, Dun Na NAAAAAA!
That’s right, Rocky is back again, for the seventh time. It seemed over after IV, V, and VI, but some studio exec decided we could handle more! And it was clearly the right decision because I think MGM/Warner Brothers now has a whole new franchise on its hands, featuring Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed (Apollo Creed’s son).
I have always loved this franchise. From the moment I saw Rocky III, I was hooked (yes, I started with III and have never regretted it – as recently discussed in my defence of SPECTRE, plot and character are pretty much unnecessary in franchises and here’s more proof that’s a good thing). Based on my love for the franchise, I had high hopes for this movie but I was also nervous at how this would all turn out. After seeing Creed, I am happy to report that this franchise’s record is still unblemished as long as we agree that Rocky V never happened.
One of my favourite things about Rocky VI (a.k.a. Rocky Balboa) was how much love it showed to the franchise as a whole. Creed takes the same approach. There are a number of nods to the past and they’re great to see. The best part is that Rocky, as trainer, takes all that history and imbues Adonis with the style of boxing we’ve grown to love in these movies, namely trading head shots until both boxers’ faces look like ground beef. Head trauma be damned, these boxers just have so much heart that they have to leave it all in the ring. And do they ever!
As for the cast, Michael B. Jordan is great as Creed and Stallone is better than ever as Rocky. The two characters come together naturally and it’s a great relationship to see play out, as uncle and nephew take on the world together and give us some classic Rocky moments along the way. Especially Stallone, who really plays the old man well the whole way through (although at this point he’s almost 70 so it may not even be acting). Either way there are some very funny moments to be found as the two leads interact with each other.
Overall, the only way this movie could have been any better is if they had worked in some Carl Weathers flashbacks where he got his stew on. I can see how that was tricky to work in to Creed since Apollo died before Adonis was born, but still, it would have been a nice touch.
Other than that one shortcoming, Creed is perfect. It delivers a great story, feels like a natural extension of the Rocky franchise, gives us a ton of nice call-backs to past events, and even answers some burning questions (including who wins the fight at the end of Rocky III). Those fan-service moments were definitely my favourite aspect of the movie and they added so much to it. They’re not just winks and nods, they are tools used successfully to remind us of Rocky’s mindset as he tries to pass on his winning ways to a new contender.
As the credits rolled, I reminisced about all the other great Rocky moments (see my list HERE but be warned, it contains tons of spoilers) and at the same time was excited for Creed II. And mark it down, there will be a Creed II. The seeds are sown here for at least two more movies and I hope they come to pass, because Creed is not just a great addition to the Rocky franchise, it is an excellent movie in its own right.
Creed scores a knockout: ten triumphant underdogs out of ten.