Creed

Stallone’s performance in “Creed” is a revelation.
★★★
Movie Review #1,035

creed
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures
Drama, Sport
2 hours, 13 minutes
Rated PG-13 (violence, language and some sensuality)
Released November 25, 2015
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Screenplay by Ryan Coogler & Aaron Covington
Story by Ryan Coogler
Characters by Sylvester Stallone
Starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, and Tony Bellew

It’s rather impressive that Ryan Coogler can helm a Hollywood film like “Creed” into something that nearly reaches the reality of his independent debut, Fruitvale Station. “Creed” takes on an atmosphere that doesn’t depict the city of Philadelphia as glamorous in any way. It stands in sharp contrast with the early scenes set in L.A., where Adonis Creed lives with his mother before heading over to the East Coast to seek training from Rocky Balboa.

“Creed” parallels the original film in perhaps too many ways. At worst, the parallel results in a poorly executed rap soundtrack that wants to be as memorable as the rock music in the original movies. There’s even a direct homage to the “Gonna Fly Now” scene, but the new song more than likely won’t stick with you. Other than that, the familiarity works out. It doesn’t keep us from enjoying every last scene in the movie. Even the finale, a carbon-copy of the fight between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed at the end of the seminal work, is made just as exciting–if not slightly more–by Michael B. Jordan’s passionate performance.

Ryan Coogler is a rare kind of director: one who understands that there’s no harm in stopping to sniff the roses now and then. When he does it in “Creed”, he hits home. There’s a scene early in the movie where we see Rocky paying a visit to the graves of his wife Adrian and her brother Paulie. He lays flowers on their graves, sits down, has a conversation with them as if they’re standing right in front of him in the flesh. We suddenly realize Rocky’s not the man he used to be.

Sylvester Stallone is a revelation in “Creed”. He transforms Rocky Balboa into everything he never could have been in the original. Basically, he’s a wiseman, and at that, Stallone’s performance here outdoes his first performance. He’s the number-one reason to see the movie (though there are, of course, the handful of others that I have already mentioned). Rocky, as we see him in “Creed”, stands on a foundation that is his own past. He’s faced with more than boxing this time around; the film just as concerned with Rocky’s desire to train the young boxer, despite knowing he should really be settling down at his age. That hits you hard, even if you’ve never seen a single “Rocky” movie.

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