Creed2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
It’s quite impressive that Ryan Coogler can take a Hollywood film like “Creed” to something approaching the reality of his independent debut “Fruitvale Station.” “Creed” takes on an atmosphere that does not portray the city of Philadelphia as glamorous in any way. It contrasts sharply with the early scenes set in L.A., where Adonis Creed lives with his mother before coming to the East Coast to be trained by Rocky Balboa.
“Creed” parallels the original film in perhaps too many ways. At its worst, the parallel results in a poorly done rap soundtrack that aims to be as memorable as the rock music in the original films. There’s even a direct homage to the “Gonna Fly Now” scene, but the new song probably won’t be remembered. Otherwise, the familiarity works. That doesn’t stop us from enjoying every single scene in the film. Even the finale, a copy of the fight between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed at the end of the seminal work, is made just as exciting – if not a bit more so – by Michael B. Jordan’s impassioned performance.
Ryan Coogler is a rare kind of director: one who understands that it doesn’t hurt to sniff the roses once in a while. When he does that in “Creed,” he hits the mark. There’s a scene at the beginning of the film where we see Rocky visiting 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 were standing before him in the flesh. We suddenly realize that Rocky is no longer the man he once was.
Sylvester Stallone is a revelation in “Creed.” He transforms Rocky Balboa into everything he could never have been in the original. He’s a sage at heart, and in that Stallone’s performance here surpasses his first appearance. He’s the most important reason to see the film (though there are, of course, a handful of others I’ve already mentioned). Rocky, as we see him in “Creed,” stands on a foundation that is his own past. This time it’s about more than just boxing; the film is equally concerned with Rocky’s desire to train the young boxer, even though he knows he should be settling down at his age. It hits you hard, even if you’ve never seen a “Rocky” movie.