‘Creed’ Is My First Champ of 2015 (Movie Review)

CreedI’m not sure where I was or what I was doing when I first heard news of a Rocky spinoff, but you better believe my reaction was a series of enthusiastic fist pumps into the air.  And for anyone that still has a flip phone, locked up in a house against their will in Cleveland, OH or just sadly aren’t in the know about what the cloud is really all about, Creed is the seventh film in the Rocky series, so to speak, and is the story of Apollo Creed’s son.  You remember him, right?  Apollo Creed as in Rocky’s arch nemesis in the first two films turned compadre in the next two subsequent ones.  Pretty cool, huh?  So nonetheless, I was very elated to be going into last week’s press screening of…okay I can say it now in a deep voice…CREED (not the band documentary, the fictional boxing film).  And for anyone who doesn’t know what the Rocky franchise means to me, let me refresh your memory.

It was back on February 15, 2014 when I had the honor of publishing the Blu-ray review of a collection of films that are some of my all-time favorites, some for sentimental reasons and others for motivational.  Of course I’m talking about the 6 Rocky films in the double dipping Rocky Heavyweight Collection.  The historic review I’m referring to can be found here in its entirety or should I say longevity.  I won’t repeat any of it here, but in that review I talk about my undying love and affinity for the Rocky movies and more importantly what they all mean to me personally.  They are the soundtrack to me life as once again I’ll be faced with an uphill challenge next year when I undergo two hip surgeries, but like the great Rocky Balboa I must find a way to endure and ultimately in the end persevere.  That’s what winners do!


Unlike the other Rocky films, this one’s unique.  No, it’s not because Rocky ain’t fighting, he is, just in a different way, but it’s because it was written by Ryan Coogler (first Rocky film where Stallone’s not a writer), and directed by him too (think of Fruitvale Station).  It also sees Coogler reunited with Fruitvale Station star Michael B. Jordan who portrays Adonis Johnson Creed, Apollo’s son.  How he’s Apollo’s son, I’ll let you figure that one out.  No spoilers here!  So obviously Stallone’s back reprising his legendary role for this spinoff with roots in Rocky films 1 through 4.  Notable characters missing are that of Little Marie, Paulie and Rocky’s son, with the latter two explained in this film as to why they are a no show. Tsk-tsk on the son though for not being there for his father in times of need.  You’ll find out why I say that.  However, before we move on I do want to mention some new faces in this one, Tessa Thompson (Adonis’ love interest), Tony Bellew, Graham McTavish and Wood Harris.


So the basic plot goes a little something like this.  The son of Apollo Creed, Adonis Johnson Creed, feels lost in this world.  He knows who he is, but no one else does nor will they take him seriously.  Despite the plush office job he has as well as all the money in the world that Apollo left behind for his late wife at his disposal he’s a fighter with something to prove.  What that is, well that’s our journey in this film.  So when he runs out of resources and inspiration in Hollywood, Adonis travels to Philadelphia, where he seeks out Rocky Balboa and requests that the now elder, but still legendary boxer train him.  Of course, Rocky wants nothing to do with it, but can’t help be smitten in the presence of Apollo’s offspring.  After all, they are almost like reunited family, but I digress.  Throughout the film of ups and down we learn two things for certain, both Rocky and Adonis need each other, no matter what they think and everyone has a battle to fight in life.  What that battle is of course depends upon the situation in one’s life, but don’t let anyone fool you.  Everyone’s sh1t does stink and the grass isn’t always greener on the other side (I can testify to both of these facts in life).


While I have a couple things I could nitpick about in Creed, I won’t.  I’m biased.  The Rocky and Star Wars films are my soundtrack in life and you won’t hear me talk anything bad about them no matter how awful the prequels are or how fantastical (thanks Scott Mendleson) Rocky IV is, they are all special and important to me, each in their own unique way.  So it goes without saying, I won’t be bashing Creed in this review.  In fact, I’ll be praising it.  Like Rocky Balboa and the films that have come before in the franchise, Creed has raw, emotional heart and that’s all I care about.  It may be a boxing film, but it’s so much more than that.  It’s about real struggles in life and while I can’t pretend like I can identify with Adonis giving up his rich, plush Hollywood life style (something us poor people dream about daily), I can definitely sympathize with the plight of Rocky’s life and the new battle he faces because I feel like I have lived my life like him, one big series of ups and downs and no matter how many people tell me no and knock me down I keep getting back up in their faces.  You can’t keep a good man down, especially a stubborn son of a b1tch like Rocky and I.


You’re probably asking yourself what can possibly be done in this film that hasn’t been accomplished in the previous six outings.  I mean, Rocky already trained a boxer in the fifth film and look how that turned out.  I understand your fears about Creed.  I really do.  I struggled with whether or not I could take this film seriously since it was essentially a spinoff of Rocky IV, one that I really have a hard time with in that “fantastical” boxing matching in mother Russia, but I digress.  What really concerned me though was how on Earth were the filmmakers ever going to make a worthy successor to the film that really knocked me out years ago, Rocky Balboa.  I never expected anything as strong as that one coming.  That flick actually rivals the first Rocky film in all honesty, but again I digress.  Rest assured, Creed stands on its own merits as a film, but its roots run deep within the franchise here and like it or not, the filmmakers reinvent new ways to keep this tried and true tale both fresh and innovative while at the same time paying homage to all the Rocky lore and all that has come before.  I like to think they succeeded remarkably, but I’ll let you be the judge of that when you see this one on Thanksgiving (or if you are Jason Herrera, after your cruise).  Gobble, gobble.


The innovative ways in which this one was shot, not to mention the creative tasks/camera tricks employed to keep the story and action in your face kept me engaged throughout in this one.  Yes, the music is mostly all different, but if you listen closely I bet you can hear several familiar cues that will make your blood curdle in nostalgia (not to mention the many familiar visuals too).  Coogler and folks don’t ever let you down in that department.  The story may not be all about Rocky anymore (and the training montage may not be elevated to the same degree as they are in the other entries and there’s a reason for that too), but the filmmakers never let you forget that you’re in the Rocky universe and I love them for that.  Make no mistake also, I believe Creed can be back.  What’s to stop them from making a Creed 2 or a Creed 3 even?  Absolutely nothing!  I guess rhetorically speaking it would be contract disputes, etc.  In other words, this one sets up the franchise perfectly for more entries unlike how Furious 7 left things in its universe (I’m not bashing, just making a point).

I say this all up above because I want to believe.  Whether its solely Adonis or Rocky is involved too, I want these men in my life for as long as possible.  Their characters, flaws and all (that’s another thing I loved about Coogler and the rich characters he developed here), mean the world to me.  They are role models for me to be all I can be in life.  And when you say something as profound as what I just said, you realize something, I just watched a Rocky film.  It was called Creed.  Both men fought for something bigger than themselves, but even more importantly, it’s the life lessons you take away from this powerful franchise (we are our own worst enemies).  It’s all about going the distance folks and never giving up.  I’ll leave it like that as I drop the microphone to the floor here.  I ring the boxing bell twice.  Ding, ding.  Let’s get ready to rumble indeed!

Creed Movie Poster


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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