‘Creed’ Review: A Triumphant Return to the Ring

creed-movie-rocky-trailer

From Ryan Coogler, the director Fruitvale Station, comes the highly anticipated Rocky spin-off: Creed, a film I’ll admit that, at first, when I heard the concept of, I assumed would be just another a measly cash grab. But when the first trailer was released, I was completely sold. After the excitement that the first trailer brought me, I decided to go back and check out the first Rocky film, which was completely astonishing. It wasn’t just a dumb sports movie, it was *the* dumb sports movie with an ending (and score) so good, that it made me uncontrollably sob. Months later, the reviews for the newest film in the franchise started pouring in, and to everyone’s relief, they were overwhelmingly positive. After that, I couldn’t be more excited for Creed. And did it deliver? 

Absolutely.

Creed is utterly spectacular. It’s a film that, on paper, seems slightly uneventful, but once brought to life onto the big screen, completely floored me. This movie was absolutely riveting from start to finish. It begins slow, and builds,….and builds,…and builds,…until it’s bursting with emotional power and excitement that *literally* left my audience, as well as myself, cheering.

On a technical scale, the feature is fragments away from flawless, with only a moment or two of noticeable ADR in its way. Creed looks beautiful, shooting the city of Philadelphia with such a rich sense of urban atmosphere. Also on the technical side of things, it’s absolutely worth noting that there are many one-shots in this film that definitely had me wondering, “how???” One specifically is a certain fight, and when you see it, you’ll know exactly which one I am talking about, that’s done in, what looks to be, wholly one take. The film is also edited exquisitely. At a hefty 132 minute run time, you’d expect Creed to drag, yet it ceases to do so. I was in complete shock when I opened my phone to see that what felt like 20 minutes had past, in reality, was over 2 hours. Every scene in the film had purpose. It wasn’t just to move the plot along, but it was to develop the characters, which is what Creed excels at: character development. I cared wholeheartedly for Adonis, Rocky, and love interest Bianca.

Which brings me to the performances, all of which are absolute (sorry) knockouts. Throughout Creed, I didn’t feel like I was watching a movie, I felt like I was watching real people. Real people that exist in the world, just like you and I. The film provided me with a look into the life of a boxer with a troubled past, trying to make a name for himself. Michael B. Jordan, who previously worked with the aforementioned director Ryan Coogler on Fruitvale Station, is absolutely marvelous. He completely embodies the character of Adonis Creed. Jordan’s performance is layered and one that gives audiences a character that they can completely get behind. Supporting Mr. Jordan is the Italian Stallion himself, Sylvester Stallone. This man gives a performance so damn good that I believe it not only surprised everyone who saw it, as well as myself, but Stallone himself. After his recent string of missteps, most of which the Expendables franchise accounts for, I don’t think that he even knew he was capable of reaching these heights anymore. In the role of supporting actress is Tessa Thompson, who gave an impeccable performance in what I believe is among 2014’s very best, Dear White People. Tessa’s performance is somewhat minimal, but with what she’s given to work with, is very good. I also believe it’s worth noting the amount of development her character gets, considering her role of ‘love interest’. An argument in the film involving motivation beautifully illustrates how different this character is from typical love interests.

To conclude, Creed is not wholly without flaws, yet it’s very close. My only issue is that maybe the themes of the film were delivered a little too heavy-handed-ly, but in the end, Creed still blew me away. It’s a technical marvel, with masterful cinematography and atmosphere. The film is also a showcase of brilliant performances, from Jordan, Thompson, and surprisingly, Stallone. Lastly, Coogler’s brilliant focus on an equal balance between character development and story progression makes this movie a guidebook of excellent direction. This Thanksgiving, see what you should truly be thankful for: Creed.

4.5/5 Stars

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