Creed (2015)

“Rock, every punch I’ve ever thrown has been on my own. Nobody showed me how to do this. I’m ready.”“Rock, every punch I’ve ever thrown has been on my own. Nobody showed me how to do this. I’m ready.”

“Rock, every punch I’ve ever thrown has been on my own. Nobody showed me how to do this. I’m ready.”

We’ve seen it before – storied franchises entering a renaissance of sorts. Rebuilding and rebranding for newer generations to make connections to the earlier films that came before. Once Rocky is said aloud, you can’t help but hum the theme song and picture him flying up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art pumping his fists and shadow boxing. But now it’s time for a new generation and a rebirth from new and different creators. It is kind of time anyway; Rocky is getting up there and he’s already proved himself time and time again against insurmountable odds. 

Where could the story possibly go from here. What new direction could the franchise go to keep the fighting spirit alive in the City of Brotherly Love. One word. Creed. We’ve seen Rocky’s (Sylvester Stallone) son in Rocky Balboabasically renounce his name but struggle to make his own way in the world outside of boxing. Everybody knows the Rocky vs Apollo Creed relationship so it’s brilliant to revisit this storyline from an entirely fresh and different perspective. It makes the franchise feel fresh and new not harping on the nostalgia factor to bring people back in. you can’t just slap a fresh set of paint on it and expect the same success and director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Black Panther) understood that from the start.

Creed naturally is a spin-off. It happens on the small screen all the time and they ultimately work if a good idea is presented. Creedis able to reinvent one of the most iconic franchises without any effort whatsoever. Adonis aka Donnie (Michael B. Jordan) has never known his family- he’s grown up in group homes and detention centers getting into fights until he’s told who he is. Michael B. Jordan plays Donnie with such a ferocity and passion that makes him such a lovable underdog. He’s been that kid that doesn’t want to be compared to his father but make his own way while not riding on his fathers’ coattails. It’s an inspiring story to watch Donnie progress and fight his way while he’s back in a corner with every decision he makes. 

“One step at a time. One punch at a time. One round at a time.”

What would a film in the Rocky Balboa universe be without Rocky in it? The answer is strange. Sylvester gives an outstanding performance as a reluctantly aging Rocky who doesn’t care about the fight anymore. He’s lived through too much and gone to hell and back in his boxing career, it’s only right to let him run his restaurant in peace. Somehow his wife Adrian and best friend Paulie bring him back to earth to be there for the kid who has nobody. Giving Rocky a different battle to wage war against is genius because it makes him feel like he’s not just there for the nostalgia factor. Rocky is even reluctant to fight that battle.

Michael B and Sylvester make these characters feel fresh and revitalized. If Coogler wrote Rocky to be stagnant, the character would ultimately be holding back the story causing it to be a failed experiment. It’s not just the story that goes through a rebirth, it’s the score and soundtrack as well that got a pretty hefty face lift. Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson (Fruitvale Station, The Mandalorian, Black Panther). The score elevates each scene. Ludwig finds a way to get your blood pumping with each and every instrument he uses. Incorporating hip-hop makes Donnie feel more like the underdog ready for his shot. The use of the original Rocky theme is well placed and perfectly timed to the final fight between Donnie and Ricky Conlan (Anthony Bellew).

What Creed does best is preserving the legacy that previous Rocky films lay while making the statement that it deserves to make its own path. Donnie’s entire motivation is to be his own man not what his father was. It’s a bold thing to do to separate yourself from your family name but it’s even bolder to accept the fact that you are who you are, and nothing can change that. Creed is also able to start its own legacy – it doesn’t have to live in Rocky’s shadow, it can create its own shadow for others to be inspired by. 

“Bring back everything that’s ever hurt you, all the pain you had inside. They don’t know what we’ve been through. You belong here!”

Yes, this film can easily be comparable to the predecessor – Taking inspiration from the saga as a whole. One plotline is the love story between Donnie and Bianca (Tessa Thompson). Their story evolves organically, not rushing into it nor going at a snail’s pace. It feels relatable and real. The two have great chemistry together on screen and that only adds to the drama of the story as a whole. Tessa brings strength to her character that can only benefit Donnie and his quest. Her love of music brings a calming presence as a way to ease his mind before a fight. She’s his inspiration and he is her’s. 

Coogler did a fantastic job directing this film, he captures the spirit of the Rocky films while adding new flavor, making it his own. The choreography of the fights are shot beautifully as you feel every haymaker, jab, body-shot and uppercut thrown by each competitor. Coogler makes this film feel grounded and gritty as Donnie scraps from behind making him a champion in heart and spirit.

Overall, Creed is a fantastic reinvention of a franchise. It has the feel of a Rocky film while introducing new elements that a different generation can fall in love with. It’s a well-crafted story with brilliant music fueling every scene. The performances are exceptional and emotional and will inspire many to follow their dreams no matter what the cost is. Creed pays homage to the legend that Rocky laid down while paving its own path of fighting spirit. It’s inspirational and heartwarming. This film will get your blood pumping while making you feel invincible and ready to go 12 rounds in the ring. If I were to rate Creed, I’d rate it a 4.8 out of 5. 

So, tell me guys, have you seen Creed and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think. 

Creed is written and directed by Ryan Coogler is Rated PG-13 and has an 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Creed was released on November 19th, 2015 and has a runtime of 2 hours and 13 minutes. Creed can be bought by online retailers such as iTunes, Google, Amazon and Vudu.

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*I do not own these photos used in this article; all rights reserved to the copyright holder* 

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