When is the last time a movie had you so involved that you excitedly jumped out of your seat even as it was playing? For me, the last film to do that was David O. Russell's The Fighter in 2010. Don't get me wrong, I've seen plenty of fantastic movies since then, but it takes a special kind of movie to invigorate an audience to the point of full-blown, spontaneous celebration. Creed was that movie.
Oddly enough, both The Fighter and Creed are boxing movies. That may suggest that I'm simply a sucker for boxing movies, but I just don't think it's that simple. I think it's the journey that keeps people coming back for more. Most of the time, boxing movies involve an underdog facing insurmountable odds, and I think it's safe to say most people tend to root for that unlikely hero over the established opponent. Rocky is the ultimate underdog, and this franchise has perfected the formula of what makes a great boxing movie. Boxing movies have almost become their own genre over time, mostly thanks to the Rocky franchise. Creed continues this stellar tradition.
Creed revolves around Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed who has grown up privileged in California with a chip on his shoulder. Despite the fact he never met him, Adonis feels the weight of his father's shadow. He's a troubled kid with no real father figure in his life and has chosen the life of a fighter, believing it is what he was born to do. After moving to Philadelphia to pursue his fighting career, he seeks out an old, world-weary Rocky Balboa and eventually convinces the old champ to train him. The rest is for you to see.
Now, when I first heard that a spin-off(ish?) movie was being developed that would follow Apollo Creed's son, I was not one bit excited even after Michael B. Jordan was cast as the lead. I personally hate spinoffs and sequels for the most part because they generally tend to be pretty bad, but let me tell you something... Creed is absolutely fantastic.
If you are a fan of the Rocky franchise, this movie absolutely captures the spirit of the original. Creed is directed by Ryan Coogler, best known for directing another Michael B. Jordan-led stunner, Fruitvale Station. I didn't actually know about that until after I had watched it. But after I was made aware of Coogler's previous film, it made perfect sense how good this movie really is. Coogler films Philadelphia in a such a gritty way that Philly becomes an actual character in the movie. The whole movie has an urban vibe that really immerses you into the world that it inhibits.
As far as performances go, this movie carries an emotional heft that will uppercut you right in the feels. With this role, Michael B. Jordan has proven to everyone that he is here to stay and will not be going anywhere. This young man can act! He plays Adonis with such depth as a kid who is in desperate need of a strong male figure in his life, and you can tell how angry he is that he never got to meet his father while still forced to cope with his legacy. Then, let's not forget that this is a boxing movie, which obviously would require its main character to be in tip-top boxing shape, and he does not disappoint. Jordan is absolutely shredded in this film and sells every second of his boxing scenes. The man is a real athlete, which elevated his performance beyond any doubt that this is a actually a boxer.
Now, I'd be remiss to leave out the man who began this entire franchise, Sylvester Stallone. I was honestly blown away by the performance he gave in this film. This is the role that made Stallone's career, and he continues to absolutely own it. There are no obnoxious caricature-type moments in his performance. This is a strong undertaking that could very well mark a turning point in Stallone's career, opening him up to more serious, dramatic roles. This is a Stallone we haven't seen in quite a while. In my opinion, this is his best performance since Cop Land (which if you haven't seen it and generally enjoy police crime dramas, it doesn't get much better than that). He was simply incredible.
Honestly, folks, I strongly encourage you all to go out and see this movie. It sets itself apart from the rest of the Rocky films while still carrying out the same spirit that has made them so beloved. This movie will tug at your heartstrings and demand you to stand up and cheer. It is one of the best times I've had at the movies all year. Creed is phenomenal.