A great script, excellent acting, and a respectful attitude for its origins puts this movie on the Top 10 of 2015
1. The 2006 film Rocky Balboa brought the saga of the legendary movie boxer to a classy and satisfying ending - nothing else was needed. But nine years later, here comes Creed, the seventh movie in the series. Of course, lots of things could have gone wrong here... but nothing does. This is a movie worthy of the series, while also sending things off into a new direction. As Sylvester Stallone reportedly said, "this is Creed 1, not Rocky 7".
3. The movie is about Adonis Creed, the son of Apollo when Apollo apparently cheated on his wife sometime around Rocky IV (the timeline doesn't quite match up with Adonis's age, but I can run with it). He grows up in a life of privilege, but gives it up to become a boxer because he loves to fight. He convinces Rocky to be his trainer.
4. The movie stands on its own, but fits well into the existing Rocky universe. There are many references to the other films in the series, which gives an extra resonance to things (if you listen closely, you can even hear Rocky say his famous catchphrase.)
5. Michael B. Jordan plays Adonis, and he is just about perfect for the role. I've been a huge fan of him ever since he blew me away in Fruitvale Station, and he's honestly one of the reasons I decided to watch this - I trusted he (as well as the director) wouldn't make a bad movie. And I was right.
6. The movie was written and directed by Ryan Coogler, who also wrote and directed Fruitvale Station. This is only his second movie, but he has already proven himself a talented filmmaker that can bring life to existing material, while remaining respectful to its roots.
7. There are many moments in this film that mirror the original Rocky, and it's interesting to watch from that perspective. The struggle of Adonis to both accept and escape his last name is a compelling story. At the same time, Rocky lives in the shadow of his own fame, and he ends up identifying with his dead wife's struggles, too. There are several emotional moments for each character, and they all ring true.
8. The big fight at the movie's climax brought all the same emotions back to me that I felt way back when I watched the original Rocky. On the other end of the spectrum, there is an extremely bittersweet scene on the famous steps that made me feel the unique pain of passing time.
9. This is a classy, smart, and emotional movie. Fans of the series will be impressed with the way the saga is handled. For people that have never seen the originals, they can jump in on one of the greatest sports movie franchises in history. If Coogler and Jordan can keep this quality up, I'll gladly start watching Creed movies instead of Rocky movies.