Creed (2015)

creed_2015_poster
Creed (2015)
  • Time: 132 min
  • Genre: Drama | Sport
  • Director: Ryan Coogler
  • Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Graham McTavish, Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson

Storyline:

The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.

8 reviews

  • Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky has been entering the ring since 1976 and it is time for him to stand in the ring one more time. Ha! Kidding, we saw the last of Rocky’s boxing ways in 2006’s Rocky Balboa and now it is time for a new underdog to take the ring. One thing we have learned from Rocky over the last 30 years is that there is no quit in the boxer and after Creed, we have learned there is no quit in the franchise either.

    Adonis Johnson (Jordan) never knew his famous father, world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, who died before he was born. Still, there’s no denying that boxing is in his blood, so Adonis heads to Philadelphia, the site of Apollo Creed’s legendary match with a tough upstart named Rocky Balboa.

    Once in the City of Brotherly Love, Adonis tracks Rocky (Stallone) down and asks him to be his trainer. Despite his insistence that he is out of the fight game for good, Rocky sees in Adonis the strength and determination he had known in Apollo—the fierce rival who became his closest friend. Agreeing to take him on, Rocky trains the young fighter, even as the former champ is battling an opponent more deadly than any he faced in the ring.

    With Rocky in his corner, it isn’t long before Adonis gets his own shot at the title…but can he develop not only the drive but also the heart of a true fighter, in time to get into the ring?

    Creed is a perfect direct sequel to the first Rocky film and it will bother you that there are five films in between the two. You could even consider Creed as a remake of sorts of the first film. Rocky takes on the role of Micky in the film and Adonis is a young Rocky who is just try to make a name for himself.

    Creed is also the perfect film for director Ryan Cooler to follow up Fruitvale Station with. The film is sadly a perfect representation of what is happening with young black men in the American society. Creed does the same thing but in a less aggressive fashion. The underlying theme of the film is how young black men are affected by an absent father. Do you take on their last name? How do you handle all the anger that resides within? How much does an individual that you never met determines who you are as an individual? Do you ever find peace?

    One thing that does not go for the film is Cooler trying to recapture the magic that Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger and Rocky running up the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s stair was to the Rocky franchise with Adonis running besides ATVs and dirt bikes with rapper Meek Mill’s Lord Knows in the background. The scene is not as effective and falls short in hyping you up for the final bout.

    Michael B. Jordan is great physically and emotionally within the film. Physically, Jordan is a built as we have ever seen him and Maryse Alberti makes sure we see every muscle of his chiseled body. We get a small glimpse of Adonis’ childhood and why he is so closed up. There is a moment during every boxing match, well in the movies at least, that the boxer reaches a spiritual and emotional climax and the best comes out of the fighter as a result. That moment makes or breaks any boxing film and Creed is no exception to the rule. There have been a lot of emotional scenes throughout the Rocky franchise and anyone who has heard the speech from Rocky Balboa knows exactly what I am talking about. I did not expect Creed to hit the ring as hard as Rocky did and was shock that Creed hit the emotions harder than Rocky has ever did.

    For the last 30 years, Stallone has attempted to make the legacy of his Rocky franchise as big as possible and sadly hit some stumbles throughout his journey. *cough* Rocky V *cough* Creed might be the best film in the entire franchise. Stallone is at his emotional best as age has done wonders for him and never over work the emotional scenes. When Stallone is on the screen make sure you pay attention to all the sorrow that is in his eyes as they truly hit home. The first Rocky film was praised by the Academy and received a couple nominations, don’t be surprise if Creed follows suit.

  • You gotta hand it to Sylvester Stallone. About fifteen years ago, I figured his career had been left for dead. Somehow with his revision of Rambo, his clout to get studios to make those Expendable movies, and his relentless drive to revitalize an old, punch-drunk boxer, he’s gotten into Hollywood’s good graces once again. Heck, back in the day I was used to saying, “Sly who?”

    Anyway, unless you’ve been living on a desert island via the last four decades, you’ll know that Creed (my latest review) is indeed the 7th film in the storied, Rocky saga. Everyone in character Rocky Balboa’s life, is gone. That includes his spouse Adrian, his brother-in-law Paulie, his trainer Mickey, and his old boxing rival Apollo. But hey, nothing can stop Stallone and company from milking every bit of the Italian Stallion’s account till it runs bone dry. That’s why he brought in director Ryan Coogler (he did Fruitvale Station) along with his budding movie star, Michael B. Jordan (he was the lead in Fruitvale Station). Translation: This is yet a bland Rocky entry but a mature, valiant effort. It’s on par with Rocky Balboa (2006), it’s a lot better than Rocky V (I’d hope so), and it has moments that are deeper and more subdued than Rocky IV (“I must break you” ha ha). Somewhere somehow though, I can still hear the late Burgess Meredith saying, “I’m going on a permanent vacation”. Rocky being an Irwin Winkler-produced franchise with its obligatory training sequences and its obligatory final fights, should probably just do the same.

    Containing a film score that feels less compelling this time around (probably because Bill Conti wasn’t at the helm), Creed delves into Apollo’s illegitimate son, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan). Adonis never knew his deceased dad but subconsciously, he always had the need to fight, to punch someone with plenty of lefts and rights. At the beginning of the proceedings, he’s a teenager, serving time in a Los Angeles youth facility. When Apollo’s actual widow shows up to take him in, Adonis goes with her, finally knowing who his father is and eventually finding out what he wants to do with his life. Cut to 2015 and he’s winning fights in Mexico while working at a securities firm on the side. He eventually quits his job, moves to the fighting city of Philadelphia, and seeks out a man who had a long history with his pops. That would be Mr. Rocky Balboa. After some resistance from wanting to train the youthful Adonis, old Rocco caves in knowing that this youngin wants to be the light heavyweight champion of the world. “Baby” Creed in time wins one big fight and then somehow gets a title shot in Liverpool, England. It’s all far-fetched stuff but then again, so is the grizzled adage, “it’s only a movie”.

    Now the main asset in Creed, is how its story translates easily from the events in the previous Philadelphia slugger installments. It would make sense that Rocky would now be too old to fight. It would make sense that Rocky still ran a restaurant and was open to training a young buck. It would make sense that Apollo Creed’s son would come knocking on Rocky’s door salivating for sparring advice. Finally, it would make sense that Rocky would go back to grieve Adrian and Paulie at their respective grave sites (for reasons unknown, the Paulie Pennino character kicks the bucket circa 2012). My biggest misstep of this flick however, is how the lead troupers (mainly Michael B. Jordan and romantic interest Tessa Thompson) fail to meet the demands of selling Creed’s most considerable and most substantial scenes. Basically, they turn it into something that lacks the dramatic heft of the earlier movies and the entertainment value/popcorn feel of Rocky III and Rocky IV. What’s left is a slow-burning affair, a vehicle that goes through the motions and renders itself vapid. As the end credits rolled, all I wanted to do was revisit Mr. T’s portrayal in 1982, Rocky and Apollo’s second Superfight in 1979, and Philly’s favorite son hitting the proverbial meat back in 76′. It’s the collection addition DVD set and it comes pretty cheap at Best Buy. My overall rating: 2 and a half stars.

    Of note: There’s been talk about Stallone possibly getting an Academy Award nomination for his work in Creed. I’ll admit, he knows the character all around and has some heartfelt moments. But Oscar? Come on. In all seriousness it seems like a bit of a stretch don’t you think?

    Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

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  • Creed is about coming to terms with your ghosts. We find ourselves by dealing with our past and its formidable shadows.
    The film itself raises — to deal with — the shadow of the Rocky series. Adonis Johnson, nee Creed, retraces Rocky Balboa’s training methods, fight scenes, ambition and fortuitous championship offer. The huge champion Brit visually recalls Dolph Lundgren’s Russian brute Drago in Rocky IV, with the same conversion of the huge audience from hiss to cheer. Creed has the same conclusion the Vietnam War-era first Rocky had: sometimes surviving is more important than winning. America keeps learning that anew.
    Adonis Johnson doesn’t know he’s Apollo Creed’s son till Apollo’s widow comes to take him out of juvenile detention. The kid has the instincts and temper of a fighter, so discovering his father legitimizes the little bastard.
    Mary Ann Creed raises him in her posh Los Angeles home and he grows into a successful finance executive. That career he chucks to follow in his father’s footsteps. When he shadow boxes in front of a Youtube fight tape, Adonis slips into Rocky’s position to attack his absent father.
    Adonis takes on his father’s brutish profession to find himself, preferring to go by his mother’s name Johnson, to make his name on his own. For his big title match Mary Ann sends him Old Glory shorts with Creed on the front waistband and Johnson on the back. In fighting Adonis discovers his identity and defines his relationship to both his parents.
    Rocky also lives among his ghosts. Wife Adrian exists only as the name of his restaurant and the graveyard site where he goes every day to deposit a rose, talk about his life and read the paper. The young Creed’s request he train him revives Rocky’s feeling for Apollo and gives him a new life, back at the ring. Rocky initially refuses cancer treatment because it pained and failed Adrian. He feels he has nothing more to live for. But his new protege revives Rocky’s interest in life so they spur each other on to their respective fights. If Rocky’s own son fled the Balboa shadow, Apollo’s son gives Rocky the successor he never had — and Adonis the father he never knew.
    Mary Ann works on a couple of levels of ghost-wrestling. In tracking and adopting her husband’s illegitimate son she comes to terms with Apollo’s betrayal. She fails to dissuade the gifted boy from pursuing his father’s more brutal career — though if the kid managed hedge funds, that’s a debatable point — but she remains a loving influence on him. On another level, Mary Ann is played by Phylicia Rashad. Her matriarchal screen image began with The Cosby Show, whose father figure has also been redefined by time. This mother redeems the myth of that one.
    Creed’s love interest Bianca provides a variation on that theme: living with the future. She’s a rock singer and musician who knows she will lose her hearing. She defines herself by how she handles that ghost of deafness future. She lives her music intensely and prepares for that loss with hearing aids, learning sign language, but mainly by asserting her will and not accepting premature defeat. In her own fight she’s going Creed’s 12 rounds too and will lose — but by going the distance, winning.

  • In a year full of reinvigorated franchises, perhaps none is more surprising than Creed, the seventh installment in the nearly four decades old series and most likely the first entry in a new and separate franchise.

    The first film in the series neither written nor directed by Sylvester Stallone, Creed has been placed in the hands of director Ryan Coogler, who co-wrote the screenplay with Aaron Covington. The essence of the Rocky films has always been Rocky himself, the underdog who confounded everyone’s expectations by lasting the full 15 rounds. His opponent, Apollo Creed, may have retained the championship belt, but it was Rocky who was the true winner for anyone who witnessed his dogged determination. [Similarly, Rocky was the little film that could, not only raking in money at the box office but besting the likes of All the President’s Men, Network and Taxi Driver to win Best Picture that year.] Creed may be about handing the baton over to the next generation, but Coogler and Covington are wise enough to recognise that this film is just as much about Rocky Balboa as it is about Adonis Johnson Creed.

    When we first meet Adonis, better known as Donnie, he’s in an L.A. juvenile detention center and engaged in yet another fight. Having grown up in foster care since his mom’s death, he seems destined to keep bouncing from one juvie center to another before being lost to the streets or prison. Fate intervenes when Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad) appears, informs him that he’s the illegitimate son of her late husband, the former heavyweight champion of the world Apollo Creed, and asks him to come live with her.

    Nearly twenty years later, Donnie is ensconced in his father’s mansion and working at a financial firm. It’s a good life, but fighting is in his blood. His black-market bouts in Tijuana are not enough anymore and, against Mary Anne’s wishes, Donnie quits his job and heads to Philadelphia to enlist Rocky’s help to train him to be a real contender. The Italian Stallion, his boxing days long behind him, is initially reluctant, especially since he still feels responsible for Apollo dying in the ring. Yet he gives in – it could be Donnie’s persistence, it could be a chance to be back in the ring even if only from the sidelines, it could be atonement for Apollo’s death, it could be a way to pass on his own legacy as well as ensuring Apollo’s.

    Legacy is a running theme – Donnie refuses to be in his father’s shadow. Apollo may never have known about or acknowledged his son during his lifetime, but Donnie shuns taking his father’s name as his own. He wants to be known as his own man, not as Apollo’s son. More revealingly, he understands the burden that name carries. “What if I take on the name and I lose?” he confides to Bianca (Tessa Thompson), his downstairs neighbour who becomes his main squeeze. Rocky knows the burden all too well; his son Robert felt the pressure of living up to his father’s name. Rocky and Donnie’s destinies are intertwined before they ever even meet. Both have healing to be done, and both know that healing is impossible without the other. As both men say at various points in the film, “If I fight, you fight.”

    Coogler and Covington stick to the playbook whilst simultaneously placing the tale firmly in the 21st century. Stallone may have ceded the writing and directing, but this is a film that is very much indebted to him in structure and style. The beats and flourishes may be familiar, but there is a reason why the original Rocky is considered one of the best sports dramas of all time and why it and its sequels have been the template for countless sports films. It’s effective, almost ridiculously so. And when the chords of Bill Conti’s iconic score are heard, it not only rouses but it brings a tear to the eye and a lump to the throat. Nostalgia is a significant factor in what makes Creed so emotionally satisfying, but make no mistake: Creed succeeds on its own merits.

    Jordan, reuniting with his Fruitvale Station director, mixes the brash and the bashful, the rage and resentment but also the gratitude and tenderness. Thompson is more than his match and their scenes together, particularly one in which he tends to her braids, are warm, sexy, and flinty when needed. It may be strange to say but Stallone has never felt more like a star than as the weakened and wizened Rocky. Thoroughly lovable and tremendously affecting, Stallone is the undisputed heart and soul of this film.

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  • Creed has been out for several weeks and probably shouldn’t be reviewed at this late date but there are some good elements in the movie that others, like myself who have put off seeing it, will enjoy.
    Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington have come up with a story that capitalizes on the previous films but also finds its own story to tell. The problem is there’s a formula to sports movies that demands the lead win in the end and, in Creed, they do. There’s a little twist to it but the story stays with the formula. The story it tells has more weight because of the characters and the history we know about them. If this were not Rocky and Apollo Creed’s son this movie would be a serious uphill battle. As it is, the story is a little soap operish.
    As the director, Coogler has made a film that looks perfectly at home with the previous Rocky movies. In fact, there is an arc from the first to this last movie. This movie returns to the dark lighting and the city streets.
    This movie could not have been made if Sylvester Stallone were not in it as Rocky and he doesn’t walk through it any more than he did the first one. Michael B. Jordon plays Adonis Johnson (Creed) but there seem to be too many facets to his character when there is one thing that has driven him his whole life. Tessa Thompson is the female love interest and, as often happens, is more prop than person. The same can be said for Phylicia Rashad as Apolo’s wife. Her acting, however, gives her character more depth and reality than the others.
    No one else carries any weight as an actor. In some cases it looks as if they cast some people from the street. In and amongst all this, however, Liev Schreiber, is a narrator for HBO which is broadcasting the big fight.
    I give this movie 3 jump ropes out of 4. It doesn’t break the mold but because of the franchise it doesn’t need to. We are already have an investment with some of these characters.

  • (Rating: ☆☆☆½ out of 4)

    This film is highly recommended.

    In brief: A crowd-pleaser that carries its own weight due to some fine acting and direction.

    GRADE: B+

    Since The Champ appeared in the 1930’s, the genre of boxing film has been an on-going cliche of sorts, the downtrodden overcoming the many hardships placed in his way. Always slow-motion shots abound…plus, training montages…the hand-held circular camerawork at ringside…leading up to the final bout! Even reviews of these sporting films become tiresome and unoriginal…”A real knockout!”…”Down for the count!”…”It pulls no punches!”…”Throw in the towel!” ( I will try and spare you these puns, although I cannot promise that I will succeed.)

    A select few overcome the familiarities of the genre and achieve greatness like Raging Bull and Million Dollar Baby. Some creating memorable moments like The Fighter, Requiem for a Heavyweight, Fat City, and the original Rocky. Others fail miserably like Grudge Match (a Stallone dud) and Against the Ropes, but most follow the winning formula with a high degree of entertainment. Creed is an exception to the rule when rating tales of pugilists. It works very well and avoids most of the cliches (but not all) due to some fine acting and sharp direction, even if the script is featherweight, routine, and totally predictable.

    Donny Johnson, a.k.a. Adonis Creed, feels the need to follow in his lost father’s footsteps, enlisting the help of former champ, Rocky Balboa as his trainer. That’s the simple premise of the film in which director / writer Ryan Coogler wisely concentrates on the human drama more than the blood sport, although his fight sequences are quite brutal. His direction is solid, except for a clumsy inspiration uplift scene involving bikers fans and his over-reliance upon the Rocky source, complete with musical cues and nostalgic images. He stages the boxing sequences most effectively and builds a nice chemistry between his actors.

    Michael B. Jordan is a revelation in the role as Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son. He shows the inner conflict and rage within the man, delivering a powerful performance. Sylvester Stallone redeems himself with a restrained and understated portrayal of his famous screen icon, successfully erasing the memory of his recent film work as an aging action star. Tessa Thompson makes a vivid impression playing Bianca, Adonis’ love interest.

    All in all, Creed surprisingly packs an emotional wallop (sorry!), thanks to the fancy footwork (oops, once again) of Mr. Coogler and company.

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  • Through the years Sylvester Stallone as an actor has gone through multiple changes. He’s played action leads, comedic characters and dramatic roles. His fans love the nostalgia he holds for the era he was most popular in and his ability to be charming in the cheesiest of fashions has proven to be a strong point for him. But of these characters, the role he has given the most human and likable performance to belongs to Rocky Balboa in his film debut in the hit sports drama Rocky (1976). As stated by Stallone in several interviews, the way Rocky was written for each film had events that paralleled that of Stallone’s own life. Now although not every Rocky sequel is equal to each other, Stallone has created quite the legacy for the character. Of this series, there was one other character who deserved that recognition and that was Apollo Creed played by Carl Weathers in the first four films. After the tragic death of Creed in Rocky IV (1985), the idea of carrying on the underrated name seemed unlikely. That is until director Ryan Coogler thought of it.

    Before this popular spin-off of the Rocky series came to a reality, Ryan Coogler was only known for making one other theatrically released film. That film was Fruitvale Station (2013), a biopic surrounding a controversial public dispute gone wrong between a civilian and a police officer. Starring in that film was then up and coming actor Michael B. Jordan, who had worked in films before but none of such magnitude. For both men and for what they had to work with in resources, the movie had quite a moving story and there was very little that wasn’t effective on the viewer. After receiving the notoriety that was needed, Coogler pursued and persuaded Sylvester Stallone that the story of the Creed name was not finished. Written by Coogler and Aaron Covington (in his first writing credit), create a solid story that will bring in new and old fans alike to see what there is to continue in Apollo’s footsteps. Joining Coogler once more is Michael B. Jordan as Apollo’s unborn son named Adonis Johnson when he died.

    Wanting to initially get away from his father’s shadow, Adonis fights for himself but soon contacts an aging Rocky (Stallone) once he realizes he needs a professional at his side. As the two work together, they form a bond and Adonis begins to learn that maybe his last name means more to him than his thinks. While training Adonis also meets Bianca (Tessa Thompson), an upcoming musical performer who has her own set of goals. After some time, they too catch feelings for each other. These three characters alone do most of the heavy lifting and it is very praiseworthy. All three have wonderful chemistry with each other in their own ways and the audience will feel very close to them. Phylicia Rashad also plays Adonis’ mother who does share important developmental scenes for her son. But of all the other characters, they don’t have much input, which is okay for this installment. Initially, Rocky has some friction between another trainer Pete Sporino (Ritchie Coster) and his son, but after one bout they didn’t linger around.

    Instead, Rocky and Adonis are contacted by Tommy Holiday (Graham McTavish) who represents ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew) to fight, but only under the name of Creed. The reason why they’re contacted is that Conlan needs another fight to keep him from losing income after his temper gets him into trouble. With out Conlan being written this way, as of right now, he wouldn’t have had any other reason to fight. So with this, the subplots aren’t as focused as the character development. The only other noticeable thing is that the script has excellent continuity except for one character and that’s Duke played by the amazing Tony Burton. Audiences will be kept up to date on every other character except Duke and he was the one who had been through it all! They have Wood Harris play a character named Tony ‘Little Duke’ Burton but that doesn’t explain what happened to Duke senior. Of all people, come on guys. In spite of this though, both screenwriters provide a ton of respect for all the older films and events that took place before it.

    Providing the camerawork to this boxing drama was Maryse Alberti. Before this megahit, Alberti had other experience as the cinematographer to multiple documentaries, TV movies and other well-known films like Tape (2001), The Wrestler (2008) and The Visit (2015). The film that would probably have the most benefit to this spin-off would be The Wrestler (2008) considering the setting. For the boxing matches, the energy is definitely there and there are a number of long uncut scenes that will keep the viewers watching. This helps the fights feel more authentic rather than using quick edits. Scoring the music is another Ryan Coogler collaborator and that goes to Ludwig Göransson. Göransson who although produced a minimal score to Fruitvale Station (2013), goes all out here. While preserving Rocky’s theme, he also creates a headstrong new theme for Adonis Creed and it is a catchy one. He also uses synths in some cases to give the music a more soulful feel, which also coincides with Tessa Thompson’s music. It is actually very relaxing.

    Script wise, it is meticulous in its effort to keep strong continuity but it forgets all about Tony Burton’s role and it subplots based on the fighters other than Adonis don’t have the strongest focus. Yet among this, Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson all play very likable characters with great onscreen chemistry. The boxing matches are well shot and choreographed, and the musical score is a soothing mix of soul/R&B and orchestral progressions.

    Points Earned –>7:10

  • Although young Michael B. Jordan has the title role in Creed the film really belongs to Sylvester Stallone. Sly joins an exclusive club of players like Bing Crosby, Paul Newman, and Al Pacino who got two Oscar nominations for playing the same role. In the case of Sly and Newman both aged naturally into the parts of Rocky Balboa and Eddie Felson. It’s hard to believe that it has been 39 years since Stallone debuted Rocky Balboa. It’s also 39 years between the nominations that Stallone got for Best Actor for Rocky and Best Supporting Actor for Creed.

    But between that there have been several Rocky films over the years as Sly has developed more facets to the fighting Mr. Balboa of Philadelphia than I’m sure he even thought of when he debuted Rocky. It all really comes together with Creed.

    But as for the story it seems that back when Apollo Creed was killed in that fight with that Russian steroid machine Dolph Lundgren in Rocky IV he had a dalliance that resulted in a post mortem birth of an illegitimate son who grew up to be Michael B. Jordan, character name of Adonis Johnson. Apollo’s widow Phyllis Rashad took him out of foster care as his natural mother had died and raised him.

    Jordan has an interesting dichotomy to deal with. He’s his father’s son and wants to make it in the fight game, but on his own as Adonis Johnson. He seeks his father’s old friend and rival Rocky Balboa as a mentor and Rocky trains him for a title shot at the light heavyweight championship.

    Rocky Balboa is not the most articulate movie hero ever developed, but he sure imparts a lot of wisdom to Jordan. Those scenes with Jordan are what got Sly Stallone that second Oscar nomination. Also Rocky has some personal crises of his own to deal with. These guys are of incalculable help to each other.

    I really loved this film and how Stallone developed Rocky to this point. Like fine wine, Rocky gets better with age.

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