I’ll preface this by stating that I’ve never really been into the Rocky films. I’ve seen them all, perhaps not in the right order, but there’s only so much of an incoherent Stallone getting his head smashed in that I can take. I ever persevered through the 2006 Rocky film, but it didn’t do the franchise any favours.
What drew me to Creed, aside from it being pitched as a better version of Southpaw (not difficult) was the combination of seeing Director Ryan Coogler team up with Michael B Jordan, after their excellent outing in Fruitvale Station. Bringing that certain rawness combined with a much larger budget, while on the theme of boxing was a sight I wanted to see.
Jordan plays Adonis Johnson, who’s actually the son of the boxer Apollo Creed, killed in Rocky IV. Aiming to make a name for himself, he shirks the Creed surname and wants to remove himself from his dad’s shadow. It seems strange that when trying to get out from under his dad’s shadow, that he goes to the one boxer who has the main connection to his dad (Rocky), and consequently the entire film appears like a slowly emerging shadow of the Rocky franchise. Hints of Rocky music, references to old Rocky films and matches, key landmarks within the Rocky films – where’s the “breaking out” aspect?
I see “Creed” as more of a setup for a Creed franchise, and this being the transitional film for the passing of the torch. It has set the scene with some great characters, Tessa Thompson in particular providing a decent supporting role. There are specks of unconcluded storyline here for all involved, that leads even more down a path of an evolving storyline over many films. Cinematically, the action sequences are far more believable that the other boxing juggernaut in Southpaw, and the standard Rocky styled montages are everything you expect them to be.
Creed is a good film, but falls victim in trying to cover too much ground with the new characters while trying to reference the old ones. It’s what makes this such a hit for Rocky nostalgia fans, but it’s also what brought it down for me, a casual boxing fan with a passing interest in the Rocky films.
I look forward to the next installment.