Creed (2015)

I did not expect to begin 2016 loving a long-running franchise boxing movie, but in truth there have been plenty of excellent ones over the years (and, indeed, there’d been enough critical praise coming out of the US for Creed that I wasn’t entirely surprised). Still, what I think is most interesting about the film — and, like Straight Outta Compton, also what has undoubtedly been most overlooked by the prestigious awards ceremonies (you know the one) — is that this is a film that wants to engage with a specifically Black experience of the United States. Of course, that said, it’s a mainstream picture which cleaves to certain generic rules, so any anger or systemic critique is contained within a familiar and audience-pleasing narrative arc, focusing here on Adonis (or ‘Donnie’ to his friends, played by Michael B. Jordan, still most familiar to me from The Wire), the son of Stallone’s key antagonist Apollo Creed from early in the Rocky series. The film follows his life, from troubles as a disowned and abandoned kid, to growing up in affluence with the love of his stepmother, to reconnecting with something essential about his roots. In doing so, the film loops in a love interest in the form of Tessa Thompson’s musician Bianca (a character far more interesting and nuanced than the film really has time for, but excellently acted within those parameters), and of course Sylvester Stallone. His Rocky Balboa is the figurehead that every Rocky film is going to have to deal with, but the way he’s used here is masterful, as a mentor and coach, as a link to family and history (including film history, inevitably), but still very much supporting Jordan’s title character and his story. Along the way there’s some spectacular fight cinematography from veteran DoP Maryse Alberti, and it’s this interplay of lucid camerawork and tight plotting with solid acting that makes this one of the best sports movies of recent years.


NEW RELEASE FILM REVIEW
Director Ryan Coogler | Writers Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington | Cinematographer Maryse Alberti | Starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson | Length 133 minutes || Seen at Picturehouse Central, London, Sunday 17 January 2016

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4 thoughts on “Creed (2015)

  1. Great review. I loved this movie way more than I expected to. I thought Rocky Balboa was a great close-out for the series, and it still is. But this continued it and honored the Rocky series in such a fine way. I’m looking forward to seeing what they do next. Great review. Check out my blog if you get the chance, I write reviews as often as I can. Keep up the great work, I’ll be coming back to read more for sure!

      1. Oh definitely! They’re all worth a watch. Many will say that they get quite ridiculous with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th movies, but I find something to enjoy in all of them. And Rocky IV is like my biggest guilty pleasure movie ever. It’s so bad that it’s amazing. I love it. But Rocky Balboa has a very similar feel to Creed. I think you’d definitely enjoy that one in particular if you really liked Creed.
        Thanks for the follow, and keep up the great work!

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