Creed fights its way out of the shadow of Rocky Balboa

By Josh Svetz  @Svetz17

 

One of the main themes of Ryan Coogler’s (Fruitvale Station) latest film Creed shows how Apollo Creed’s son can carry the name of his father, but still build his own legacy, a notion that perfectly captures this film.

Creed, the newest boxing drama based off the popular “Rocky” series, comes to us at a time where most people just assumed the Rocky series had been put to rest.

While that’s still true, it’s hard to watch the film without thinking back to the classic series. Every so often you get reminded by the homages, passing conversations and overall the fact that eventually people begin to compare Creed’s son with his father, much like the film being compared to what it’s based off of.

But as the film progresses, it begins to break out of the classic’s shadow, becoming something all its own. The film, like Creed’s son, recognizes how it sits in the shadow of greatness, but still wants to carve out its own niche in the world.

Michael B. Jordan (The Wire) puts on a fantastic performance as Adonis Johnson, the young illegitimate child of the deceased Creed. Throughout the film, Johnson struggles with how to balance having the bloodline of one of the greatest boxers who ever lived, while also making his own name in the world of professional boxing.

The true star though is Rocky himself, Sylvester Stallone. Looked at lately as more of a parody of himself than a serious actor, the former action star seemed to be losing credibility, until now.

Stallone gives one of his best performances since the original 1976 classic as the retired Rocky Balboa who is sought out by Johnson to train him to be a professional boxer.

In fact, Stallone’s performance has received wide-spread praise from critics and websites like Rotten Tomatoes causing some to even suggest that he should be nominated for an Oscar.

While that may be a bit reactionary, Stallone has a few moments in this film where he steals the scene, and it wouldn’t be surprising if his agent has a few new scripts stacked up in his office.

As for Coogler, despite being only his second feature-length film, his directing is superb. Coogler finds a way to stay true to the character of Rocky, while also creating his own spin and overall delivering a gripping, thoughtful film that likely will set him up for lucrative future projects.

For those thinking this will be a Rocky movie, you’ll be disappointed. But for those who crave an interesting drama that features beautiful cinematography, superb acting and an overall interesting story that pushes a message that should appeal to any underdog then you can’t go wrong with one of the best films of the year thus far.

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