A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Ryan Coogler
Produced By: Robert Chartoff, Irwin Winkler, Charles Winkler
Written By: Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson
Running Time: 133 Minutes
Churning out nearly as many motion pictures as regulated rounds in a boxing match, the Rocky franchise has spawned several hits, a few misses and now a spin-off. In a year that has seen a rise in rehashes threaded with the intention of passing on the torch, Ryan Coogler’s Creed joins the club.
As the title suggests, the film focuses on the next generation in the iconic bloodline as played through Michael B. Jordan and his portrayal of Adonis Creed, the son of the legendary champion Apollo.
The legacy is known, the spirit pulsates in his blood and the drive lies deep within him, yet what Creed manages to get across so well is that to Adonis, it’s just a name, he’s starting from the bottom like everyone else and doesn’t want the added pressure. That being said, a bit of posthumous nepotism conveniently allows the great (and retired) Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to emerge from the shadows, train him and sit in his corner. How could you say no?
Creed, the seventh instalment in the Rocky franchise (joining both The Fast & Furious and Star Wars to become one of three ‘seventh’ chapters to emerge in 2015) has rejuvenated the property, adding potency, adrenaline and a fresh set of eyes to reignite the once-roaring fire. With Jordan starring and Coogler helming the picture, audiences could be sure that the product was in safe hands, particularly after seeing what the pair are capable of in 2013’s Fruitvale Station.
What transpires is an engaging, rich story that hits hard both in and out of the ring. Intertwining stories of hardship and overcoming obstacles make up the crux of the picture, and it is through the powerful last hour that we grow to truly understand both sides of a emotionally driven story.
Both Adonis and Rocky lack something crucial in their lives, making their connection to one another vastly more impactful and important.
Connected by Apollo’s legacy and memory, Creed is a blending of old and new, family and ‘family’. For a seventh chapter in a franchise, it succeeds admirably in numerous aspects. The most refreshing of all being the reignited spark in the overall aura of the property.
This film has single-handedly put Rocky back on the map in the best possible way. Instead of rolling eyes and tiresomely huffing, audiences can now look forward to future instalments in the reinvigorated Creed franchise, going on this journey with the character like audiences did back in the 70’s and 80’s with Stallone.
It’s highly unlikely that Michael B. Jordan will be donning the red, white and blue boxers in thirty years time as he stars in Creed VI, nor is the first instalment going to win Best Picture at The Academy Awards, however it has given audiences something to deeply enjoy and look forward to in years to come.
Respectfully paying homage to the 1976 original whilst turning in a new direction all together, Creed finds the crucial balance between past, present and future, which is indicative of Coogler’s excellent direction. The Philadelphia Museum of Art returns, as does a newly imagined training montage, but it’s the stylistic choices from Coogler that differentiate Creed from the rest.
For example, the choice to film an entire fight in one take demonstrates gusto, boldness and a vision of respectfully taking a beloved property into one’s own, which is truly commendable.
Boxing films are anything but a rarity today. With Southpaw in mid-2015 and a slew being released in the previous five years, ringing bells, padded gloves and a workout montages are no longer major drawcards. Creed is that breath of fresh air that comes along every few years.
A genre that has quite literally been beaten to a pulp (admittedly of it’s own accord), Rocky’s seventh film reminds us all of not only Coogler’s talents and the fact that this beaten horse still has a pulse, but it’s a celebration of the greats that came before.
There are elements of not only the previous films in the franchise, but classics such as Raging Bull and Million Dollar Baby to enjoy.
Don’t let the overdone boxing motif fool you, Creed is more than that. It may be derivative and by-the-numbers, however there are several new incarnations and long-awaited sequels that have played it far safer. Ryan Coogler has intelligently stuck with what has worked, but has also put his own spin on the iconic franchise, all the while managing to get the best he possibly could out of Jordan once again, but more impressively, Sylvester Stallone himself.
Who’d have thought he’d be able to reduce you to tears. Imagine what he’d be capable of if we could understand everything he said!