Film & TV

Film Review – Creed

If you thought 2016’s Creed was a film regarding faith amongst a religious community, you would be mistaken, because it’s actually the long-awaited new-born cousin of the highly successful Rocky franchise. But guess what? Rocky is back, and this time as the trainer! Any fans of the franchise will automatically fall in love with this tour-de-force that reinvigorates its rundown underdog recipe. It succeeds at producing a boxing film that rivals the original Rocky for pure energy, and although it cannot hold the title of originality, it brings the past to the present with a nostalgic dose of boxing spectacle.

As the title suggests, Creed revolves around the son of Apollo Creed, the greatest and most popular fighter in the Rocky universe – bar the man himself. Going by the name of Adonis Johnson, he quits a life of luxury to make his own legacy as a boxer. In doing so, he teams-up with his father’s best friend and rival, Rocky Balboa, to help him create his own path, free from the weight of his father’s name.

Creed mimics the first Rocky, and owes much of its success to this film. But that doesn’t mean Adonis isn’t given a life of his own, he definitely is. Its close resemblance to the past is unavoidable with a story like this, but this is forgivable, so long as Adonis remains the star of the film. But what to do with Rocky, seeing as he has always been the main man of the series? Rocky has fought in each of the films, but here, that isn’t physically possible, and he struggles to overcome the psychological obstacles which cross his path. knowing that Rocky is number one and having him fight his ill health shows the filmmakers’ understanding of the franchise history. Ryan Coogler’s remarkable handling of Creed makes him one to watch out for in the future. This is a film with genuine purpose, with passion and a story that gives it numerous dimensions. Creed has humour, stirring emotion and compelling drama. It tackles issues of age, personal demons and psychological trauma. It’s also a sporting story that conjures the magic of boxing at its most excitingly vicious.

In terms of its boxing ability, Creed creates an underdog story that’s a little more believable than the original Rocky, where the fights progress steadily in status until the show-stopping climax. These fights aren’t simply peppered around to uphold the choice of subject matter. Instead, they reveal who Adonis really is, as well as how far he’s come from the brawling boxing of Tijuana. Interestingly, Creed chooses to visibly show all of Adonis’ boxing opponents’ records via freeze-frame, upping the competitive ante. Creed shines brightest during its most climactic fight, which takes place at none other than Everton’s Goodison Park – the British home of Adonis’ opponent, Ricky Conlan. Their fight is realistic in vigour and spirit, closely resembling the original Rocky. The sparring is super immersive, wearing viewers down alongside the characters, and embedding them within the electric atmosphere.

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Michael B. Jordan stars as Adonis Creed, the talented but unproven light-heavyweight boxer. Adonis is a worthwhile creation, but he lacks the raw background that would make his ascent all the more special. Rocky lived in a dump and had no prospects, but for Adonis the opposite is true. Jordan however delivers a compelling performance. Both his physical strength and mental determination show-off just how hard he worked for the part. As Stallone’s Balboa, it’s weird having the character that made this franchise in a supporting role – but at least he is standing close to the ropes, albeit on the wrong side. Stallone must have been apprehensive about taking on Rocky once again – especially after slapping audiences in the face by fighting at a peachy age and still not getting knocked out in Rocky Balboa. However, seeing as Rocky fights figuratively, and actually develops for once – why not take the role? Especially when there’s a great chance to win awards this coming season.

Creed’s greatest asset is its factual history, which is used fantastically to intensify the atmosphere. The talk of Adonis’ lineage, the appearance of Rocky Balboa, the Philadelphia setting and the classic boxing make Creed a nostalgic punch to the guts. Understanding the weight of the bloodlines and the significance of Adonis and Rocky’s union elevates Creed’s overall impact. Creed is effectively a smaller version of Star Wars in terms of luring new and old audiences with the gravitas of its history. It uses the past so efficiently that everyone will enjoy what Creed has to offer, but it doesn’t devour its roots so much that it cannot offer freshness. Creed revamps the franchise by taking its protagonists in new directions. Fists clenched that the eight round will be the knockout of the franchise!

The Verdict:
Creed recommences the Rocky “underdog” tradition and, surprisingly, finds new life in the formula, proving that the franchise is not down-and-out as it ends its seventh round.

Omar Khodja

Images from ‘Creed’, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures.

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