2015’s sleeper favorite. Not known to the public, Apollo Creed had a son (Michael B. Jordan). This is the story of him teaming up with Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) to train and take his shot at the title. Now I had just watched the original Rocky for the first time immediately preceding this. In fact, the acclaim and attention Creed was getting was what spurred me to finally go back and watch the boxing movie that started it all. While Rocky is so perfect that it will not likely ever be defeated for title of best boxing movie, Creed has a whole lot of moxie, and does manage to stand on its own merits.
New meets old.
Now this is something I wish more franchises would do; instead of showing the further adventures in the form of a sequel, do a spin-off with ties to the original. It’s been nearly 40 years since the original Rocky came out, it is about time for his story to end and to have another one’s begin. This movie serves as an inspired means of passing the torch. We all know what Sylvester Stallone has done with his career, but newcomer Michael B. Jordan is still fresh, and has nothing but shiny things in his future. This is the second role where he has proven himself to be an immensely talented actor, and if you have not seen the criminally under-viewed Fruitvale Station, you should fix that. Sure, he’s playing a tough guy with something to prove, but when he and Stallone get together onscreen, the interactions they have together make sparks fly.
The man transforms himself to be a lean cut of muscle.
Another thing Creed has going for it is that the director Ryan Coogler knows how to film a fight scene. He puts you right there in the ring, and there is a fight sequence at the median to this that might just be the best shot boxing sequence I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’m not even exaggerating. It is filmed in such a way that you feel every blow landed and every drop of sweat spattered, and you might try to dodge a glove yourself, despite this not being in 3-D. All boxing movies follow a template, and Creed is no different. The difference between this and something like Southpaw is that they build up their characters in such a way that you care about the drama in their life and you want to see them succeed at boxing so they can move forward. Both Jordan and Stallone are incredible, and this really makes me upset with Sly wasting his twilight years with those stupid Expendable movies if he is still capable of what he delivers here. There may not be a lot of surprises in Creed, but it still manages to be unexpected in the best way possible.
Creed (2015) ****
– Critic for Hire
Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2015? See for yourself here.