I know it’s been awhile (due to a drought of good movies in theaters + laziness) but after seeing Creed today, I had to get back to the blog about it. I thought I’d already seen the best movies of the year, with ‘The End of the Tour’ and ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ but man, am I happy to be wrong about that. Ryan Coogler’s ‘Creed’, a kind-of Rocky 7, is possibly my favorite movie of the year so far. Few movies, if any, will take me to the verge of tears one second, and to the edge of my seat in suspense merely seconds later. With ‘Creed’, director Ryan Coogler has cemented himself as a certified talent behind the camera, and it’s star Michael B. Jordan one of the best up-and-coming actors of this generation.
The story of Creed is relatively straight-forward, but it’s the characters who really pull you in. Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the illegitimate child to Apollo Creed, has been fighting his entire life, in and out of group homes. Until the day that Apollo’s wife Mary-Anne Creed pulls him out of the system and raises him as her own, back at the Creed estate. Adonis is reluctant to take on the name of his father, afraid of the pressure of living up to it in the ring, as that is also his dream, much to Mary-Anne’s chagrin. Wanting to chase his dreams of being a champion, he heads to Philadelphia to train with the pro’s, and one Italian stallion in particular.
I can’t say that a lot of the plot developments in this movie took me by surprise or really tried to reinvent the wheel all that much, but the character work is some of the best in a movie this year. Jordan made me feel for Adonis’ struggle trying to get out from under his fathers shadow and be his own man, and Stallone is the best I’ve seen him as the aging Rocky Balboa. There are at least 3 monologues he gives in ‘Creed’ that moved me close to tears. We’ve followed this guys life for almost 40 years, and seen him go through so much. The fact that he’s still pulling his chair out of that cemetery tree to sit and talk with his wife Adrian, and the now-deceased Mickey, is why this character is so endearing. Rocky is always going to be Rocky.
Aside from the great performances in Creed, is the phenomenal directorial, and camera work. This movie has the best on-camera depiction of boxing I’ve ever seen. Each one somehow feels incredibly different, to emphasize the many types of matches that Adonis goes through. The early match, in the slums of Tijuana, feels rough and dirty. The second match was done in (what I think was) entirely one take, which drew on the tension and importance of the win to Adonis to get to his final fight. The final fight, without spoiling anything, feels HUGE. Yet, even with the high-stakes, almost real-world feel of the final match (complete with HBO branding), Coogler and the cinematographer Maryse Alberti don’t lose sight of the agility and intensity between the two men in the ring. It’s simply some of the most heart-racing stuff you’ll see in theaters all year (and yes, PLEASE see it in theaters for the full experience).
I have many more more thoughts on Creed, but I’ll wrap it up here. There are a lot of movies in theaters right now, and until Episode VII comes out (only three more weeks!) this is the one to beat. Creed respects the legacy where it came from, as well as paves its own way, and exists entirely on it’s own; not unlike Adonis Creed himself. If you don’t cry and/or cheer in your seat by the end of this movie, go ahead and let me know so I can call you an empty shell of a human being. Like always, thanks for reading, and check back for a write-up on ‘The End of the Tour’ coming soon, as well as a certain flick from a galaxy far, far away within a month or so!