Director: Ryan Coogler
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson
Plot: The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.
Most people cheered at the mention of another ‘Rocky’ movie. Ok, so it has a new name, but just the mention of Golden Globe winner Sylvester Stallone was enough for people to flock to the cinema the minute it was released. Creed follows the story of Adonis Johnson, Rocky I, II, III & IV character Apollo Creed’s son who never knew his father because he died in a famous match in Rocky IV – Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) versus Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Conveniently enough, his wife was pregnant with a baby (although this is never mentioned in the original movies) and then sadly passed away once he was born.
Adonis Johnson, adopted by his mother’s sister, wants to follow in his father’s footsteps by becoming a boxer. His aunt is constantly trying to dissuade him from doing so, but he refuses to listen. No one wants to train him, and his cocky attitude in the ring makes him slightly unbearable from the start. Johnson tries to do the noble thing of refusing to fight under the name Creed because he wants to be his own person – he doesn’t want to be judged nor treated differently because of his family ties – but, he travels to Philadelphia to visit Balboa’s restaurant to try to convince the Italian Stallion to train him. Although Balboa repeatedly turns him down, he eventually gives in to Johnson’s borderline blackmail: “I feel that you owe me because of dad.” They create a relationship of mutual respect for one another, and by the time it comes to the boxing match, both seem friends with one another.
I will always be biased and say that Stallone’s acting was wonderful. He deserved the Golden Globe he won for this role purely for his years of great service to the movie industry, but Creed, generally, was just another rip-off of Rocky V (training Tommy), just with the added bonus that Johnson and Balboa remain friends at the end. With some subtle jokes aimed at Stallone’s age: “What Cloud?” (iCloud), and; the way he trains Adonis using the same techniques that Mickey used for him, such as chasing and catching a chicken, Stallone just becomes more likable because he doesn’t care if his methods are out-dated in anyone else’s mind – he is happy with how he does things.
The opposite can be said about Michael B. Jordan’s likability as the new protagonist. He comes across as such a spoiled and selfish individual, almost forcing Balboa to train him, thinking his methods are stupid and just generally complaining about everything in his life. Add the cliché of a woman who he loves because of her independent attitude, and you have the typical run of the mill story which has been told a hundred times before and did little to showcase the ability of its lead actor.
The soundtrack to the film was good, however. There was a mix of modern artists such as John Legend and Lupe Fiasco, as well as a few older songs from the likes of classic rap artist Tupac Shakur, which makes for an interesting mix of sounds. However, there was far too much music throughout the movie, made worse by the fact that it blares out of the speakers with such force it becomes unbearable. I understand that it might be trying to appeal to a younger audience, but for those who watched it because they grew up with the Rocky films, I can imagine that there was some complaining which took place. What baffles me most is: if you pay homage to so many scenes from the original Rocky films, why not also use the running music that everyone recognises? The scene was far less interesting and seemed to lack importance simply because it just didn’t have that edge to it, which made you think – yes, he’s really doing it!
Unfortunately it just seems so much like a knock-off of the original Rocky film – a kid from the poor streets fights to make a name for himself, is unsuccessful in winning (if we only count Rocky I), yet wins the hearts of the public. I feel as though Stallone and his little restaurant in Rocky VI were used for the nostalgic feel: “Remember how good Stallone was in those Rocky movies?!” There’s nothing really unique about this film, and although it is interesting to see what happened to the Creed family, there are so many scenes stolen straight from the original films – Mickey’s gym, running down the backstreets (with a modern motorcycle twist), the restaurant, Creed’s old trainer helping the opposition, the training methods used…. it just becomes a collage of all the films already made for the same franchise. It was acceptable as a stand-alone B Movie but was ultimately disappointing as a Rocky affiliated picture, especially given the talents involved.