When Creed (2015) was released, I had this urge to watch it; however I kept getting the sense that it would be the same outcome as Rocky Balboa, where Rocky cannot let go and needlessly extends the story. After Rocky Balboa was released, Sylvester Stallone made the statement that he will not play Rocky Balboa again, and that his story was over. This provided the conclusion that there was no chance of another Rocky film.
You cannot fault my cynicism or anyone else’s when Creed was released. That is why I decided that Creed was not worth the watch at the cinemas. Much to my annoyance was my surprise when I read the reviews. Most of the critics seem to suggest that this film was the beginning of something special. I actually regretted not watching this at the cinemas when I had the opportunity to watch the film on DVD.
The film follows a troubled young man called Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) and you can immediately tell from the title and the trailers that he is Apollo Creed’s son, whom he never knew as a father because he died before Adonis was born (the reasons as to why nobody knew that Apollo had a son are explained in the film). Adonis has the urge to be a professional boxer in his own name and decides to persuade Rocky to train and mentor him, which is the premise of the film. The film starts with Adonis Johnson leading a sporadic life in foster care and at a juvenile detention centre from which Mary Ann Creed (Phylicia Rashad), Apollo’s widow, decides to retrieve him so he can finally begin his life.
This is classed as the seventh film in the Rocky franchise but what the director Ryan Coogler has managed to do is make this film about Adonis Johnson and not Rocky Balboa. My fear was that this film was going to continuously showcase the history of Rocky without touching on the importance of extending the narrative to new characters. Whilst there are moments in the film where Rocky could have stolen the limelight, he never does, and there are various moments in the film where you can almost sense that he is there to play the “passing on the torch” role. Mr. Coogler has managed to keep the tribute to the original Rocky universe without hindering Adonis’s storyline, which must have been a hard balance to achieve. There are moments in the film where Rocky’s history does play a part, and that adds to the nostalgia, but soon after Rocky has had his moment the audience’s attention is diverted back to Adonis and his struggle of keeping up with his father.
Michael B. Jordan, who plays Adonis, had two challenges when he decided to star in this film. Firstly, as an actor, he had to make sure that he made his own stamp in the Rocky universe; and, secondly, he had to make sure the audience cared about Adonis whilst he was in the same space as Sylvester Stallone. Mr. Stallone helps him achieve this by carrying out a humble supporting performance as Rocky, but Mr. Jordan pulls off both challenges incredibly well and he may have potentially created the need for more Creed films.
Another mention has to go to Tessa Thompson, who plays the character Bianca and is the love interest in Adonis’s life. She comfortably slots into the film with ease and she is a character with an edge so you immediately become interested in her and Adonis without the need of building up the romance. You could almost say Bianca is the new Adrian, but again this is an entirely new character, and like with Adonis you have to appreciate that whilst this is classed as the seventh film in the Rocky franchise it really is the beginning of Creed.
The film also created its own soundtrack. The production team could have easily thrown in the original soundtrack which I am sure the fans would have loved, but the eagerness to make Creed its own film is obvious. The new tracks work and at times, some of the original Rocky music is mixed in, which gives you a feeling of elation in the more important moments. I was sceptical that creating new music for Rocky would not work within this generation of film, but the successful soundtrack signifies how much this film works.
Some critics may argue that some elements of the film do mirror a scene from a Rocky film but that would be a hasty criticism. In order to pass on the torch, you need the ingredients to back it up, and whilst some scenes do play as a mirror, the director captures it in his own unique way. My only criticism of the film (and this is a slight criticism) is that there is not enough detail regarding Apollo Creed and how Adonis Johnson came to this world. The film explains this briefly because without the explanation this film would not have been possible.
Overall this is a fantastic addition to the Rocky universe and the film leaves you wanting more. Sylvester Stallone has already stated that Rocky cannot continue anymore in the narrative but we will have to see when Creed 2 is announced. Regardless if Rocky is in it or not, I am convinced it can continue to live on without him. Creed is the film Rocky needed and it has brought a breath of fresh air to the franchise. If you are hesitant then watch it because it will not let you down.
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