If you don't know this already, I absolutely love the Rocky franchise. I've been wanting to make a list of my favorite movies of all time for a while but I know for sure #1 on that list would be Rocky II. What can I say I like when he wins (sorry for the Rocky II spoiler). When Rocky made his way back in the ring 15 years after Rocky V, in Rocky Balboa he made a triumphant return. In fact Rocky Balboa is my second favorite movie of the series (yes I've ranked them 1-6). Now Rocky is back but not in his own movie, he's back to train Apollo Creed's son in Creed.
A little backstory. Jake and I went to go see Creed on Thursday, November 19th (six days before release). I'd received an e-mail two days prior from Warner Bros asking if I wanted two screening tickets to see the movie early (for free). I texted Jake who immediately said he was in, so I acquired the tickets and we were off. We got to the AMC Orange 30 Cinemas a little early so we stopped at BJ's and had dinner splitting a buffalo chicken pizza.
After we got done with dinner we made our way to the theater and waited in a line outside the theater with others who had screening tickets. We waited for around a half hour outside before being let into the theater hallway before waiting another half hour to get let into the proper theater. By the time we sat down in our seats we still had an hour until the movie started at 7:30pm. During the hour before the movie started KROQ was there with a live DJ who played music and did Rocky trivia for the hour.
And then like any normal time at the movies, the movie started and we were transported back to Philadelphia to take in the latest movie in the franchise. To say this is a Rocky movie is probably being reductive. It's not; its a movie about a young man without a father who leans on his fathers friend (who so happens to be Rocky Balboa) to help him train to become a word class boxer. But if you go into this movie hoping that Rocky will don the gloves again you will be let down. This is a movie about Adonis Creed and his journey. Rocky is absolutely a supporting character.
In short I really enjoyed Creed. I thought that Michael B Jordan (Adonis Creed in the movie) did a fantastic job. He had a wide array of emotions and played the role as well as I think anyone could have. His journey was so different then Rocky. You get to learn a lot about Adonis and the struggles through his life and that fighting has always run through his veins. His rationale for fighting isn't necessarily clear but his love to fight is. Unlike Rocky who couldn't do anything else but fight, Adonis has his options but chooses to fight. It sets up an interesting dichotomy.
Where I think Creed falls short is every time it tries to become a Rocky movie. Adonis doesn't have the charisma or the good-will of a Rocky character. Its just not as easy to root for him. So when Rocky comes into a scene you're eye goes to Rocky and not Adonis. So when the final fight happens and you watch Adonis go toe-to-toe you don't have the entire crowd on his side. In fact I felt vastly indifferent on whether he won or lost the fight. The entire ending to the movie felt like Ryan Coogler (the director) didn't know how to end it.
With that being said Creed on its own merit is a great movie. There are tremendous performances by both Michael B Jordan and Sylvester Stallone that have once again breathed new life into the franchise. Although the movie doesn't necessarily set itself up for a Creed 2, the pieces are there to make it happen. For me though what I loved about Creed is that it continues to nail the heart of what makes Rocky movies amazing. There's a heart to these movies (especially Rocky, Rocky II, and Rocky Balboa) that's undeniable. Everyone in the theater was on the edge of their seats at several moments of the movie and the entire theater erupted into the loudest applause I've witnessed watching a movie.