I’m back y’all! My break from writing movie reviews went on a little past the Holidays, but things at Event Horizon Cinema can return to normal operation starting with the latest in the Rocky Movie Legacy, “Creed”.
Michael B. Jordan taken on the role of Adonis Creed, the infamous Apollo Creed’s son who has spent his early life attempting to shake off the shadow of the name he holds with his deceased father. Living with his mother Mary Anne, he quits his day job in order to seek out the life he desires the most – professional boxing. But, this is being done under a new alias and all the time still fighting the demons of a past he was not around to witness for himself. Adonis turns to the legendary Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to help him reach his dreams.
This is a very different take on the classic Rocky movie recipe – rather than the plucky underdog we have the ambitious-but-flawed newcomer who wants to create a name from himself that doesn’t reflect his family’s history. In the beginning we see he is an excellent fighter with big potential, but his short temper and spite at what has gone before him makes his road a difficult one to walk alone. This film is all about the character pieces, the drama that goes on and how this evolves and develops over the course of the three acts.
Michael B. Jordan puts in what is easily one of his most consistent and well developed roles of his career, he takes on so many different emotional aspects of the character that can either collide with each other, or work together to better himself. It is a much more three-dimensional construction than the typical sports movie lead role, but then again, the movie does try from the start to be different.
Of course, one of the big influences on this story is Stallone returning to his role as Rocky Balboa, and taking young Creed under his wing even though initially, he is against the idea. I can happily say that this is Stallone’s best performance in YEARS – probably since the “Rocky Balboa” movie actually. From the moment we are introduced to him in the Philli restaurant, you just know that he has somehow dug out his A-game. He translates across Balboa as being in his twilight years. Someone who has gone through times both incredible and very sorrowful, but somehow is still standing and just wants to live the quiet life enjoying the simple things. But his love for Boxing remains central to his being, so when Adonis walks in the door and starts talking of the old days, Rocky’s interest slowly begins to get the better of him. This first scene between them is almost immaculate, and one of many throughout the story that carry so many layers of complexity that you see and read into.
I’ve been talking a lot of the characters and the drama because overall, that is the beating heart of the film, and gives everything else that happens its relevance and importance. I like a lot of the new characters who are brought in. The love interest that is Bianca (Tessa Thompson) has some nice additions to her character and personality, with herself and Creed enjoying a few nice scenes together. While the main rival (Tony Bellew) is like a stick of dynamite lying next to an open fireplace – you don’t know when he’s going to explode in a tide of piss and vinegar, but it WILL happen.
Which brings us to the fighting itself, and holy shit did director Ryan Coulger and cinematographer Maryse Alberti pull off some stunning visuals. Every fight feels amped up to the maximum, blistered in realism and each heavy blow making you recoil in your seat. Especially if you see this on the big screen and the giant sound system, the room was almost battered and bruised as much as the characters on screen were! One particular battle which has the camera sweeping around the fighters in a circle during one long shoot is probably one of the best sports fight scenes I have seen from a movie, you get to see every blow without the camera cutting away or the punches being shielded from view. This alone is worth your money, it is fucking glorious. The final fight is both bloody and a marathon of emotions to watch, it gets close to capturing the feel of the original “Rocky” movie, and that alone should get the approval of the audience.
So, problems? Well, the romance arc, while being fine, doesn’t sit amidst the rest of the movie in a way that holds significance. When you have such an incredibly strong relationship going on between Adonis and Balboa, the romance with Bianca just kind of… feels deflated. There’s no issue with the actors or even how the relationship is written, but I think it needed to better compliment what was happening around it. As well as that, the movie does feel slightly long, and by the final fight I was feeling that a lot despite my interest in the story. Some parts needed a little bit trimmed off of them in order to make the whole show run tighter.
And when that is the worst I can find, “Creed” begins to really stand out as an extremely solid movie. Sylvester Stallone gives a performance none of thought he still had in him, with both a dynamic emotional range and powerful delivery. Michael B. Jordan gets the lead role he deserves, and shows off his acting and physical talents brilliantly. The Boxing is eye-wateringly intense, the soundtrack gives some nice callbacks to the original score, and hell, it even had some sad scenes which had my throat clenched.
I went into this hoping just to be entertained by the fights, but never expecting to get the bonus of a very well written script, and dramatic elements that tie it all together in a very satisfying way. And even though it isn’t an Awards Season favourite, “Creed” is one that I’ll be very happy to see again.
Thanks for reading!