”One step at a time. One punch at a time. One round at a time.” – Rocky Balboa
2015 became a year to remember for movies. Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Revenant. Mad Max: Fury Road. The Martian. Straight Outta Compton. And without a doubt, Ryan Coogler’s addition to the seemingly dead Rocky franchise: Creed.
Let’s travel back to the 1970s; the decade of disco, the end to The Beatles and not to forget – the birth of the Rocky franchise. Sylvester Stallone brought to life one of the most iconic movies in history, and after 14 years with the final addition of Rocky 5, it’s safe to say that the franchise ended on a rather amaroidal note that left a disappointing taste in our mouths. Yet, Rocky Balboa‘s release in 2006 reassured us Rocky fans that there was still more to give. Coogler, however, did the impossible in resuscitating the Rocky franchise back to its original form: an intriguing narrative, well-developed characterisation and most importantly, a lesson in showing that losing isn’t always the be-all and end-all.
The similarities between Rocky Balboa and Creed are ever-present throughout the movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, if anything, it benefits its purpose in the franchise. The central focus on a well-developed narrative allows audiences to enjoy both the fighting and non-fighting scenes alike, an element that made us love the original Rocky for what it was: a compelling drama. As for those fight scenes, they were remarkable to say the least, with real and authentic punches being thrown in order to add to the realism and intensity of the movie. Interestingly enough, Michael B. Jordan actively volunteered for fellow actor and professional boxer Tony Bellew to connect with a strike that actually resulted in Jordan being knocked out cold. And this is what the seemingly-dead Rocky franchise needed: a hard wake up call that Coogler so excellently provided.
When the idea for Creed was first pitched by Coogler, fellow writer, producer and star of the Rocky franchise, Sylvester Stallone, was reluctant in bringing back the character that had a well-deserved send off in his final sequel, Rocky Balboa. But how glad we were to see Stallone back in the ring, yet not the one fighting this time around. His Oscar-nominated performance reminded fans of Stallone’s potential as a dramatic actor, a talent that has been wasted over the past decade on bland action films such as The Expendables trilogy. Michael B. Jordan was also exceptional in his role as Adonis Creed, the son of former champion Apollo Creed who dramatically exited the franchise back in Rocky 4. Apollo was initially a very significant character in the Rocky franchise, and Jordan reminded fans that his legacy can become compelling, once more, in the form of Adonis Creed.
Creed allows fans to welcome back the Rocky franchise that seemed impossible to revive, all thanks to Ryan Coogler and a very impressive performance from both Stallone and Michael B. Jordan. The accumulation of a well-developed narrative, interesting characters and a bittersweet ending adds Creed to a long list of superb movies released in 2015, and not only does this addition fit nicely alongside Rocky in your movie collection, it so brightly stands out.
Published February 4th, 2016.