Bursting with enough energy, spirit, powerful emotion and pure brilliance to match or even top the original 1976 Best Picture Oscar winner “Rocky,” the newest entry in the nearly 40-year franchise is a more than worthy follow-up. The film follows the story of the son of the legendary boxer Apollo Creed, Adonis Creed, as he moves from Los Angeles to Philadelphia to become a professional boxer and learn from the just-as-legendary Rocky Balboa. From there, the two begin training to take on a new rival who has immense doubt in the young Creed and the pressure is on the duo to prove to the world that Creed has more than it takes to live up to his father’s name and then some.
There are not enough great things to say about this film. Just about everything from the writing, the direction, the performances and the cinematography help to create a tension that continues to build more and more until the climax, By that time, we’re at the edge of our seats and feel that we’re in that ring with Creed. Probably the best thing about the film, other than it’s powerful mood, is the way these characters are portrayed, particularly Adonis and Rocky. Michael B. Jordan gives a compelling and powerful performance as the son of Apollo Creed, giving the character plenty of heart, along with many challenges to overcome, not only in the ring, but in his mind. He is not perfect, as he constantly gets into fights and is easy to provoke, but because we, as an audience, know the struggles and difficulties he is going through, we come to understand and relate to him as a human being.
Sylvester Stallone may not be throwing punches in the ring this time around as the Italian Stallion, but he still does an amazing job at giving Rocky plenty of depth and new battles of his own to fight, mostly with accepting the inevitable and learning to change his thoughts and habits. And what makes the relationship work so well between these two characters is that each tries to help each other out and they each are motivated by the other to do their best. The direction and writing are also worth mentioning, as both add a lot into what makes the film so great. Director and co-writer Ryan Coogler does a superb job at capturing the love and spirit that made the original “Rocky” work. Yet, he manages to put his own style and vision on the franchise that allows for some lines and sequences to be just as powerful, memorable, and iconic as the original “Rocky.”
I could probably go on for a while as to why “Creed” is the best film I have seen this year so far, but the best way to understand completely is to go and see the film for yourself. It opens in theaters nationwide Wednesday, Thanksgiving Eve.
For anyone who loves the original “Rocky” and wants to see the franchise treated with love and respect while also getting something fresh and new, “Creed” is a must-see.
Mikael Trench, 17, is a senior at Wheeler High School and recently completed work his latest stop-motion animated short, “King Kong vs. Prometheus” for his own Cyclops Studios. You can watch it on YouTube here.