When I thought about watching Creed, all I could hear in the back of my head was Balboa groaning “ADRIAAAAN” and the second-hand embarrassment that was the Cold-War propaganda piece, Rocky IV. Since then, we’ve had a dodgy reboot in 2006 which failed to meet expectations, and don’t even get me started on Grudge Match, the wild comedy tribute movie with DeNiro and Stallone that tarnished the memory of both Raging Bull and Rocky.
So, I was incredibly surprised by Creed. I was judgmental at first, I thought it was going to be some sort of last dash cash-in while the meat is still fresh, but it’s actually not. Helmed by Ryan Coogler, director of the brilliant Fruitvale Station (also with Michael B. Jordan in the hot seat), this film actually calmed my nerves about the Black Panther flick Coogler’s currently in the works.
"it's your typical underdog story - but it follows the formula well"
Centred on the orphaned son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s old opponent and friend (who got punched so hard, he died), it’s your typical underdog story. However, it follows the formula well. He quits his silver spoon upbringing and healthy job to go dukes up in the ring, with Balboa in his corner. The plot is basic, and it follows the narrative beats you think it will. What makes it shine really is the acting. Stallone underplays his part with in a cool, repressed but emotive demeanour, and there are some honestly heartfelt moments in Creed. I couldn’t call Stallone Oscar-worthy, but for a bloke past his prime, he does incredibly well and I was impressed.
Jordan is a bit boring, but I wasn’t expecting a lot of dynamic acting from him here. He does everything expected of his part. The dude got ripped for the film and it shows. He plays off Stallone well, and it’s also quite a funny movie at times. The homages aren’t too acidic, and the montages are actually tasteful and not cringe-worthy. They certainly made me feel involved in the story, much like any underdog movie. One thing I would say is that it’s a bit of a slow-burner, and a slog until the main meat of the narrative comes about, but if you can keep your composure, it’s a rewarding experience. I’d say it’s worth a watch, but it’s more of a split decision than a knockout.