Picking my Top 3 movies was probably the most difficult part for me. The following three movies are just so good and resonate so much with me that I could change the order right now and be satisfied with my selection. However, this movie and #2 were particularly difficult to place. For me it was a battle between the personal and the incredible, which believe it or not wasn’t an easy choice. So by a close and indecisive margin, let’s first tackle the personal with Creed.
Adonis Creed is the son of former heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed. He had a difficult upbringing, but was eventually found by Apollo’s wife, who takes him in and directs him toward success. However, Creed dreams of being a boxer like his father he never knew. He decides to travel to Philadelphia in order to pursue the help of Apollo’s close friend/rival, the now retired Rocky Balboa. With his help, Creed hopes to make a name for himself by going after heavyweight champ, Ricky Conlan.
You couldn’t believe how relieved I walking out of the theater for Creed and realizing it was fantastic. As a huge Rocky fan and Philadelphia-native, I was excited to see where they would take the Rocky story after a full six-film catalog. Was this going to be a cash-in effort or an attempt at a great story? I’m so thankful it ended up being the latter, because Creed is a masterpiece.
This story is genuinely excellent. Sure the synopsis I gave is telling in a general sense, but it doesn’t tell you everything. The core of this movie isn’t the boxer’s underdog story, but a beautiful tale of two men with the same profession at opposite points in their lives. This is a story about Creed and Balboa’s friendship more than anything. In fact, if you look at it at face value, you’ll find this film is eerily similar to the first Rocky movie. The difference is the tone and subtext given this time around which is gripping to the very end.
Creed may be a part of the Rocky series, but this is no Rocky 7. This is Creed 1, and Creed 1 is a less optimistic, more grounded and more brutal version of the previous films. Creed’s personality and level of distinction is felt throughout and contributes to this excellent story.
Creed is also no slouch visually or audibly. You wouldn’t believe how excellent the cinematography is here. The edits are clean and well-implemented. The camerawork does wonders at capturing the city of Philadelphia as well as the boxing rings. And the visual cues like slow motion, flash backs and POV shots, things that can usually be seen as annoying in other films, work very well here. The film’s best scene, though, is the one-take boxing match toward the middle of this movie. And the music was a great fit for this series and this film. You’ll get chills when remnants of the Rocky theme finally show themselves.
Lastly, how can I talk Creed without mentioning these powerhouse performances. Michael B. Jordan carries this movie wonderfully, playing a very determined, vulnerable and sympathetic lead. Sylvester Stallone, top-notch showing as Rocky; in fact, his best performance to date. It’s a very touching and emotional role he plays that you’re bound to love. Tessa Thompson is an excellent addition as well; another interesting character whose developed nicely.
Creed was simply excellent all the way through. A well-written, well-acted, exciting, heartfelt and epic experience worth seeing, especially if you’ve seen at least one Rocky film before.
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For all entries in the 2015 Movie Countdown, click here!