Creed ***1/2

  

“Creed” is the latest installment in the “Rocky” franchise. To say it is a direct sequel wouldn’t be right. This is basically a spin off that focuses on the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s main opponent in the original film. Rocky is in the film but is wisely moved in to a supporting role to make way for a fresh and exciting story.

Michael B. Jordan plays Adonis Creed, the son of legendary boxer Apollo. He never met his father. He has had a rough upbringing to say the least. He feels that burning desire to become a boxer, against the wishes of his loved one. He seeks out Rocky, played again by Sylvester Stallone, to become a trainer and a mentor. Rocky is at first hesitant but eventually grows to love the kid and train him to his big fight.

Now all of the boxing cliches are all there. Adonis is an amatuer at first but with the guidance of Rocky he becomes an undiscovered talent. Eventually there is a match up with the champion of the world. All of this is routine yet done very well. What drew me in was the story of Adonis and the side story of Rocky. Both of them have demons to deal with, some of them they realize as we go through the story. Their relationship is the heart of this movie. Both actors turn in some of their best work.

Michael B. Jordan gives what I think is his best performance. Stallone you might think have a problem stepping out of the spotlight in a picture that features Rocky but he does not. He immerses himself in the role and reveals surprising depth. This is his best performance in years.

Ryan Coogler, the director of the excellent “Fruitvale Station”, makes these materials fresh and engaging. Even the traditional boxing matches are tense and brutal. All of these great players have made a movie that I think nobody expected could be good and have made it almost great.


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