*Holy shit, finally a review. I know, it’s been a while*
It’s weird, you hear about a Rocky spin-off featuring Apollo Creed’s son trained by Rocky and it’s not panned as a terrible idea and a terrible movie. Well okay, maybe it was panned as a terrible idea but when it came out, it was actually hailed as one of the years best. Maybe we should have guessed that it wouldn’t be terrible, it wasn’t directed or even written by Stallone and the series had a new creative vision behind it. But, I was, like everybody, highly skeptical, the trailer wasn’t anything special and Michael B. Jordan hasn’t really shown a lot of greatness (yet). But, the film, maybe like the original Rocky, exceeded the expectations and it turned our pretty fucking awesome. So, let’s talk about it.
Southpaw came out earlier this year, the Jake Gyllanhaal boxing movie that everybody forgot, and it was absolute shit. The problem with that film was that it was just so generic, basically ripping off every boxing movie cliche in the book and doing nothing with it’s talent, making it a boring, un-inspired film that felt like any other Hollywood sport film. Creed is basically the original Rocky, almost exactly the same story. But why is Creed better than Southpaw when on paper it sounds like they have the same problems? Well, take the original Rocky for example: even at it’s time, it wasn’t really original, just a standard Hollywood rags-to-riches tale of a boxer with some romance. Why did that work and still does? Because, like Rocky the character himself, it had a shit ton of heart and charisma. Sure, it was basic in terms of story and themes, but the characters were relatable and it was emotional. Southpaw doesn’t hit those emotional tones because the characters aren’t interesting, we know basically nothing about them and the story-telling is just awful (it spends way too much at the start and just skips the whole underdog part), Creed doesn’t do that. Creed has heart, it has innovation and energy, sure it follows a lot of the same beats as the original movie, but it uses them correctly.
The main reason Creed works is because it tells the underdog story correctly. Jake Gyllanhaal’s character in Southpaw is flawed, like Adonis is here, but making him a drug addict isn’t relatable nor interesting. Adonis’ flaw in this film is that he doesn’t want to be treated as the son of a great boxer, he’s wants to be proud without using his fathers name, but since people do treat him like that, it makes him a little violent. Now, that’s relatable because we like to think that we are independent and proud, most of us aren’t rich drug addicts. That’s where Southpaw fails, it makes the main character an asshole and pretty boring, and Creed success, Adonis isn’t perfect but we forgive his flaws more easily. Now sure, Jake LaMotta in The Raging Bull is a terrible human being, but Raging Bull isn’t a sweet rags-to-riches story, like these two films are.
Almost every single performance here is good, Michael B. Jordan is very charismatic and natural, just a fantastic performance, sure he’s cocky but not in an arrogant way. Everybody has been hyping up Stallone’s performance, and yes he is fantastic, but he was pretty fantastic in Rocky Balboa (Rocky 6). I mean okay, Rocky Balboa isn’t a fantastic movie, but it’s surprisingly decent and Stallone delivers an equally emotional performance in that. But yeah, his performance here (especially that one fucking scene) did almost bring out some manly tears. Honestly if I had to bring up one performance that wasn’t great that would be Tessa Thompson, who was pretty good but her character was kinda boring. I get it, she’s this films Adrian, but Adrian was a bit more interesting and fairly un-usual love interest. Bianca is just kinda of bland, but Thompson herself does deliver a sympathetic performance.
The cinematography is mostly good, the montages were all excellent, some funny, some intense, good use of music and great editing, no problems there. Everybody has been talking about that one long take and yeah it’s awesome, even if there was some digital tricks there. It’s a great concept, the first big fight, all in one very long, but energetic, almost Scorsese-like, take and they execute it so well. If nobody had said anything about it, I don’t know would have I noticed it, a good long take is the one you don’t notice, but it was nevertheless amazing.
Like I said, I only have one problem with this film and that’s just it takes a bit too much from the original. Especially from a film that wants to be it’s own, stand-alone film, it borrows one too many. But it doesn’t butcher the first film’s emotional peaks and it delivers the same amount of punch it had. It’s a thrill to watch and I did get goosebumps in the final fight, especially when the music drops there. It’s all a bit too familiar, but it’s all done so well. It’s a 8/10 from me.