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Nerdlocker Movie Review: Creed

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Michael B. Jordan laces up his gloves as Adonis Creed Johnson (son of Apollo) and with the help of an old pro (Stallone, back for the umpteenth time), he revitalizes the Rocky franchise in a major way. Jordan was destined for stardom. Anybody that watched season 1 of The Wire could tell you that the kid was destined for big things. Little Wallace is all grown up–and cut up–and he’s perfect for the role. Stallone has aged well and he gives a touching performance in Creed, the seventh Rocky installment, a boxing movie that has surprising dramatic heft and a lot of heart.

The audience freaking loved it. They erupted into applause countless times and really got into it. People were hootin’ and hollerin’ and there was a funny moment when Michael B’s lady fans loudly expressed their enthusiasm as he braided a woman’s hair. (Got that fellas? Braid the hair.) Creed pays homage to previous Rocky films but is hip to modern times. It feels classic and fresh at the same time. Where it really succeeds is the characters. Like the first movie (Rocky), this one spends a lot of time developing them and letting you get to know them, making the eventual action more meaningful. Rocky, Adonis, and his neighbor Bianca (Tessa Thompson) are all likable characters with a strong rapport.

The story hits many of the beats you expect it to, but it has a few surprises too. After some choppy exposition, Adonis lands in Philly and looks to the Italian Stallion for training. They prepare for opponents in the ring and battle obstacles like time and inexperience. Director Ryan Coogler injects his own style and Creed develops a nice tone without heavily relying on the franchise’s famous songs and score. In fact, the movie is almost entirely absent of them so when familiar themes do creep in they are impactful.

My one major complaint about the movie is that I do not care for the way they filmed and edited the fight sequences. Lots of closeups and insert shots make it hard to see the action. It by no means ruins the experience, but the choreography and coverage pale in comparison to classic Rocky fights like Balboa vs. Creed. It’s a testament to the strong characters that despite this, the scenes are still emotional.

So, how does Creed measure up to the other Rocky movies? Well, it’s tough to say after only one watch (and it’s all personal preference) but I’m inclined to put it in the top 3. Here’s my ranking:

  1. Rocky (1976)- The original is still tops. King stays the king.
  2. Rocky 3 (1982)- Rocky as champ, Mr. T as Clubber Lang, Balboa training with Creed. Yes.
  3. Creed (2015)- A new breed. Perhaps the most entertaining Rocky film.
  4. Rocky Balboa (2006)- Fun. Underrated. Resuscitated the series after 16 years off.
  5. Rocky 2 (1979)- More of the same. Drags a little but strong final fight.
  6. Rocky 4 (1984)- Creed dies. Montage. Montage. Montage.
  7. Rocky 5 (1990)- The one you don’t watch.

Creed punches 4 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

It opens Wednesday, November 25th.

Trailer:

Stills:

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Salty Winters once said, "Everything I learned I learned from the movies." He was quoting Audrey Hepburn.