I'm not a Rocky fanatic. I've only seen the first one, which I thought was pretty good, and haven't seen any of the others, although based on what I've heard I'm not missing much. So I walked into Creed without much expectation. I ended up agreeing with the last words spoken in the film; "not bad at all." That doesn't mean it's absolutely fantastic, but it's definitely not bad. At all.
Creed is about Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, who wants to follow in his father's footsteps by becoming a pro boxer. To do this, he trains with Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone).
The movie has what you would expect: some great boxing scenes, with one being a single take and the other being the climax of the film. They are shot wide, unlike a certain other boxing movie this year - Southpaw - that decided to go shaky and close-up.
But that's not all Creed has. It's the acting here that blows me away. Jordan is great as the title character, along with Tessa Thompson as Bianca, his love interest. They had great chemistry and I actually thought their love story was really well done, rather than feeling tacked on like it would in most movies. Stallone is back as Rocky, and is also great, although he didn't touch me as much as some other people I've seen.
While the best thing about the movie are the performances, I also really enjoyed the direction of the movie. Ryan Coogler, a relative unknown who has only directed Fruitvale Station before this, definitely knows what he's doing, especially with the great one take boxing match, where he basically just shows off, and it's marvelous. (I'm more excited for the 2018 Black Panther movie now that I know he's directing it.)
But there were a few issues I had with the movie. Mainly the “villain.” He's not memorable in the slightest. He's that one-dimensional heavyweight champ that we see in almost every movie. Worse, the movie is about Creed's relationships with Bianca and Rocky. Giving time to the villain feels out of place in the movie for me.
There's also scenes in the movie that feel out of place, especially since the movie seems to tell us they're important when they're really not, particularly a montage ending with a gang of bikers. There's also a scene that goes by far too quickly involving a press conference with Creed and the villain of the film, ruining the subtlety of the moment. These criticisms are a little picky, but they do detract from the experience for me.
But that's it. It's honestly a pretty great movie, and a good return to the franchise if the abysmal reviews of almost every movie in the franchise speak for themselves. And hopefully it's a jumpstart to some good follow ups, and maybe Sylvester Stallone's entire career, which has basically turned into The Expendables. The Rocky series is gonna fly now.