Creed, the new film from Sylvester Stallone and writer-director Ryan Coogler just might be the best sports movie to hit the screen in recent years.
Like most kids that grew up in the 90’s, I used to watch reruns of the Rocky movies. Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa was my childhood hero. For someone who grew up not having much, the Italian Stallion inspired me to work hard and to always give my best in what I did.
When I heard that Stallone was releasing a spin-off of this beloved series, I got really excited. When the title of the movie was announced though, I got a little apprehensive. Creed would be about the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s best friend and rival who died in the 4th movie. I still wanted to give the movie a chance though so I decided to watch it when it released.
Creed Is A Lot Like The First Rocky Movie
First things first, the movie still features a lot of Rocky. In fact, he plays a major role as the trainer of Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis “Donnie” Creed. Just seeing Stallone’s iconic character again on the big screen made the movie a must-watch for me. What also made the movie interesting was how Donnie Creed’s story mirrored his trainer’s a lot.
Like Rocky, Donnie only has his mind and heart set on boxing. Born of an extramarital affair before Apollo’s loss and death to Ivan Drago, Donnie grew up without a father. Thanks to this, the boy eventually ended up at a juvenile hall. It is here that he is picked up by Mary Anne, Apollo’s widow, who then proceeds to treat him as her own son. However, this also exposed Donnie to his father’s gargantuan fame and achievements which he soon comes to look up to and resent.
One contrast between Donnie and Rocky is their backgrounds. Thanks to his father’s legacy, Donnie didn’t grow up impoverished like Rocky had. At the start of the movie, we see him working a white-collar job after fighting in Mexico 12 hours prior. Later on though, we see him leave his successful job to pursue the sport that made his father famous. Even with his stepmother warning him of the perils of the live he was about to choose, all that mattered to Donnie was being in the same ring that his father competed in.
With this goal in mind, he goes to Philly to get Rocky Balboa to train him. At first Rocky is hesitant citing how he didn’t want to be in the corner again after what happened to Apollo. Of course, this doesn’t faze Donnie and he continues to beg for the Italian Stallion’s help. Rocky eventually changed his mind and took on the young boxer under his wings.
After the two start training, Donnie starts winning his bouts. His success eventually catches the attention of “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, a light heavyweight champion who’s set to go to jail. The rest of the movie from this point on showcases Donnie’s training for the fight and the various conflicts he and Rocky face.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) December 11, 2015
Ryan Coogler did an outstanding job with the direction in this movie. Michael B. Jordan’s performance as Donnie Johnson-Creed was not only believable but moving as well. Tessa Thompson also has a memorable turn as Bianca, the Adrian to Donnie’s Rocky. Unlike Adrian, Bianca is still shown as a woman of agency despite her devotion to Donnie.
The most surprising performance in this film though is Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky. It is perhaps Sly’s rawest and most nuanced performance in his more than 40 years as an actor. Not only does he not hog the spotlight from his younger co-stars, he even elevates them and the entire story at a certain point in the movie. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually won an Oscar for his role.
Creed Is About Confronting Loss
The Rocky movies were always about loss and how you confront it. Not everyone deals with loss the same way. Most people forget their loss and try to move on with their life. Then there are people like Rocky and Donnie who are bound by the losses they’ve sustained in the past. It is not their opponent that they’re facing in the ring but instead their past losses. By going into the ring and vanquishing these losses, they’ve gained something in return: our admiration.
— #CREED (@creedmovie) December 8, 2015
Creed is without a doubt the best sports movie to come out of Hollywood in recent years. If you’re a fan of boxing (or sports in general) then be sure to check out this movie.
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Written by: Ryan Coogler (screenplay and story), Aron Covington (screenplay), Sylvester Stallone (characters)
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Andre Ward, Tony Bellew.
Official Site: Warner Bros.