I was skeptical about "Creed" but this film rivals the greatest films in the Rocky franchise. We can only watch Rocky make a comeback so many times (and we can all agree that the fifth time was too many) but this spin-off brings a fresh approach to the classic story. Apollo Creed is a beloved character to all film fans and the friendship formed in “Rocky III” fuels this entire plot. Apollo’s illegitimate son possesses the baggage and natural-born talent that make him the perfect fit for a formulaic Rocky underdog story. We are in his corner from the moment that he gains our empathy in the first scene. The cinematography and editing of the boxing sequences are astounding, particularly the tracking shot during the first major boxing match. A three-minute round of boxing has never felt so long as this shot rotates around the boxers without ever cutting away from their close-up punches. It brings perspective to how long one round must feel to the boxers. This sequence is brutally intense and a cinematic marvel. The climactic match at the end is creatively assembled by combining HBO footage, POV shots, and an array of camera angles that make it impossible to perceive whether their punches are staged or actually making painful contact. I didn’t care for the background music selections which obviously reflect Adonis’ race but when the Rocky theme starts playing during the final fight... Wow. It is one of the most magical movie moments I've experienced in a long time (well, at least since seeing "The Force Awakens" a week ago). Michael B. Jordan has set this spin-off series up for success through his strong acting and physical embodiment of a boxer. Sylvester Stallone deserves a ton of recognition for this strong comeback. He is on the radar for a Best Supporting Actor nomination though, if I'm giving a nomination for reviving an old character, Harrison Ford gets my vote. I would have liked to see more of Phylicia Rashad but her absence is necessary for the growth of Adonis. “Creed” has made the Rocky formula (training montages, personal drama, high-intensity boxing matches) relevant to the modern generation and I believe that it will continue to grow in popularity for at least two more films. Our society will continue to yearn for inspirational stories, no matter how many times this tale is told.
[Pictured: Stallone's reprisal of his Rocky character 39 years later is something special.]