Saturday movie review: Creed

I loved the original ROCKY movie. The first sequel, well, not so much.

And all the following sequels? I never watched a one as it seemed the ROCKY magic was gone.

I'm here to tell you the ROCKY magic is back — only it now goes by the name of CREED.

 CREED movie

I must say I was a bit hesitant to pay good money to see CREED, but it won the coin toss when deciding what movie to see on Thanksgiving evening. I figured the film would be a sequel by another name, focus on sending a senior Rocky Balboa into the ring once more in an attempt to prove that even in his advanced age, he's a contender. Such scenes would surely be overplayed and pitiful and surely fully ruin all respect and admiration I have for the 1976 success story (on screen and off).

CREED did nothing of the sort. In fact, my admiration for Sly Stallone grew with each scene wherein he convincingly played a restrained Rocky, a has-been who accepts his time is over, that he's aging, that he's no longer a power player in the ring or off. The real Rocky Balboa, the Rocky of the original film, would go out with class. Which is what he did in CREED. Stallone's class act here earned him a Golden Globe nomination.

The true contender of CREED — and true star in character name as well as performance — is Michael B. Jordan, who also earned a Golden Globe nomination for this part. Jordan plays Adonis Creed, son of the ill-fated Apollo Creed. He doesn't use his name, preferring to use the last name Johnson and attempt to make a name for himself without the baggage of the Creed name, legacy, and expectations.

Adonis chooses to box, to prove he, too, can be champion, and seeks out Rocky (Stallone, of course) to be his trainer. Rocky resists... at first. Then gives in, accepts the challenge, sees it as payback to his former foe-come-friend Apollo Creed.

Adonis battles more than becoming a true champ in the ring, though. He's an angry young man, battling internal demons related to the loss of his father yet not wanting to take on the name of his father. He's not the only one battling demons. Rocky faces his own as does Adonis' girlfriend, Bianca (Tessa Thompson) — plot points that come to a head just as Adonis faces a match of historic proportion.


There's plenty of heavy-duty boxing in CREED, just as there was in ROCKY. Believable scenes that made me cringe — including a swollen, socked eye moment that made me cringe not so much because of the painful appearance but more so in fear there might be a "Biancaaaaa" line from Adonis much like Rocky's "Adriaaaaan." Thankfully that wasn't to be.

Jordan seemed magnificently real in the ring and amazingly beefed up since his roles in Friday Night Lights and his amazing performance in FRUITVALE STATION (which was directed by CREED director Ryan Coogler and is a must-see). Jordan and Thompson have the ideal dose of chemistry to make the romantic storyline believable without having to delve into sex scenes (which would have definitely made this grandma cringe watching such between the relative youngsters).

Again, Sylvester Stallone's understated acting was impressive. He uttered not a single "Yo" and he never got in the ring. Had he done either would have cheapened the film, seemed a pathetic grasp at his glory days. His glory in CREED comes from welcoming in a new contender for a new generation.

I typically refrain from movie accolades along the lines of "two thumbs up" and such, but this film begs a "CREED is a knockout!" that I can't resist. If you are resisting what you may think, as I initially did, is a ROCKY repeat, I urge you to give CREED a shot. I have a feeling you'll be just as surprised — and impressed and entertained and ready to cheer during the final match — as I was. You just may even tear up as Adonis runs through the streets in a hooded sweatshirt in time to a powerful, pounding song with hints of the ROCKY theme. (Oh yes I did.)

A brief interview with the director and Jordan:

CREED (rated PG-13 "for violence, language and some sensuality") opened in theaters November 25 and is still playing pretty much everywhere. Check out the official website at