Creed begins briefly back in 1998 when the hero of the piece was just a a wayward child who thought punching other kids in the face was the only way to get ahead. Really, it should’ve begun with modern-day Creed (Michael B Jordan), apologising for the Fantastic Four reboot, where he was The Flash. It soon jumps forward to Tijuana, Mexico, 2015 where he’s an up-and-coming boxer, but it’s not as if Donnie (since he prefers that moniker to his given first name of Adonis) is ashamed of anything to do with his late father, it’s that he’s going by his adopted name of Johnson because he ‘wants to make it on his own’ (aww, shucks!)
At this point I’ll also say that there’s an early titter in the script when his Mum asks him, “You wanna be in somebody’s ring?” (F’nar! F’nar!)
Now back to the plot and you know Donnie sees himself as coming from a tough ‘hood’ because cheesy, tired soft-hip-hop music plays as he makes his way back to Rocky’s hometown to his restaurant, Adrian’s. However, he doesn’t live anywhere tough – he lives in Mom’s palatial abode in Los Angeles. And in any event, the briefly-heard music from neighbour-cum-girlfriend Bianca (Selma‘s Tessa Thompson) is more interesting.
It’s no surprise to state that Donnie wants to become a boxing champion and that he’ll start on the lowest rung of the ladder, enlist the help of the “Italian Stallion” legend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), as Tommy Gunn did in Rocky V, and give it his all. Hence, it really makes you wonder why they bothered because, at 133 minutes, it’s so drawn out as Rocky and Donnie are, first, watching other fighters and then getting into all the training. I read the headline from The Hollywood News’ review stating this film “Packs as many emotional punches as physical ones”. Well, their reviewer must be on crack cocaine as this does neither – it tickets every box marked “predictable” you’d expect from start to finish.
The poor scriptwriting, from Aaron Covington and director Ryan Coogler (whose 2013 movie Fruitvale Station also starred Jordan in the lead role), reinforces what a dinosaur Rocky is. In Rocky Balboa, returning to the ring, he was referred to as a Balboasaurus by the press. Here, when Donnie backs something up from his phone to ‘The Cloud’, Rocky looks up to the sky in a confused state and begs the question, “What cloud?” An audience begins to snore.
Something that may be interesting, though, is that the BBFC rated this 12A for a single use of the f-word (yet I heard two in the film, the first when Donnie first sits down with Bianca for a date that’s not a date, and I forget when the second came) as well as some “mild bad language”. There was also the street slang of “nigga” in there, during an impromptu corridor fight. Does that mean the BBFC are passing a different version than the one I’ve seen?
Before I saw this, I finally caught up on the last two Rocky movies, firstly Rocky V, which was better than I was expecting. Surprisingly violent for a PG but that’s boxing for you. Shame that Tommy Morrison and Sage Stallone died before their time, even if they weren’t the greatest actors. However, the hip-hop “Go For It” theme always sucked (as well as that Elton John dirge at the end), and given what a dick Paulie was with the accountant at the start, why didn’t they just bin him right off? I’d give that one 6/10.
Then I moved on to Rocky Balboa, which was very poor. It took 66 minutes before anything happened, and then there were only 35 minutes left. It’s like a fly on the wall documentary where you follow Rocky after he finished boxing. There’s also a 2hr 20min director’s cut! I’ll give that a miss. Milo Ventimiglia, as his son, would be good as a young Tom Cruise if there’s ever a Mission: Impossible spinoff but, alas, there was also an appearance from famous convicted rapist Mike Tyson. Overall, this film was one to forget. 3/10.
Creed briefly picks up on a couple of aspects of these. I’ve already mentioned Rocky V‘s training of a newbie aspect, but whereas Rocky Balboa killed off Adrian (cue the restaurant), in this film…. and I’ll wrap a spoiler tag around this one in case you don’t want to know before going into the cinema…
On a technical aspect, Creed would’ve suited a 1.85:1 ratio better, a la the six Rocky movies. Boxing isn’t just about punching your opponent into next week, but also the footwork as you manoeuvre, and you can’t see both at the same time in a 2.35:1 ratio.
Of the cast, Stallone’s also been Oscar-nominated as Best Supporting Actor. Why?? Is this one last shot of the dice for the sake of it, because the last time BAFTA and Oscar gave a care about him was for a nomination each for Rocky?
His lead co-star, Michael B Jordan, is as wooden as the tables in Rocky’s restaurant, and the only other cast members I remembered are Wood Harris as Tony ‘Little Duke’ Evers, not because he did anything memorable but because many moons ago the actor was Avon Barksdale in the wonderful TV series, The Wire; and Phylicia Rashad as his mother, Mary Anne. Remember when she was the matriarch in The Cosby Show? I bet that’s a programme she wants to forget, now!
Creed 1. Rocky 7. Whatever next – a film about Drago’s kid?
I can understand why Stallone would want to have made this film with Rocky in it, but one word springs to mind which Mark Kermode used last year to describe the existence of another Terminator film with Terminator Genisys. That word is “unnecessary”. I would also reserve that word for the utterly pointless Grudge Match.
Like Rocky Balboa and, to a degree, Rocky V, there’s far too much nazel-gazing about the past, rather than just getting on with a brand new plot. There’s nothing here that we haven’t seen before, and this is one last round we really didn’t need to experience.
Creed is out now at the cinema but has yet to be announced on Blu-ray and DVD, and click on the poster for the full-size image.
Running time: 133 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros
Format: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (2.8K))
Released: January 15th 2016
Director: Ryan Coogler
Producers: Robert Chartoff, William Chartoff, Sylvester Stallone, Kevin King Templeton, Charles Winkler, David Winkler and Irwin Winkler
Screenplay: Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington
Music: Ludwig Göransson
Adonis Johnson: Michael B Jordan
Rocky Balboa: Sylvester Stallone
Bianca: Tessa Thompson
Mary Anne Creed: Phylicia Rashad
Danny ‘Stuntman’ Wheeler: Andre Ward
‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan: Tony Bellew
Pete Sporino: Ritchie Coster
Stitch: Jacob ‘Stitch’ Duran
Tommy Holiday: Graham McTavish
Amir: Malik Bazille
Padman: Ricardo McGill
Leo ‘The Lion’ Sporino: Gabe Rosado
Tony ‘Little Duke’ Evers: Wood Harris
Conlan’s Cut Man: Buddy Osborn
Dr Kathari: Rupal Pujara
James: Brian Anthony Wilson
Sporino Cut Man: Joey Eye
Lady Cop: Johanna Tolentino
Tone Trump: Anthony Brice
Larry: Kash Goins
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.