Star Wars isn’t the only 1970s franchise to reach its seventh chapter this year. The great underdog story shifts generations as Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) grows up in the shadow of his late father Apollo Creed (played by Carl Weathers in the original Rocky series), and wants to make it on his own steam. Moving to Philadelphia, he seeks out the champ that both fought and befriended his dad, the legendary Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Despite his initial reluctance, Rocky trains the unpolished fighter to go the distance, and all the way to the championship fight with “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew). Even though this is the first film in the series not to be written by Stallone, it’s rich with the same DNA that made the 1976 original such a timeless film. While Creed doesn’t have quite the same ‘last chance’ motivation that Rocky did, it’s effectively a remake as well as a continuation. Direct references are made to past characters, including the obligatory visit to Adrian’s grave and a mismatched love story in musician Bianca (Tessa Thompson), slowly losing her hearing to a degenerative condition. Even through decades worth of parodies, the formula still works. All the training montages with music and occasionally indecipherable Stallone monologues don’t diminish that part of the brain that kicks in during the final fight, the bit that wants to leap to your feet and cheer on the champ. It’s also great to see Stallone actually playing an older character, rather than pretending to relive his youth, now that he’s the same age Burgess Meredith was when he played the mentor in the original film. What CREED lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in spirit, and it is easy to see this as the first chapter in a new franchise. At least while we’re waiting for Rambo in Space.
2015 | US | Dir: Ryan Coogler | Writers: Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington | Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashād, Tony Bellew | Distributor: Roadshow Films (Australia) | Running time: 133 minutes | Rating:★★★½ (7/10)