Yes, Creed Is As Good As Everyone Says

Now please, let's let the Rocky franchise die.

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Over the last week or so, a funny thing happened. In the days leading up to the Thanksgiving Eve release of the new Rocky movie Creed, the film started getting rave reviews, with some, including Vanity Fair Hollywood editor Katey Rich talking Oscar-worthiness. The Oscar? For the seventh Rocky movie? Absolutely.

Of course, the first film won an Oscar, somehow managing to beat out the likes of Taxi Driver, Network and All the President’s Men for the coveted Best Picture award. But as sequel after sequel came out, the franchise got worse and worse.

After the abysmal Rocky V, we couldn’t possibly expect anything good to come of this series. But then Sylvester Stallone surprised everyone with 2006’s Rocky Balboa. It wasn’t a great movie, but it was solid and watchable.

Well, director Ryan Coogler has managed to make a great movie in Creed.

It’s not perfect — Phylicia Rashad’s acting leaves a bit to be desired, and the big text boxes that appear on the screen to identify various boxers, their records and rankings seem stylistically incongruous with the rest of the film — but the good far outweighs the bad.

Michael B. Jordan, who first got our attention in Coogler’s 2013 film Fruitvale Station, nails the role of Adonis Creed, the troubled son of Apollo, who died before he was born. Sylvester Stallone brings back his old character but doesn’t sleepwalk through the scenes; he actually, you know, acts and does it well. And we were impressed by relative newcomer Tessa Thompson, who plays Adonis’ love interest.

Philadelphians will enjoy how the city is showcased in Creed. It’s not glitzy and glorified. As the first movie did so well, this film communicates the gritty beauty of the city, and we approve of their location choices in Fishtown (Johnny Brenda’s) and North Philadelphia (Max’s Cheesesteaks). Yes, the Italian Market is in there, but only for a few seconds.

We’re not going to get into plot details here, because we want you to see the movie and enjoy it for yourself. But suffice to say that Creed follows the general Rocky formula, although there is still plenty of suspense along the way. One particular twist elicited tears from theatergoers at both of the screenings we attended.

So is Creed the best Rocky movie ever, as some people are saying? Definitely not. That title still belongs to Stallone’s first, and we can’t imagine anyone besting the original.

Creed is, however, easily the second best and not far behind that first film. But we hope they don’t take the critical acclaim and probable box office success as a sign that the world wants more of Rocky. Creed is an excellent film, and an excellent and fitting end for this franchise. Let it die in glory and honor.

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