Review: Creed

One of the best movies of the year.

In one of the laziest years on record, we’ve moved far past sequeldom—never the most dignified place to be, even when talking Toy Story 2—into poorly executed, barely considered, cash-snatching rebootery. Movies like Jurassic World and Peanuts, repackaging the elements green-eyed producers think are what we want, then forgetting to surround them with feeling or, you know, craft. (The upcoming Star Wars would get a modicum of sympathy, had it not already put us through a decade of this once before.) Creed, the unofficial seventh film in the Rocky series—which began nearly 40 years ago in 1976 with the Best Picture-winning original and seemed to sputter out in 2006’s limp reboot attempt Rocky Balboa—should be the laziest of all. Creating a new-to-canon character, dusting off Sylvester Stallone and Bill Conti’s theme, pressing blend. Instead it’s one of the best movies of the year. Reuniting the terrific Michael B. Jordan with his Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler, Creed finds Jordan portraying Donnie, a kid rescued from juvie by his dead father’s wife (Phylicia Rashad!) and given half of a really good life. Problem is, he’s got his dad’s fire for the ring. Cut to Philly, and Rocky. Stallone gives a career-high performance, carrying the weight of Rocky’s losses on his still-fit shoulders, and Jordan’s mix of streetwise toughness and heartbreaking vulnerability makes him a perfect fit as a kid just trying to figure out who he is. Shot by Maryse Alberti hand-held doc-style, Creed is feels gritty and lived in, while also hitting technical highs like an astonishing single-take boxing match. It’s funny and sweet and sad and scrappy. You never saw this one coming.

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