(Obvious spoilers ahead...seriously, don't read this till after you'd watched the movie)
Every year I always look for that one movie. Not the big money making blockbuster, but the underdog movie that leaves you wanting more. In 2001, it was 'Drive'. In 2003, 'The Last Samurai'. And in 2014 it was 'Gone Girl' just to name a few.
2015 came and went. There were a few movies I had wanted to see but never got the chance and 'Creed' was one of them.
I finally got around to watching it the other night and I am happy to say, 'Creed' is my favorite 2015 movie!
Before I get into the review, I'd like to provide you with a little history of myself and the Rocky films.
I grew up watching Sylvester Stallone movies. I was and still am one of his biggest fans. The Rocky films always held a special place in my heart though because as a child, I wasn't allowed to watch some of his more adult films that involved nudity or excessive violence...though I more than made up for that when I got old enough!
I was always allowed to watch the Rocky movies from the start though and honestly, as a kid, I never liked the first one. I was too young to appreciate how great of a movie it was, so I used to start at 'Rocky II'. I'm sure I wore my VHS of 'Rocky II' quite thin, though thankfully it never stopped working.
I loved 'Rocky III' just as much and eventually when 'Rocky IV' came out, it became my favorite. I was never a fan of 'Rocky V', though over the years I've come to appreciate what it tried to do. All it would take was to hear "Gonna Fly Now" or "Hearts on Fire" and I would immediately get up and start working out. I wanted to be like Rocky so much and those songs always fired me up and still do to this day.
From there I would always go back and re-watch the series probably hundreds of times. I realized how great of a movie the first film was, and in my teens and early 20's realized the style of these films. 'Rocky', 'Rocky II' and 'Rocky V' were his serious attempts where as 'Rocky III' and 'Rocky IV' were beautiful 80's cheese at it's best...but I loved them all.
Sixteen years went by before there would be another Rocky film and to say I loved 'Rocky Balboa' (aka Rocky VI) would be an understatement. That film has some of the best acting from both Sly Stallone and Burt Young (Paulie), some of the most inspiration quotes of all time, and a great story! At the end of the film, I felt it was the perfect way to end the films and I thought that was it.
Then I heard about 'Creed' being made. At first I wasn't sure how I felt, seeing as Hollywood has made a habit of re-hashing older films and tv shows only to half-ass it and coast on the nostalgia alone.
But when I heard that the film would involve Rocky training Apollo Creed's son to be a boxer, I became interested.
After watching the first trailer, I was hyped and I decided not to watch the second trailer in case it spoiled anything (am I ever glad I did, because the second trailer does spoil huge important things about this movie).
I had planned to see 'Creed' in theaters, but I never ended up being able to.
So after avoiding spoilers and clips for months, I finally got the chance to watch it a few nights ago.
................again, this is your last warning because there WILL be Spoilers ahead
This is a fantastic film from start to finish!
When Sylvester Stallone said "this isn't a Rocky film" he wasn't kidding.
There are only two scenes in the entire movie where we the viewers aren't following Adonis Creed, and both times serve to further Rocky's side of the story.
I want to start by saying, if you're going into this movie looking for a big fight boxing movie, you're going to be disappointed. This is a character film that involves boxing.
Every one of the main characters (and even some side characters) have rich depth to them and are the furthest thing from one dimensional they could be.
Adonis is a great character. I thought from the trailers that he hated his father, but that's not true. Even though it's one film, Adonis has a great character arc going from "I don't wanna make it off my fathers name, I wanna make it on my own", to "I need to prove that I wasn't just a mistake!"
The music is perfect. I wasn't sure hip-hop would work in a film like this, but it flows beautifully with the original score and suits ever scene.
The cinematography is great. If I'm being honest though, at first I didn't like the close up boxing style the director chose. But it grew on me fairly quick and by the time the second fight happens, I was loving it.
Speaking of the second fight. If you've ever watched the second episode of Netflix Daredevil, you'll remember the hallway fight. It's one single long shot that doesn't end till Daredevil leaves the hallway.
'Creed' is a work of art in film making!
The scene starts back in the locker room, follows Adonis out to the ring, and moves in and around the two fighters while they box.
Which sounds normal on paper, but here's the thing. During this one long single take...Adonis and his opponent start looking bloodied up and bruised. That would require a cut to go apply the makeup to continue the scene. But it doesn't cut the entire fight.
It's seriously a work of art and you have to see it to believe it!
The acting in this film is some of the best I've seen.
Michael B. Jordan is a great actor and in my opinion, he should have been at least nominated for an Oscar.
Sylvester Stallone got screwed at the Oscars. Period.
That man had me laughing on minute, crying the next. And I don't cry easily at films!
Now I'm going to mention one of the big spoilers that absolutely should not be spoiled before seeing this, because it you're a big Rocky fan like me, it will hit you like a brick wall! Three words.
Rocky has cancer.
That shocked me (because I never watched the second trailer where they just tell you he's sick...damn you Hollywood) and watching his reaction to the news was rough.
The next scene involves the scene that SHOULD have won him an Oscar this year. He stands in front of Adonis and explains how since he had to watch Adrien go through the same thing, he's not doing the chemotherapy. And if he could take everything good in his life, and put it all in a bowl to trade for another minute to see Adrien again, he would. He's done, he's got nothing left to live for, everyone he's ever loved is gone (Paulie is also dead in this film by the way).
It's just such a raw and real emotional scene and I got quite choked up during it.
After Adonis convinces Rocky to do the chemo (through a great line about how fighters fight) the big fight training montage kicks in...but this isn't your usual training montage. It's Adonis training, interlaced with scenes of Rocky who is now doing the chemotherapy, slowly getting sicker, losing his hair, and being helped around by Adonis.
Even as I write this, I'm starting to swell up again.
Though the scene I mentioned above was the best acting job, the training montage hit me the hardest.
As I mentioned, I grew up watching Rocky. I've grown to love and care about that character as if he were real. And there I sat, 4:30am in the dark, by myself watching someone I grew up watching, deteriorating before my watery eyes.
It broke my heart seeing Rocky like that.
The love story between Adonis and Bianca was great too and fit the film well. It didn't feel forced and they even gave her a lot of character to make me interested in her as well. The idea that Adonis loves her enough to be with her, knowing she'll go completely deaf someday is just beautiful.
The final fight of the film was great and had me worked up like the old Rocky films used to. I LOVED how Adonis doesn't win, but goes the distance and proves he is worthy of his fathers name.
The ending is perfect, Adonis and Rocky climbing the famous steps together talking about seeing their future as "not bad at all".
'Creed' is a masterpiece of film making and my only negative to say (and it's really more of a nit pick) is that there's not a single reference to "Little Marie". She was kind of a big important part of 'Rocky Balboa' and in this movie, she's not even given a mention. Just seemed strange, but nothing I can't look past.
I plan on getting this on Blu-Ray to add to my Rocky collection, and I 100% recommend it!
Review Written By: Matt Hollands