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10 out of 10 Stars.
I am a tough critic of the Rocky movies, and movies in general. I'm not even a boxing fan. But I can say that this is by far, the best of the Rocky series, and the cast and crew killed it.
Donnie "Hollywood" Johnson, played by Michael B. Jordan, is the son of the late Apollo Creed, who died in the ring before Donnie was born, before he was acknowledged by his father. His mother died early on his life as well, and Donnie comes to know one thing in his life, anger. When the son of his father's trainer refuses to train Donnie, he seeks out Rocky Balboa, former champion, to help him train.
Along the way, he also meets and falls in love with Bianca, a singer and musician, who is gradually losing her hearing, which will someday rob her of her true passion, music.
There are many themes running through Creed, family, anger, legacies, and following your heart, but they all give Donnie an unexpected depth of character that usually these types of movies miss out on. It was easily to believe in the original Rocky that he was looking for his one shot at greatness. Here, the shot at greatness, honoring his father's name, and legacy, are merely the subplot. As Rocky tells him early on, it's about facing the toughest opponent, the guy in the mirror.
Sylvester Stallone can really act. Yes, it's a role he's played before, and knows how to play it in his sleep, but there's a freshness to the role, and spirit that Stallone has never shown in the other Rocky films, and with his cancer, there is a vulnerability that he had always attempted to show in his scenes with Adrian, but finally shows when he breaks down and talks to Donnie about why he doesn't want to fight his cancer. I actually want to see Stallone in more dramatic roles after this.
Creed is an amazing movie, Stallone almost brings tears as a dying Balboa, Jordan proves he has the acting depth and the action credibility to pull off this role, and carry it into sequels. And if the fight scenes in the final act don't get you hyped, you have no soul. When the Rocky music starts and Donnie comes out to fight, my audience stood and cheered like it was a real fight.
Ryan Coogler, who directed and co-wrote, knocked this one out of the park. There should have been Oscar's, there should have been a lot of them. The performances are outstanding, the cinematography is a brilliant modern take on the original Rocky's look and feel, but yet better than the original. The Rocky legacy is in very good hands under Ryan Coogler, who also directed the underrated and severely overlooked "Fruitville Station." Coogler, Jordan, and Tessa Thompson (Bianca) all have brilliant futures ahead of them, and Creed will go down as a classic. I can't wait for the sequel.