Even though we did have the film Rocky Balboa in 2006, the new film, Creed is the Rocky for the new millennium. Adonis Johnson is the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed and has never know his father because his father died before he was born (see Rocky IV, 1985).
In Creed we have the elements of the original Rocky flipped around. Adonis (or Donnie) is Rocky and Rocky is Mickey and we have another fight with the current champion. As with the all of the films in this franchise, we see the expected training montages, we see a story arch of a troubled young man battling adversity and coming out the end triumphant. And for once we see Sylvester Stallone actually acting his age (69).
What we don’t see is Donnie’s motivation. Whereas in the original film, Rocky was the stereotypical young man of the streets who uses boxing to pull himself and his family upward, we are never really sure what drives Donnie. Donnie is a troubled kid who is taken in by Apollo’s wife and raised with love and in wealth. But why does he really need to fight. He never knew his father and doesn’t want to us his name. He has the odd battle of not being take seriously by the boxing community because he isn’t “street” enough. But does this really drive him that much? This gap in the story lessens the impact of the ending.
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the film. Stallone, besides actually acting his age for once, actually acts. I think him might be getting the hang of it. And Michael B. Jordan does and incredible job as Donnie. His acting and physicality makes him entirely believable.
But the real highlights of the film are the boxing scenes. The direction, fight choreography and cinematography were incredibly complex and powerful. Donnie’s first big fight was done with one continuous take. The camera brings you in, around and between the fighters is a very intimate way. It really brought you into the film better than most 3-D films do.
So, I would say that this film is certainly not as good the Oscar winning original, but is assuredly much better the last few in the franchise.