Creed review – Jez Gibson

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A surprisingly welcome Rocky reboot which re-invigorates Stallone and the whole franchise. This is a title challenge that even knocks out Star Wars in the battle of expectations. This new chapter puts the young Creed front and centre in the ring, drawing Rocky out of retirement to train the son of his long-term departed friend and rival Apollo.

Now let’s put this into perspective, this is not really comparable to The Force Awakens. They could not be more different films if they tried, with totally contrasting levels of scope. My contention is around expectations and aspirations. This underdog has already picked up a Golden Globe and an Oscar Nomination for Sly as best supporting actor. Our Star Wars reboot has not got any recognition for its acting. (This is coming from someone who fell in love with Star War 35 years ago, and have long considered myself a quarter Jedi…)

A timely tale too where we have a raging debate around diversity and awards recognition in 2016. Creed has got significant traction through a number of awarding bodies who have a Black or African affiliation, through to the Alliance of Women Film Journalists and a whole host of major US cities Critics Societies and Associations.

Like Stallones’ most revered character, this defies expectations and punches well above its weight. Combined with an injection of the fresh blood of re-united actor (Michael.B.Jordan) and writer/director (Ryan Coogler) from the critically acclaimed Fruitvale Station (stick that on your watch list too), this was always going to be interesting. Tessa Thompson another great addition who puts in a solid shift with purpose and gravitas in a female role that could have have been tokenistic in a very male genre film like this.

On reflection Star Wars is the uber-funded heavy weight that doesn’t quite deliver it’s full potential against this unexpected outsider who pulls off the polar opposite.

I felt I had lost any affiliation or affection for the Rocky franchise after the fourth instalment. The closest comparison to capturing that initial rawness of Rocky for me was last best experienced through our own Tom Hardy in the excellent Warrior from 2011.

Stallone is way better than you would imagine in his display of range and how engaged you feel by his character. Not an award winner for me, but he has over achieved and regained my respect. Jordan is magnetic, the fight scenes exhilarating, and there is a punch the air alternative to the iconic Rocky training and running up those steps scene.

I don’t think this is a film that is really outstanding or original enough in any way to warrant awards, but for those of you who have ever been a Rocky fan, or for someone completely new to this latest incarnation, it will certainly take you for a few more rounds that you might expect.

A more than satisfying

7/10