Reflecting with Creed!

Creed PosterGenre: Sports, Drama
Starring: Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Tony Bellew, Phylicia Rashad, Graham McTavish, Wood Harris, Andre Ward, Gabriel Rosado, Ritchie Coster, Jacob “Stitch” Duran.
Year Of Release: 2016
Certificate: 12A (UK)
Runtime: 133 Minutes
Director: Ryan Coogler
Synopsis: “The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.” IMDB


Nostalgia is powerful in film. It evokes another level of emotional involvement in the narrative and helps the watcher find a connection with the moving picture. I for one adore reminiscence in movies.

Take the recent Jurassic World. As soon as that wonderful John Williams score starts to build for the first time I am transported back to the Odeon in York, 1993, aged ten; where I sat with my Father, watching with wide eyes in utter amazement absorbing every scene. This nostalgic element enhanced the experience of Jurassic World for me, allowing me to forgive any clunky pieces of scripting and silly plot devices. I am not alone in my love for nostalgia. Not only has Jurassic World made a colossal profits (approximately $1.67 billion US dollars to date), but last year also brought us a dose of the purest nostalgia in the form of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (TFA). As with the big and bold dinosaur movie it was a reinvention of the original. It grabbed at our hearts, satiated the realm of fandom and gave us a worthy sequel. It also banished the sheer disappointment delivered by the prequels. Star Wars: ‘TFA’ also holds the record for the fastest movie to achieve the $1 billion mark doing so in just twelve days, on top of achieving an enormous financial haul of over $2 billion. I understand that nostalgia value alone is not responsible for such success, but it adds to the experience greatly and heightens the enjoyment of these cinematic efforts.

Taking a beloved character that we remember fondly from our favourite on screen adventures and bringing them back to the big screen is somewhat risky. With the age of multiple sequels, open universes and reboots firmly upon us, we are seeing heroes returning with varying success. Normally the impending release of such a movie fills me with dread. Off the back of the 2014 rehash of my beloved RoboCop I was practically picketing in the ‘stop the reboot’ camp.


So when a Rocky spin-off was rumoured my scepticism dampened any excitement I might feel as a die-hard fan of the Italian Stallion. There was a finality in the last movie that suited the character’s arc beautifully and in my opinion his story had run its course. When Creed was finally released to excellent reviews and positive word of mouth I was still nervous to commit to watching it for myself. I have put the Rocky movies on such a high pedestal (well maybe not the fifth one), which only added to my apprehension. Finally, I gave in to my anxious curiosity, Blu-ray loaded, finger on the the Play button, I actually said out loud “Please be good!”

Creed GIF

I needn’t have worried. Creed is quite simply, wonderful. The story focuses on Adonis ‘Donny’ Johnson (A fantastic and hyper fit Michael B. Jordon) the result of Apollo’s extra-marital affair and born after his Father’s death. We see Donny striving to step out of his Father’s widely cast shadow and put his own stamp on the world of boxing. Struggling to find his way he seeks the help of the infamous, troubled Rocky Balboa played by Sylvester Stallone, stepping again into the shoes of arguably his most iconic role, he has never been better. His subtle performance gives us a beautifully underplayed aged hero. If you have seen Rocky Balboa from 2006 (also well worth a watch) you will know things haven’t exactly worked out happily for our favourite Philly Pugilist; his life a metaphor for one of his fights, he keeps getting hit but you just can’t keep him down! His childlike innocence and passion still hold fast and pull you in to the movie.

You are invested so deeply you want Donny to succeed, not only for himself but also for another chance of glory for Rocky. Michael B. Jordan and Stallone share the screen so well; they clearly have a natural chemistry that spills into their delivery of a tightly written screenplay from Director Ryan Coogler. Coogler does a stellar job behind the camera, framing scenes beautifully. The direction forme is at its most inventive during the scenes within the boxing ring. The camera bobs and rolls with the combatants, hovering behind the fighters drawing you deeper into the action.

Creed is still excellent even if you haven’t seen the Rocky movies that precede it, standing perfectly on its own. If you have seen the previous movies the latest instalment adds more layers and history to the narrative. Little nods to the earlier films are made; the city run with children following, the energetic training montage and even the chicken chase are all featured. Often bringing a tear to your eye.


As I mentioned earlier. Nostalgia in film is powerful. The love letters here to the Rocky canon are subtle and well-crafted, never feeling as if they mean to manipulate the viewer. They are there to remind you. To inspire a memory of your love of the previous films, and to even inspire a memory of your own past whilst watching them.


A thoughtful and wonderfully acted piece of cinema. Stallone stands out in his most understated performance since Copland and Ryan Cooglar’s direction is fantastic.

9.2 out of 10