Nostalgia weekend starts with Creed – the seventh film in the Rocky franchise, and boy was it a knockout! Reuniting Fruitvale Station’s talented Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, the film was surprising sincere and heartfelt. Even as it occasionally veers towards the overly dramatic and oddly faux epic-ness of a Rocky movie, it was still a worthy successor of Slyvester Stallone’s early hits.
Speaking of Stallone, he was the Most Valuable Person of the film. There was an unexpected naturalness in his role that genuinely made you feel for him and how life must be like for a lonely, ex-champion. It was no wonder that he has been getting accolades and he does deserve it. There is a possibility that he might get a Best Supporting Actor nomination out of it, but if he does, Mark Rylance is still the man to beat (without having seeing Spotlight yet).
Coogler directed a brilliant film. He managed to get another great performance out of Jordan and also from Stallone, and the rest of the supporting cast. His fight scenes were visceral and kinetic, and bloody kudos to that amazing oner that was Jordan’s first “real” fight! That really brought the audience into the ring. However, too many oners and it can begin to feel gimmicky. As were the overly epic and heroic score by Ludwig Goransson and the multiple homages to Rocky.
The story by Coogler was an ingenious way to bring Rocky back to pop-consciousness. Although the more dramatic and emotional scenes ironically lacked the punch and the screenplay by Coogler and Aaron Covington had too many clunky lines. Thankfully, it was all saved by the chemistry of the stars. Although the romantic subplot felt like a lost plot line of Empire.
Jordan has a great career in front of him – as long as he clears off duds like Fantastic Four . From the small screen on The Wire, Friday Night Lights and Parenthood to the big screen he definitely is a rising star. But he also definitely has a lot more room to grow as an actor, especially evident when Stallone is over-shining you in a less showy role.
There will sure be comparison between Creed and Southpaw since both are sport movies about boxing. However, Creed definitely was the better movie; although Jake Gyllenhaal gave a much better – and rawer and more vanity-free - performance than Jordan. But overall, Creed succeeded in engaging the audience more even though some would claim that the manipulation was too blatant.