HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:79
The “Rocky” franchise is just one of those series that has legs for days. It just keeps on going and keeps on going despite having lasted decades and its main star getting a bit long in the tooth. “Rocky Balboa” was the PERFECT sendoff for the old Philly fighter who couldn’t stay down. “Rock 5” had pretty much tanked the franchise until Stallone got off the bench to come in as an older man willing to fight for his family and one more time for honor. Stallone was getting up there in years, but he still was big enough and strong enough to pull off the physicality of the role and it is one of my favorite movies in the series to date. After the success of “Rocky Balboa” the powers that be really wanted to bring Stallone back for one more go in the ring, but due to some behind the scenes conflicts and Stallone’s reticence to drag out the series, it just never materialized. Instead they decided to change the storyline just a little bit and bring Rocky back as the trainer once more, this time featuring the son of Apollo Creed. Thus “Creed” was born.
Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan as an adult) has lived his life as one constant battle. Growing up in foster homes he was kicked around from family to family and group home to group home as he never stopped getting into fights. Things change for the better when the widow of Apollo Creed comes to get him one day and raise him as her own, after informing him that Apollo was his birth father (Mrs. Creed is played by Phylicia Rashad, best known for playing Mrs. Huxtable on “The Cosby Show). Even though he’s raised in the lap of luxury from then on out, the fighter in Adonis refuses to let go and the young man secretly trains himself as much as he can and fights in whatever fights he can. Sadly he can’t get anyone of any real stature to train him due to his lack of discipline, so Adonis sets off to Philadelphia where he does his best to try and get Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to train him.
Balboa is aging gracefully, with his restaurant going strong and life just starting to go on the downhill slope of aging. Originally refusing to train another fighter, Rocky is once again drawn back into the fighting world, as he sees glimpses of the same greatness that he saw in his old friend and rival, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). Adonis is starting to come into his own when he gets outed as the legendary fighter’s son, which shoots him straight into the spotlight and gave of the controversial fighter Ricky Conlan (real life boxing champ Tony Bellew). Conlan is the lightweight heavy champion of the world and is gearing up for his final fight before he has to go to prison. Meaning he has one more fight as the king of the world before he may never fight again. Seeing the popularity of Adonis and the Creed name, Ricky Conlan offers his last fight to the young fighter. A fight which NO ONE thinks he can win, Balboa included.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=66226[/img]“Rocky Balboa” was what I consider to be the best way for the franchise to die out gracefully, so I was naturally reticent about how “Creed” was going to turn out. While “Creed” isn’t a direct sequel to any of the actual “Rocky” films themselves, it takes place within the same structured universe even though Adonis is the actual star with Stallone playing support this time. Like pretty much every “Rocky” movie does, it’s a remake of the first film with Adonis playing the same role that Rocky Balboa did back in the 80s. He’s the young untested fighter with more willpower than brains or skills. Rocky has to go old-school on the young man, teaching him how to fight properly using the same unorthodox methods that were taught to him decades ago. There’s a love interest that’s thrown in (although much more awkwardly than Adrien was in “Rocky”), and we have this rolling together into the climax of the film. A fight against Ricky Conlan which is pretty much not in his favor to win.
While many things are the same, some things are drastically different. While Adonis comes from a rough background during his young childhood, he also comes from the lap of luxury having lived his later years into adulthood thanks to Mary Anne Creed. So when he comes to Philadelphia to train with the rest of the fighters he kind of stands out due to his schooling and breeding. He doesn’t seem “street” enough as love interest Bianca (Tessa Thompson) points out during their first date. Most of the fighters fight to get out of the streets rather than fight for the love of fighting, so a schoolboy coming from money seems rather strange in the environment. Adonis himself is a conflicted man, torn between his love of fighting and proving something. At first it seems like he wants to prove to the world that he’s as good as his dad, but Rocky himself has been down this path to realize that it’s not what he’s out to prove. There is a broken boy inside looking to prove to his father that he wasn’t a mistake.
I really enjoyed the way that they used Stallone in the film. He’s showing his age right about now (duh, he IS coming up on 70 years old in July) and they allowed him to be involved in the film in a graceful manner. His resulting bombshell during the end of the second act flows organically with Creed and his desire for a father figure, and even allows for you to root for Rocky one last time. I wanted to give “Creed” a 4 stars out of 5 rating, and I was really conflicted in giving it a 3.5/5 score as it fluctuated somewhere in the middle. However the awkward inclusion of Bianca and some up and down moments from Michael B. Jordan had me in a pickle. I will rate it 3.5/5 here, but I do want it understood that is on the very high side of that rating, hovering just under a 4/5.
Rated PG-13 for violence, language and some sensuality
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=66210[/img]Like most modern films with a large budget, “Creed” comes to Blu-ray with a simply fantastic looking scope encode. Colors tend to stray towards the blue end of the spectrum, but only lightly so as the film shows mainly natural looking scenes that only betray the blue tint in the darker sequences where it’s more obvious. Fine detail is excellent as you can see every line and wrinkle on Stallone’s aging face, and every crinkle and wrinkle on the ornate boxing shorts that Adonis gets just before his big fight. The city of Philadelphia looks well detailed, from the beaten down old neighborhood where the two train to the decked out gym that Adonis goes to originally. There’s a flicker of banding in the hotel room before Bianca comes up, but other than that I really didn’t see any aritfacting or compression issue AT ALL. Blacks are deep and inky and shadow detail is superb. Simply put, “Creed” is an amazing looking blockbuster level encode.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=66218[/img]There are two English tracks on board the disc here. Warner decided to give us a 5.1 Dolby Digital 640kpbs track as well as the main feature. A 7.1 DTS-HD MA track that REALLY rocks the Kasbah so to speak. The 7.1 experience does a superb job of bringing the listener into the center of the film. The dialog is strong and clear up front, but there is multiple times that the surrounds just blend in seamlessly with voices from the year, or the sound of people yelling in the background. There’s one moment in the ring where you can hear Stallone yelling from the rear and that voice coming through distinctly in the left rear channel and some in the left side as well. The roar of ATV’s and dirt bikes in the Philly streets roar from all angles and the LFE is simply earth crushing at times. Most of the time we have heavy bass being used to emphasize impacts and blows ,but there are several times where a rising crescendo during a fight had my door frames rattling to their hinges. It’s just a wonderful track at displaying pinpoint precision on directional queues and fantastic sense of 360 degree immersion. Audio is one of the best ways to energize a viewer during a movie, and this was one that was done right. Sadly the score was not as impactful or as iconic as some of the other Rocky films, which caused me take this down just a half star.
• Know The Past, Own The Future
• Becoming Adonis
• Deleted Scenes
“Creed” is an enjoyable entry into the “Rocky” franchise and even though it’s not as perfect as I would have liked, it is a fun watch. I would have to put it squarely in the middle of the series. It doesn’t rise to the heights of “Rocky”, “Rocky IV” and “Rocky Balboa”, but it is head and shoulders better than “Rocky II” and the horrible “Rocky V”. Audio and video are fantastic, giving me no real reason for complaint there with the only weak link in the chain being the minimal extras. Definitely worth a watch.
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Written by: Ryan Coogler, Aaron Covington
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, French, Spanish, Portuguese, English DD 5.1
Runtime: 133 minutes
Own CREED on Blu-ray Combo Pack or DVD on March 1 or Own It Early on Digital HD now!
Buy Creed On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Good Watch
More about Mike