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Film: "Creed III"
In 2015, Warner Brothers released "Creed," which served as a sort of legacy sequel to the franchise.
Ever since the initial release of the first “Rocky” film back in 1976, the name Rocky Balboa has become firmly embedded in American pop culture. The tale of this ultimate underdog rising through the ranks to become a serious boxing contender spanned six films through the 1980s and 1990s. In spite of some seriously cheesy elements that overshadowed a lot of the later sequels, Sylvester Stallone’s charming performance as Rocky proved to be a consistent positive element that gave the franchise a steady sense of character. In 2015, Warner Brothers released “Creed,” which served as a sort of legacy sequel to the franchise. It introduced Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) – the son of Rocky’s late mentor and friend Apollo Creed – and chronicled his rise to prominence in the boxing world with Rocky by his side. Rocky similarly coached Adonis through the events of a tumultuous sequel, “Creed II,” that saw both characters fighting against faces from their pasts while undergoing serious shifts in their family lives.
“Creed III,” however, breaks this mold by continuing the story of Adonis Creed without the presence of Rocky Balboa. When an old childhood friend (Jonathan Majors) resurfaces with aspirations to acquire a title shot, Creed must decide whether or not to help him achieve this goal, coming face-to-face with his past as he finds himself on an escalating path that can only end in the boxing ring.
To address the large, Sylvester Stallone-shaped elephant in the room, a huge question going into this film was whether or not it was going to be able to go the distance without the character of Rocky Balboa. I will say that his absence in the film was definitely noticeable. However, I believe that “Creed III” saves itself from potential detriment by shifting its focus entirely to the development of Adonis Creed. The first two films had already done a lot of heavy lifting by establishing him as a strong, well-developed character, but as the one true lead in this film, he seems as though he has a lot more room to breathe. The story in this movie, as mentioned earlier, is used as a pretty effective tool to explore more of Creed’s past, delving into a side of the character that he might not be so proud of. It adds a new layer of vulnerability to him that provides for some genuinely touching moments and a solid new avenue for audience connection.
“Creed III” is not only Jordan’s first time leading the film in front of the camera but also his first time behind the camera as a director. With this film, I believe he proves himself to be a promising name to watch in this category. He showcases a unique eye for style through his framing of this film, infusing nearly every scene with a palpable flow of energy and character. The fight scenes are shot and staged with very fluid camerawork that makes the cuts feel like they’re not even there, and the editing in this film is as tight as could be.
Jonathan Majors stars as Damian, the primary antagonist, and he knocks it out of the park with this role. When we first meet him, he does an excellent job of mixing a brooding persona with a more vulnerable nature, but as the movie progresses and his motivations are revealed, he transitions into a more overt, ruthless individual who will let nothing deter him from his goals. Tessa Thompson, who plays Creed’s wife, Bianca, is once again excellent. She does a great job selling the steadfastness of this character, and her commitment to her husband and daughter is always evident.
I wouldn’t say that “Creed III” reinvents the wheel in any way, and it probably won’t sell you on this franchise if you aren’t already a fan. That said, I found it to be a genuinely enjoyable, rousing experience that most anyone could have fun with. It was really awesome to get to see this in a crowded theater, and the energy of such an experience is always a treat. If you’re in the market for a great film to experience with a group of friends that will leave you with a smile on your face, “Creed III” is a pretty great option to go with.
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