“Creed”

In a year with several sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and reboots, who knew that one of the year’s best movies would be “Creed” – a sequel and spinoff to the “Rocky” franchise?

Michael B. Jordan (“The Wire”, “Fruitvale Station”) stars as Adonnis “Donnie” Creed, son of Carl Weathers’s Apollo Creed from the previous “Rocky” installments. He’s a rising accountant who abandons his job to follow his dad’s footsteps. And who does he enlist as his trainer? No one else but Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone returning to the role).

The two make a great duo as Donnie gives Rocky a new found purpose and Rocky helps Donnie grow as a fighter, eventually making him a top contender.

“Creed” is one of the year’s biggest surprises thanks to director Ryan Coogler’s (“Fruitvale Station”) visionary direction and emotional roller coaster of a screenplay. His visceral and innovative boxing sequences, along with Michael B. Jordan’s heartfelt performance, bring new life to the franchise.

Jordan’s performance as Donnie isn’t by any means reminiscent of Weathers’s Apollo. Donnie is insecure about his name and angry at the world, and Jordan is believable in his portrayal of these emotions. Stallone is once again great as Rocky, showing a more vulnerable side to the character than in previous installments.

Coogler directs some of the franchise’s greatest moments in “Creed”, including a fast-paced fight filmed in a long take that’s the highlight of the movie. I’m able to forgive the film’s flaws thanks to Coogler and the cast.

The antagonist (Tony Bellew) is the movie’s weakest point because he’s not well-developed. There’s an earlier confrontation between Donnie and a different fighter that sets up the climax, but he quickly disappears and we’re given Bellew’s dull “Pretty” Ricky Conlan as our antagonist. He’s no Ivan Drago or Clubber Lang.

“Creed” may not be a perfect new installment, but it’s open for some promising sequels and is a solid revival to the “Rocky” franchise.

Grade: A-

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