It is no secret that Hollywood’s primary goal has always been to make money. Luckily for us, the audience, we have been gifted with some truly remarkable films as a result of Hollywood’s quest for money. Recently, in Hollywood’s quest, they have found a successful strategy that allows them to exploit their previously successful films by making reboots, spin-offs, and sequels. The issue with these cash grabs is that they are simply bland films that only find success by preying on the audience’s love for past films. Needless to say, when I first heard about the Rocky series spin-off Creed, I assumed the film would only tarnish the legacy of one of film’s most beloved franchises in order for the studio to turn a quick profit. That was a completely inaccurate assumption to say the least. Creed masterfully uses the source material from the Rocky franchise as a center point to craft a brand new story that is able to stand on its own and captivate the audience in the same fashion Rocky was able to nearly 40 years ago. In addition, to providing a well crafted story the film is also accompanied with stellar direction from Ryan Coogler who may have very well crafted one of the most engaging scenes in quite some time. While the story and direction of the film were extraordinary the ending of the film fell flat for several reasons.
The problem that you get with films that are based on pre-existing films is that the filmmakers in charge of making the film are trying to capture the same magic that made the predecessor’s so successful. The ironic part about this is the real reason the predecessors were so successful was because their stories were original and did not try to build off of worn-out concepts. Instead of trying to make the central character of Creed, Adonis, like Rocky Balboa the writers of the film instead explore what would happen if a character was put into a similar situation as Rocky was in the original film but had a completely opposite background, personality, and support group in his life. In fact, while both Creed and Rocky explore the theme of over coming obstacles in life to succeed, Creed is able to chart its own story by telling its own version of the story. While Rocky is poor, Adonis is rich, while Rocky is rational, Adonis is short tempered, while Rocky is dull, Adonis is educated, while Rocky stumbles over his words, Adonis speaks freely, while Rocky had a tough trainer in Mick, Adonis had a caring trainer with Rocky, while Rocky had an insecure girlfriend with Adrian, Adonis had a girlfriend who easily overcomes her disability with Bianca. Throughout the entire film the writers of the film made a conscious decision to make sure they did not parallel the character of Rocky. The effect of this was the audience being able to enjoy brief call backs to the original series while also indulging in a new story. Yet, while the majority of the film charted its own story, it must be noted that the last fight sequence of the film paralleled that of the original Rocky to the tee and in doing so detracted from the originality that the film possessed.
Since Creed is so dependent on its story to be engaging, one would imagine that the direction of the film would be conventional as the director would be weary about trying new techniques that may disrupt the flow of the film. However, when you are discussing a project directed by Ryan Coogler, an ambitious 29-year-old director, conventional filmmaking is the last thing he sets out to accomplish. With this ambitious approach Coogler disregards the typical conventions of directing which results in Coogler crafting a breathtaking scene that strengthens the impact of a pivotal scene. The scene in discussion here is a boxing match that occurs midway through the film. The entire fight lasts roughly 3-4 minutes and is shot as one long take where the camera swivels around and through the fighters as they trade blows. After each punch the camera maintains the momentum of the punch allowing for it to travel to other parts of the ring to show other characters reacting to the fight. Through this process the audience is pulled into the ring with the fighters allowing for a level of immersion with the story that is extremely rare. The emotions Coogler evokes during this sequence might be enough for him to receive an Academy Award nomination. While this sequence definitely is a highlight in the film, its place within the story was a hazard. Since the boxing sequence occurs half way through the film and is so noteworthy the audience spends the rest of the film anxiously waiting to see how it will be topped during the film’s climax. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, the final fight mirrors that of Rocky and as a result is shot conventionally leading to the audience’s expectations to be unfulfilled.
In conclusion, while Creed should be a prime example in explaining why studios driven by greed are destroying classic films, it is actually one of the most enjoyable films of the year. In terms of story it is able to explore the same themes that made the original Rocky so relatable while still telling a completely fresh tale. In addition, Ryan Coogler’s direction definitely cements the film’s legacy in the filmmaking world, even though it disrupted the pacing of the film. Overall, Creed is still a very fun film to watch and earns a solid 4 out of 5 Reels from Celluloid Cinema.
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