It is truly fascinating that Hollywood has managed to create franchises that truly manage to stand the test of time, adapt and move forward with or without what was the face of it. These are characters that we know and love of course and it is a true delight getting to catch up with them every few years but a franchise can only do so much with the same cast. It is a natural shift when a newer generation is introduced and it is once again, fascinating that ‘Creed III‘ and ‘Scream VI‘ have come out so close to each other and both are requel sequels that don’t feature the face of the franchise and yet at the same time, both are breaking box-office records for their respective franchises and earning praise from the dedicated fanbase. While ‘Creed III‘ does oddly not even mention Rocky once, it carries on the legacy of his original films and uses that golden formula to create the most visually exciting entry in the franchise while maintaining that heart and emotional core.
very mild spoilers for ‘Creed III‘ are featured in this review
‘Creed III‘ is a textbook example of what a ‘Rocky/Creed‘ movie should be. It has the emotion, the drama and the epic fights that one would expect from this franchise. That being said, one can’t help but notice the very clear pattern that this franchise is following. Truth be told, I had never seen a Rocky movie before this week and I decided to binge the entire franchise to see this one in theatres. I was quite shocked to find that I actually ended up loving most of the movies. However, the more I saw, the more it was easy to predict where a movie would go. This franchise is religiously dedicated to its formula but what keeps it relevant and fresh is how they explore that formula. There is a cause to fight in every movie, there has to be a driving force to push the need to fight and what’s interesting is that with Rocky, it was driven by an outside force. Balboa constantly felt the need to prove himself to people, it is only in the later films that he gains that internal security. Fame is a concept that the Rocky movies used quite extensively and with great effect. The action of building up this monolithic figure beloved by everyone only to tear him apart and treat him in an inhuman manner. Balboa consistently keeps getting obstacles thrown in his way and it’s how he stood in the face of loss and change that made him the beloved icon that he is. Adonis Creed is a much different type of lead in the sense that his driving force is mostly caused by an internal conflict. If Adonis is going to feel the need to prove that he has the right to be here, it’s for himself not for the world. In ‘Creed III’ he faces the darkest parts of his past and he doesn’t know how to process that and I truly appreciate how this movie approached that because it really does show the difference between Rocky and Creed and despite following the same formula, the movies stay fresh because it’s two very different leads.
My biggest gripe with this franchise is really only one thing and that is that when it doesn’t properly explore the emotional core of the film, it ends up feeling redundant. I found it surprising that people loved ‘Rocky IV‘ so much because I did not connect to that film emotionally as I did with the others. The script was lacking and unfocused in my opinion. In fact, my biggest gripe with ‘Creed II‘ is that they don’t really establish the difference between Adonis fighting Viktor Drago for the first time versus the last time. It’s a great movie but for me, it lacked that emotional connection. ‘Creed III‘ features a much deeper understanding of its plot and it allows for a much more emotionally stirring entry. The dynamic between Adonis and Damien is very compelling, I love the withstanding of information with their backstory and I love the complexities of it all. They crafted a very great scenario to play with and I love that it was an incredibly grey situation to manoeuvre emotionally. I love the entire theme regarding mental health having a valid space in boxing. I loved it in ‘Creed II‘ and I love it even more here especially because after binging nine of these movies, I really got an understanding of how tactical boxing really is, it’s not all about strength at all. In fact, most sports rely on the mind more than they do on the body and these movies do a perfect job portraying that, the ‘Creed‘ movies even moreso.
It really all circles back to Michael B. Jordan at the end of the day who takes up the director’s mantle as well this time. This is his directorial debut and he comes out swinging with big bold action sequences and a true, undisputed vision of who Adonis is putting him in an anime-style story about brotherhood, redemption and triumph, it’s a true shonen tale. Jordan has been quite vocal about this entry being heavily inspired by anime fights and again, seeing these movies back to back, I cannot describe the excitement I felt seeing the first fight shot the way it was. This franchise needed something new and Jordan delivered an absolute spectacle. There was a moment of concern right around the climactic fight began as my mind began to wander off, it happened in ‘Creed II’ as well and part of that might be due to the fact that I binged these movies but also because that predictability starts to kick in and it becomes less compelling, that is until Jordan decides to completely reinvent how a boxing match in this franchise looks. It’s bold, new and very anime-influenced but it works so incredibly well. Right as that shift happened, I was instantly hooked back in. This fight and the one-take fight in the first ‘Creed‘ is precisely the type of inventiveness this franchise needs and Jordan undoubtedly knows that as every fight is this epic, cinematic marriage of brains and brawn. While the technical achievement is great, it wouldn’t be any good without the cast and they are all just fantastic. Jordan continues to excel as Adonis, Tessa Thompson continues to bring that warmth as Bianca and Jonathan Majors is undeniably a force to be reckoned with as Damian. I also have to mention Mila Davis-Kent who is just adorable as Amara Creed, her scenes with Adonis were precious and I really love their dynamic.
Overall, ‘Creed III‘ ends up becoming one of the strongest entries in the franchise to date with stunning boxing sequences, a compelling emotional core that drives the story and a true understanding of the Adonis Creed character. My biggest complaint with this movie would have to be the uneven pacing, it’s really the only flaw I could genuinely talk about. All in all, I’d say this franchise never really went out of style and it’s truly commendable that it just keeps finding new ways to inspire because, at the end of the day, that’s what these movies are here to do.
‘Creed III‘ is now showing in cinemas.