• Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

CREED III movie review

ByTaylor T Carlson

Feb 24, 2023

CREED III is directed by Michael B. Jordan; it’s his directorial debut. The film stars Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Wood Harris, Florian Munteanu, and Phylicia Rashad. This is the third CREED film, and the ninth film in the “ROCKY Universe” overall.

Several years have passed since Adonis Creed defeated an old rival to become a boxing champion. He’s since left the sport behind to focus on managing and training new fighters, spending his time with his musician wife Bianca and their daughter Amara. Adonis’ life is turned upside down when an old acquaintance from his teens and former youth boxing prodigy, Damian “Dame” Anderson, suddenly returns into his life following a lengthy prison sentence, wanting to continue where he left off in his potential boxing career. Dame wants the shot as an “underdog” that Adonis’ late father Apollo Creed once extended to a young Rocky Balboa, leaving the former champion confused and conflicted over his past. Will the two friends reconcile and help each other on the path to the championship, or will old tempers and grudges flare and create new challenges?

When the first CREED was announced so many years ago, I had no idea what to expect from it. Was it supposed to be a sequel to the ROCKY movies? A spin-off? A cash-in on the aging franchise? It was a little bit of all three, but a movie that deserved to make cash because it was actually good and in the hands of the more-than-capable Ryan Coogler, reviving the ailing ROCKY Universe. It was followed with CREED II, which further expanded this universe and these characters, even if it wasn’t quite the gem its immediate predecessor for. CREED III is here to further grow this universe, and this time around, star Michael B. Jordan is in the director’s chair for the first time (this echoes the early ROCKY films, in which Sylvester Stallone didn’t direct the first movie, but took over as director for most of the sequels). Lightning struck twice, but does it strike a third time?

CREED III is fantastic. In fact, in the eyes of this fan, it’s the best CREED yet.

Michael B. Jordan has risen to the ranks of Hollywood A-lister in recent years, and rightfully so. This is a man who knows how to deliver on the big screen, always giving quality performances regardless of the material. Adonis Creed has become Mr. Jordan’s defining role; the illegitimate son of the ROCKY Universe’s classic character Apollo Creed has enabled the telling of some great new stories in this familiar-yet-new realm. Seeing the evolution of his relationship with musician Bianca, played by Tessa Thompson, has made for an interesting love story, and seeing it come full circle with the two having a child and settling into life after the spotlight, makes for some interesting drama. This time around, Jordan is in command both in front of and behind the camera, and I truly hope it won’t be his last directorial effort. He and his crew succeed at crafting a well-based boxing epic for the ages. The supporting cast isn’t half bad either, featuring Wood Harris, Florian Munteanu, and Phylicia Rashad reprising their roles from earlier installments, with the latter giving arguably her best performance as Apollo’s widow.

But the one person in this movie who can truly rival Jordan’s stage presence is another rising player on the Hollywood stage: Jonathan Majors. Just a handful of weeks after seeing him as the villainous Kang in ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA, we see him appear in CREED III as a former acquaintance and ex-con from Adonis Creed’s past. The CREED series has introduced us to several new boxer characters, including “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler, Leo “The Lion” Sporino, and Viktor Drago, but Majors makes, pardon the pun, a major impact on this franchise. Those other characters were all appealing and made for some great stage presence, but Majors gets the backstory and the character depth that was admittedly somewhat lacking with the other aforementioned boxers. Flashbacks are used to illustrate Adonis and Dame’s backstory and their strained relationship, creating a strange mix of emotions that makes for some powerful drama. The original ROCKY film was a strong dramatic one, though some of the later sequels admittedly became a bit cartoonish and campy despite their good intentions. The CREED saga has succeeded in restoring this universe to its former dramatic glory. Dame is easy the most complex character outside of the CREED family this series has spawned. Although he shows traits of ROCKY III’s Clubber Lang and ROCKY V’s Tommy Gunn, he’s a far deeper and more complex character than either of them, though getting more into this would veer into spoiler territory.

It’s a damn good film from a production standpoint as well. Jordan in the director’s chair proves to be a blessing, as the actors reprising their roles all give their best performances in these parts to date. The boxing matches are also gritty and as violent as they need to be, providing some action and truly hard-hitting moments in this saga. There were initial rumors that this film would run nearly three hours, but instead it clocks in at just under two, telling a very full story (though this does make one wonder if there was material that ended up on the cutting room floor).

CREED III only occasionally falters; it can’t quite seem to decide, for instance, how large of a role Adonis and Bianca’s daughter Amara should play. The movie introduces a subplot involving her getting into fights with a bully at school, but the movie pretty quickly brushes this aside. Say what you will about the much-maligned ROCKY V, but it at least had a pretty entertaining subplot about Robert (Rocky’s son) learning to defend himself and giving some bullies their comeuppance. Surely Amara will get a bigger role as she gets older when we come to the inevitable CREED IV, though. Despite this subplot being abandoned, she does still manage to get in some good scenes. Another minor issue comes from the film’s final boxing match getting a little TOO stylized at times, resembling something from that final “mental battle” in X-MEN APOCALYPSE, something I’m still having mixed feelings on.

CREED III isn’t the most original movie you’ll ever see; you’ll likely have a pretty good idea of what its conclusion is headed not too far in. But it doesn’t change the fact that the movie has some spectacular performances for all its stand, and it marks a triumph in the form of Mr. Jordan being on both sides of the camera, making his directorial debut in a big way. Still, for this fan of the ROCKY Universe (and despite a lack of Sylvester Stallone), it’s the best CREED yet. Very highly recommended!

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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