Onyx Contributor:  Johnny Silvercloud (@JohnnySilverclo)

I’m not going to lie; I’ve been a fan of Michael Bakari Jordan for a while.  Michael B. Jordan first graced my critical eye on The Wire.  He then showed up on Red Tails as well as an amazing T.V. show called Lie to Me.  While I always figured he was going to be something fierce, he really showed depth of ability on Fruitvale Station, a movie based on the true story of Oscar Grant.  As an avid movie buff I love seeing young talent shine.  While the Fantastic Four movie proved his tremendous talent cannot save bad writing and overall concept, FF4 flopping didn’t put a dent in his stride to stardom.

And here we have Creed.

Creed is a damn good movie.

Creed stars Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed, the illegitimate son of Carl Weathers character, Apollo Creed.  Adonis “Donny” Creed attempts to go through life as Adonis Johnson as a means to make it on his own.  While he seeks to not use his father’s name as a means to get ahead in life, the passion… that love for the fight is there, and it’s unshakeable.  Being wealthy and successful doesn’t change a thing; he still seeks to pursue his calling.  This character is completely unfettered, and we dig that in boxing movie heroes.

Of course, a movie isn’t without it’s co-stars.  Anyone who’s seen Dear White People will enjoy the company of Tessa Thompson as the female love interest.  The Wire fans will get a chuckle or two from seeing Wood Harris.  The movie also stars actual boxers such as Tony Bellew and Gabe Rosado.  This movie also makes great use of the talents of Phylicia Rashad and Graham McTavish.  Of course, a Rocky movie isn’t Rocky without Sylvester Stallone.  

Stallone actually took the side seat, maybe even the back seat in this one.  The iconic character Rocky actually acts, and feels, old.  While it’s okay to have characters like Barney Ross (Expendables) where he acts as if age doesn’t take a toll on the character he plays, it’s even better to see Stallone actually become expendable (cheesy, I know).  There’s a lot of depth to seeing Rocky in Philly this time, with an atmosphere I care to not spoil.

The “designated villains” in the movie actually have a bit of depth to them.  You will probably enjoy the screen time of ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan, in a love-to-hate relationship.

The lights, the camera, and the action

Cinematographer Maryse Alberti…. A 25-year French veteran…. always been geared toward realism, she provided just the sort of visual divergence needed to distinguish the film as its own thing outside of a well-known, well-worn iconic cinema franchise. ~ Kristopher Tapley, Variety

This film boasts a strong eye for detail here.  The action for a gladiator-sports movie is top notch.  The camera angle play is intelligently used, and the choreography is both beautiful, and brutal in the ring.

Sountrack and Sound score

The musical sound score is top notch; every element of the old Rocky feeling is here.  Ludwig Göransson is the composer of the musical score, who actually is not the guy who did the other Rocky movies, but in being a new face providing the backdrop music for the Rocky Universe, his sound paves the way for the new boxing hero.  Every sound in the backdrop music is perfect and is fully capable of conveying the emotion of the film.  As far as the soundtrack goes, it’s also pretty good.  As the setting is Philly, there’s a good amount of Meek Mill in there (which nurses him back to life from the Drake beef) as well as other Philly associated acts such as Roots.  Tessa Thompson even has songs in the soundtracks track order.

You can even feel Philly

The environment, Philadelphia, exist in this film as a living, breathing concrete jungle — as it fucking should be.  I imagine true Philly heads will love the fine detail given to words like “jawn”, alongside of the dirt-bike riding kids tearing up and down the streets periodically.  To the attention given to the urban setting here, I sincerely hope this director keeps this attention-to-detail thing in his playbook.

Ryan Coogler, great job, keep writing/directing.

“…writer-director Ryan Coogler confirms every bit of promise he displayed in his 2013 debut, “Fruitvale Station,” offering a smart, kinetic, exhilaratingly well-crafted piece of mainstream filmmaking, and providing actor Michael B. Jordan with yet another substantial stepping stone on his climb to stardom.” ~ Andrew Barker, Variety

Let’s also take the time to give a special shout out to the young talent Ryan Coogler, who directed and wrote this movie.  Ryan Coogler is also the writer/director of the very solid Fruitvale Station (don’t sleep on this movie!), which tells me that there might be a special synergy between him and Jordan.  If Johnny Depp has great synergy with Tim Burton, as Samuel L. Jackson has with Tarantino (and Denzel with Spike Lee, the list can go on) one can only expect great things when Coogler and Jordan team up for future cinema.  I’ll also point out that Ryan Coogler met Ludwig Göransson (the film composer) in film school, which means that I expect amazing things between the two, similar to Tim Burton and Danny Elfman.  A future with Coogler directing, Jordan acting, and Göransson composing?  Please, by all means, the world is ready. 

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