"See this guy here, that's the toughest opponent you're ever gonna have to face. I believe that's true in the ring and I think that's true in life."
With so many franchises getting new instalments this year (some after lengthy hiatuses) like Mad Max, Terminator, Jurassic Park and of course Star Wars, you may be forgiven for overlooking the seventh instalment in the Rocky franchise. But I’d pay more attention now as Creed, both the movie and the character, is shaping up to be a serious contender.
This trailer is masterfully crafted, hitting all the right notes at just the right moments. There’s an undeniable sense that this is not just a sequel to Rocky Balboa, it has a certain grit to it, taking a more serious side that is more in tune with the first Rocky but going just a bit further to depict a more brutal climb to the top for the young boxer. But despite this the spirit of those original films are still there, meaning that when Sylvester Stallone does turn up it is not out of place or awkward.
Speaking of the Italian Stallion himself, one of the strongest parts of this trailer for me was the absence of Rocky. That is a bold move as it is the Rocky legacy that generates most of the excitement around this film, but out of the 200 seconds of footage Rocky comes into view only by the 110 second mark and even then he’s only seen in fleeting glimpses for the rest of the trailer. As the trailer itself states, ‘Legacy is more than a name’ and Stallone may be a welcome return, but he knows not to drag the spotlight away from Michael B Jordan because at the end of the day the movie is called Creed (even though that’s technically not his character’s name).
He looks prepared to deliver a knockout performance (get it, boxing references, because it’s a Rocky fil and… never mind) that could stun critics and audiences, bringing his own tone and talent to the character. It just looks like it’s the first step of a new path and Stallone is merely there to hand over the torch. If that is what the trailer is trying to tell us then it has done a spectacular job as it quotes the original and pays homage to it with some visual mimicking, but putting that aside it looks like a strong standalone movie regardless of whether you’re familiar with the franchise or not.
By taking on the role of mentor the Italian Stallion could be given a whole new dimension and that is another thing to look forward to. but the fact that the focus clearly remains on Jordan not only gives the new blood to flex his acting muscles but be fully poised to takeover. The cinematography has an elegant yet gritty edge to it, further emphasising the idea of a tenacious and determined climber, and that rigorous and fast pace editing only adds to the themes running throughout.
Like the original Rocky it also seems to harken back to a more simplistic premise, we’re not setting up grudge matches, fighting Mr T or stopping the cold war here, it’s just a slow climb to the top. The fact that a man who had lived on the streets for most of his life could write and star in a film that would go on to make him a millionaire, win several Academy Awards and inspire a franchise that is still running just shy of forty years after the first is hard to believe. The idea that these instalments could still be amazing is almost inconceivable. But this trailer certainly looks like Creed is ready to go against the best, and win.