What does it mean to live up to your father's name? Is it possible to carve out your own identity from the legacy of a fallen legend?
These are the questions motivating Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) in the film "Creed," a spinoff from the popular Rocky Balboa movies. It follows the illegitimate child of the late boxer Apollo Creed as he pursues his own boxing career with the help of a cancer-stricken Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and tries to make a name for himself fighting from the back alleys of Tijuana to the global stage.
This film definitely breaks from the somewhat cartoonish tone of the previous films while managing to hold on to the same charm. It also manages to tell a familiar story that's been adapted to the modern day. Longtime "Rocky" fans will appreciate some of the film's nods to previous films, but if you're new to the franchise, don't worry - the film is easy enough to pick up and follow without any prior knowledge.
Solid cinematography adds a layer of grit and realism to the film, including an impressive fight scene that, through some clever editing, appears to happen all in one take and from within the ring. But where this movie shines is in its two leads, who both have great chemistry and also add a layer of complexity to their characters. Some of their back-and-forth interaction even lends the film some surprisingly funny moments, especially from Stallone, who once again proves that he still respects the Rocky character and that there are places for this character to go.
Jordan holds his own across from the veteran actor while adding complexity and charm to Adonis.
The film does have a few flaws - for instance, it's overloaded with subplots that could have been fleshed out a little more if they'd been given the time. Plus, this tale is so familiar that many people will be able to guess how it ends fairly easily. But between the wonderful characters and the engaging boxing scenes, this film is pound for pound just as entertaining as any of the previous Rocky movies.
Whether or not they try to branch off a new franchise from this standalone film remains to be seen, but I certainly wouldn't mind if they brought these characters back for round two. It's a fun film that certainly lives up to the Rocky legacy.
3 out of 4 miners.