Can Creed Survive Without Rocky? – Review of Creed III

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As Stallone Departs the Franchise, can ‘Creed III‘ Survive without Rocky in Michael B. Jordan’s Directorial Debut?

Creed III‘ is the ninth installment in the ‘Rocky‘ franchise that began in 1976, launching Sylvester Stallone into action hero super stardom. Now, 47 years later, the franchise has continued on sans-Stallone with Michael B. Jordan as its lead. The question everyone has on their mind is, “Can Creed Survive without Rocky?” Well, yes and no.

Creed III‘ is Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut and out the gate he has an incredible eye for detail that will launch an entire new career for him behind the camera. You can clearly see how anime has influenced some of his visual techniques that we are now able to encompass in live action sequence.

Jordan’s ability to capture the moment using angles, visual foreshadowing and creative storytelling is refreshing, especially when people consider GC films like ‘Avatar‘ as live action instead of modern rotoscope animation.

“Diamond Dame” Damian Anderson as portrayed by Jonathan Majors will be Major! Whomever choreographed his fighting style taught him how to slip like Floyd Mayweather, block like George Foreman, counter like Ken Norton Sr. and have the tenacity of Mike Tyson.

Also a show stealer in ‘Creed III’ is Mila Davis-Kent, who plays Amara, the daughter of Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and Adonis Creed (Jordan). You truly believe that the connection both Bianca and Adonis have with Amara is a real familial bond.

I also would have liked to have more exploration into Bianca’s transition from performer to producer as her hearing degenerated and view of how she not only had to deal with her own losses, but the fact that her husband is also emotionally unavailable.

This leads us to the two major missteps in ‘Creed III‘; the first being trying to pack too much story into one movie; ‘Creed III‘ needed to be two 95-minute movies instead of one 2 hour flick.

Jonathan Majors stars as Damian Anderson in ‘Creed III’.
A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. Photo credit: Eli Ade
© 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.
CREED is a trademark of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It felt rushed and didn’t create the emotional investment as the previous eight films. Stallone understood the emotional build up in storytelling from his love of professional wrestling and that was missing here, as it went from scene to scene without that white knuckling, edge of my seat feel of, “Get’em Creed!” left me a bit empty.

The second misstep was there were far too many visual throwbacks to the rest of the series, from Anderson getting into Adonis’s head to come out of retirement like what his father, Apollo did to Rocky in ‘Rocky II‘, the gritty street fighter wanting his time as Adonis had gotten soft when he became rich as well as passing of a parental figure from ‘Rocky III‘, the driving scene in ‘Rocky IV‘, or the deterioration of a familial bond between friends like we found in ‘Rocky V‘ all hindered ‘Creed III‘ standing on its own as a breakout film.

The 1994 Winter Olympics inspiration of Tanya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan to get Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) out of the his title fight so untested Diamond Dame could get his title shot made me chuckle as that also tied into Rocky I when Apollo gave an unknown Rocky Balboa a championship bout for the bi-centennial of the United States.

One note that truly bothered me is that Anderson was 1-0 fighter against Creed in the main event of the world championship fight, with Creed having the fight last for all 12 rounds, how can we consider him a great champion? It diminishes the light of what was created in the previous two films. If ‘Creed III‘ was two films, we could have seen Anderson build his record the way Tommy Gunn did in ‘Rocky V‘ and the festering betrayal of living in Adonis’ shadow that lead to the jealousy after having someone live the life you believed you were entitled to nearly two decades prior.

I do not know where this franchise can go from here, but I do know Michael B. Jordan will have an incredible future as a film director.

Creed III‘ comes to theaters on Friday, March 3, 2023.

 

  • Overall Score
3.3

Summary

Michael B. Jordan has a great eye and a bright future behind the camera, but what hinders ‘Creed III‘ is all the throwback references to the previous eight films in the franchise and lack of emotional investment in order to have a near 2 hour movie instead of 2 95-minute films.

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