Creed Screen 17 articles



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  • Things wake up from the first training montage, thanks to Coogler’s punchy editing and hip-hop showmanship: it’s one of three such sequences, all flatly impossible to resist. Though the script is structured around just two set-piece fights, they burst into your consciousness with such vigour, colour and clout those first-half nerves are dispelled, and in the nick of time.

  • While Coogler’s style is generally either functional or predictable (there’s a bit of slow-motion running straight out of his earlier Fruitvale Station), he reveals unexpected chops with ambitious, circling Steadicam moves, including one fight that he and DP Maryse Alberti (The Wrestler) capture in a single take.

  • Spent the first half thinking it was adhering a bit too strictly to formula, but it kept slugging (note boxing metaphor!) and ultimately won me over, for the most part. Coogler does a superlative job with both of the big fight sequences—one beautifully choreographed unbroken shot for the first, which functions almost like a dance; a disorienting flurry of cuts for the climatic slugfest—and coaxes a genuinely soulful, dignified performance from Stallone.

  • One of Creed's greatest traits is its reticence, its refusal to say 10 words when two will do, or to say one word when silence says it all. This has the effect of lending something evocative and abstract even when something is spelled out directly, so that the drama related to a health scare is suddenly, thrillingly resolved with the line “If I fight, you fight,” or Donnie's entire attitude of rage and resentment is self-diagnosed in a single moment of clarity near the end of the film.

  • “Creed” is an intensely physical film, both in and out of the ring. The movie is filled with tastes and textures, with the paraphernalia of the boxing gym, the feel and tone of apartments and streets, the distinctive touch of doors and clothes, the weighty feel of a world of stuff and a city of asphalt and steel, wood and stone.

  • At [Coogler's] best, his new film is both visually striking and expressive: those lightning opening vignettes, for example, convey the volatile, claustrophobic tensions of juvie in mere seconds. At his worst, he falls into the overblown rhetoric of most Rocky movies, especially in the climactic fight, which alternates corner-man wisdom and bludgeoning blows... [In some moments,] Coogler is the cinematic equivalent of a 12 O’Clock Boy—his precocity takes your breath away.

  • [Adonis] meets a woman, Tessa Thompson’s Bianca, a gifted singer who happens to be losing her hearing. That’s the stuff of melodrama, and it’s also part of what makes Creed so pleasurable: Coogler understands that intensified circumstances aren’t things to be laughed at—they’re like cushions where we can rest our own unresolved feelings for a while, and they’re the stuff of great art and popular art alike.

  • Whoever was ultimately responsible for the idea of having Rocky Balboa reluctantly manage Apollo Creed’s son—and the film’s long development saga suggests that it may have been Stallone—deserves the proverbial pat on the back, as it’s a shift loaded with enough series-historic and racial and cultural significance to make even casual viewers sit bolt upright with interest, to say nothing of fans.

  • At 133 minutes, Creed is a tad flabbier than necessary: a subplot concerning Rocky’s fight with illness, while touching in its own right, slackens the pace. However, Coogler pulls it around for a barnstorming final act and a moving, understated denouement.

  • You can look at this two ways: Director Ryan Coogler’s spectacularly fluid follow-up to his powerful debut feature Fruitvale Station, or an incredibly effective and rousing entry in a franchise that had squandered a good deal of its integrity and juice over the years. The direction and the acting are invigorating, but I was also really taken with the construction—really satisfying boxing-movie narratives aren’t as common as all that these days.

  • Setting aside Mr. Coogler’s intelligent adjustment of the racial temperature — it’s a reconsidering of the original movie rather than a rebuke — there is the rousing fact of his skill. The script takes the simple premise of an underrated light-heavyweight and doesn’t oversell melodrama. Adonis is the son of Rocky’s late foil-turned-friend, Apollo Creed. And there is honor in his compulsion to box. Mr. Coogler gives the compulsion emotional contour.

  • [Coogler has] revitalised a seemingly decrepit movie property and elicited a little grace from the old Expendable himself, who gives a much richer performance as the elderly Rocky than he did in Rocky Balboa (2006), his own stab at a franchise coda and potential restart.

  • Creed is a triumph, a joyous crowd-pleaser that somehow manages to retain the humane feel of Coogler’s debut, the acclaimed, Sundance-winning 2013 indie Fruitvale Station.

  • Since nostalgia for childhood favorites holds quite a lot of currency in our infantilized culture, Creed was a refreshing surprise, an entry in a successful film series that took the time and care to sculpt out a unique space for itself. Much of this had to do with cinematographer Alberti, whose collaboration with 29-year-old director Coogler made for one of the more exciting developments in mainstream American cinema in 2015.

  • Nothing better could have been expected from the seventh film in the Rocky franchise than this flight from Hollywood back to Philadelphia. The savvy, intelligence, and heart of director Ryan Coogler’s screenplay equals his achievement in getting an assignment like this after making Fruitvale Station in Oakland at age 26.

  • [Stallone] has never before been this engagingly take-me-as-I-am, which reciprocally informs Jordan's performance and Coogler's sprightly, evocative, intensely atmospheric direction with their own illuminative confidence. The difference between Creed and most pop films is that it isn't hollowly preaching of self-actualization. Instead, it physicalizes self-actualization, in all its terrifying, fragile glory

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    Film Comment: Eric Hynes
    March 03, 2016 | March/April 2016 Issue (p. 76)

    Between Jordan's festering, spring-loaded performance, Stallone's reacquired affinity for minor-key character work, and Coogler's seamless refashioning of an Italian-American mythology into an African-American one, Creed not only earns its Hollywood hokum, it makes it mean something.

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