The first two Creed movies were great spinoffs from the Rocky series, further pushing the themes of going the distance and facing adversity through the lens of boxing. Not only did the audience connect with Adonis Creed, the son of Apollo Creed from previous Rocky films, but reconnected with the cinematic icon Rocky Balboa. But eventually, a spinoff series needs to come into its own and solidify its own identity when moving forward, without necessarily abandoning what pushed it to be great in the first place. And fortunately, Creed III is a step in the right direction to do so, despite a few stumbles and hard hits taken in the process. Nobody said the road to greatness wouldn’t be without its bumps and bruises.
Creed III picks up years after the ending of Creed II, following Adonis Creed after he retires as the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. He not only cements his legacy on his own, but continues to build a stable family with his wife Bianca, once again played by Tessa Thompson, and their daughter Amara Creed, played by Mila Davis-Kent. After enjoying the fruits of his labor, an old friend from Creed’s past comes back into his life named Damian Anderson looking to reconnect. Damien had dreams of becoming a boxing champion when they were young, but a sudden event that caused Damian to go to jail separated the friends for years. Adonis tries to help his old friend out, but a series of events leads Damian to overstep boundaries and put the two fighters on a warpath to meet each other in the boxing ring. It’s an old tale of old friends becoming bitter rivals and lines being crossed from the best of intentions.
While Michael B. Jordan continues to do a fantastic job as Adonis Creed in these movies, it’s his dancing partner Jonathan Majors that equally showcases some great acting to draw us into this story. The first half of the film will really have you feeling empathy for Damian Anderson and his comeback story after prison, while also understanding the perspective of Adonis Creed on living his own life and not feeling obligated to the past. This creates a nice divide on who to root for by the final boxing match.
However, much of this gets lost as the second half of the film kicks into gear, where it becomes more clear who the film wants you to root for, rather than keeping things dynamic for the final fight. While the movie never becomes bad at any point, it does lose out on a lot of potentials to become greater because of the change by the end.
The rest of the cast does have their moments, but take a back seat to the dynamic that Adonis and Damian have in their stories. They aren’t forgotten but are not the main focus of what is happening here. Bianca has gone from a performer to a music producer and mother, which may or may not feel right for some fans of her story from the previous films. But it does show growth and progression with her story, and she does have an influence on the lead into Adonis’ fight with Damian at the end.
Her daughter Amara has a real charm whenever she is on screen, both with her expression through sign language and her interactions with Adonis throughout the film. A bunch of her scenes tries a bit hard to set up what could be a future spinoff down the line, which does come off a bit too much, but the heartwarming and funny scenes with her and Adonis definitely are great to watch. They build up Adonis as a fighter who has grown much since we first saw him in the first Creed movie.
But what about the boxing matches? Are boxing fans going to enjoy the sweet science on the big screen? There are a few different fights we see before the final battle. Creed has his matches before his retirement during the prologue, and we also get to see Viktor Drago again, played by Florian Munteanu, in the ring as well. Later on, other fighters take up a lot of screen time in their bouts with Damian before the ending, including Tony Bellew as Pretty Ricky Conlan. The fights are brutal as one would expect, with a lot of great camera angles capturing the action in stunning detail.
When the fights get even more serious you’ll see every detail convey the punishment and pain fighters go through. Some fights last a bit longer than others for different reasons, but they’re good-looking on screen. The traditional montage scenes that the Rocky series is known for are still here, but a little shorter than you might expect. There’s also a very key ingredient missing from them that would’ve been perfect to see, as well as make sense within the context of the story, but is absent completely. Fans will notice how obvious it is and it’s a shame that it couldn’t have been addressed due to complications outside of the film.
The final battle with Adonis and Damian is where some fans of the series will be divided. Michal B. Jordan directs the film and has been open about his influence from anime series he loves to watch, and it definitely shows. Some shots are pulled straight from popular shows anime fans will recognize, but applied to the context of Creed III enough to where it doesn’t feel like copying. And they look very good in motion as well. The double punch to the face, quick shots to the eyes, the gut punch, and other shots can be picked out as you watch the film. But where fans may start to turn off is when the boxing match starts to become a surreal battle in the mind between both fighters.
Visually there are elements that look very cool and work well, but within the context of the Rocky universe, they look very out of place. The Creed movies, and by extension the Rocky series, have always been very grounded in reality with their display of boxing matches and fights. Even though there have been goofy, outlandish, and cheesy moments in the series one can point to, the majority of their stories have always been tied to what was practical and real on the screen. Boxing matches feel like real boxing you would watch on TV, and the spectacle of the sport would be conveyed in a similar fashion. With some of the cinematic choices during the final battle in Creed III things just take a sharp turn outside of where the series has been, and unfortunately don’t land as well as they probably should.
Creed III is still a good movie to go see in theaters or watch on a big-screen television. The shortcomings it has doesn’t make it a low point of the Creed series, let alone the Rocky series. It’s better than the second movie but still comes up short in comparison to the very first Creed film that introduced us to this spinoff. There will definitely be more to come from Adonis Creed that may or may not go in different directions, but if this was the last story we got to complete a trilogy, Creed III ends things off on a solid note.
Are you a fan of the Creed movies or love the Rocky series? Will you be watching Creed III in theaters or catching it on streaming services? Post your thoughts in the comment section down below and let us know!
The movie is great to watch for fans of the previous films of the series, while also entertaining for those who haven’t watched the series before. There are a few things that stumble at various points, but the majority of the film is well-directed and acted. It’s a solid entry of the franchise that continues a legacy and points to a bright future ahead.
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