By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
WHAT'S CREED ABOUT?
The son of boxing legend Apollo Creed enlists his late father's rival and best friend, Rocky Balboa, to train him. (It's really about much more than that, but I don't want to spoil it).
IS IT ANY GOOD? (GRADE: A)
Creed is the first movie of the year that I wanted to go back and see the very next day. It's a solid standalone film: you don't have to have seen any of the Rocky movies to enjoy it, although it will make you want to go back and watch them. If you're already a fan it's a particular delight, shedding new light on everything that came before.
In telling the tale of a young man trying to prove his worth, writer-director Ryan Coogler borrows heavily from the franchise playbook. The boxing aspects of the narrative are inescapably formulaic; fortunately the action is terrific and, as a character drama, it's compellingly original. Creed takes bold risks that pay off.
Michael B. Jordan is stunning as the title character; he has the fire, steely glare, and charisma of Carl Weathers (the actor who played his father in the earlier films), adding layers of anguish, humor, and gentility. Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad (as Creed's love interest and adopted mother, respectively) are given fully-rounded, intelligent, strong roles here; they're not the placeholder females typically found in sports movies.