"When it comes down to it, Creed III is an ultimately great watch and worth your money"
It's 1976, and Hollywood and movies in general are not what there are now, along comes a boxing movie, from someone who is then a no name and someone who took a pay cut just to make sure he actually starred in it. That film is what we know today as Rocky, one of, if not the most well known sports films ever released and the film that propelled Stallone to stardom..
Now in 2023 we have Creed III, the now eighth entry into the Rocky franchise, well the Creed trilogy stands on its own very well, its backstory is very much routed in the Rocky mythology and the analogies and comparisons will (and do) come thick and fast throughout. One note is that despite being the first in the franchise without Stallone/Rocky featured, Michael B. Jordan has taken up directing duties in a similar way to how Stallone did with the original franchise.
So with a new director will this reach the loft heights of the previous entries or will it fail to make an impact.. let's discuss..
So we open in a very familiar way mid match, Adonis (Jordan) appearing to taking a beating from his opponent, we then see this to be him working out the best way to take his opponent out, this is somewhat cool and slick as you can see his mentality as an athlete.. from here we jump into the future to see a somewhat older Amara (Mila Davis-Kent) waking up a retired Adonis. For the next little while we have a nice change of pace seeing Adonis being a business man and a good father, also a nice touch with the incorporation of sign language and subtitles showing what's being said, it feels very inclusive without being over bearing. Once we meet Damian played expertly by Jonathan Majors there's a marked change in the atmosphere letting us know things are about to go down.. And this a very different Creed movie.
The cast as always doesn't disappoint, Major's fits in nicely and given the jumping backwards and forwards in time to change the narrative his Damian/Dame character feels meaty and at times a genuine threat. But it also feels like Jordan has learnt a lot from his time with Marvel, be it maybe a little brief. What we have in Dame is a much more layer villain, You can see his manipulation of Adonis clearly but you're also let in to why he's doing this, why he feels he's owed something and ultimately what happened in both his and Adonis's past that caused him to be so manipulative and why Adonis feels he owes him so much.
There are however, a lot of callbacks to earlier moments in both the Rocky and Creed mythology, the majority are in the tone although there is one major part of the storyline that sadly you'll see coming a mile off if you've seen other entries, it's minor though.
My only real issue with the plot comes during the climatic fight, whilst not wanting to spoil anything there is a set piece which makes the action feel somewhat.. cartoonish. The offending scene owes more to Space Jam than a serious boxing movie.
When it comes down to it, Creed III is an ultimately great watch and worth your money, it is also a credit to being shot especially for IMAX and looks insanely beautiful. A few pacing issues but largely the quality we expect and a credit for a directorial debut. Creed 2 may be the superior movie but this one is by no means a chump, it's definitely a contender, and boads well for Jordan as a Director in the future.
It comes with a solid 4 out 5 rating in my opinion, a great movie with just a hint too many callbacks, doesn't feel over long though.